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November 25, 2020

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We now know that the Delta variant can be spread asymptomatically by anyone.

BEAT THE VIRUS
To protect kids and everyone else: vaccinate, mask up, and socially distance.

The number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States hit a record high:
https://www.reuters.com/world/us/children-hospitalized-with-covid-19-us-hits-record-number-2021-08-14/

New data require new response.

DON'T live in fear or socially isolate, DO mask up.

For many, catching COVID-19 is a death sentence, or 'long Covid' with a shorter painful life.

The Science Says Everyone Needs a COVID-19 Booster Shot—and Soon.
The biology of the delta variant has made mass revaccination an urgent necessity.
By Laurie Garrett
JULY 30, 2021, 4:17 PM
https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/07/30/booster-shot-coronavirus-covid-science/

This letter was in the Half Moon Bay Review today:

Now, risks of further isolation are worse than COVID

A few months ago, after the cancellation of Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival was announced, I penned a short opinion column in this paper with a simple message: COVID vaccines work, so it doesn’t make sense for us to stay afraid and disrupt important events in our lives. I’m a Ph.D. viral immunologist and vaccinologist, I’ve served a fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control studying pandemic influenza, I’m a Coastsider, and a parent of two children, one of whom is too young to be vaccine-eligible. There’s been a lot of hype about the delta variant lately, but the facts are immensely reassuring.

Fear is a bigger threat to us now than COVID, and it’s time to move on.

San Mateo County has an extremely high vaccination rate, currently above 88 percent of all residents age 12 and over. Vaccine efficacy against severe disease from any and all COVID variants is in excess of 95 percent. The residual risk that COVID poses to vaccinated adults has been successfully reduced into the realm of the mundane, similar to or less than seasonal influenza. Delta could still give vaccinated people a cold some fraction of the time, but so do a few hundred other viruses that we don’t organize our lives around.

There’s also a lot of worry that because children under 12, including my son, can’t yet be vaccinated, that they must be in grave danger and so we need to keep them from having a normal school experience this fall. Fortunately, the data are clear that simply being a child provides excellent protection against serious COVID disease. Consider the CDC numbers: of over 600,000 U.S. COVID deaths so far, 335 have been in people under the age of 17. Adjusting for population size, the mortality rate from COVID is 99.8 percent lower in kids.

Every one of those deaths is a tragedy, but that number is no different from annual pediatric deaths from influenza, which numbered 251, 643, and 477 in the three flu seasons prior to the pandemic. Those deaths are of course concentrated among kids with serious pre-existing conditions, so kids without them have almost zero risk. As another reference point, there are about 650 pediatric deaths in motor vehicle accidents every year. Unless your child has a high-risk medical condition, it is more dangerous to drive your kid to and from school than it is for them to get any variant of COVID.

What about Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children? MIS-C accounts for a total of 37 of those pediatric deaths, with the rest making full recoveries. What about long COVID in children? It’s even more rare, to the point that no one has a significant number of cases to point to. Only one study on long COVID in kids has included a control group, and it found no difference in post-infection symptoms between COVID-infected kids and kids who never got COVID.

All this reassuring data may be surprising compared to the frightening articles you’ve read, but none of the data is contested; it’s just often ignored and the risks over-stated. We can be even more confident because the test of what comes next in a highly vaccinated population has already occurred: the United Kingdom is six weeks ahead of us in delta variant spread, and despite a large spike in cases there is very little change in deaths. The UK has decided not to even bother vaccinating low-risk children and instead is donating the vaccine doses to countries that need it. We vaccinated our daughter to help stop transmission, but I was never afraid for my children because of COVID and never taught them that they should be afraid.

Fear has a cost. Suicides easily outnumber COVID deaths in children 17 and under, who experienced a wave of isolation, anxiety and depression last year. One in three of our kids will meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder by adulthood. Maintaining a prolonged fear state is unhealthy for them, and it’s unhealthy for the rest of us too. It’s not possible to say that masking, social distancing and quarantines are necessary for our safety and not incur adverse consequences, because the message is that existing normally in the world is too dangerous. Learning loss is a very real harm to children, but California will impose 10-day quarantines from school and extracurricular activities for kids who aren’t even sick. People who already struggle in our economy lose their incomes when people are afraid, and poverty drives myriad negative health outcomes. All this because we won’t trumpet the great news that no COVID variant is more dangerous to children or vaccinated adults than the flu.

We have reached the point where further public health interventions are a net harm. Inflating risks and downplaying vaccine benefits doesn't earn the trust of vaccine skeptics. The most compassionate thing to do is spread the good news that if the adults in your family are vaccinated, you’re already very safe. We have the data to move forward without fear. Imposing further costs will only do extra harm along the way.

(Scott Balsitis lives in Moss Beach.)

Excerpt from the New York Times today:
"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."

Here's the full NYT piece:
Not in control
Consider these Covid-19 mysteries:
In India — where the Delta variant was first identified and caused a huge outbreak — cases have plunged over the past two months. A similar drop may now be underway in Britain. There is no clear explanation for these declines.
In the U.S., cases started falling rapidly in early January. The decline began before vaccination was widespread and did not follow any evident changes in Americans’ Covid attitudes.
In March and April, the Alpha variant helped cause a sharp rise in cases in the upper Midwest and Canada. That outbreak seemed poised to spread to the rest of North America — but did not.
This spring, caseloads were not consistently higher in parts of the U.S. that had relaxed masking and social distancing measures (like Florida and Texas) than in regions that remained vigilant.
Large parts of Africa and Asia still have not experienced outbreaks as big as those in Europe, North America and South America.
How do we solve these mysteries? Michael Osterholm, who runs an infectious disease research center at the University of Minnesota, suggests that people keep in mind one overriding idea: humility.
“We’ve ascribed far too much human authority over the virus,” he told me.
‘Much, much milder’
Over the course of this pandemic, I have found one of my early assumptions especially hard to shake. It’s one that many other people seem to share — namely, that a virus always keeps spreading, eventually infecting almost the entire population, unless human beings take actions to stop it. And this idea does have crucial aspects of truth. Social distancing and especially vaccination can save lives.
But much of the ebb and flow of a pandemic cannot be explained by changes in human behavior. That was true with influenza a century ago, and it is true with Covid now. An outbreak often fizzles mysteriously, like a forest fire that fails to jump from one patch of trees to another.
The experience with Alpha in the Midwest this spring is telling:
Even Osterholm said that he had assumed the spring surge would spread from Michigan and his home state of Minnesota to the entire U.S. It did not. It barely spread to nearby Iowa and Ohio. Whatever the reasons, the pattern shows that the mental model many of us have — in which only human intervention can have a major effect on caseloads — is wrong.
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.
True, you can find plenty of supposed explanations, including the end of the European soccer tournament, the timing of school vacations and the Britain’s notoriously late-arriving summer weather, as Mark Landler, The Times’s London bureau chief, has noted. But none of the explanations seem nearly big enough to explain the decline, especially when you consider that India has also experienced a boom and bust in caseloads. India, of course, did not play in Europe’s soccer championship and is not known for cool June weather.
‘Rip through’
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.”
No need for nihilism
I don’t want anyone to think that Osterholm is making a nihilist argument. Human responses do make a difference: Masks and social distancing can slow the spread of the virus, and vaccination can end a pandemic.
The most important step has been the vaccination of many older people. As a result, total British deaths have risen only modestly this summer, while deaths and hospitalizations remain rarer in heavily vaccinated parts of the U.S. than in less vaccinated ones.
But Osterholm’s plea for humility does have policy implications. It argues for prioritizing vaccination over every other strategy. It also reminds us to avoid believing that we can always know which behaviors create risks.
That lesson has particular relevance to schools. Many of the Covid rules that school districts are enacting seem overly confident about what matters, Osterholm told me. Ventilation seems helpful, and masking children may be. Yet reopening schools unavoidably involves risk. The alternative — months more of lost learning and social isolation — almost certainly involves more risk and greater costs to children. Fortunately, school employees and teenagers can be vaccinated, and severe childhood Covid remains extremely rare.
We are certainly not powerless in the face of Covid. We can reduce its risks, just as we can reduce the risks from driving, biking, swimming and many other everyday activities. But we cannot eliminate them. “We’re not in nearly as much control as we think are,” Osterholm said.

WEAR AN N-95 MASK INSIDE AND OUTSIDE

Even if you're vaccinated.

"The Delta variant is much more contagious, more likely to break through protections afforded by the vaccines and may cause more severe disease than all other known versions of the virus,... "

"The Delta variant is MORE TRANSMISSIBLE than the viruses that cause MERS, SARS, Ebola, the common cold, the seasonal flu and smallpox, and it is as contagious as chickenpox..."

C.D.C. Internal Report Calls Delta Variant as Contagious as Chickenpox
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/30/health/covid-cdc-delta-masks.html

100 MILLION STILL NOT PROTECTED FROM COVID-19

CDC director warns that COVID could be “just a few mutations away” from potentially being able to evade vaccines entirely.
https://mobile.twitter.com/scottbix/status/1420101280920387590

UPDATE:

Not only can the #coronavirus kill you, but #COVID19 may also lead to long-term erectile dysfunction.
https://mobile.twitter.com/DrDenaGrayson/status/1336067145579589634

97% of new COVID cases are among people who haven’t gotten the shots:
https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/the-two-societies-97-of-new-covid-cases-are-among-people-who-havent-gotten-the-shots/

EVERYONE above 16 is now eligible to get the vaccine
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/biden-twitter-covid-vaccine-b1833864.html

Find your shot today
https://vaccinefinder.org/

Some people are mildly affected while others die from it. Who is willing to take that chance? How many of those who think the virus is a hoax are willing to refuse medical care should they contact the virus? Personally, I prefer to wear a mask and be six feet apart rather than six feet under.

Local Libertarian, I’m not sure what point you’re making, but if it’s that Biden as the candidate for Prez represents a failure of the left, I’d disagree only in that Biden is not the candidate of the left, he is the candidate of the Democratic Party, which is not the left. I’d also point out that the goal of running for office is to win, so in that respect Biden’s election is not a failure of anything but rather a success.

The Trump presidency, on the other hand, represents probably the worst administration in American history. Even if I agreed that Biden represents the failure of the left, which I don’t, I’d still take a Biden presidency over a second Trump term any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

Peter Loeb, considering the fact of 8 years of incumbency and institutional hold, fielding an utterly flawed candidate to represent the left positions and so on -- political strategy-wise -- it was an abject failure of the left. Also, why did the left support the war in Libya and Syria AFTER the nation realized the folly and railed against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and color revolutions in Ukraine, Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere)?

And what does the left do? Pick the guy from the same war team.

Local Libertarian, are you implying that the Trump presidency was not in part a failure of the right but only the failure of the left?

Peter Loeb, are you implying both left and right have failed? In any case, the fact that the Trump administration didn't get US involved in another war is a huge accomplishment. That is an improvement over the previous administration. Would you agree?
====================================================================
Jay Bird, are you sure you aren't gaslighting along partisan lines? California still managed to be the worst affected even with all the lockdowns and pro-science public blasting. How is that the fault of the Trump administration?

What Team Trump gave America: a preventable pandemic. Here's part of how!
https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/cdc-covid/2020/12/25/c2b418ae-4206-11eb-8db8-395dedaaa036_story.html

The Local Libertarian said, "Trump is a manifestation of the failure of the Left. Let that sink in." Actually, Trump is a manifestation of the failure of the USA. I doubt that will sink in.

Trump is a manifestation of the failure of the Left. Let that sink in.
Care to explain why the Left won't fail again?
Care to explain why Bernie got boxed out of primaries?

WHAT KIND OF BULLET DID AMERICA JUST DODGE? "Infants, kids, teens, young people, young adults, middle aged with no conditions etc. have zero to little risk…so we use them to develop herd [immunity]…we want them infected… ," Alexander added. https://www.politico.com/amp/news/2020/12/16/trump-appointee-demanded-herd-immunity-strategy-446408
======================================================================
Video of how the virus spreads, how masks protect -- and how, if you're standing BEHIND someone with a loosely fitted mask, you are potentially exposed. If you're in FRONT of them, no problem.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/national/investigations/military-grade-camera-shows-risks-of-airborne-coronavirus-spread/2020/12/11/5be9a5bf-0177-4f7b-832c-85d1cf82b4f3_video.html

Help Joe & Kamala. Help get Democrats out to vote in the January 5, 2021 Georgia runoff election for control of the U.S. Senate.

https://swingleft.org/

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Red Rocks, Colorado and Utah

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    By John Maybury riding Amtrak

Southeast France

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Viva Mexico

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Snow Train

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Uzbekistan

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Dordogne

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Brittany

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Canyons, Cliffs & Clouds

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Italy

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Australian Rainforest

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Pacifica Shorebirds

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Colombia

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Botswana

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Namibia

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Scary Pumpkins

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Big Sur

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Joshua Tree Natl. Park

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Gray Lodge

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Yachats, Oregon

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Bagpipes on the Beach

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Tucson Botanical Gardens

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Pima Air/Space Museum

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Desert Springtime

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