Friday Reads: A tale of Plague Rats and Variant Human Petri DishesPosted: July 23, 2021
Good Day Sky Dancers!
Many U.S. cities have returned to mask mandates for any inside activity. New Orleans Returned to a mandate on Wednesday as part of an order handed down by Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards. Newsweek reports that we’re not alone.
In a statement, New Orleans Health Department Director Dr. Jennifer Avegno cited the city’s “inadequate vaccination rate,” when announcing the mask advisory.
“People who continue to refuse to take the lifesaving COVID vaccine are now also putting the entire community in jeopardy. We must take action now to slow the rapid spread of the Delta variant,” Avegno said.
While some areas of the U.S. have reinstated their mask mandate, Hawaii Governor David Ige recently announced he was keeping a requirement in place to mandate masks when residents are indoors. According to the Associated Press, Ige said he plans to keep the state’s mask mandate in place until at least 70 percent of the population is vaccinated.
Inadequate vaccination rates appear to be the national shame. Returning to masks may help some, but it’s not the panacea for the pandemic. Getting vaccinated is the only way to go. However, vaccine hesitancy is everywhere, albeit worse in the Trump states. You can see the list of states without mask mandate at this US News & World Report link. You’ll notice the worst states for Delta Variant cases–including Missouri, Florida, and Texas–are on that list. The previous article from Newsweek reported that St Louis was considering a return. Undoubtedly, Kansas City will also comply. However, the huge numbers of rural states and counties where masks and the vaccine are anathemas continue to plague the country. I literally know understand what that saying truly means.
Governor Ivey of Alabama had this to say, and she’s right: “‘It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated’: Gov. Ivey on rising in COVID-19 cases, low vaccination rate.”
On Thursday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey addressed concerns about the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in the state and its low vaccination rate.
In the last two weeks, the state has seen over 9,900 cases of COVID-19. In Jefferson County alone, over 1,000 new cases have been reported.
Health officials and the governor herself site the low vaccination rate as a major hurdle in trying to combat the virus and the new, highly contagious Delta variant.
Newsweek reports that “Zero States Have Decreasing COVID Cases as Delta Variant Spreads.”
Zero U.S. states have reported a decrease in daily COVID-19 cases over the past week as the Delta variant continues to spread.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, over the past week, 49 states, as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, have seen an increase in daily COVID-19 cases of 5 percent or more.
On Wednesday, the states that saw the highest number of new daily COVID-19 cases were Texas, which reported over 8,100 new cases; California (over 7,700 cases); Louisiana (over 5,300); Missouri (over 2,900); and Georgia (over 2,200).In addition to those five states, 21 other states reported over 500 new cases on Wednesday, including eight that reported over 1,000 new cases.
The data does not include newly reported cases in Florida and Michigan, but according to a tracker from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), both have seen an increase in new daily cases over the past week. CDC data shows that in Michigan, cases increased by over 1,000 over the past week while Florida saw an additional 20,000 cases when compared to the previous week.
According to the data, Colorado is the only state to see no change in the number of new daily cases reported, but that does not indicate a decrease in daily cases
David Leonhardt and Ian Prasad Philbrick–of the New York Times--start the discussion on Vaccine Mandates: “Boosting Vaccinations; Vaccine mandates are controversial. They’re also a way to save lives.”
Vaccine mandates are controversial. They’re also effective.
Before Houston Methodist became one of the first hospital systems in the U.S. to mandate Covid-19 vaccines, about 85 percent of its employees were vaccinated. After the mandate, the share rose to about 98 percent, with the remaining 2 percent receiving exemptions for medical or religious reasons, Bloomberg’s Carey Goldberg reported. Only about 0.6 percent of employees quit or were fired.
Schools — including Indiana University and many private colleges — that require students and workers to get vaccinated have reported extremely high uptake.
A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey of Americans who had been opposed to getting vaccinated and later changed their minds found that mandates — or restrictions on the unvaccinated — were one common reason. One 51-year-old man told Kaiser that he began to feel as if he had “limited options without it.”
The French government will soon require that people show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test to eat at a restaurant, attend a movie or participate in many other activities. After President Emmanuel Macron announced the policy last week, the number of vaccine appointments surged. Italy announced a similar policy yesterday, The Times’s Marc Santora explains.
In the United States, this pandemic could’ve been over by now, and certainly would’ve been by Labor Day. If the pace of vaccination through the summer had been anything like the pace in April and May, the country would be nearing herd immunity. With most adults immunized, new and more infectious coronavirus variants would have nowhere to spread. Life could return nearly to normal.
Experts list many reasons for the vaccine slump, but one big reason stands out: vaccine resistance among conservative, evangelical, and rural Americans. Pro-Trump America has decided that vaccine refusal is a statement of identity and a test of loyalty.
Reading about the fates of people who refused the vaccine is sorrowful. But as summer camp and travel plans are disrupted—as local authorities reimpose mask mandates that could have been laid aside forever—many in the vaccinated majority must be thinking: Yes, I’m very sorry that so many of the unvaccinated are suffering the consequences of their bad decisions. I’m also very sorry that the responsible rest of us are suffering the consequences of their bad decisions.
As cases uptick again, as people who have done the right thing face the consequences of other people doing the wrong thing, the question occurs: Does Biden’s America have a breaking point? Biden’s America produces 70 percent of the country’s wealth—and then sees that wealth transferred to support Trump’s America. Which is fine; that’s what citizens of one nation do for one another. Something else they do for one another: take rational health-care precautions during a pandemic. That reciprocal part of the bargain is not being upheld.
Frum also brings up the idea of vaccine mandates.
Can governments lawfully require more public-health cooperation from their populations? They regularly do, for other causes. More than a dozen conservative states have legislated drug testing for people who seek cash welfare. It is bizarre that Florida and other states would put such an onus on the poorest people in society—while allowing other people to impose a much more intimate and immediate harm on everybody else. The federal government could use its regulatory and spending powers to encourage vaccination in the same way that Ron DeSantis has used his executive powers to discourage it. The Biden administration could require proof of vaccination to fly or to travel by interstate train or bus. It could mandate that federal contractors demonstrate that their workforces are vaccinated. It could condition federal student loans on proof of vaccination. Those measures might or might not be wise policy: Inducements are usually more effective at changing individual behavior than penalties are. But they would be feasible and legal—and they would spread the message about what people ought to do, in the same way that sanctions against drunk driving, cheating on taxes, and unjust discrimination in the workplace do.
Read more at the link.
While the jerk that is the governor of Georgia has declared that no city or county can mandate mask-wearing, two huge businesses have taken umbrage and going out on their own. This is really interesting and from the Atlantic Journal/Constitution: “The Jolt: Customer requirements by Walmart, Kroger make mask mandates a property rights issue” This might be the way that some businesses start to do business.
Late Wednesday, for the first time, Gov. Brian Kemp issued an executive order that explicitly prohibited cities and counties from mandating the use of masks, triggering a furious reaction from local government officials who accused the Republican of placing his political interests above their efforts to protect residents from a growing pandemic.
It still enrages me that a public health issue of monumental consequence has turned into a political culture war with so much disinformation that folks that might normally seek a vaccine are hesitant or hell-bent against it.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Remember, these threads are always open, so even though I went down the Covid-19 rabbit hole today, you don’t have to! I really want to go to Seattle to see my granddaughters and daughter, but the thought of what I might bring to them because of having to go through airports and be around these vaccineless and maskless nitwits just makes me sit home and think that’s the safest option for everyone concerned.