Lazy Caturday Reads: The Pandemic is Bad Again and Getting Worse.

Cat Fight, Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita

Cat Fight, Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita

Good Morning!!

I hate to keep focusing on the pandemic; but, unfortunately, it’s bad again and getting worse. The AP reports: US now averaging 100,000 new COVID-19 infections a day.

The U.S. is now averaging 100,000 new COVID-19 infections a day, returning to a milestone last seen during the winter surge in yet another bleak reminder of how quickly the delta variant has spread through the country.

The U.S. was averaging about 11,000 cases a day in late June. Now the number is 107,143.

It took the U.S. about nine months to cross the 100,000 average case number in November before peaking at about 250,000 in early January. Cases bottomed out in June but took about six weeks to go back above 100,000, despite a vaccine that has been given to more than 70% of the adult population.

The seven-day average for daily new deaths also increased, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. It rose over the past two weeks from about 270 deaths per day to nearly 500 a day as of Friday.

The virus is spreading quickly through unvaccinated populations, especially in the South where hospitals have been overrun with patients.

Health officials are fearful that cases will continue to soar if more Americans don’t embrace the vaccine.

“Our models show that if we don’t (vaccinate people), we could be up to several hundred thousand cases a day, similar to our surge in early January,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky said on CNN this week.

Joe Pinkster at The Atlantic: Yes, the Pandemic Is Bad Again. Masks are reappearing and return-to-office plans have been postponed. Welcome to Delta’s whiplash.

In early August—well before the colder months when the coronavirus thrives—many Americans, even vaccinated ones, are finding themselves with the same sort of anxieties they were relieved to let go of in the spring: If I eat at a restaurant, what is the risk to myself and others? What about going to my workplace? And what will restrictions allow me and my loved ones to do a couple of months from now?

Yana Movchan

Painting by Yana Movchan

Of course, the pandemic is nowhere near as bad as it was last winter, thanks to vaccines that confer high levels of protection against symptomatic cases of COVID-19. The 60 percent of U.S. adults who are fully vaccinated are substantially safer than the 40 percent who aren’t, even with the Delta variant circulating.

But emotionally, the near future feels uncertain again. Just a few months ago, I felt like the rest of the year was easier to visualize. Now a light fog seems to have descended, similar to the denser one that obscured the future for the first year of the pandemic. I’m back to feeling a mild sense of the “horizonlessness”—the lack of a firm reference point in the future—that was pervasive last year.

Even some experts are surprised by the swerve the pandemic has taken. Before Delta, Andrew Noymer, a public-health professor at UC Irvine, wasn’t expecting a significant resurgence of the virus—or a need to re-mask—until the fall. Earlier this summer, “I was out there saying that it’s okay to take off your mask,” Noymer told me. “And here we are seven weeks later—there’s Delta, and guess who’s masking at the grocery store again, even though he’s fully vaccinated? This guy. I feel the same whiplash.”

David Smith at The Guardian: Biden said America had ‘gained the upper hand’ over Covid – has Delta changed the game?

A month ago Joe Biden appeared to have victory over the coronavirus pandemic within his grasp. As tens of millions of Americans got vaccinated, cases, hospitalizations and deaths were falling precipitously.

Not so fast. In the past week alone the highly contagious Delta variant fueled a rise in daily Covid-19 cases of 43% and pushed deaths up by 39%. Republicans such as Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, proved all too willing to take the politicization of face masks to new extremes.

Biden is confronted anew by the reality that he is trying to govern a nation cripplingly polarized in politics, media and even science. The US president and his team of experts’ mission to tame the pandemic and heal divisions has collided with the Delta variant and the DeSantis variant.

“They may have underestimated the degree to which vaccine hesitancy would become a Republican party platform position,” said Laurie Garrett, an award-winning science writer and author of The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance. “They were imagining that they were dealing with people who were individually scared, had concerns based on crazy things they read on the internet, were fearful of getting autism.


Two Cats, by Gertrude Abercrombie

“What they didn’t imagine is that there would be this whole deliberate Republican party position of opposition to all things that Biden would put forward about Covid. It’s not just vaccines, it’s masks, it’s social distancing, now it’s going to be vaccine passports. I’m just waiting for the guns to come out.” [….]

Garrett added: “The White House has really struggled to come up with a strategy to deal with the 20, 25%, virulently anti-vaccine faction. I don’t think they’ve come close to imagining a strategy for that.

“It’s not for lack of trying. They’ve got they’ve gone through the entire cookbook of recipes for, confronting vaccine resistance and refusal.and I think they just are at a loss, just as we are for just about everything else that goes on politically in the United States right now.”

The vaccine resisters will choose to poison themselves rather than get two life-saving shots in the arm. The Daily Beast: Pharmacists Fight Off COVID Truthers Demanding Horse Medicine Instead of the Jab.

It’s not snake oil, literally. But as bogus COVID-19 miracle drugs go, horse paste comes pretty close.

As coronavirus infections rage among the unvaccinated, those suspicious of the shot are championing a new supposed COVID-19 cure. Thanks to a dubious study of ivermectin, a drug used in humans to treat parasites like scabies, cranks have seized on the drug as the new solution to coronavirus prevention and treatment.

Devotees have besieged pharmacists with prescriptions from shady online prescribers, forcing pharmacies to crack down and treat the antiparasitic drugs like opioids. As human-approved ivermectin prescriptions have been harder to come by, enthusiasts have taken to raiding rural tractor supply stores in search of ivermectin horse paste (packed with “apple flavor!”) and weighed the benefits of taking ivermectin “sheep drench” and a noromectin “injection for swine and cattle.”

“There is certainly a noticeable increase in calls to poison centers regarding ivermectin being misused,” a Texas-based poison control specialist, who requested anonymity due to concerns of repercussions, told The Daily Beast via email. “It’s clear that a vast majority are associated with a belief that it will prevent or treat COVID. That said, I do want to be careful not to be sensational—there’s no epidemic of ivermectin overdoses in hospitals, but it’s needless suffering given the lack of conclusive evidence of a benefit.”

All to treat and prevent a disease for which there’s a free and widely available vaccine.

There’s much more on these crazies at the link.

Hernán Valdovinos, 1948 2

Hernán Valdovinos, 1948

Last year, before the vaccine was available, hundreds of thousands of bikers converged in Sturgis, South Dakota for a massive super-spreader event, and then took the virus home to infect their friends and families in several other states. Now vaccine resisters have once again converged on Sturgis for another super-spreader.

The Washington Post: Sturgis Motorcycle Rally revs up, drawing thousands and heightening delta superspreader fears.

For the 700,000 people expected to descend on South Dakota’s Black Hills for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, the slogan for this year’s event after a year of pandemic restrictions and lockdowns is: “We’re spreading our wings.”

“People want to escape,” said Jerry Cole, director of rally and events for the city of Sturgis, S.D., “and they’re escaping to South Dakota.”

But as coronavirus cases are rising because of the highly transmissible delta variant and millions who remain unvaccinated, there is concern among health officials, residents and even attendees that one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the world, which began Friday, has the potential to become the latest superspreader event at a time when the resurgent virus is ripping across the United States.

The 81st annual motorcycle rally comes a year after roughly 460,000 attendees shunned masks and social distancing at an event that researchers associated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded “had many characteristics of a superspreading event.” At least 649 covid-19 cases were linked to Sturgis, but the true total was obscured as contact tracing was difficult after bikers returned to their home states.

Although Sturgis’s coronavirus case numbers are relatively low, the CDC has designated Meade County, which includes the city, as an area of “high community transmission,” advising residents or visitors to wear masks in public indoor spaces. About 37 percent of Meade County is fully vaccinated, according to the CDC, and more than 47 percent of South Dakota is fully inoculated as of Friday.

Christina Steele, a spokeswoman for the city of Sturgis, told The Washington Post that the city is offering coronavirus tests, masks and hand sanitizer stations for anyone in town, but no mask mandate is in place. The city has also signed off on a temporary open container ordinance in an effort to keep people outside instead of crowded together inside bars. Steele said those who are not vaccinated or who have certain underlying health conditions are putting themselves at risk, but the virus has not been a talking point among those who’ve flocked to the Black Hills.

Vladimir Dunjic, 1957

Vladimir Dunjic, 1957

But the ultimate hot spot in the U.S. right now is Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis is doing everything in his power to kill off the citizens of his state.

The New York Times: As Covid Surges in Florida, DeSantis Refuses to Change Course.

MIAMI — Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida snapped this week at a reporter who asked if masks might help keep children safe in a state that now has more Covid-19 hospitalizations, including for pediatric patients, than anywhere else in the nation.

He blamed President Biden’s purported failure to control the spread of the virus across the border after the president suggested that governors like Mr. DeSantis should either “help” fight the coronavirus or “get out of the way.”

And he touted a new state rule, adopted on Friday, that will counter local school mask mandates by allowing parents to request private school vouchers if they feel that the requirements amount to “harassment.”

Mr. DeSantis has been unyielding in his approach to the pandemic, refusing to change course or impose restrictions despite uncontrolled spread and spiking hospitalizations — an approach that forced him to undertake the biggest risk of his rising political career.

The governor reopened his state’s economy last spring and kept it that way, defying coronavirus surges that filled hospitals, and then celebrated as a statewide vaccination campaign took hold and life in Florida began to look normal.

Now Mr. DeSantis is gambling again. A new virus spike has led to a record number of Covid-19 hospitalizations that have undone some of Florida’s economic and public health gains and again raised the stakes for Mr. DeSantis.

The Washington Post: DeSantis criticizes masks, restrictions as coronavirus roars to record levels in Florida.

As covid-19 hospitalizations in Florida surged past 12,000 this week — far exceeding a record already shattered over the weekend — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) was fed up.

Not with those spreading misinformation about vaccines or refusing to take protective measures. DeSantis instead railed against reporters for creating “hysteria” about rising hospitalizations and accused President Biden of facilitating the virus by not reducing immigration through the southern border.

Florida is the epicenter of a summer coronavirus spike fueled by the highly transmissible delta variant, reporting a fifth of all new U.S. infections and current hospitalizations. New cases and admissions have surpassed last summer’s Sun Belt surge. Florida is center stage of a dangerous phase of the pandemic where a new strain spreads more rapidly in a fully reopened society, attacking young and middle-aged adults and filling up hospital beds faster than ever. On Friday, the state reported 22,783 new cases of the virus and 199 deaths….

The-Birthday-Party Paul lBond

The Birthday Party, Paul Bond

Florida also illustrates a new dynamic in the pandemic now that vaccines are widely available: Some Republican leaders have decided new surges are tolerable and do not require a robust response to quell. Some, including DeSantis, are treating a return of mask mandates and shutdowns as the greater threat

“We can either have a free society or we can have a biomedical security state and I can tell you, Florida, we’re a free state,” DeSantis said at a Wednesday news conference. “People are going to be free to choose to make their own decisions about themselves, about their families, about their kids’ education and about putting food on the table.”

DeSantis, running for reelection next year, has dug into an approach that rejects restrictions that disrupt a tourism-heavy economy and treats public health measures as individual choices. In public appearances since cases and hospitalizations began skyrocketing in July, DeSantis has repeatedly condemned mandates and shutdowns. He has described the ongoing surge as an expected seasonal increase.

I’m so grateful that I live in a state with a sane governor and where most citizens understand that vaccines work. Wherever you live, please stay safe, and wear a mask when you go out. We will get through this somehow.

21 Comments on “Lazy Caturday Reads: The Pandemic is Bad Again and Getting Worse.”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Good article from National Geographic: How will the pandemic end? The science of past outbreaks offers clues.

    A pandemic is by definition a global crisis. Lifting some U.S. public health measures and interventions “gave people a sense that the panic was waning,” Piltch-Loeb says. That euphoria blinded many to the worldwide reality, which remains bleak.

    “Until this [virus] is controlled or more limited globally, it’s not going away,” Piltch-Loeb says. That means declaring the pandemic’s “end” may be a distant goal, requiring different conditions depending on who’s asked….

    When the worldwide spread of a disease is brought under control in a localized area, it’s no longer a pandemic but an epidemic, according to the WHO. If COVID-19 persists globally at what the WHO judges to be “expected or normal levels,” the organization will then re-designate the disease “endemic.”

    At that stage, SARS-CoV-2 will become a circulating virus that’s “less consequential as we build immunity,” says Saad Omer, an epidemiologist and director of the Yale Institute for Global Health. (Read more about how we’ll live with COVID-19 as an endemic disease.)

  2. bostonboomer says:

    The Daily Beast: Tokyo Covered Up Arrival of Deadly New COVID Variant Just Before the Olympics

    TOKYO—Three days before the Olympics began, on July 20, Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) reported to an international organization that the highly infectious Lambda variant had been detected in an airport test in Japan for the first time, but did not announce it widely to the public.

    The report was submitted to an international COVID-19 and other influenza virus database known as GISAID. According to preliminary reports from South American and Japanese scientists, the Lambda variant may possess an increased resistance to vaccines. Although scientific data on the variant is limited in comparison to prevalent COVID-19 variants like Delta, its detection in the airport comes at a time when infections in the country are skyrocketing. On Friday, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Japan passed 1 million and the arrival of Lambda can further complicate matters. For the time being, there appears to have been only one confirmed case.

  3. dakinikat says:

  4. dakinikat says:

    First of all, wtf is corporate communism? These two are not republicans. They’re just freaking fascists. Mussolini’s step children!

    • quixote says:

      It’s getting ridiculous. I guess :ooga: :ooga: “Socialism!” didn’t get the gut reaction anymore. They’ve also tried :siren noises: “Far! Left! Radical! Democrats” No instant freakout, so now they’ve gone back to the tried and true, “communists!”

      Like some of the so-called progressives yammering about “liberal,” they’re just desperate to label people “witch!” and burn ’em. It”s tiring.

  5. dakinikat says:

    Love the pictures today!

  6. quixote says:

    Ivermectin? What happened to hydroxychoroquine?

    The Dark Ages are never over, I guess. There are just blessed times without social media when we don’t have to hear about them.

    • NW Luna says:

      IMO ivermectin is a nasty drug and not to be used lightly. It’s prescribed for scabies, head and public lice, cutaneous larva migrans, and several different parasitic worms. Mechanism of action affects chloride ion channels in invertebrate nerve & muscle causing paralysis and death of parasite. What could possibly go wrong while taking this drug?

      The one study with positive results was retracted. Several good studies found no benefit.

      Adverse effects listed here:

      • quixote says:

        Indeed. The thing with anti-parasite drugs, like Ivermectin, is that they’re targeting a critter whose biology is a lot more like ours than a bacterium’s. The only things that will kill parasites do a lot ( a *lot*) of damage to our cells too. And, obviously, damage enough cells = damaging much of the whole body = death.

        The gumballs who spread this lethal BS on social media need to be silenced and thrown in jail! They’re accessories to murder, even if their weapons are words.

  7. dakinikat says:

  8. dakinikat says:

    • bostonboomer says:

      Hope Bernie reads this.

      • NW Luna says:

        I recall during the caucus bullying session back in 2016 I brought up a Vermont problem and one of the ‘hot chicks for Bernie’ T-shirted women said: “Oh, that’s a state problem. Bernie can’t do anything about that.”

    • djmm says:

      Sad and scary!!

  9. dakinikat says:

  10. palhart says:

    It’s a reign of terror for these poor children, who aren’t eligible for vaccinations yet, and their parents. Lives don’t matter to these crazed governors, politicians, and non-vaxxers. I have to catch myself from wishing they’d all get the virus, but every day of bad news I edge closer to hoping for just that.