Debora Iyall was lead singer for Romeo Void, a band whose musical success changed my life. She's been working as an art teacher in Southern California and this morning she sent me a note to let me know that she is moving to New Mexico: "I left my position when the mask mandate was cancelled in our school district Monday," she wrote.
Debora's decision was just a few hours before the Senate voted to override the CDC's decision to keep mask mandates up for public transportation (as in planes and trains). The voted was 57-40. Only one Republican, Mitt Romney, had the sense to vote to keep the mandates. But it passed because 8 cowardly conservative Democrats voted with the Republicans to kill more Americans: Michael Bennett (CO), Catherine Cortez Masto (NV), Maggie Hassan (NH), Mark Kelly (AZ), Joe Manchin (WV), Jackie Rosen (NV), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) and Jon Tester (MT).
Here in L.A., some people get uptight if a restaurant asks for proof of vaccinations. I get uptight if a restaurant doesn't ask; in fact, I leave. This pandemic is far from over; it's just taking a little rest. Numbers of daily new cases around the world are spiking dangerously. 8 countries reported more than 50,000 new cases yesterday:
South Korea- 362,328 (over 400,000 today)
Germany- 225,387 (over 275,000 today)
Netherlands- 52,857 (over 60,000 today)
UK- 52,698 (over 90,000 today)
And daily death counts are still horrific in the US (967), Russia (558), Brazil (323), Indonesia (308), South Korea (293), Hong Kong (289) and Germany (287). China, as we discussed a few days ago, has been relatively immune because of their zero tolerance policy... but it's starting to get hairy there too. China's daily case loads are still small but worrying because of how much higher they are than ever before:
YouGov's new poll for The Economist was released today. 46% of registered voters support a mask mandate for indoor spaces and 43% oppose it. You can probably guess how that breaks down by party:
76% of Biden voters support a mask mandate and just 15% oppose it. Among Trump voters, it is like a mirror image-- 81% oppose a mandate and just 15% support it. Among independent voters, 44% favor a mandate and 45% oppose it. Similarly, when asked with is a bigger priority, protecting Americans' health or protecting the economy, 52% of registered voters say health and 48% say the economy. Among Biden voters, 77% say health and 23% say the economy and among Trump voters, 25% prioritized health and 75% prioritize the economy.
71% of registered voters report that they are fully vaccinated-- including 90% of Biden voters but just 61% of Trump voters. Unfortunately, 62% of voters think the worst of the pandemic is behind us-- including 54% of Biden voters and 80% of Trump voters. These people may be in for a very unpleasant surprise. This morning, the NY Times reported that the pandemic is picking up steam again in the Asia-Pacific region and in Europe "just as countries on both continents have rapidly lifted most pandemic restrictions. Global cases, which bottomed out in early March, are rising again."
Parts of Asia are enduring their worst outbreaks ever as the Omicron variant continues its first sweep through the continent. The situation is especially dire in China, an outlier that remains committed to stamping out the virus, as well as New Zealand and South Korea, countries that like others around Asia have moved on from what had been some of the world’s strictest Covid rules.
In Europe, some are bracing for what could be another Omicron wave, with cases on the rise again in France, Britain, Italy and elsewhere and again approaching record levels in Germany. And the war in Ukraine has prompted fears that another outbreak could explode there at any time.
This comes weeks after many European countries thought they were free of the worst of Covid and raced to lift restrictions in February and March.
...Austria, the first Western democracy to impose a general Covid vaccine mandate, abandoned the requirement last week. Caseloads have now surged to record levels there, according to Our World in Data.
Dr. Eric Topol, the founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, said that loosening restrictions in Europe may have contributed to a spike in cases. Other factors could include waning vaccine immunity and the rapid spread of a more contagious Omicron subvariant, BA.2, he said.
Dr. Topol said Europe’s worst periods throughout the pandemic have been a harbinger of what was to come in the United States.
“Every time we followed suit within a matter of weeks,” he said.
...Dr. Jay Varma, an epidemiologist who was a senior health adviser to former Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City, warned that people should be prepared for another wave of cases and not let their guard down.
Too late for most Americans, especially the conservative variety.