I have to admit I was an early and strong reactor to the pandemic. As someone who's been a frequent flyer for 5 decades, I always wear masks on planes anyway. But when I got back from Korea in early January, I realized something was awry. There were very sick people on the plane and I was happy to have an N-99 mask on. When we got home, Roland-- who always would always get uptight because he said my masks frightened the other passengers-- got very sick. He never gets sick. We had never heard of the coronavirus or COVID but he had it.
Meanwhile, I wasn't just frightening people on my flights, I was frightening people in the grocery store. There was no one-- like in zero people-- wearing masks in Los Feliz but me. At first I was just ignored but by February, people would run away from me... which made shopping much easier. A SNL actor in the neighborhood took that photo of me when I was out for a hike. And then by March, despite Trump's lies, government organs had started talking about COVID and-- BOOM!-- pretty much everyone was wearing a mask in Los Feliz.
I almost never go out of the house, but when I do, I never go out without a double mask, nitrile gloves and surgical goggles. Some people think I'm over-reacting. Maybe so but I'm on a light chemo maintenance program and the vaccine and chemo don't work and play well together, so I haven't been vaccinated yet-- although my doctor has it figured out now and says she will vaccinate me in April. Thursday, in his NY Times column, Covid's Partisan Errors, David Leonhardt seems-- like most of the country-- to be getting sick of the pandemic safety protocols, comparing normal Americans to the nuts on the right who "have tended to underplay the risk of Covid-19. They have been less willing to wear masks or avoid indoor gatherings and have been more hesitant to get vaccinated... part of a larger pattern in which American conservatives are often skeptical of public-health warnings from scientists-- on climate change, air pollution, gun violence, school lunches and more. In the case of Covid, Republican politicians and media figures have encouraged risky behavior by making false statements about the virus."
Leonhardt's point, though is that "conservatives aren’t the only ones misinterpreting scientific evidence in systematic ways. Americans on the left half of the political spectrum are doing it, too," citing a survey that Democrats consistently overstate the risks.
More than one-third of Republican voters, for example, said that people without Covid symptoms could not spread the virus. Similar shares said that Covid was killing fewer people than either the seasonal flu or vehicle crashes. All of those beliefs are wrong, and badly so. Asymptomatic spread is a major source of transmission, and Covid has killed about 15 times more Americans than either the flu or vehicle crashes do in a typical year.
Schools are closed in blue states and Leonhardt, who seemed eager to chastise states that have done so, never once mentioned teachers, just how statistically improbable it was for a child to get sick and die-- just a few, he wrote-- claiming liberals "overreact to social problems."
On Thursday, the U.S. reported 1,401 new deaths and yesterday there were another 1,268, bringing the U.S. total to 554,104, far more than the next two worst-hit (in terms of mortality) countries in the world, Brazil (290,525 deaths) and Mexico (196,606 deaths), even though Brazil and Mexico have a combined population that is more than 11 million more than the U.S. population-- and with far fewer medical resources to save peoples' lives. Of the dozen states with the most cases per million residents, all but one are run by pandemic-denying Republican crackpots (who, it's worth mentioning, were elected by pandemic-denying Republican voters/crackpots:
North Dakota- 133,210 cases per million residents
South Dakota- 130,579 cases per million residents
Rhode Island- 125,584 cases per million residents
Utah- 118,775 cases per million residents
Iowa- 118,225 cases per million residents
Tennessee- 116,943 cases per million residents
Arizona- 114,742 cases per million residents
Oklahoma- 109,804 cases per million residents
Arkansas- 108,779 cases per million residents
Nebraska- 106,396 cases per million residents
South Carolina- 104,956 cases per million residents
Alabama- 104,132 cases per million residents
The country would be soooooo better off without the pandemic-deniers in these states, because-- among many other reasons-- we will never be rid of this pandemic while they walk around spreading it. I imagine that eventually, they'll have to be put down to protect the country... because the more they continue to propagate the disease, the more deadly variants will pop up and it's just a matter of time before one will be 100% vaccine-resistant.
Democrats, on the other hand, are more likely to exaggerate the severity of Covid. When asked how often Covid patients had to be hospitalized, a very large share of Democratic voters said that at least 20 percent did. The actual hospitalization rate is between 1 percent and 5 percent.
Republicans’ underestimation of Covid risks helps explain their resistance to wearing a mask-- even though doing so could save their own life or that of a family member. And Democrats’ overestimation of risks explains why so many have accepted school closures-- despite the damage being done to children, in lost learning, lost social connections and, in the case of poorer children, missed meals.
This morning, CNN reported on the variant that is taking root in wide-open Florida. "A new, more contagious and potentially more deadly variant of the coronavirus is spreading across the US, and health officials [if not David Leonhardt] are worried. The B.1.1.7 variant, first spotted in the UK, is not only more easily transmitted, but it also appears to be more deadly. Dr. Anthony Fauci warned about it Friday in a White House coronavirus update.
It was first spotted in Colorado at the end of December, said Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical adviser to President Biden.
"Since then it has been detected in 50 jurisdictions in the United States, and likely accounts now for about 20 to 30% of the infections in this country. And that number is growing," Fauci said.
"Of concern is that there are about 50% increase in transmission with this particular variant that has been documented in the UK and there's likely an increase in severity of disease if infected with this variant," he said.
Fauci pointed to one study showing a 64% increased risk of death for people infected with B.1.1.7 compared to those infected with the older, so-called wild-type variant. He showed a second study that indicated a 61% higher risk of death with B.1.1.7.
..."The way we can counter 1.1.7, which is a growing threat in our country, is to do two things: To get as many people vaccinated as quickly and as expeditiously as possible with the vaccine that we know works against this variant and, finally, to implement the public health measures that we talk about all the time ... masking, physical distancing, and avoiding congregant settings, particularly indoors," he said.
Florida's criminal governor can claim all he wants about what a great job he did-- he is a strong contender for worst pandemic governor in the country-- but the fact that he never really shut the state down and then reopened it way prematurely has lead to Florida becoming a petri-dish of variants. This morning, The Independent reported that mutated strains of COVID-- but especially B.1.1.7-- have now reached 41 of Floridas 67 counties and infected hundreds of residents. "Florida leads the United States with 912 variant cases, almost all of which are the B.1.1.7... Experts say that the new mutations of Covid-19 bind more tightly to human cells and are therefore more contagious than the original strain. The state of variant spread in Florida was only revealed after the Orlando Sentinel sued the state’s Department of Health, which reports the data to the CDC. In its lawsuit the newspaper stated that the department had withheld information for 57 days, in violation of Florida’s public records law and constitution. The released data showed that the infection rate peaked on 7 February when 124 cases were reported by laboratories testing the genetic makeup of samples. Observers say that Florida’s total is likely a lot higher as fewer than 1 per cent of Covid cases are tested for the mutations. The data also shows that most of the variant cases have been found in South Florida, but all counties in Central Florida have also found cases. In total five of the variant cases have been fatal, with 34 hospitalisations, including a 21-year-old woman."
No wonder DeSantis was hiding the data from the public, while he opened the state and invited COVID to have a go at it! But even by DeSantis' crooked, doctored numbers, Florida reported 5,140 new cases, bringing the state's total to nearly to 2 million, a milestone it is crossing today. The state has 93,085 cases per million, if DeSantis' deceitful numbers are to be believed.