Less Rigorous About COVID Precautions Now?

Updated: Jun 26, 2021

Having spent lots of time in Asia, masks are no problem for me. I've been wearing them on planes for decades and I was the first one in my part of town to start wearing a mask-- and a heavy duty N-99 one at that-- once there was even a hint of a pandemic, early in February, 2021. Roland said I was scaring everyone and I should stop. Now I'm double-vaccinated and I've let my guard down considerably. No more vinyl gloves, no more goggles and I eat out in restaurants again, which means I'm not wearing mask around people who may or may not be vaccinated. I have a feeling I was so eager to "get back to normal," that I let my guard down too quickly.

Less than 23% of the world's population has had even one COVID vaccine and many of those are not very effective vaccines from China and Russia. In poor countries less than 1% of the populations have gotten even one vaccination. In terms of fully vaccinated-- as of Friday-- here are the rates for countries Americans like to travel to-- from most vaccinated to least vaccinated (2 shots):

  • Israel- 57% (61% one shot)

  • U.K.- 48% (65% one shot)

  • U.S.- 46% (54% one shot)

  • Germany- 34% (53% one shot)

  • Spain- 33% (51% one shot)

  • Switzerland- 32%

  • Belgium- 32%

  • Greece- 32% (43% one shot)

  • Poland- 31%

  • Austria- 31%

  • Portugal- 30%

  • Denmark- 30%

  • Netherlands- 29% (51% one shot)

  • Norway- 28%

  • Italy- 28% (54% one shot)

  • Czechia- 27%

  • Sweden- 26%

  • France- 26% (48% one shot)

  • Dominican Republic- 25%

  • Morocco- 24% (27% one shot)

  • Canada- 23% (68% one shot)

  • Ireland- 20%

  • Hong Kong- 18%

  • China- 16% (45% one shot)

  • Mexico- 14% (23% one shot)

  • Brazil- 12%

  • Russia- 11% (14% one shot)

  • Japan- 9.2% (20% one shot)

  • South Korea- 8.7% (29% one shot)

  • Indonesia- 4.7%

  • Australia- 4.4% (23% one shot)

  • India- 3.8% (18% one shot)

  • Thailand- 3.5% (8.9% one shot)

  • South Africa- 0.8% (4.4% one shot)

  • Egypt- 0.7% (3.4% one shot)

Yesterday 10 countries reported having over 10,000 new cases, an improvement in most cases:

  • Brazil- 79,277

  • India- 49,052

  • Colombia- 32,733

  • Argentina- 24,023

  • Russia- 20,393

  • Indonesia- 18,872

  • South Africa- 18,762

  • USA- 15,537

  • UK- 14,969

  • Iran- 10,820

In the U.S., anti-mask red states Florida and Texas are still getting the most new infections. But, 7 states have distributed at least 90% of vaccines each has received: New Mexico (98.29%), Wisconsin (95.59%), Connecticut (92.58%), Vermont (92.27%), Massachusetts (90.25%), Washington (90.1%) and New York (90.08%). Unfortunately, five states have distributed less than 75% of the vaccines they have received

  • Alabama- 69.37%

  • Mississippi- 71.05%

  • North Carolina- 73.79%

  • Georgia- 74.13%

  • West Virginia- 74.37%

Meanwhile, this morning CNBC reported that yesterday, the World Health Organization was urging even "fully vaccinated people to continue to wear masks, social distance and practice other Covid-19 pandemic safety measures as the highly contagious delta variant spreads rapidly across the globe. 'People cannot feel safe just because they had the two doses. They still need to protect themselves,' Dr. Mariangela Simao, WHO assistant director-general for access to medicines and health products, said during a news briefing from the agency’s Geneva headquarters. 'Vaccine alone won’t stop community transmission,' Simao added. 'People need to continue to use masks consistently, be in ventilated spaces, hand hygiene ... the physical distance, avoid crowding. This still continues to be extremely important, even if you’re vaccinated when you have a community transmission ongoing.'"

The health organization’s comments come as some countries, including the United States, have largely done away with masks and pandemic-related restrictions as the Covid vaccines have helped drive down the number of new infections and deaths.
...The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that about half of adults infected in an outbreak of the delta variant in Israel were fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, prompting the government there to reimpose an indoor mask requirement and other measures.
“Yes, you can reduce some measures and different countries have different recommendations in that regard. But there’s still the need for caution,” Dr. Bruce Aylward, a senior advisor to the WHO’s director-general, said at the briefing. “As we are seeing, there are new variants emerging.”
The WHO said last week that delta is becoming the dominant variant of the disease worldwide.
WHO officials have said the variant, first found in India but now in at least 92 countries, is the fastest and fittest coronavirus strain yet, and it will “pick off” the most vulnerable people, especially in places with low Covid vaccination rates.
They said there were reports that the delta variant also causes more severe symptoms, but that more research is needed to confirm those conclusions. Still, there are signs the delta strain could provoke different symptoms than other variants.
It has the potential “to be more lethal because it’s more efficient in the way it transmits between humans and it will eventually find those vulnerable individuals who will become severely ill, have to be hospitalized and potentially die,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said Monday.

Arkansas is a super red state absolutely filled with Trump/QAnon crackpots-- as well as with new COVID-19 cases and, as you have probably surmised, red-baseball cap-wearing anti-vaccine nuts. Their very right-wing Republican governor, Asa Hutchinson, took to Twitter today to implore his citizens to wake up to reality.

In an OpEd for The Hill today, Jeffrey McCall, a media critic and professor of communication, wrote that "Civilizations hinge on having effective communication systems through which ideas and information can be credibly disseminated. Societies are fractured when subsections of people can’t understand each other or don’t trust each other, making collaborative functioning impossible. It is hopeless to debate foundational principles, let alone particular issues, when the flow of information and opinion is disrupted with spin, fabrication, fallacious reasoning and shallow bombast. But that’s what America is getting today from too many of the nation’s major sources of messaging. Americans put little trust in the institutions that play the key roles in disseminating the information flow on which democracies and civil societies function. Credibility in establishment media is a wreck. It’s the same sad situation with government, big tech, and educational institutions. Too many of these institutions have strayed from a sense of serving a citizenry, and instead, have been caught snookering people for self-serving ends. Few today think big media exist to promote ideas and information in a way that enhances a culture. Few believe tech giants are consumer-focused avenues promoting civic discourse. Few think the education establishment is focused primarily on empowering students with knowledge and critical thinking as opposed to dogma and lucrative conformity. Then there are the politicians. Many elements within these establishment communication sources have sparked-- and profited from-- polarization, failing to provide reasoned, accurate public deliberation that looks for common understandings. Strident messaging based on dividing people into subgroups poisons the culture to the point at which neighbors don’t trust each other to hold differing opinions."