TL;DNR = Too Late; Do Not Resuscitate

[NB: check the byline, thanks! / ~Rayne]

A friend sent me this tweet with an embedded TikTok clip late Friday night:

Yes, Idaho’s Department of Health and Welfare declared it was activating Crisis Standards of Care (CSC) effective September 6; the standard was reiterated on September 16. The “Universal DNR” referred to in the TikTok is on page 9 of the IDHW’s document, Patient Care Strategies for Scarce Resource Situations for use under CSC conditions.

Idaho has simply run out of ICU beds, ventilators, and personnel to support persons who either code in the hospital or arrive at the hospital in need of resuscitation.

Technically speaking, the guideline isn’t universal across all of Idaho; the IDHW noted in its September 16 statement,

… Although DHW has activated CSC, hospitals will implement as needed and according to their own CSC policies. However, not all hospitals will move to that standard of care. If they are managing under their current circumstances, they can continue to do so. …

But chances are good if the ICU beds are full in any Idaho hospital, patients are being transferred to other hospitals until their beds are full as well.

None of this had to happen.

In fact, this change in triage methodology could have been foreseen.

Last March we saw the first documented and publicly acknowledged “codice nero” conditions in northern Italy and then in Detroit, when hospitals were completely overwhelmed by the first surge of COVID-19 patients. While Italians may not have known about the implementation of code black, Detroit’s local news reported on the change in triage protocols after patients and their families were notified on admission that care would be allocated in order of patients’ likelihood of survival due to the limited resources available, from ICU beds to ventilators to qualified health care staff.

The swamping of hospitals in March 2020 could have been avoided had lock-downs and mask mandates been implemented by the end of February/first week of March, but there likely would have been a surge in hospitalizations simply because government and public alike still had not fully acknowledged the threat COVID-19 posed.

Idaho’s hospitals have been and are among the worst in the nation for crisis care preparedness. As of the third week of August, Idaho was number three behind Georgia and Texas among states that are least prepared for hospital capacity. At that time Idaho’s ICU beds were already 83% occupied.

The state had ample to adjust to a pandemic and prepare for the possibility of a surge in COVID-19 cases. They had plenty of examples of crisis level care across the country to shape their response.

But now, nineteen months after the first wave began, when multiple vaccines are freely available to the public? The ICU beds are beyond full if Idaho must declare the equivalent of a code black.

Unvaccinated Idahoans chose this. They willfully opted to court hospitalization, long-term disability, and death by COVID-19.

The worst part is what the unvaccinated are doing to those who chose otherwise — like those who arrive at the hospital with a gunshot wound or a heart attack or stroke, who may have been vaccinated but are likely to die because they will only receive palliative care instead of interventions to save their lives.

Trump’s death panels continue apace.

~ ~ ~

EDIT: 21-SEP-2021 — 1:50 AM —

To make it easier for folks who don’t want to open the IDHW’s document, Patient Care Strategies for Scarce Resource Situations for use under CSC conditions to read page 9, here’s a snapshot:

Note there is zero reference to COVID-19 on the entire page and the “Universal DNR Order” refers to all patients in cardiac arrest.

GOP Denounces Barry Goldwater, John Tower, and Richard Nixon?

John Tower and Barry Goldwater, ca. 1963.

The Republican governors are all clutching their pearls over Biden’s announcement to use the power of the federal government to require many businesses across the country to ensure their employees are either vaccinated against COVID-19 or are regularly tested. The New York Times did a round-up of some their comments, many taken from either Twitter or Sunday morning talk shows. Here’s a taste . . .

Now, they [various GOP governors] are arguing that Mr. Biden’s plan is a big-government attack on states’ rights, private business and personal choice, and promise swift legal action to challenge it, setting up a high-stakes constitutional showdown over the president’s powers to curb the pandemic.

“@JoeBiden see you in court,” Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota wrote on Twitter. Gov. Mark Gordon of Wyoming said the new rule “has no place in America,” and said he had asked the state’s attorney general to be ready to take legal action.

In Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxton questioned President Biden’s authority to require vaccinations or weekly testing at private businesses with more than 100 workers.

“I don’t believe he has the authority to just dictate again from the presidency that every worker in America that works for a large company or a small company has to get a vaccine,” Mr. Paxton said, speaking on a radio show hosted by Steve Bannon, who served as a strategist for Donald J. Trump during part of his presidency. “That is outside the role of the president to dictate.”

[snip]

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas called the actions an “assault on private businesses” in a statement on Twitter. He said he issued an executive order protecting Texans’ right to choose whether or not they would be vaccinated. “Texas is already working to halt this power grab,” he wrote.

Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona wrote on Twitter: “The Biden-Harris administration is hammering down on private businesses and individual freedoms in an unprecedented and dangerous way.” He questioned how many workers would be displaced, businesses fined, and children kept out of the classroom because of the mandates, and he vowed to push back.

*sigh*

Friends, let me introduce you to Public Law 91-596, initially signed into law on December 29, 1970 by Richard Nixon, and amended variously since then. Below are the first two sections of the law. Notice, please, the language I’ve highlighted with underlining (bold is from the original text):

An Act
To assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women; by authorizing enforcement of the standards developed under the Act; by assisting and encouraging the States in their efforts to assure safe and healthful working conditions; by providing for research, information, education, and training in the field of occupational safety and health; and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That this Act may be cited as the “Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.”

Footnote (1) See Historical notes at the end of this document for changes and amendments affecting the OSH Act since its passage in 1970 through January 1, 2004.

SEC. 2. Congressional Findings and Purpose
(a) The Congress finds that personal injuries and illnesses arising out of work situations impose a substantial burden upon, and are a hindrance to, interstate commerce in terms of lost production, wage loss, medical expenses, and disability compensation payments.

(b) The Congress declares it to be its purpose and policy, through the exercise of its powers to regulate commerce among the several States and with foreign nations and to provide for the general welfare, to assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions and to preserve our human resources

My, but the language of paragraph (a) sounds like Congress intended the US Department of Labor to regulate conditions that create or spread illnesses in the workplace, and paragraph (b) states pretty clearly where Congress claimed the authority for doing so is grounded in the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution.

Continuing on, the act spelled out some of the details of that “purpose and policy” with the following 13 sub-paragraphs (again, underlining is mine):

(1) by encouraging employers and employees in their efforts to reduce the number of occupational safety and health hazards at their places of employment, and to stimulate employers and employees to institute new and to perfect existing programs for providing safe and healthful working conditions;

(2) by providing that employers and employees have separate but dependent responsibilities and rights with respect to achieving safe and healthful working conditions;

(3) by authorizing the Secretary of Labor to set mandatory occupational safety and health standards applicable to businesses affecting interstate commerce, and by creating an Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission for carrying out adjudicatory functions under the Act;

(4) by building upon advances already made through employer and employee initiative for providing safe and healthful working conditions;

(5) by providing for research in the field of occupational safety and health, including the psychological factors involved, and by developing innovative methods, techniques, and approaches for dealing with occupational safety and health problems;

(6) by exploring ways to discover latent diseases, establishing causal connections between diseases and work in environmental conditions, and conducting other research relating to health problems, in recognition of the fact that occupational health standards present problems often different from those involved in occupational safety;

(7) by providing medical criteria which will assure insofar as practicable that no employee will suffer diminished health, functional capacity, or life expectancy as a result of his work experience;

(8) by providing for training programs to increase the number and competence of personnel engaged in the field of occupational safety and health; affecting the OSH Act since its passage in 1970 through January 1, 2004.

(9) by providing for the development and promulgation of occupational safety and health standards;

(10) by providing an effective enforcement program which shall include a prohibition against giving advance notice of any inspection and sanctions for any individual violating this prohibition;

(11) by encouraging the States to assume the fullest responsibility for the administration and enforcement of their occupational safety and health laws by providing grants to the States to assist in identifying their needs and responsibilities in the area of occupational safety and health, to develop plans in accordance with the provisions of this Act, to improve the administration and enforcement of State occupational safety and health laws, and to conduct experimental and demonstration projects in connection therewith;

(12) by providing for appropriate reporting procedures with respect to occupational safety and health which procedures will help achieve the objectives of this Act and accurately describe the nature of the occupational safety and health problem;

(13) by encouraging joint labor-management efforts to reduce injuries and disease arising out of employment.

And what kind of liberal cabal forced this clearly authoritarian legislation through Congress? I’m glad you asked.

The Senate vote was 83-3, with 14 not voting. Among the 83 were Barry Goldwater and John Tower — not exactly a liberal pair of folks. The only three senators to vote against this were James Eastland, Sam Ervin, and Strom Thurmond. Over in the House, the final vote was 310-58, with 65 not voting. Looking at the voting patterns of some of the state delegations, it’s plain to see that this was both bipartisan and widely accepted on their side of the building, too.

  • Kentucky (4D/3R) voted 7-0-0;
  • Wisconsin (5D/5R) voted 9-0-1;
  • Oklahoma (4D/2R) voted 5-0-1;
  • Florida (9D/3R) voted 6-4-2, with the 4 nays all Democrats and 2 who abstained both GOP;
  • Tennessee (5D/4R) voted 5-1-3 (the 3 included 2 Dems and 1 Republican);
  • Arkansas (4D/1R) voted 4-0-1 (the 1 was a D);
  • South Dakota’s (2R) voted 1-0-1;
  • Montana (2D) voted 2-0-0;
  • Wyoming’s sole GOP representative voted aye.

In other words, there were staunch conservatives who voted for this, along with plenty of non-conservatives. The bill that became Public Law 91-596 was seen by a wide majority of both the members of the House and Senate to be a good thing, and well within the powers of the Federal Government to undertake.

Go back to the text of the law above, and look at items 6 and 7. These both make clear that OSHA’s mission includes dealing with disease transmission in the workplace. Then skip down to 11, which says the Federal government should work with states, including providing grants for this work. You know, like providing a free vaccine to deal with disease transmission in the workplace.

OSHA has been around for more than 50 years, and no one has succeeded in challenging their the authority to regulate health conditions in the workplace under this act. There have been successful arguments overturning specific regulations, but the authority to regulate has not been overturned.

I’m not a governor or an attorney general, but I can read the plain text of the law. I can see the wide political range of legislators who voted to create OSHA, and given that OSHA is still here and going strong after 50 years, it’s clear that the ability of the federal government to regulate the workplace for safety and health has not been overturned or declared unconstitutional.

So if anyone reading happens to be in conversation with one of these pearl-clutching Republican leaders when they start in on their “This is unprecedented and un-American!” nonsense, ask them for a link.

Better yet, ask Governor Ducey why Goldwater voted for OSHA. Ask Governor Abbott and AG Paxton why John Tower voted for OSHA. Ask any of today’s so-called conservatives why a bunch of other conservatives voted with Goldwater and Tower to approve OSHA, and why a conservative like Richard Nixon signed it.

The Danger Of Stupidity

Posts in this series

In the first post in this series, I quoted Charles Sanders Peirce for the proposition that the only reason we think is to relieve doubt by coming to a belief. We don’t necessarily seek the best belief, or some objectively correct belief (if there is one), though we might, and it might be best if we did. All we really want to do is to relieve doubt.

But that leaves out people who don’t ever doubt anything. It also points to people who claim to think but who aren’t interested in the solution with the best chance of meeting their most important needs; just something that relieves them of doubt. The pandemic has produced excellent examples. Media coverage and life experience have caused many people doubt. They look for relief from the doubt. They don’t need the best answer, or a sane answer, they just need to settle whatever their doubt might be.

David Byrd

In June 2020, Tennessee State Representative David Byrd of Waynesboro, TN voted for a resolution stating that the mainstream media has sensationalized the coverage of Covid-19, and that the General Assembly

… congratulate[s] the people of Tennessee for clearly seeing that the mainstream media has sensationalized the reporting on COVID-19 in the service of political agendas.

Byrd was diagnosed with Covid November 25, went into the hospital December 5, was on a ventilator for 55 days, lost his liver and required a transplant, and came out of it urging people to get vaccinated. He got sick before the vaccine was available, and he claims never to have been anti-vax. He now thinks Covid is dangerous and urges people to get vaccinated.

It’s hard to say what goes on in people’s minds, but the statement about sensationalizing the pandemic is an important clue. Assuming that he actually believes this, what exactly was he talking about? Media coverage wasn’t bloody. I think it didn’t go far enough in showing the frightening situation of sick and dying people. TV reporters did not show actual patients, or corpses. If Byrd had seen video of people breathing by ventilator, he might not have been so blasé about his own risk. If he had listened to Covid patients trying to breathe on their own, he might have thought twice about hanging around with potential vectors, including his equally ill-informed colleagues. Did he think it was political and thus damaging to Trump? Would political fault matter to sick and dying people, or people who didn’t understand the danger? Did he feel the same way about the absurd emails and Benghazi frenzies?

No, I think we can safely analyze this in Charles Sanders Peirce’s terms as expressed in The Fixation of Belief (1877):

The irritation of doubt is the only immediate motive for the struggle to attain belief. It is certainly best for us that our beliefs should be such as may truly guide our actions so as to satisfy our desires; and this reflection will make us reject every belief which does not seem to have been so formed as to insure this result. … [T]he sole object of inquiry is the settlement of opinion. We may fancy that this is not enough for us, and that we seek, not merely an opinion, but a true opinion. But put this fancy to the test, and it proves groundless; for as soon as a firm belief is reached we are entirely satisfied, whether the belief be true or false.

Byrd had a doubt about Covid that he wanted to relieve by finding a belief that would satisfy his desires. His only desire was political, not his personal safety. So he fixed on a political belief. Sadly that was a bad guess about the best thing for him.

Phil Valentine

Phil Valentine is a conservative talk radio host on WWTN-FM in Nashville. Here’s his blog post on the vaccine dated December 17, 2020. After ranting about Hillary Clinton and the dearth of credit to Trump for getting the vaccine out there, he says:

I’m not an anti-vaxxer. I’m just using common sense. What are my odds of getting COVID? They’re pretty low. What are my odds of dying from COVID if I do get it? Probably way less than one percent. I’m doing what everyone should do and that’s my own personal health risk assessment. If you have underlying health issues you probably need to get the vaccine. If you’re not at high risk of dying from COVID then you’re probably safer not getting it. That evokes shrieks of horror from many, but it’s true. I’m weighing the known versus the unknown.

I suppose we might ask what these “unknowns” are, or whether he plans on getting the pneumonia and shingles vaccines, but that’s too picky. Maybe he’s just not very smart. Here’s his take on climate change, echoing the idiot Senator Imhofe with his dumb snowball. Valentine does his own reasoning and research on the pandemic. It might have been better to start with a question like this: scientists, including epidemiologists, virologists, and public health experts say Covid is dangerous, and that the vaccines are safe and work, so everyone should get a jab. Now how am I different from everyone else? Why isn’t that the best advice for me?

Instead, I’ll guess he read some stuff about Covid, and decided he knew best about his own body and its ability to shut down the virus. He thinks we should all make our own decisions about our health, apparently without reference to expertise. He thinks we marvelous Americans can handle the complexity of the pandemic in the same way we decide between tacos and huevos rancheros. He places no value on scientific information or conclusions, doesn’t know any statistics, doesn’t grasp the principles of epidemiology or virology, doesn’t understand and probably doesn’t believe in the principles that underlie the vaccines, and doesn’t think any of that is important. I’ll bet he can’t do his own taxes, though.

And, guess what: nearly dying has converted him to a vaccine believer.

Valentine at least recognized that the right question is his personal safety; but he doesn’t know how to think about that problem, and just happens to come out in the same place as David Byrd.

The disinterested, the ignorant, and the prejudiced

There is a large group who just ignore the problem, or believe nonsense. I won’t use names, but they’re all over: people who just couldn’t quite get around to getting vaccinated, or who are convinced that it’s a trap or a hoax. Here are some examples.

These are people who aren’t paying attention. I am grateful for the people reaching out to them. They are doing what needs to be done.

Conclusion

In the first post in this series, I hinted at my view that bad thinking is central to the success of the Oligarchy in spreading their self-aggrandizing lies. I hope this discussion helps us see how well that works.

In an earlier series I argued that democracy only works if there is a sense of community among the members. As we face the pandemic and the desperately dangerous climate disaster, we need to operate as a community. We have to operate on the principle that no one is safe unless we are all safe. We have to settle our doubts in the way that will enable us to flourish, not in ways that fit our prejudices.

[Image Source: “I Did My Own Research” by @GQPMonitor]

This Is Your D*ck on COVID-19: Reaching Stubbornly Unvaxxed Men

[NB: Note the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

New Yorker’s contributor Jelani Cobb tweeted this weekend about improving vaccination rates:

Color me highly skeptical.

Anti-vaxx/COVID-hoax/Anti-Mask men have studiously ignored science throughout the pandemic, including 15 months of published research about the risk COVID poses to their ‘nads.

I wrote last September about the risks to men’s reproductive organs:

Autopsies of COVID-19 victims showed damage to testicles:

Yang M, et al. Pathological Findings in the Testes of COVID-19 Patients: Clinical Implications. Eur
Urol Focus (2020), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.euf.2020.05.009
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2405456920301449

Based on findings, not only should kidney function and hormone levels be monitored but younger men should receive fertility counseling for family planning:

Wang, S., Zhou, X., Zhang, T. et al. The need for urogenital tract monitoring in COVID-19. Nat Rev Urol 17, 314–315 (2020). Published 20 April 2020 Issue Date June 2020
https://doi.org/10.1038/s41585-020-0319-7
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41585-020-0319-7

There have been many anecdotes of patients with sequelae lasting months after their initial illness. A large enough number exist for them to form groups in social media to compare notes about their experience. As the underlying SARS-CoV-2 virus is novel, we don’t have years of experience to look back upon for trends. We can’t yet predict whether there will be lifelong disability though many patients have reported development of diabetes, kidney dysfunction, heart disease, neurological impairment which have lasted months after they were technically deemed recovered. Studies on COVID-19’s long term effects have only recently begun and may last months to years.

Last fall we didn’t have anywhere near the amount of data we have now on COVID-19. The evidence accrued since the first published study from last April only confirmed many men infected by SARS-CoV-2 have suffered vascular damage to penile and testicular tissue. Though at least one study indicates semen may be an unlikely vector of infection carrying little active viral material, biopsies of living and deceased patients show damage to testicles which may result in lower sperm counts.

In other words, not only may men who’ve had COVID not be able to get it up, they may have difficulty impregnating their partner.

And we don’t yet know with certainty what percentage of men will have permanent damage versus long- or short-term damage.

If COVID damages blood vessels in men’s reproductive organs the same way it does in other organs and limbs, erectile dysfunction medications like Viagara and Cialis may not work as well (or at all) because functioning blood vessels are needed to distribute the medication throughout tissues, so to say.

Are women also experiencing damage to their reproductive organs? At least one study from last summer suggested SARS-C0V-2 could affect the endometrial cells in women’s uteruses posing a risk to pregnancies.

But here’s a key difference in the amount of COVID damage risk between women and men: men have more ACE2 receptors because of their testosterone. The study on women’s uteruses suggests ACE2 levels will vary with progesterone levels during a woman’s cycle and phase of pregnancy — they won’t have the same level of risk all the time.

There have been more studies examining the risk to men’s reproductive organs since last September:

Achua, Justin K et al. “Histopathology and Ultrastructural Findings of Fatal COVID-19 Infections on Testis.” The world journal of men’s health vol. 39,1 (2021): 65-74. doi:10.5534/wjmh.200170
[Published online 2020 Nov 3]
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7752514/

Abdel-Moneim, Adel. “COVID-19 Pandemic and Male Fertility: Clinical Manifestations and Pathogenic Mechanisms.” Biochemistry. Biokhimiia vol. 86,4 (2021): 389-396. doi:10.1134/S0006297921040015
[Published 2021 Mar 19]
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7978437/

Kresch, Eliyahu et al. “COVID-19 Endothelial Dysfunction Can Cause Erectile Dysfunction: Histopathological, Immunohistochemical, and Ultrastructural Study of the Human Penis.” The world journal of men’s health vol. 39,3 (2021): 466-469. doi:10.5534/wjmh.210055
[Published online 2021 May 7]
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8255400/

Moghimi, Negin et al. “COVID-19 disrupts spermatogenesis through the oxidative stress pathway following induction of apoptosis.” Apoptosis : an international journal on programmed cell death, 1–16. 2 Jun. 2021, doi:10.1007/s10495-021-01680-2
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8170653/

There are more studies out there, and there have been articles in media outlets about these studies along with a corresponding uptick in social media after each article.

But men don’t seem to be paying attention to these studies or reports, let alone personal anecdotes which surely must be emerging in their social circles.

Nor have men paid close attention to COVID’S gender disparity:

COVID-19 doesn’t strike the sexes equally. Globally, for every 10 COVID-19 intensive care unit admissions among women, there are 18 for men; for every 10 women who die of COVID-19, 15 men die. …

What the heck is it going to take to get men vaccinated if they don’t care about their reproductive health and sexual wellbeing, or even their greater risk of death and disability from COVID?

Perhaps if COVID looked more like a gun, men would be more willing to go out and arm themselves against it.

This Is Bullshit: Silver Takes the Gold for COVID Guff [UPDATE-1]

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. Update at bottom of post. /~Rayne]

I’m sure my neighbors wondered what the hell was going on here Friday. The weather was nice enough that my windows were wide open exposing those within hearing to my vented spleen. There was so much crap in my social media I couldn’t help yell, “Bullshit, bullshit, absolute bullshit!” I can only hope they thought I was yelling about the Olympics.

What really set me off was dangerous twaddle from someone who should long ago have learned not to opine without data.

Because he refuses to stick to his lane using data to support his case, Nate Silver has become anathema, all of his own doing. His bullshit tweet Friday about COVID can get people killed if they pay him any heed at all.

No data offered here to support this swag – it’s pure opinion.

For the last couple of months we’ve known we haven’t been dealing with the same virus variant which began the pandemic; we’re now up against a far more transmissible version the features of which researchers are still analyzing.

In its pandemic coverage, the Washington Post reported the Centers for Disease Control acknowledged in an internal memo “the war [against COVID] has changed”:

… The document strikes an urgent note, revealing the agency knows it must revamp its public messaging to emphasize vaccination as the best defense against a variant so contagious that it acts almost like a different novel virus, leaping from target to target more swiftly than Ebola or the common cold.

It cites a combination of recently obtained, still-unpublished data from outbreak investigations and outside studies showing that vaccinated individuals infected with delta may be able to transmit the virus as easily as those who are unvaccinated. Vaccinated people infected with delta have measurable viral loads similar to those who are unvaccinated and infected with the variant. …

In other words our past assumptions about SARS-C0V-2 no longer work; this isn’t a virus with a replication factor of R2 (in which one infected person infects two more on average) but an R-naught much higher.

Let’s revisit what was known at the end of June this year about the Delta variant in this explainer I’ve shared before:

It’s the change in charge and in the amino acid described in Rob Swanda’s video above which may be responsible for both the high level of virus load found in both unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals. Think of the electrostatic charge as acting like a magnet, attracting more virus to receptors, combined with a change to the spike protein which may allow the virus to attack host cells more quickly and not be recognized quite as rapidly by vaccinated persons’ immune systems. You’ll grasp why vaccinated persons are infectious and spreading the virus along with unvaccinated carriers.

For another overview which offers a fairly basic explanation of the process by which viruses mutate and then disperse as well as an overview of the Delta variant, see this MedCram video from July 20:

If you watch this video, do pay special note to dates on materials cited. There’s one graph in particular addressing the spread of Delta in the UK based on data from June; the spread of Delta is so aggressive that data wasn’t accurate by the time of this video a month later.

This article in BBC provides a graph showing the trend from mid/late June in the UK; Delta’s spread continued along that rapid uptick, resulting in more hospitalizations though vaccinations kept the rate from matching the last COVID surge. The MedCram video (at 5:17) does attribute the increase to the Delta variant.

Note also the differences in population testing positive for Delta – now much younger – and the admissions. While vaccinated individuals are still unlikely to need hospitalization as documented outbreaks like that in Provincetown MA show, they can still get the virus. We still don’t yet know what the long-term repercussions are among vaccinated individuals who have asymptomatic or mild cases of COVID. We do know that previous variants have caused damage among infected individuals even though they had asymptomatic or mild cases, and younger people including children were among those who were injured.

But now that we know vaccinated persons can both be infected with Delta and spread it, vaccinated persons can’t simply “choose to live [their] life ~however [they] want under COVID” because they pose a danger to individuals who can’t be vaccinated or are immune compromised.

That’s someone like Montel Williams, living with a compromised immune system, fully vaccinated, did everything right to protect himself, and yet someone infected him through thoughtless carelessness:

Don’t listen to bullshit from unqualified hacks who don’t have skin in the game. Pay attention to credentialed virologists, epidemiologists, public health professionals who are on top of the data related to COVID and the peer-reviewed research about its variants.

Above all continue to wear masks and maintain some level of social distancing even if you’re vaccinated, not just because you may become mildly ill but because you may infect others who may not be able to be vaccinated — particularly children — or who may be immune compromised.

This tweet shows the difference between an infected young teen’s lungs and health lungs; imagine this happening to younger children, unable to be vaccinated while vaccines have yet to be approved for use among those under age 12:

Prevent this from happening to more children by encouraging vaccination. The sooner we reach 70% or more vaccinated, the faster we can halt the emergence of the next highly-transmissible and damaging SARS-CoV-2 variant.

UPDATE-1 — 2:40 PM ET 31-JUL-2021 —

When some denialist throws a 99% survival rate statistic in your face, sit them down and share this.

Oh, was I suppose to provide a trigger warning? COVID doesn’t provide them, oops.

The video above only addresses patients who’ve been hospitalized. At least one recent study suggests an average 13-14% of persons who recover from COVID have symptoms lasting weeks and months, some of which are debilitating and reflect permanent damage COVID does to the body.

Freedom. Woo. Choose to live your life however you want. Good luck getting out of bed freely after hospitalization, or keeping your job while suffering from brain fog and other cognitive impairment found in long COVID.

Three Things: Mary Had a Little Lambda [UPDATE-1]

[NB: Note the byline, thanks. Update at bottom of post. /Rayne]

It feels odd after nearly 18 months to spend so much less time reading and writing about COVID. I guess that’s what successful vaccine will do to a pandemic.

But the pandemic isn’t over, not by a long chalk. There are far too many vaccine-resistant individuals in the U.S. let alone the rest of the world for us to think we’re aren’t at continued risk, even those of us who are vaccinated. Every unvaccinated person at this point is an incubator for another variant which may succeed in evading our current vaccines.

Just get your damned shot or shots.

~ 3 ~

It absolutely amazes me how stupid the right-wing has become in this country. They cannot see Trump’s propaganda amplified by Qultists and the foreign-influenced anti-vaxx movement is literally sickening and killing them.

I wonder if this is unintended blowback, though. During the Trump regime we could expect the executive branch to act in a way which hurt minority groups the most when they intersected with Democratic voting and/or Trump’s personal pet peeves (ex. Puerto Rico where thousands died after Hurricane Maria – the same territory where a Trump-managed golf course failed).

Trump as well as Trump minions and supporters may have perceived the disease as one of blue states due to the early, deep impact on locations like New York City and Detroit. Trump’s familial henchman Jared Kushner didn’t want COVID aid to go to blue states because it was against Trump’s political interests (read: helping states with more minority voters).

But what if the right-wing has onboarded the flawed belief that COVID disproportionately affects blue states and minorities to the point that the right-wing feels they don’t need no stinking masks or vaccines? They’re white cis-het GOP voters, they are superior, they are unassailable.

Of course they aren’t and now they are dying from the Delta variant wave, in direct opposition to what a hostile foreign entity’s destabilization program might intend.

~ 2 ~

We’ve worked our way through a handful of SARS-CoV-2 variants, with Delta currently spreading like crazy across the country. This won’t be the last variant virus wave so long as less than 70-80% of the U.S. population is vaccinated.

There’s already another virus virologists, epidemiologists, and public health officials are watching closely to see if it is as transmissible as Delta or worse. Say howdy to Lambda, described here by scientist Rob Swanda.

It wouldn’t hurt to have an overview of Delta for that matter, with regard to its greatly increased transmissibility over previous variants’ mutations. Here’s Swanda’s Delta overview.

~ 1 ~

Media-disseminated disinformation and misinformation related to COVID is killing people, much of it focused on attacking the vaccines which prevent both its spread and severe infection. Joe Biden was too candid for Facebook’s taste when he said it’s killing people.

In this Twitter thread, Renee DiResta, an expert on disinformation and propaganda dispersion, looks at COVID anti-vaxx propaganda’s emergence from the earlier anti-vaxx movement which she has studied for years, and Facebook’s role in dissemination and force amplification.

Though DiResta says Facebook has improved while other media and key political figures continue disperse anti-vaxx nonsense, Facebook remains a distributor of anti-vaxx content. There’s no getting around this and Facebook only responds to accusations with defensiveness rather than offering measures to reduce anti-vaxx material in its platform.

There’s also no getting around Facebook’s resistance to criticism even from our representatives in Congress.

If any other consumer product played a role in the hospitalization of tens of thousands of Americans, hundreds if not thousands of deaths, and thousands of cases long-term disability, would the American people tolerate that product not being regulated?

Apart from guns, of course.

~ 0 ~

Continue to press your unvaccinated friends, family, associates, neighbors to get vaccinated. There’s no good reason to subject our health care professionals to this kind of trauma when this disease is preventable.

And continue to wear a mask in public settings even if you’re vaccinated. You’re not likely to spread the virus, but you may still get infected given the current prevalence of Delta and its much greater transmissibility. If you’re vaccinated your chances of needing hospitalization are extremely low, which is the entire point of being vaccinated. But since we don’t yet know what the long-term effects are of cryptic/asymptomatic/mild cases of COVID in vaccinated persons, it’s not worth taking the risk of future long-term disability.

UPDATE-1 — 10:30 PM ET —

The doctor who couldn’t offer vaccines to COVID patients before intubation has been harassed.


Our health care workers don’t deserve this kind of treatment when they are both doing everything they can and telling the public the truth about COVID.

And while Delta remains the prevailing variant responsible for new cases across the country, Houston Methodist Hospital reported a case of Lambda today. Still no more data as to whether Lambda poses a greater threat than Delta.

On Helmets And Vaccinations

Okay, so I told an old war story from the motorcycling days of my youth in an earlier thread. In response to a Raven Eye comment, I said:

“Your story of father and BB guns really holds water though. A friend and me, pre driver’s license, used to ride dirt bikes all over what is now suburbia. We would take 410 shotguns out quail and dove hunting. They seemed, shall we say, not very effective at range. So, one day with leathers and helmets on, we paced off, maybe 50-75 yards and shot at each other. We each took some pellets but no harm. And that is the kind of stupid your father foresaw.”

As stupid as it sounds on the surface, it was fine. We were both wearing motorcycling attire and full coverage helmets. Looking back, it still falls in the “things you ought not do” department. But we were in no real danger, just young and stupid.

I’ll get to the “vaccinations” part of this post in a minute, but back to helmets. I never even thought to wear a bicycle helmet, whether riding on the streets of Tempe in college (hey, I got sideswiped once!), or on those of Santa Monica in the summers. Literally never crossed my mind. Now they are ubiquitous on almost every bicyclist you see.

Back to the helmet thing. I wore a Bell Star, with flip down visor. It cost an insane amount of money at the time, but my mother paid it in a heartbeat, as my friends and I did not just ride to hunt quail and dove, we raced motocross and hare and hounds. It was the classic white Bell Star one, with a flag decal on each side. My friend in this story did not wear a Bell, but, I think, a Shoei. There were not that many full coverage helmets that early. Either way, we were pretty safe for the 410 test.

That Bell helmet later saved my life. I had done some wrenching on a friend’s Yamaha 250 (close to what I had raced earlier), and was taking it home to him. Doing 30-40 mph on a large street with a palm tree median when a little sports car made a left turn in front of me. The bike collapsed into the side, and I was catapulted over it and landed 20-30 yards on the other side, on my knees, elbows and head. The elbows were skinned, the knees really hurt, and the trusty Bell Star was cracked in the cranium section. Cracked. That would have been my head. I went to the hospital for a checkup, but was released within a couple of hours. Concussions were not yet a thing.

Such is the value of helmets. But how many people out there now, without a thought, wear bicycle helmets, but ignorantly refuse to get vaccinated? I honestly do not know the answer, but it strikes me that it may be a quantifiable amount. And how is that exactly? Here is an NFL player, once “hesitant” that found the vaccine jesus. Good for Travis Kelce. For one and all, PLEASE go get fully vaccinated; it is good for you, your family and society. It, like helmets, can save lives. Do it.

Three Things: Waves of Stupidity

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

Scrolling through my social media feed Wednesday I noticed wave after wave of incredible stupidity. Of course there’s a lot of stupid out on the internet, so much wrongness there’s an xkcd cartoon for those of us who can’t help but point at the trash fires burning online.

But Wednesday’s exceptionally bad piles of idiocy are worth noting because they’re indicative of trends.

~ 3 ~

Jesus Christ, this woman is a moron AND she’s a doctor. Proves not everyone who earns a doctorate should be trusted with sharp objects or your life.

Magnetism, I has it. Now that I’m vaccinated all the metal in my house is clinging to me — even brass keys which aren’t conductive. ~eye roll~

Watch as this nurse — a health care professional who must have attended secondary education and passed a state licensing exam — demonstrates before the same state legislative hearing how COVID has increased her magnetism.

Lady, take a fucking shower. It’s sweat and skin oils causing small objects to stick to you.

What an incredible waste of government personnel hours. Expect more of this kind of idiocy as long as it’s profitable for these hacks to monetize their wretchedness while spreading this ignorant disinformation.

~ 2 ~

Two words should tell just how bad this next bit of stupid is: Louie Gohmert.

Rep. Gohmert has become a synonym for brain-sucking vapidity if you aren’t already familiar with this elected representative’s cred. But he really outdid himself today.

Bet he also believes Superman could stop or reverse time by flying fast enough around the earth in the opposite direction of its rotation.

Gohmert tried to correct what he felt was a misunderstanding, but…

We knew what you meant the first time, Gohmert. Voters in TX-01 need to catch the clue train in 2022 and elect someone with a few more watts upstairs.

Best analysis of Gohmert’s question in this thread:

The last tweet in the thread is perfection.

Until voters get fed up with this kind of moron representing them, we can expect more Gohmert-ish output from the likes of Representatives Boebert, Cawthorn, Gaetz, Gosar, Greene, so on. What a pity they all belong to the same political entity which has apparently abandoned science.

~ 1 ~

Remember all the posts this site has written in praise of investment firm BlackRock? That would be zero if you’re a newbie here which is in line with most sites on the left.

The firm may have begun to clue in that climate change and a lack of diversity are eating into their investment performance, but that’s not a shift to the left — it’s an acknowledgment of facts and science.

For some reason this Ohio GOP senate candidate believes The Left — just say it, Vance, the Democratic Party — in particular are big supporters of BlackRock:

Vance, the author of Hillbilly Elegy, attacks Democrats instead of focusing on the problem which is plaguing Ohio homebuyers. No doubt he’ll do the same thing if he’s elected — avoid confronting the financial investment sector from which he’ll expect campaign donations while crabbing about the political party which has swept up problem after problem created by lousy GOP tax policy.

As I’ve noted before, lower wage workers can’t afford housing when prices skyrocket due to investment bankers buying single family and other residential housing. Don’t like increasing wages? Get the investment banks out of single family housing and revisit policy toward investment banking in multi-family housing.

Businesses are still going to have to respond to the suppression of wages over the last couple decades; some of the wage increases are merely catch-up. Food service, hard hit by the pandemic, may respond earliest and pass the cost immediately onto their customers.

But at some point shareholders need to ask themselves why they are paying so much for executives when they aren’t the frontline facing customers. With Standard & Poor index members’ median CEO compensation reaching $13.7 million this past year in spite of the pandemic, executives have raked in the cash during the pandemic; they can afford to yield a few million in compensation in order to assure worker retention through pay increases to living wage level.

Betting Vance won’t say anything about the inequity of executives’ compensation being too busy trashing Democrats to expend any wattage on systemic problems and solutions. He’s still unable to grasp the true root causes of poverty just as his hillbilly memoir revealed.

I can hardly wait for another year and a half of this crap while he runs for Ohio’s open senate seat.

~ 0 ~

There was plenty more stupid where that came from, but the stuff is toxic and one can easily overdose. Let’s hope Thursday is a little smarter.

Fertile Ground: Lack of Broadband and Disinformation Proliferation

Focusing on infrastructure this week, The Verge published an article Monday about broadband distribution in the U.S., providing a tidy map denoting which counties are not adequately served by high-speed internet.

Do you see what I see? Because it looks really familiar, kind of like this somewhat more granular map published in USAToday:

There are exceptions to my theory, but on the face of it there’s a correlation in most states between broadband access and so-called conservative voters.

Look at these two excerpts side by side:

There may be another corollary, at least in Michigan: the areas with crappy to nonexistent broadband are the ones which were hardest hit by the third wave COVID because there are more anti-mask, anti-lockdown, ‘COVID’s a hoax’ residents on average. Here’s NYT’s national map of COVID hot spots from April 9 (sorry, I didn’t get a zoomed-in image of WI-MI at that time):

Wisconsin is not as obvious a challenge in this map but the lack of broadband and red voters correlates to COVID hot spot region in north Texas.

This map, published by State of Michigan a few weeks earlier into Michigan’s third wave COVID cases, also shows the correlation:

While there are some exceptions like Marquette and Keweenaw Counties (both of which may have been affected by student and faculty populations in state universities) in the Upper Peninsula, the hot spots tracked from March into May the areas with low broadband and red voters.

Do note the one small outlier county near the middle of Wisconsin — that’s Menominee County, which voted blue but has crappy broadband. It’s the least populated of all counties in the state but its roughly 4550 residents are more than 87% Native American. Which means there’s not enough profit for broadband providers, and no ethics or adequate legislation at either state or federal level obligating coverage.

This week’s map of vaccination uptake in Michigan as published by Mlive shows the effect of anti-vaxx disinformation. In spite of horrific case counts, hospitalizations, and deaths in the low broadband Trump-voting areas, vaccine uptake has been slow.

Note the yellow county at the right of the map along Lake Huron; this is in MI-10, an area so pro-Trump that its previous congressional representative retired rather than run for re-election. Also not served adequately by broadband. (Also ripe for manipulation by outside parties like banking and real estate investors; it’s through this county that the new pipeline for water from Lake Huron to Flint was run at considerable expense and time, in spite of the proximity to Saginaw’s water system to the north and Detroit’s to the south.)

Another layer to this onion is the lack of print news media, shown on this Knight Foundation national map:

While that Trump-voting Michigan county of Sanilac on Lake Huron has print media, there’s a correlation between other counties without adequate broadband and low vaccine uptake.

I can’t find a decent map showing broadcast TV and radio coverage but some of the same problematic counties are underserved — most definitely in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the upper portion of Wisconsin. There are concerns about how much of the state is served by Sinclair-owned television stations; they’re not as bad as Fox, but Sinclair owns far too much opportunity to push right-wing friendly content over publicly-owned airwaves.

Granted, there are some additional factors which shape the ideology espoused by persons who are slow to accept vaccination and reject masks. Some of these counties are extremely non-diverse, by which I mean more than 96% non-Hispanic white. Some are more than 55% male.

At least one of the counties in Michigan’s UP leans the other way because its population is older. Ontonagon County’s median age is 52.7 years while Sanilac’s median age is 43.

All of this is to say that the lack of broadband infrastructure serving Americans uniformly leaves them prey to disinformation about existential matters. If they aren’t getting information from a variety of media served up by broadband, AND they don’t have ready access to print media, AND they are likely underserved by broadcasters, they are ripe for whatever media is easiest to access including Facebook and other social media platforms on their cell phones.

~ ~ ~

Now here’s where it gets personal.

I have a family member who lives in a broadband desert, in a Trump-voting rural county. I thought of them immediately when Marcy wrote Radicalized by Trump: A Tale of Two Assault Defendants last week. This family member has written some things my kids won’t share with me (I’m not on Facebook and they are) because what this person has shared is so Trumpy and Qultish.

One of the two defendants Marcy wrote about blamed “Foxitis” for their radicalization. This isn’t the case for this family member because they live in a broadband desert. They may get digital broadcast but this means they aren’t exposed to Fox programming on cable. They don’t have cable, DSL, or wireless internet, only the data they purchase with their cell phone service.

This family member isn’t getting the newspaper, either; they’re not stupid but they’ve never been much of a reader.

Whatever is rotting their brain is coming through their phone, and my kids already know Facebook is one of the social media outlets this family member uses.

Fortunately this same family member isn’t prone to activism and has enough demands on their personal time that they aren’t likely to take off and go to rallies with other Trumpers and Qultists.

But we’re still looking at someone who views any messaging from the state government under Governor Whitmer and the federal government under President Biden with great suspicion and skepticism, to the point where they may resist measures intended to protect them, their family, and their community. The only information they’re getting about either state or federal government is through the filter of their limited social media.

I’m afraid this person’s mind won’t change until they have access to a lot more information from a much broader range of sources. Until they have cheap and easily accessible broadband, they’re going to be lost to disinformation and at continued risk.

This is bad enough — a family member who lives a couple hours away who I’ll have to write off as inaccessible for the near term because they have been poisoned by disinfo.

But this disinfo poisoning managed to affect my household directly.

Friends who are in agriculture suggested purchasing a side of beef soon as they expect meat prices to go up over the next few months. They recommended a processor in one of the counties which was hit hard by the third wave — a processor from whom we haven’t purchased before.

I suggested to my spouse that we try a processor up north who we’ve used in the past. They live in a very rural county which has fared a little better, and we’ve always liked their service.

When my spouse looked into placing an order, he was told they’d just lost two personnel who died of COVID and orders were backlogged.

How the heck do people who process meat for a country store in a county of less than 15,000 people end up dead of COVID?

What else may be hurting, possibly killing these people for lack of adequate, rational information?

I can’t be certain of anything except for not buying my beef there any time soon, and that country store’s location in a county indicated by blue denoting a lack of broadband.

The Day After the Second COVID Mother’s Day

The cards have been opened and read, the flowers admired, the meal not cooked by Mom fussed over and the dishes done. We’ve passed our second Mother’s Day under COVID.

Last Mother’s Day we were still in a state of collective shock and denial about the pandemic.

It had been four months since SARS-CoV-2 had been sequenced, three months since the first outbreak in the U.S., two months since we began to lockdown in earnest. The country’s daily average new case count was less than 200, and we counted deaths in tens of thousands.

As of this now-past Mother’s Day we had lost 581,056 to COVID with 607 deaths reported Saturday, 246 more on Sunday. At least one recent study estimated the true number of deaths due to COVID at 900,000 — more than double the reported number.

Many of those lost were mothers and grandmothers, and mothers-to-be. In the the last several weeks mothers died of COVID after giving birth, having never held their infants.

We’ve lost mothers who will be coolly labeled “excess deaths,” among them a mother and grandmother in my own family who did not seek help in adequate time.

This is not to minimize all the other mothers we’ve lost for a host of usual reasons, including unacceptable increasing maternal mortality in this country, disproportionately affecting women of color.

While we celebrated motherhood yesterday we must remember the day after and here forward not only mothers who aren’t here with us but the families they left behind who may have observed yet another first holiday without their loved one.

We must look after the mothers still with us.

~ ~ ~

Mothers who survived this past year of pandemic have been under incredible pressure; 35 million moms with children at home increased their unpaid care time by 57 million hours as childcare and home schooling fell to them disproportionately. They’re exhausted, tapped out of resources, and fed up with the unrelenting guilt trips about the glory of motherhood on top of the nasty demands from the business world which insists workers are slackers laying about, sucking down unemployment benefits.

Meanwhile the previous shortage of childcare has become catastrophic, in part because many moms who worked as daycare providers and grandmothers who may have provided care for free have gotten sick, developed long COVID, or died.

What daycare remains open is increasingly expensive — in 2019 the average cost for an infant and a preschool child was $22,000 a year — and moms who earn minimum wage may not be able to afford care depending on whether they are eligible for any state or federal aid.

Hourly tipped workers whose workplaces have limited capacity due to COVID restrictions may not earn enough tips — they certainly can’t make enough on their base wages which in 18 states and Washington DC doesn’t reach $2.50 an hour.

What happens when an outbreak happens and schools need to rapidly change to remote learning? Moms drop everything and end up at home to care for their kids, needing to drop work hours and shifts or quit altogether. Far too many mothers can’t get paid time off let alone unpaid time off to address their children’s needs even when there isn’t a pandemic; it’s worse during COVID because there are so few alternatives to simply quitting when there’s no backup care provider.

If we truly want to do something meaningful and of real use for mothers in this country, we need to do more than send cards and flowers. We need to deliver for them the remaining 364 days a year.

Moms need:

– A living wage beginning with $15 an hour for all minimum wage workers;

– Health care for all, not just insurance for some;

– A comprehensive program helping to meet the needs of new parents, persons with serious personal or family health challenges, providing paid leave (see the FAMILY Act);

– Establish a national paid sick days standard (see the Healthy Families Act);

– Establish a national childcare program to expand availability and at prices based on income, beginning with the Child Care for Working Families Act;

– Integrate the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act into a national childcare program so that children do not have to be shuttled from daycare to preschool essential to preparation for K-12 education;

– Care for working mothers-to-be with passage of the Pregnant Worker Fairness Act, which protects pregnant workers’ right to reasonable accommodation, prevents retaliation for requesting reasonable accommodation, and prevents pregnant women from being forced to take leave, paid or unpaid, if reasonable accommodation is available;

– Address the massive economic losses sustained disproportionately by women during the pandemic, a considerable percentage of which are mothers.

Both the Healthy Families Act and the FAMILY Act were introduced in 2019 but ended up shuttled off to die in committee. The FAMILY Act has been resubmitted and needs to passed if we are to successfully recover from this pandemic without further sacrifice on the part of mothers.

The Healthy Families Act does not appear to have been re-introduced yet under the 117th Congress (at least no bill comes up for this term under that name).

The Child Care for Working Families Act was re-introduced in April in both houses of Congress after failing to pass under the 116th Congress.

Senators Wyden and Warren introduced the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act last month.

The Pregnant Worker Fairness Act has already been approved by the House Education and Labor Committee as of March 24; it has wide, bipartisan support and needs to be passed ASAP before any more pregnant workers are forced out of their jobs without reasonable accommodation.

~ ~ ~

You made your phone call to the mothers in your life yesterday to tell them you care. Now make the calls to your representatives in Congress to follow through and insist they take action to pass the legislation to help mothers and grandmothers, and mothers-to-be.

Don’t just talk, do the walk.

Congressional switchboard: (202) 224-3121 or use Resist.bot.

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