3 Things: GOP’s Continuing Deadly Assault on America

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

The GOP hasn’t stopped since January 6, 2021 and years earlier. They want to wreak maximum damage on this country and blame anybody and everybody but themselves for it.

We’re supposed to believe they’re the arbiters of what’s right for this country but everything they do is demoralizing and destabilizing.

It’s almost as if they were acting on behalf of another hostile country.

One only need to look at how the GOP have handled state and federal response to the mass shooting in Uvalde and elsewhere to see they don’t care how many Americans die so long as they continue to get their blood money.

If uncontrolled guns were the only damage they inflicted on this country, but no – the Grand Old Party of Death goes wide.

~ 3 ~

The pandemic isn’t over. It’s not ending because far too many right-wing Americans have been brainwashed by the right-wing ecosphere into believing vaccines, boosters, masks, and social distancing are evil.

The logic fails over and over; it doesn’t help when The New York Times continues to run crap by David Leonhardt which undermines encouraging mask wearing up to and including mandates.

It also doesn’t help when corporations are too damned greedy to the point of short-sightedness, screwing both their own business and Americans at the same time.

But it’s not just the continued onslaught of disinformation and misinformation which is hurting this country. It’s the GOP refusing to keep Americans safe; they’ve refused to provide funds necessary for vaccines, boosters, therapies, and development of new boosters designed for the current dominant Omicron variants.

15-MAR-2022White House begs Congress for Covid funding amid concern about Omicron sister variant

30-MAR-2022Biden presses Congress for new COVID funding, gets second booster shot

But Senate Republicans have balked at setting aside additional money, saying they want a full accounting of earlier spending, and House Democrats subsequently rejected a plan to repurpose money already pledged to states.

While federal regulators on Tuesday authorized a fourth shot of vaccine for Americans 50 and older, U.S. officials have said they do not have enough funding to place advance orders for additional vaccine doses to cover all Americans, unless Congress passes the stalled package.

27-APR-2022Fact Sheet: Biden Administration Underscores Urgent Need for Additional COVID-⁠19 Response Funding and the Severe Consequences of Congressional Inaction

09-MAY-2022U.S. will limit next-generation Covid vaccines to high-risk people this fall if Congress doesn’t approve more funding

21-MAY-2022As COVID funding runs out, U.S. could see rationing of supplies

Months now they’ve dragged their feet because it might help Democrats; their party’s levels in broken public opinion polls don’t fair as badly as Biden’s because the media hasn’t held them accountable for their intransigence.

The GOP doesn’t care a whit if it hurts their own voters because a red state remains red even when the bodies pile up in the morgue.

Older people are the most reliable voters and the ones who vote GOP most often, but these deaths don’t matter to the GOP because media about these deaths hurts Democrats more.

It’s death by GOP passive-aggression.

~ 2 ~

The GOP wants to kill girls’ sports in public education. Ohio is the vanguard leading the way by passing a bill in its state house allowing anybody to contest a minor child’s gender identity which would then require a physical examination of the child’s genitals if that child is enrolled in a school participating in interscholastic sports.

Read that Twitter thread and the bill linked in it. That bill is an utter dumpster fire.

It’s sexual assault by the state sanctioned by the GOP. It’s little different from Larry Nassar’s assaults on gymnasts who didn’t consent to his abuses; these minors likewise can’t consent/dissent and their parents will be obligated to consent on their behalf if the child participates in sports.

The bill doesn’t obligate male-identifying minors to go through the same invasive inspection which means this bill is clearly aimed at controlling female-identifying bodies.

It’s literally Trumpy “grab ’em by the pussy” governance beginning in K-12 education. It’s not small government and it’s not freedom; it’s anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ+, anti-women Trumpism, and sane parents would rather not allow their children to be subjected to this abuse for the sake of interscholastic sports.

The GOP means death to girls’ sports, and in a secondary fashion, death to public education for girls.

Next up: mandatory burkhas – not out of line to assume this since obligatory inspection of girls’ bodies is something the Taliban would insist upon.

~ 1 ~

The GOP claims it’s the party of life but that ends with birth. They literally don’t care if American babies died of starvation.

They also don’t give a flying fuck if children starve, assuming they aren’t already dead from mass shootings.

Morley pointed out the provision for funding school lunches was in the Build Back Better bill which the GOP rejected.

Stay cool this summer, kiddies, and starve; thank the GOP while you do so.

The GOP is about as helpful to America’s children as Uvalde TX police at a mass shooting.

~ 0 ~

Regular community members consider yourselves warned this week could see a surge in trolls and trolling. The right-wing has been casting about for an approach to offset the anticipated bad news coming from the House J6 Committee hearings this week; so far they haven’t settled on one thing partly because they are dealing with blowback about gun rights and police militarization. They’ve tried blaming Antifa repeatedly; some of the insurrectionists who attacked the Capitol claim the Capitol Police set them up and Antifa was responsible.

Sure, sure. Looks like a set up.

But the head troll has sent up a bat signal for the fascist horde to flood the zone with their usual shit.

Let’s not forget this bat signal isn’t just about the January 6 hearings but about Bannon’s own butt. His contempt of Congress case is back in court on June 15, coincidentally 10 days after this shout for troll mobilization.

There will be much less tolerance for bullshit here primarily because there will be more bullshit than moderators to shovel it. Bear with us, thanks.

Three Things: Bracing for Omicron’s Overrun

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

Not going to lie or mince words: the White House fucked up its response to Omicron. They let businesses, pressure from the GOP’s COVIDiots, and public polling tell them what to do instead of gaming out an effective response. They focused on the economy and then-irrational fear of inflation instead of COVID, only to create the problem they wanted to address.

While the impending COVID explosion would likely have happened anyhow, the curve could have been flattened and the blow to health care systems softened had the White House not only emphasized getting testing out to the public but getting better quality masks to the people while asking any and all public facilities conducting business indoors to ensure better air quality immediately.

You know, advocate the things which have been proven to work in other countries like Japan — a densely-populated country with a population more than a third of the U.S.’s but less than 19,000 COVID deaths to date.

But more on that in a moment.

~ 3 ~

I’ve been furious since a friend told me last week they were blindsided by someone in their social circle who has fallen prey to disinfo about COVID.

In a nutshell, their acquaintance is:

1 – Peeved about the unvaccinated being blamed for the spread of COVID;

2 – Doesn’t think the lack of vaccinations in a sizable percentage of the population caused a new variant;

3 – Feels the virus will mutate and spread whether people are vaccinated or unvaccinated;

4 – Believes vaccines will reduce severity of cases and keep hospitalizations down, but the mutations and contagion will happen anyhow.

Jesus Christ, where to even start except tell them to quit Facebook. These half-truths about COVID are truly problematic with an American public weak on science education – well, weak education as a whole, when it comes to critical thinking.

Mr. Blindsider needs to understand:

1 – The ongoing threat is the willfully unvaccinated, not those who can’t be vaccinated because of legitimate health problems or those whose circumstances have prevented them from being vaccinated. Anyone willfully choosing not to be vaccinated isn’t merely putting themselves at risk but others like children for whom we do not yet have vaccinations, and those who want but can’t get vaccinated. Fuck the willfully selfish gits and piss on your peevedness.

2 – Yes, the lack of vaccinations DID cause a variant to rise. Unvaccinated humans are pools for new variant development. More unvaccinated people means a bigger resevoir in which new variants can develop.

3 – Take a fucking look around: do you see any new variants of polio (caused by poliovirus)? Measles (measles morbillivirus)? Chicken pox (varicella-zoster virus)? All of these are infectious diseases caused by viruses for which children have been routinely vaccinated as children over decades. Because vaccination rates are above 85% of all US children, the pool of unvaccinated is too small for the viruses to develop variants. This is what needs to happen with COVID.

4– As long as the pool of willfully unvaccinated remains as large as it is, SARS-CoV-2 will have adequate opportunity to mutate and new variants will emerge. The answer is two-fold: (1) everyone must be vaccinated who can safely tolerate a tested vaccine, and (2) a better vaccine is needed, one designed to protect against all coronaviruses.

But the answer is really four-fold:

– The U.S. public school system needs to do more and better biological science education because too many adults are quite stupid when it comes to basics like infection control let alone microbiology. That education should also include new content on airborne spread of disease like measles and COVID, the latter by aerosolized particles.

– The White House needs to fix CDC and FDA communications problems, because they’re frankly doing an abysmal job this deep into a pandemic. We should not still be arguing with our neighbors 23 months into this about simple infection control and its affects on individuals and society.

~ 2 ~

Mr. Peeved Blindsider will be part of the reason Omicron explodes; they’re incapable of systems thinking necessary to enact effective mitigation, too busy folding like a broken lawn chair under disinformation and minor frustrations all of us have had to deal with.

Too busy throwing a pity party for the poor maligned willfully unvaccinated to think about what is about to erupt across the country.

Read this Twitter thread:

There were school systems across the country which didn’t have enough bus drivers under the Beta and Delta waves. This is about to happen again even though more people are vaccinated and Omicron is not as severe as Delta, because Omicron still sickens people and still forces people into quarantine and isolation.

If all schools don’t close this week, children are going to bring Omicron into classrooms, spread it to each other because they got it over the holidays, because they weren’t given N95 masks, and their schools’ HVAC systems haven’t been upgraded to improve air quality and reduce exposure time to aerosolized virus.

They will infect school teachers and staff and bus drivers, who will infect their families.

Schools will be forced to go to remote learning again for the lack of teachers and bus drivers.

Students’ and teachers’ family members will take it to work, including places like grocery stores and fast food chains and manufacturing facilities and shipping companies.

The supply chain will be throttled down again and we’ll hear yet another round of bullshit about inflationary pressures about which the right-wing and neoliberals will lie and claim the GOP can fix in spite of its ongoing anti-vaccination campaign.

Omicron may burn itself out inside 3-4 weeks, but the effects will be much longer. We still do not have data about the long-term effects of Omicron on those infected; the data will be complicated by the spectrum of unvaccinated/unvaccinated-but-previously-infected/vaccinated-only/vaccinated-and-boosted.

We can plan ahead, though, for a worst case in which those infected with Omicron have some degree of neurological sequelae and increased fatigue along with increased risk of death because we’ve seen this with previous variants. Expect more people acting irrationally or sluggishly because of COVID brain fog.

Social distancing throughout the rest of the winter may be our best approach.

Gods help us all if we need health care services for anything urgent apart from COVID.

~ 1 ~

As I wrote when I started this post, the White House fucked up the response to this variant. The Omicron scenario was always a possibility and a plan for it should have been on the books, ready for roll out. (Has no one in Centers for Disease Control and Food and Drug Administration as well as the White House done any simulations and scenario planning at all for this pandemic??)

A shorter isolation period due to Omicron’s allegedly milder symptoms combined with more rapid testing isn’t a rational response without better mitigation to flatten the curve, not to mention the assumptions made about illness severity relying on early data which could have been flawed in analysis.

Though a key component of the White House’s answer to Omicron, rapid tests simply haven’t been available at the scale of numbers and breadth of distribution this country needed. We’ve seen far too many examples of people waiting in lines for hours to get tested throughout the holiday season.

Propublica’s reporting on the clown car that is America’s COVID rapid test approval process explains much of the problem, but this should have be addressed as an emergency skunkworks in November, with the White House fully engaged with the FDA as soon as Omicron was announced.

There have also been people claiming huge quantities of rapid tests could be available inside weeks. Read that Propublica report, and then think like a manufacturer for a moment – one which has had problems with obtaining raw materials, difficulty with reliable shipments (hello, fire Louis DeJoy), and labor shortages due to illness and insufficient child/eldercare for workers.

I know people being courted for jobs in testing production; the industry literally doesn’t have enough current employees to step up production for delivery inside weeks let alone days.

Given all the barriers to adequate numbers of reliable rapid tests, heightened infection control measures are an absolute necessity.

And yet the response to Omicron has been sadly lacking emphasis on infection control – even after the absurd theater of an airline CEO sickening with COVID testifying before the Senate that masks don’t do much.

Every single American should have been mailed (7) N95 masks – one per day to use on rotation through this Omicron surge. They’re cheap, easy to ship by mail (hello, fire Louis DeJoy), don’t need special testing and approval; we have multiple manufacturers in the U.S. ready to step up production.

Every single health care worker should have received at least twice that number already. Health care facilities should be able to hand them out to patients and their families.

Every single public facility should have been ordered to improve air quality with improved ventilation; CO2 tests should have been distributed to every school for every classroom as a measure of air quality and a proxy for risk of aerosolized virus exposure. Higher CO2 levels – roughly equating to increased aerosolized particles from occupants and low air flow – should result in windows and doors being opened, addition of Corsi-Rosenthal Cube filter systems, or dismissal of classes until CO2 levels fall to acceptable levels.

Longer term, legislation providing funding for improving air quality in all public facilities should be on Congress’s agenda, because this isn’t the last variant we’ll see before this pandemic is over. There will be other reasons for improving indoor air quality – increasing numbers of wildfires and dust storms as the climate emergency deepens will be adequate justification to continue HVAC improvements.

And as I already said, something needs to be done pronto about the communications out of CDC and FDA about COVID, including infection control measures.

~ 0 ~

All that said, double down on measures to protect yourself, friends, and loved ones through this Omicron wave. Use the measures Japan’s health ministry has advocated and apparently work when used widely.

Avoid the Three Cs:
— Closed spaces with poor ventilation or unmonitored air quality
— Crowded spaces occupied by many people
— Close-contact settings which don’t allow adequate social distance

Do the Three Ws:
— Wear a better mask (N95 preferred)
— Watch your social distance to reduce exposure to aerosols
— Wash your hands to prevent spread of any infectious agents

And if you haven’t yet gotten your booster, do whatever you can to get that on board.

Three Things: Omigod Omicron

[NB: Check the byline, thanks! Updates will follow at the bottom of initial posted content. /~Rayne]

Only a month after the World Health Organization declared it a variant of concern, Omicron is now dominant in the U.S. accounting for roughly 3/4 of the nearly 1.9 million new cases of COVID reported over the last week.

Because of its dramatically increased ease of transmission, new cases of COVID are expected to explode and exceed past waves of cases.

~ 3 ~

Joe Biden will be speaking to the nation today about the federal response to the new coronavirus variant Omicron.

The surge of cases is expected to swamp health care infrastructure which has already been pushed up to and beyond its limits by previous COVID waves and the continued resistance to vaccinations and boosters by roughly 30% of the population.

Lockdowns are not expected to be part of the federal response; rather, the government will send federal personnel to large hospitals across the country to help beleaguered staff as new cases roll in.

500 million instant tests for home use are also expected to be sent out. The hue and cry after White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s comments regarding testing and masks sent to homes may have spurred this effort in concert with the dramatic uptick in Omicron cases.

Will this federal response be enough? Likely not — but we would not be in this situation had there been a plan to mitigate COVID in place when Biden took office 11 months ago. Taking office just as another surge began placed the entire Biden response on its heels.

Likely more later on this as an update; three items are in progress and will follow shortly.

~ 2 ~

Speaking of the White House communications, Jeff Zients set off a shitstorm with a poorly worded or thought-through remark about the unvaccinated.

Disability activists were reasonably put out as many disabled can’t get vaccinated and boosted for health reasons.

But there’s another bigger problem in terms of the percentage of people affected: workers especially in low wage jobs aren’t getting vaccinated because their employers aren’t providing adequate support.

If you’ve gotten fast food recently, you’ve probably been in contact with someone who hasn’t been able to get vaccinated.

An effective federal outreach will reach the unvaccinated who want the shots and booster but whose circumstances haven’t allowed them to do so. Leaving this to the states — especially in red states — has left economically vulnerable exposed to COVID.

That said, fuck the unvaccinated who willfully refuse to be vaccinated, especially those who refuse all other mitigation measures. Welcome to the “winter of severe illness and death” you’ve asked for; may its toll be on you alone and not on any vulnerable children, immunocompromised, disabled, or precarious and marginalized persons.

~ 1 ~

One of the biggest flying periods of the year is nearly upon us as Americans fly to/from home for the holidays. Unfortunately this follows a hearing last week before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee in which an airline executive said something ridiculously absurd.

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly, when asked about mask use by travelers and staff on its airplanes, said,

I think the case is very strong that masks don’t add much if anything in the air cabin environment. It’s very safe and very high quality compared to any other indoor setting.

Never mind the studies of aerosol transmission which has examined mass transportation for dispersal of aerosolized particles, or case studies of specific outbreaks occurring among persons in enclosed spaces, all of which have shown sitting in close proximity to infected persons substantially increases the odds of transmission between infected and non-infected persons.

Former surgeon general Jerome Adams was rather blunt in response to Kelly’s remarks:

“I’ve got to tell you, there’s no other way I can put my feelings about that than, it was irresponsible. It was irresponsible. It was reckless.”

Kind of surprising for a guy who fluffed up the Trump administration’s policy about mask use.

Karma had her way with Kelly, though, who had been coughing during his appearance before the Transportation Committee — he was diagnosed with COVID the next day.

What an ignorant, arrogant douchebag. He probably infected others in his own workforce and possibly members of Congress and staffers. Why Southwest’s board of directors and shareholders haven’t suspended Kelly is beyond me; air travel requires a fairly high degree of trust in science and Kelly clearly doesn’t trust science.

Masks have been mandatory on public transportation including airplanes since last year. This requirement will likely continue throughout the Omicron wave and beyond.

If you must travel over the holidays, trust the science and wear a high-quality mask.

~ 0 ~

Oops, one more thing: Robert F. Kennedy III is a blight on his family’s legacy. His anti-vaxx bullshit is racist bordering on genocidal.

He needs to be kicked to the curb. I would love to know who/what is funding his sketchy work.

This Is My O Face: Welcome, Omicron [UPDATE-1]

[NB: check the byline, thanks. Scroll down for update and new content. /~Rayne]

Well, it had to happen sooner or later given this pandemic’s craptacular start and the inability of Trumpy right-wingers, nation-states with fewer resources, and Global Big Pharma to tackle COVID’s spread.

I’ve got what feels like a chest cold – gravelly upper chest, scratchy throat – and my spouse has the scratchy throat.

I’ve been around exactly five people in the last two weeks, one of which is my spouse; the others are my kids and two friends. All of them are fully vaccinated and boosted as are we two in my household.

Their status doesn’t rule out the possibility that one of them may carried the virus, if indeed we’re infected. Vaccinated folks can carry the virus.

No lost of smell or taste noted. No other symptoms so far. In my case this might not even be COVID; with the crazy windstorms we’ve had this week I’ve inhaled a bunch of dust every time I’ve had to go outside which may have triggered a flare of my autoimmune disorder.

But if Omicron results in milder symptoms especially in fully vaccinated persons, I may well have COVID.

Put me down as Status: Pending until I’m tested and receive my results.

There will be more to this post when I get back from the testing center, watch for an update.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE — Saturday 18-DEC-2021 -–

That’s not how I intended to start a post about the Omicron variant, but here we are: we go with the virus we have, not the one we wish we had.

What we know about Omicron so far is still rather loose and ill defined. Part of the challenge is that Omicron meets a different population than Alpha or Beta did last year – depending on the country there’s such a broad mix of people who are partially vaccinated, fully vaccinated, boosted, and with different mixtures of vaccinations as well as the stubbornly unvaccinated and the previously infected who occur in each category along with the immunocompromised.

When the first wave hit, everyone everywhere was unvaccinated. There was no need to sort the population except for those who may have been previously infected. By the Delta-dominant third wave analysis was slightly more complicated as more people were vaccinated or previously infected.

Now there’s so much more to sort through to identify trends. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are still surprises in case data as Omicron infections explode.

And explode they will, doubling every three days — if not more in less time.

I still can’t wrap my head around the number of cases this variant is expected to produce. I’d like to recommend you listen to this Twitter Spaces recording of a discussion with Financial Times’ statistics journalist John Burn Murdoch, pharma correspondents Hanna Kuchler, Jamie Smyth, and Donato Mancini, and senior editor Clive Cookson.


A caveat before you dive in: the discussion has a UK+EU bias given the location of the participants and their employer. The UK’s handling of COVID has been absolutely abysmal to date and may shape their perspectives.

An even bigger caveat: Twitter Spaces self-delete in 30 days, so you only have 27 more days to listen to their discussion. Catch it before January 13, 2022.

I also can’t wrap my head around the dramatically increased contagiousness of Omicron versus Delta. Delta was already much more contagious than the initial dominant variant; its electrostatic charge caused the aerosolized virus to be attracted to soft human tissues like magnets.

Omicron, though, is 70 times more infectious than Delta. Just fucking mind boggling, this jump from Delta, and what it means for this winter as we approach the holidays.

A preliminary study suggests the Omicron variant is better at transmission because it infects the upper airway, but bad at infecting the lower lungs explaining why it presents with milder symptoms than its predecessor, Delta. Attaching itself to tissues higher in the airway the virus can be more easily dispersed in aerosol, but lower in the lungs the virus is more difficult to blow out.

The increase in infectiousness means you MUST upgrade your masks, especially before holiday gatherings in enclosed spaces. Fabric alone will no longer do the job even if everyone in the same shared space is wearing them. This goes for health care workers, too, who’ve continued to wear surgical masks through the pandemic when they could get their hands on them. All of us need to be wearing N95 masks in shared public spaces to reduce transmission.

Testing will become more critical because Omicron may present for many like common cold symptoms, hence my scramble yesterday to get tested. A year ago I might have blown off the symptoms I had because I didn’t lose my sense of smell and/or taste, didn’t run a temperature, didn’t have breathing problems or feel like I was losing oxygen. But not now – I can’t do that.

Nor can we ignore the fearsome possibility of co-infection or super-infection as mentioned in Financial Times’ discussion, in which the infected has both Delta and Omicron at the same time. Imagine this kind of scenario creating conditions for development of a new variant which is everything bad about Delta and Omicron combined. There’s also the possibility of co-infection with influenza, which has already happened though infrequently so far.

If this is what lungs looked like with the earlier variants, what will they look like with a super-infection of Delta and Omicron combined? Will we see more patients in need of lung transplants even earlier? Will we simply see an increase in mortality?

Only time, observation, and data will tell, and we’d really rather not accrue any data.

One thing we have learned about Omicron: the Johnson & Johnson adenovirus-vector one-shot vaccine is not effective against it, based on a study (pre-print) by Vir Biotechnology Inc. employees published this past Wednesday.

The Center for Disease Control issued a statement of preference for mRNA vaccines as well given the risk of death from unusual clotting observed across the population vaccinated with J&J. This means if you are J&J vaccinated but unboosted, you should look into an mRNA booster as soon as possible. This is fluid and may be subject to change; I wouldn’t be surprised with Omicron’s explosion of cases to see revaccination with a full regimen of mRNA recommended for J&J recipients.

~ ~ ~

Besides this unexpected Chinese fire drill of chasing COVID tests and results, what’s really frustrating is the continued absurd nihilistic conservatism of many unvaccinated and their maskless counterparts.

Exhibit A: Matthew Walter, arch Catholic, editor of The Lamp, contributor to the American Conservative, and the author of “Where I Live, No One Cares About COVID,” unfortunately published by The Atlantic.

Let’s make a distinction here between the folks who are still struggling to get vaccinated because of vampiric capitalism and racism. Many unvaccinated people want to be protected but can’t take the time away from work to get their shots and deal with the possible symptoms which often follow the vaccine. We forget too many Americans living in precarity risk losing their jobs if they or their family members are sick because this country hasn’t ensured a reasonable amount of paid time off for illness let alone health maintenance. These same workers end up gambling on not getting COVID because they can’t afford to take a handful of days for the vaccinations and booster for themselves and their family. If COVID gets them, well, they know it’s all over.

Ditto the unvaccinated who have legitimate health conditions which preclude vaccination. For them the rest of us should be vaccinated.

But the deliberately unvaccinated and COVID indifferent who identify with Matthew Walther? Fuck them.

All those stupid assholes like Walther who’ve decided to pretend there’s no pandemic, choosing instead to party on Michigan’s Torch Lake’s sandbar back in July 2020, causing a superspreader event? Fuck them all, the selfish gits.

Fuck all the jerks fighting mask and vaccine mandates, who’d rather kids and their teachers got sick with COVID, causing more superspreader events.

Sure, I get it – Walther wrote his misbegotten spike-worthy piece for The Atlantic from his deep red rural St. Joseph County located on the Michigan border with red state Indiana. The Atlantic’s editors stupidly decided to both-sides the pandemic.

But The Atlantic failed to look at what side they were giving oxygen by platforming Walther. The town in which Walther’s journal The Lamp is published has a population of less than 8000.

And they’re white, white, white.

It’s a super homogenous location where nobody gives a shit about COVID because nearly 90% of them share the same everything from skin color to politics. They act as if the only people who get COVID, are disabled by it or die from it are those people in Metro Detroit area. That’s the hidden subtext in Walther’s essay.

The Ameri-centric xenophobia also rolls off Walther:

…Indeed, there is something small-minded and puritanical and distinctly American about the whole business of obsessing over whether vaccinated teachers remove their face covering during a long school day. …

Shall we ask Japan and South Korea about mask wearing and other COVID mitigation measures? Japan’s population is 38% of the U.S. and has had less than 19,000 COVID deaths to date, while South Korea at 15% of U.S. population has had less than 5,000 COVID deaths in the same time frame.

Apparently the world doesn’t exist outside predominantly white spaces like the U.S. and Europe for Walther. We look like morons not only because of the ongoing mass death event but because folks like Walther insist there’s nothing to see, move along.

But I, too, live in Michigan, in a limnal space between a suburb and rural Michigan. It’s not just those people  who are getting sick, hospitalized, disabled, or dying because of COVID. Here we all know quite a few white people who’ve died of COVID, the disease Walther doesn’t give a shit about any longer; the obituaries scrolling by on the local television stations are wall to wall with these white faces.

It’s not just these disposable people to whom Walther is indifferent who are casualties. COVID is chewing up our health care system capacity to the point the feds have sent in support personnel; it’s eating the spirit of our health care workers to the point where many are leaving health care permanently.

ER doctor Rob Davidson lives and works only four counties and a hundred miles north of Walther, in a community which is even smaller and whiter than Three Rivers:

If you follow Dr. Davidson on Twitter you know how frustrated he and health care workers are to care for so many who are deathly ill and too often die when the disease could have been mitigated or prevented with a readily available vaccine regimen. Many of the people lost are friends and neighbors who refused to get vaccinated.

As Davidson notes, “…they’ve been poisoned with this idea that A, COVID’s not a big deal from the beginning and B, these vaccines will somehow make them sick.”

That’s what Walther’s piece continues to validate and nurture because it was platformed by The Atlantic – the other Big Lie which Trump began and continues with propping up by right-wing wretches who treat others’ lives like so much toilet paper, supported by media complicity and click-bait cupidity.

When the pandemic began, Trump wanted to save his own ass at the polls so he repeatedly assured his weak-minded base that COVID wasn’t a big deal, it was a hoax, it would disappear.

Except it was American’s lives which disappeared – more than 800,000 so far, of which more than a third could have been saved by vaccines had Trump left a distribution plan in place instead of another Big Lie.

Nearly double that 800,000 have been lost if excess deaths are included due to COVID’s drain on our health infrastructure.

Which means we’ve lost roughly two million Americans because of Trump’s other Big Lie – a passive-aggressive democide by active neglect.

The capper on Walther’s nihilistic crap: while he claims nobody cares about COVID, a couple thousand people are slogging away in Portage, a mere 26 miles north of Walther’s digs.

They’re producing as much of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Comirnaty vaccine as fast as they can. There’s a Pfizer plant under construction to expand production of injectables which will bring 450 more new jobs. Other biotech companies and their workers in southeast Michigan support Pfizer’s production.

These Michigan residents and employers care one hell of a lot about COVID, and they’ve saved millions of lives.

Which makes Walther’s op-ed look like what it is, an extension of Trump’s democidal lie and an insult to the conscientiousness and humanity of fellow Michigan residents.

A literal insult to neighbors who may be commuting from Walther’s town to make life-saving vaccines every day.

I hope some day Walther meets his Catholic god and is told what an offense it has been that he treated other human’s lives with so little respect and dignity.

~ ~ ~

Status update: Both my antigen and PCR tests came back negative. My coughing is subsiding, leaving just the occasional tickle. I hope this was just an extremely mild cold or an autoimmune flare. But I’m now back on heightened alert; if this was a cold, how did I get it? Could I have infected one or more of the few people I’ve been in contact with this week?

Stay safe, peeps. Don’t drop your guard just yet. Get your booster shot, and a flu shot, too.


Commenter “Doug Fir” took exception to the use of the word “transmissibility” and the substitution of the word “infectious.” Reporting across the media ecosphere has used transmission/contagion/infection and variants of these words interchangeably; this is a point needing further explication and explanation by researchers who are still studying Omicron’s differentiation from other variants. I’ll point to this excerpt from an article in StatNews also linked above as the most thorough reporting but still not definitive as it is based on preliminary data:

The new research comes from a Hong Kong University team led by public health professor Michael Chan Chi-wai and pathologist John Nicholls. Previously, the researchers pioneered a method for growing human tissues extracted from the lung and respiratory tract, which they used to study how SARS-CoV-2 invaded cells and replicated compared to other dangerous coronaviruses. Using this same system, they analyzed how live, replicating particles of Omicron infected the tissues. They found that over the first 24 hours, Omicron multiplied about 70 times faster inside respiratory-tract tissue than the Delta variant. When they ran the same experiments with the lung tissue, they found Omicron was actually worse at infecting those cells than either Delta or the original strain of the virus that originated in Wuhan.

That seemingly helps explain the variant’s infectiousness, and also why it may not be causing as severe sickness as previous variants of the coronavirus — as early data suggest.

“That basically tells us it’s inherently more transmissible,” said Müge Çevik, a clinical lecturer in infectious diseases and medical virology at the University of St. Andrews School of Medicine in Scotland. “The reason Omicron is spreading so fast is not just because of immune evasion” — its ability to elude antibodies from vaccines or infection with earlier variants — “but a combination of that with intrinsic enhanced infectiousness.”

It appears Omicron is not as effective as Delta in attaching to tissues deeper in the lungs; it attaches more effectively to the trachea and bronchi or upper airways where it can be more easily blown out as aerosol others can inhale especially if not well masked and in enclosed shared space with poor ventilation.