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*** OFFICIAL *** COVID-19 CoronaVirus Thread


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1 minute ago, Leeroy Jenkins said:

I feel like now that we have multiple vaccine options and will have enough supply for the entire adult population before summer, that it is irresponsible to lift mandates, when we are so close and some have sacrificed so much to get to this light at the end of the tunnel.  

I would have agreed with this argument a few months ago, but I don't think I do anymore.  Things have changed a lot since January.

I agree that it would be silly and irresponsible for people like me -- unvaccinated and no immunity whatsoever to covid -- to stop wearing masks or start hanging out in bars.  No argument there.  But I don't need any sort of mandate to wear a mask or avoid bars.  I've been doing that on my own for a year now.

On the other hand, we now have a pretty large chunk of people who are no longer at any serious risk of contracting covid, either because they've been vaccinated or because they achieved immunity the hard way.  There's no particular reason for those people to walk around wearing masks, and there's definitely no reason why they shouldn't be able to enjoy a draft beer or a restaurant meal.  The fact that I can't do that stuff isn't a good reason for other people to sit at home.  

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My dad has been sick for a few weeks.  My mom called me today to say he was about to die.  I said some final words to him and he could hear me but was unable to respond.  He passed a short time later.

Not to derail anything, but we had our baby last night! She's doing amazingly well. Due to the hospital's pandemic policies, I had to leave her right after my wife was released from recovery. I can't

On a positive note, my wife gave birth to our first child this morning!! We were expecting our daughter to be born in the first week of April, which does not align very well if this hospital sees a ma

5 minutes ago, IvanKaramazov said:

we now have a pretty large chunk of people who are no longer at any serious risk of contracting covid, either because they've been vaccinated or because they achieved immunity the hard way.  There's no particular reason for those people to walk around wearing masks, and there's definitely no reason why they shouldn't be able to enjoy a draft beer or a restaurant meal.  The fact that I can't do that stuff isn't a good reason for other people to sit at home.

The issue I see is that there are far too many people that would take advantage of the situation and engage in those activities even though they weren't vaccinated and didn't have natural immunity from getting COVID before.  Those people would be putting people like you and I at increased risk.  If states were issuing COVID passports like Israel is doing, that's a different story.

TL;DR - People are dumb and selfish and that will inevitably increase spread. #nannystate

We aren't far from what you are saying, but we aren't that close either in many places.  I would like to see 60-70+% of the adult population vaccinated before mask mandates are lifted.

Edited by The Z Machine
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11 hours ago, tonydead said:

Expect Mississippi is doing the same. And South Dakota that never had them.  Oh and Montana, Iowa and North Dakata. But yeah, Twitter.  

 

11 hours ago, tonydead said:

Alaska, Florida, Georgia,  Missouri. 

 

11 hours ago, tonydead said:

Arizona.

How did I forget Idaho?

 

10 hours ago, tonydead said:

Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee.  Nebraska.

Is that 15?

Almost all of those states are in the top 25 of deaths per capita (Alaska and Montana were lower because of obvious reasons). A great comparison is North and South Carolina. I live in North Carolina, who just last week finally allowed bars to serve people inside. South Carolina has been wide open since May. South Carolina has almost 600 more deaths per million people than North Carolina. Yes, I am sure that business was better for certain industries in SC than in NC, and I am sure that a couple of businesses I saw close in my city would have stayed open with less restrictions. But lives were saved. Some could argue that the businesses should have been saved, but I'm not one of those people. I think we are so close to the finish line that it shouldn't be that hard to keep some restrictions for the next month or two, as we still have vulnerable people who have not been vaccinated.

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6 minutes ago, IvanKaramazov said:

I would have agreed with this argument a few months ago, but I don't think I do anymore.  Things have changed a lot since January.

I agree that it would be silly and irresponsible for people like me -- unvaccinated and no immunity whatsoever to covid -- to stop wearing masks or start hanging out in bars.  No argument there.  But I don't need any sort of mandate to wear a mask or avoid bars.  I've been doing that on my own for a year now.

On the other hand, we now have a pretty large chunk of people who are no longer at any serious risk of contracting covid, either because they've been vaccinated or because they achieved immunity the hard way.  There's no particular reason for those people to walk around wearing masks, and there's definitely no reason why they shouldn't be able to enjoy a draft beer or a restaurant meal.  The fact that I can't do that stuff isn't a good reason for other people to sit at home.  

Well that isn't entirely true, as we know that virus can likely still be transmitted.  And without mandates from the state it is up to retailers to become the bad guy and enforce what is still the CDC guidance.  And with vaccination still less than 20% you still have large exposure potential for people.  Plus that folks will interpret the lifting of mandates of meaning we are back to 2019 behavior, and that simply is not true at this point.

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1 hour ago, Dezbelief said:

Not everyone who gets it sheds the virus and is able to infect other people. Living with someone who has tested positive may or may not expose you to the virus. 

And furthermore, this is a huge mystery about this disease (and many other viral infections). It's not something they can test for in a person and determine one way or another.

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36 minutes ago, Kilgore Trout said:

 

 

 

Almost all of those states are in the top 25 of deaths per capita (Alaska and Montana were lower because of obvious reasons). A great comparison is North and South Carolina. I live in North Carolina, who just last week finally allowed bars to serve people inside. South Carolina has been wide open since May. South Carolina has almost 600 more deaths per million people than North Carolina. Yes, I am sure that business was better for certain industries in SC than in NC, and I am sure that a couple of businesses I saw close in my city would have stayed open with less restrictions. But lives were saved. Some could argue that the businesses should have been saved, but I'm not one of those people. I think we are so close to the finish line that it shouldn't be that hard to keep some restrictions for the next month or two, as we still have vulnerable people who have not been vaccinated.

FLA has the 2nd oldest population, CALIF has the 5th youngest, they both roughly have the same deaths per capita. CALIF unemployment rate is 9%, FLA 6%. Won't even get into how many businesses have closed in CALIF. 

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34 minutes ago, Kilgore Trout said:

Almost all of those states are in the top 25 of deaths per capita (Alaska and Montana were lower because of obvious reasons). A great comparison is North and South Carolina. I live in North Carolina, who just last week finally allowed bars to serve people inside. South Carolina has been wide open since May. South Carolina has almost 600 more deaths per million people than North Carolina. Yes, I am sure that business was better for certain industries in SC than in NC, and I am sure that a couple of businesses I saw close in my city would have stayed open with less restrictions. But lives were saved. Some could argue that the businesses should have been saved, but I'm not one of those people. I think we are so close to the finish line that it shouldn't be that hard to keep some restrictions for the next month or two, as we still have vulnerable people who have not been vaccinated.

:hifive: SC here. While we've been wide open, mask usage, at least when I am out, is high. Most all businesses require masks to be worn, banks appointments need to be scheduled, the only really big exception is restaurants. I haven't been to one since March 2020 other than take out so not familiar with how good/bad they are about mask usage. I'm on a local restaurant FB page for my area (Fort Mill) and pretty much across the board it seems that masks are being used by servers/hostess's. Wife & I have certainly curtailed our activities but we still live our lives. Haven't been to any big gatherings other than one church service indoors where her and I and about 5 others were wearing masks in a room of about 37, socially distanced. Normally our church is in the parking lot and everyone stays in their cars.

Daughter is in school at USC in Columbia and the school is doing it's best to enforce mask usage. The surrounding community is too but the campus bar scene is the problem there. That and dumb kids but it's college.

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58 minutes ago, IvanKaramazov said:

I would have agreed with this argument a few months ago, but I don't think I do anymore.  Things have changed a lot since January.

I agree that it would be silly and irresponsible for people like me -- unvaccinated and no immunity whatsoever to covid -- to stop wearing masks or start hanging out in bars.  No argument there.  But I don't need any sort of mandate to wear a mask or avoid bars.  I've been doing that on my own for a year now.

On the other hand, we now have a pretty large chunk of people who are no longer at any serious risk of contracting covid, either because they've been vaccinated or because they achieved immunity the hard way.  There's no particular reason for those people to walk around wearing masks, and there's definitely no reason why they shouldn't be able to enjoy a draft beer or a restaurant meal.  The fact that I can't do that stuff isn't a good reason for other people to sit at home.  

I think this is the part that evades a lot of people. People scream "open it up" like its as simple as flicking a light switch and bars and restaurants will be packed again. Intelligent people arent going to act normal until they get the vaccine. The government mandates aren't in place for people who understand and respect science.

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Today marks the 349th straight day of work for Dr. Joseph Varon, chief medical officer at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas. 

But Varon “saw all those 348 days yesterday go down the drain” after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced the lifting of mask mandates and opening businesses 100% capacity.

Varon said he is very concerned and has met with staff at his hospital to go through different strategies and getting more personal protective equipment.  

“If we open the state on the 10th, I'm telling you, before the end of March, we're going to have problems. And we had a precedent for that. Remember last year when we opened the state at the end of April. My worst months were June and July last year. So unfortunately, this is starting to look like deja vu,” Varon said on CNN’s “New Day.” 

Varon said Abbott’s decision makes no sense and that many Texans may stop wearing their masks. 

As of Monday, 6.57% of Texans have been fully vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins University.

“Despite being a huge state, we have less than 7% of vaccination. I don't know why he didn't wait until we have more percentage of the population vaccinated before he came with this move,” Varon said. 

Clay Jenkins, Dallas County judge, calls this “a political move on the part of the governor to take the attention off the power grid collapse” after devastating winter storms.  

“I wish he was more imaginative and had a better way to change the conversation than doing something dumb like this,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins added that stores can still refuse service to people who don't wear a mask, and “I think most stores will.” 

 

 

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2 hours ago, IvanKaramazov said:

My personal sense is that the rest of the nation is still mentally stuck in January (or November maybe) and hasn't fully grasped how big a deal widespread vaccination is.  If I were governor of a state with a mask mandate and various lockdown orders -- both of which I strongly supported a few months ago -- I would not be lifting them yet, but I'd be making plans to do so in the near future.  If I were suddenly made governor of a state that didn't have those measures in place, I wouldn't bother spending political capital on them at this point. 

I'm seeing a lot of this stuck-in-two-months-ago mindset in my corner of academia at the moment.  This is the time of year when we need to seriously firm up our plans for the upcoming fall semester.  Under normal circumstances that's completely routine and no big deal at all, but I'm hearing lots of chatter along the lines of "What is fall going to be like?"  It seems like it should pretty obvious to everyone that the fall semester is going to be mostly or entirely normal, but that's not obvious at all to a lot of people, because they're looking at case counts right now and not really thinking ahead to what case counts are going to look like six months from now.

Old people, health care workers, and other folks who used to be "high risk" that we worried about a lot, are now way down in the "basically zero risk" category.  We're not quite there yet, but it won't be long at all before people like us -- late-40s or early-50s, basically good health -- are the highest-risk people remaining.  And honestly, there's little justification for continuing to shut down society on our account.     

Just had this conversation with my wife.  She's on the board of our kids' school, so from time-to-time she shares school topics partly to (seemingly) test whether or not I'll get annoyed.   She said something like "Yeah, everyone is really stressed out trying to assess all the different possibilities for school in the fall."   My reply......failed whatever test she had for me:  "Are they all morons?  By fall, nobody is staying home from school.  We'll have enough vaccines to give ever adult a shot by June or July, and kids basically barely get or transmit the virus.   School is happening in the fall; there is nothing to plan for."

Anyway, that was evidently the wrong response.   And when I doubled down with "I'm happy to get on a Zoom with the board and the administration if nobody understands math and logic" that went over poorly too.  ;)

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1 hour ago, The Z Machine said:

The issue I see is that there are far too many people that would take advantage of the situation and engage in those activities even though they weren't vaccinated and didn't have natural immunity from getting COVID before.  Those people would be putting people like you and I at increased risk.  If states were issuing COVID passports like Israel is doing, that's a different story.

TL;DR - People are dumb and selfish and that will inevitably increase spread. #nannystate

We aren't far from what you are saying, but we aren't that close either in many places.  I would like to see 60-70+% of the adult population vaccinated before mask mandates are lifted.

Most of those people are doing these things anyway.   We've seen neighbors and family members host dinner parties (or post photos on FB from bars, restaurants, plane travel, family vacations in crowded places, etc) throughout the past 6 months.  The reason we've had rampant spread is because the govt mandates don't work in the US.  We have an individualistic-minded society, right or wrong, good or bad.  It's part of what makes us the greatest nation on earth -- and 90% of the time that is great, 10% of the time it really sucks.

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3 minutes ago, Alex P Keaton said:

Just had this conversation with my wife.  She's on the board of our kids' school, so from time-to-time she shares school topics partly to (seemingly) test whether or not I'll get annoyed.   She said something like "Yeah, everyone is really stressed out trying to assess all the different possibilities for school in the fall."   My reply......failed whatever test she had for me:  "Are they all morons?  By fall, nobody is staying home from school.  We'll have enough vaccines to give ever adult a shot by June or July, and kids basically barely get or transmit the virus.   School is happening in the fall; there is nothing to plan for."

Anyway, that was evidently the wrong response.   And when I doubled down with "I'm happy to get on a Zoom with the board and the administration if nobody understands math and logic" that went over poorly too.  ;)

I'm conservative when it comes to being careful about the virus and I agree with this 100%. Especially when it comes to schools. 

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3 minutes ago, Grace Under Pressure said:

I'm conservative when it comes to being careful about the virus and I agree with this 100%. Especially when it comes to schools. 

My kid school started to go everyday this week.  Still only half days but every day. They have been hybrid all along with a couple bumps along the way.   We are pretty careful also (my wife a little "crazy" compared to me)  - I have taken my daughter to indoor facilities for training at off times so there was no crowd - thats about how risky we've been.

Shes 15 so cant get a vaccine.  However - I have been driving her to school and away meets to keep her off the bus, shes worried about that for now.    If I'm still wfh in the fall - i may drive her but any sports she will be on the bus.  Not sure how softball is going to work.

But having her in school is "worth the risk" to us

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11 minutes ago, Alex P Keaton said:

Just had this conversation with my wife.  She's on the board of our kids' school, so from time-to-time she shares school topics partly to (seemingly) test whether or not I'll get annoyed.   She said something like "Yeah, everyone is really stressed out trying to assess all the different possibilities for school in the fall."   My reply......failed whatever test she had for me:  "Are they all morons?  By fall, nobody is staying home from school.  We'll have enough vaccines to give ever adult a shot by June or July, and kids basically barely get or transmit the virus.   School is happening in the fall; there is nothing to plan for."

Anyway, that was evidently the wrong response.   And when I doubled down with "I'm happy to get on a Zoom with the board and the administration if nobody understands math and logic" that went over poorly too.  ;)

I think you are right about schools being open.  I think the question is whether they will be wearing masks, have distancing, have barriers etc. because I don't think kids will be vaccinated by then.  There have been kids with complications from COVID and then there is still the whole unknown longer term or long hauler impact of infection as well.  

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35 minutes ago, E-Z Glider said:

I think this is the part that evades a lot of people. People scream "open it up" like its as simple as flicking a light switch and bars and restaurants will be packed again. Intelligent people arent going to act normal until they get the vaccine. The government mandates aren't in place for people who understand and respect science.

Quoted for truth. I'm not going to support very many businesses until I'm satisfied that I'm in the clear.

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34 minutes ago, belljr said:

Its ok the new variants will just keep spreading and this won't go away anyway

I could end up being way wrong ... but my spidey-sense about the variants is that they won't end up being all that impactful in the end. They exist, yes, and any one could "bust loose" and evade vaccinations effort as happens every so often with the flu ... but I don't think a COVID variant will ever turn into another 18-month response like the original sets of strains.

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11 minutes ago, Doug B said:

I could end up being way wrong ... but my spidey-sense about the variants is that they won't end up being all that impactful in the end. They exist, yes, and any one could "bust loose" and evade vaccinations effort as happens every so often with the flu ... but I don't think a COVID variant will ever turn into another 18-month response like the original sets of strains.

the article I just read suggests many experts fear thats exactly going to happen after reviewing the data the last couple months

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The variants are not a big deal at all. There are a lot of scare clickbait articles out there right now but by and large they can be controlled by future vaccines updates and present vaccines offer decent protection. It all comes down to getting people shots.

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15 minutes ago, Doug B said:

I could end up being way wrong ... but my spidey-sense about the variants is that they won't end up being all that impactful in the end. They exist, yes, and any one could "bust loose" and evade vaccinations effort as happens every so often with the flu ... but I don't think a COVID variant will ever turn into another 18-month response like the original sets of strains.

I agree with this. In fact I will go further and say the variants are straight up propaganda thus far. 

I have yet to see real world data showing anything close to the predictions that have been bouncing around for months now. 

Even the predictions of higher infectivity are all over the place. I just read a BBC article today that mentioned the UK variant could be as low as 10% more infectious. 

 

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14 hours ago, Penguin said:

I have a really close friend that somehow didn't get it (tested negative 3 times) after his wife and twin daughters were all positive. The twins are schooling from home, the wife teaching from home and he's working from home. It's a small ranch house and they are on top of each other 24x7. 

Yea, crazy for something that they were saying was so transmutable and easily caught through the air etc. There is just so much that is not known for sure known.

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14 hours ago, tonydead said:

Texas + Mississippi. :thumbup:

I hope others follow suit.  Time to ditch the masks. 

Open businesses up. I don't see the harm in wearing masks longer though. 

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Case counts in PA are no longer declining -- flat the last 10 days and still higher than last spring. We are CLOSE.  Vaccination rates are going to grow exponentially now.  Don't give in to fatigue yet -- we can kill this thing in 60 days! 

I NEED TO GET OUT OF THIS HOUSE!!

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11 minutes ago, belljr said:

the article I just read suggests many experts fear thats exactly going to happen after reviewing the data the last couple months

Are they making hard calls and firm predictions of what will happen, or are they talking more in terms of probabilities and what could happen? Scientists and researchers typically will not rule out the worst outcomes of something, even when the data makes them feel pretty optimistic about how things will actually turn out. The popular media instead aims to deal in certainties, and thus often interprets that equivocation as doom-casting which yields effective clickbait.

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3 hours ago, IvanKaramazov said:

it won't be long at all before people like us -- late-40s or early-50s,

Speak for yourself... some of us are not old fogies. 

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25 minutes ago, parasaurolophus said:

I agree with this. In fact I will go further and say the variants are straight up propaganda thus far. 

I have yet to see real world data showing anything close to the predictions that have been bouncing around for months now. 

Even the predictions of higher infectivity are all over the place. I just read a BBC article today that mentioned the UK variant could be as low as 10% more infectious. 

 

Look I am not a “the media is bad” kinda guy but the variants are straight up clickbait at this point. There is just very little scientific evidence that suggests they are anything to be worried about long-term or even short-term really. 
 

Here’s a fantastic Twitter thread about it:

https://twitter.com/k_g_andersen/status/1365461953775235073?s=21

 

Edited by Capella
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20 minutes ago, Chadstroma said:
14 hours ago, Penguin said:

I have a really close friend that somehow didn't get it (tested negative 3 times) after his wife and twin daughters were all positive. The twins are schooling from home, the wife teaching from home and he's working from home. It's a small ranch house and they are on top of each other 24x7. 

Yea, crazy for something that they were saying was so transmutable and easily caught through the air etc. There is just so much that is not known for sure known

Sounds like the exact scenario of somebody I know. Tested negative 3 times. Wife teacher, ranch, two kids, etc. 

They were asymptomatic. Only got tested because the wife and kids were exposed to a symptomatic case. 

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6 minutes ago, Capella said:

Look I am not a “the media is bad kinda guy” but the variants are straight up clickbait crap. There is just no scientific evidence that suggests they are anything to be worried about long-term or even short-term really. 
 

Here’s a fantastic Twitter thread about it:

https://twitter.com/k_g_andersen/status/1365461953775235073?s=21

 

I don't interpret that thread to mean what you are saying.

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19 minutes ago, Capella said:

Look I am not a “the media is bad” kinda guy but the variants are straight up clickbait at this point. There is just very little scientific evidence that suggests they are anything to be worried about long-term or even short-term really. 
 

Here’s a fantastic Twitter thread about it:

https://twitter.com/k_g_andersen/status/1365461953775235073?s=21

 

It wasn't click bait I dont think

I'll have to find it.   

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https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN2AV1T1  :shrug:

 

 

Murray had until recently been hopeful that the discovery of several effective vaccines could help countries achieve herd immunity, or nearly eliminate transmission through a combination of inoculation and previous infection. But in the last month, data from a vaccine trial in South Africa showed not only that a rapidly-spreading coronavirus variant could dampen the effect of the vaccine, it could also evade natural immunity in people who had been previously infected.

“I couldn’t sleep” after seeing the data, Murray, director of the Seattle-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, told Reuters. “When will it end?” he asked himself, referring to the pandemic. He is currently updating his model to account for variants’ ability to escape natural immunity and expects to provide new projections as early as this week.

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15 minutes ago, belljr said:

Also in that article, not that it's a determinative statement -- just an example of the usual scientific equivocation:

Quote

Some scientists, including Murray, acknowledge that the outlook could improve. The new vaccines, which have been developed at record speed, still appear to prevent hospitalizations and death even when new variants are the cause of infection. Many vaccine developers are working on booster shots and new inoculations that could preserve a high level of efficacy against the variants. And, scientists say there is still much to be learned about the immune system’s ability to combat the virus.

Furthermore, the researchers in that article lean very hard on the South African variant and what it might do in the near term. But counter to that: Someone's got to explain why numbers in South Africa itself have been dropping so much. Why isn't the South African variant raising havoc on its home turf? The researchers in the article don't touch on that.

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17 hours ago, Chadstroma said:

I think some people may be immune... 

My sister has two daughters and lives in a small one bedroom apartment. They are on top of each other. Both girls got it. My sister did not and one of the daughters had been kissing her bf and he didn't get it... 

Or maybe they did and had no symptoms? I don't remember if she said they got tested or not. 

 

6 hours ago, jobarules said:

Yep same for me and my son. Wife got it. Didn't isolate. We never got it. I tested negative and recently got antibody test and that was negative also.

Both of my elderly parents and my wife got it, but my kids and I did not.  We are around my parents here and there.

I go shopping at least once a week, and hang out with friends in an outdoor capacity at least once a month.  I mask up when indoors.

There's gotta be some weird set of body-related criteria that dictates who gets what.

I have also never had the flu.

That all said I will get vaccinated as soon as I'm able.

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1 hour ago, Doug B said:

Also in that article, not that it's a determinative statement -- just an example of the usual scientific equivocation:

Furthermore, the researchers in that article lean very hard on the South African variant and what it might do in the near term. But counter to that: Someone's got to explain why numbers in South Africa itself have been dropping so much. Why isn't the South African variant raising havoc on its home turf? The researchers in the article don't touch on that.

You would think that would relevant. 

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6 minutes ago, nirad3 said:

 

Both of my elderly parents and my wife got it, but my kids and I did not.  We are around my parents here and there.

I go shopping at least once a week, and hang out with friends in an outdoor capacity at least once a month.  I mask up when indoors.

There's gotta be some weird set of body-related criteria that dictates who gets what.

I have also never had the flu.

That all said I will get vaccinated as soon as I'm able.

I am still on the fence. I will prob get tested in a week or so. If I had/have it like I suspect, I will skip the vaccine. 

If I do not/did not... not sure. Honestly leaning towards no now where as before my daughter/son got it I was leaning to yes. 

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4 hours ago, Chadstroma said:

Open businesses up. I don't see the harm in wearing masks longer though. 

Except nothing is opening up and we are just ditching mask requirements, somewhere, not sure where.  

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3 hours ago, Doug B said:

Also in that article, not that it's a determinative statement -- just an example of the usual scientific equivocation:

Furthermore, the researchers in that article lean very hard on the South African variant and what it might do in the near term. But counter to that: Someone's got to explain why numbers in South Africa itself have been dropping so much. Why isn't the South African variant raising havoc on its home turf? The researchers in the article don't touch on that.

I'm definitely in the summer will be "normal" camp but I still have concerns

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1 hour ago, Chadstroma said:
3 hours ago, Doug B said:

Furthermore, the researchers in that article lean very hard on the South African variant and what it might do in the near term. But counter to that: Someone's got to explain why numbers in South Africa itself have been dropping so much. Why isn't the South African variant raising havoc on its home turf? The researchers in the article don't touch on that.

You would think that would relevant. 

Stretching the imagination a bit ... I can think of reasons why a dangerous variant hasn't run roughshod over a region (e.g. if it was identified in a remote area and went ape-schmidt out of the way of population centers). But still.

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mrip541 posted this in the Political Forum's thread, but it ties in nicely to today's discussion here: 5 Pandemic Mistakes We Keep Repeating (The Atlantic, Zeynep Tufenki, 2/26/2021). It's a little too long to quote in full, but I'll pull a few choice quotes.

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One might have expected the initial approval of the coronavirus vaccines to spark ... jubilation—especially after a brutal pandemic year. But that didn’t happen. Instead, the steady drumbeat of good news about the vaccines has been met with a chorus of relentless pessimism.

The problem is not that the good news isn’t being reported, or that we should throw caution to the wind just yet. It’s that neither the reporting nor the public-health messaging has reflected the truly amazing reality of these vaccines. There is nothing wrong with realism and caution, but effective communication requires a sense of proportion—distinguishing between due alarm and alarmism; warranted, measured caution and doombait; worst-case scenarios and claims of impending catastrophe. We need to be able to celebrate profoundly positive news while noting the work that still lies ahead. However, instead of balanced optimism since the launch of the vaccines, the public has been offered a lot of misguided fretting over new virus variants, subjected to misleading debates about the inferiority of certain vaccines, and presented with long lists of things vaccinated people still cannot do, while media outlets wonder whether the pandemic will ever end.

...

One of the most important problems undermining the pandemic response has been the mistrust and paternalism that some public-health agencies and experts have exhibited toward the public. A key reason for this stance seems to be that some experts feared that people would respond to something that increased their safety—such as masks, rapid tests, or vaccines—by behaving recklessly. They worried that a heightened sense of safety would lead members of the public to take risks that would not just undermine any gains, but reverse them.

The theory that things that improve our safety might provide a false sense of security and lead to reckless behavior is attractive—it’s contrarian and clever, and fits the “here’s something surprising we smart folks thought about” mold that appeals to, well, people who think of themselves as smart. Unsurprisingly, such fears have greeted efforts to persuade the public to adopt almost every advance in safety, including seat belts, helmets, and condoms.

But time and again, the numbers tell a different story: Even if safety improvements cause a few people to behave recklessly, the benefits overwhelm the ill effects.

 

 

There's a ton more in there ... those quotes are just a taste.

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From the same Atlantic article:

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In the United States, the public was initially told that “close contact” meant coming within six feet of an infected individual, for 15 minutes or more. This messaging led to ridiculous gaming of the rules; some establishments moved people around at the 14th minute to avoid passing the threshold. It also led to situations in which people working indoors with others, but just outside the cutoff of six feet, felt that they could take their mask off. None of this made any practical sense. What happened at minute 16? Was seven feet okay? Faux precision isn’t more informative; it’s misleading.

 

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Last piece I'll pull -- this one hits home because my wife and daughter are still petrified of outside air due to social-media misinformation from early in the pandemic:

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Perhaps worst of all, our messaging and guidelines elided the difference between outdoor and indoor spaces, where, given the importance of aerosol transmission, the same precautions should not apply. This is especially important because this pathogen is overdispersed: Much of the spread is driven by a few people infecting many others at once, while most people do not transmit the virus at all.

After I wrote an article explaining how overdispersion and super-spreading were driving the pandemic, I discovered that this mechanism had also been poorly explained. I was inundated by messages from people, including elected officials around the world, saying they had no idea that this was the case. None of it was secret—numerous academic papers and articles had been written about it—but it had not been integrated into our messaging or our guidelines despite its great importance.

Crucially, super-spreading isn’t equally distributed; poorly ventilated indoor spaces can facilitate the spread of the virus over longer distances, and in shorter periods of time, than the guidelines suggested, and help fuel the pandemic.

Outdoors? It’s the opposite.

There is a solid scientific reason for the fact that there are relatively few documented cases of transmission outdoors, even after a year of epidemiological work: The open air dilutes the virus very quickly, and the sun helps deactivate it, providing further protection. And super-spreading—the biggest driver of the pandemic— appears to be an exclusively indoor phenomenon. I’ve been tracking every report I can find for the past year, and have yet to find a confirmed super-spreading event that occurred solely outdoors. Such events might well have taken place, but if the risk were great enough to justify altering our lives, I would expect at least a few to have been documented by now.

 


EDIT: I lied -- one more bit:

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We’d have been much better off if we gave people a realistic intuition about this virus’s transmission mechanisms. Our public guidelines should have been more like Japan’s, which emphasize avoiding the three C’s—closed spaces, crowded places, and close contact—that are driving the pandemic.

 

Edited by Doug B
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1 minute ago, Doug B said:

Last piece I'll pull -- this one hits home because my wife and daughter are still petrified of outside air due to social-media misinformation from early in the pandemic:

 

Yeah I have very little concern outside coaching softball. Yeah I'll pull my mask up if I'm talking to the girls up close for a bit but I'm almost 0% concerned

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4 minutes ago, Doug B said:

From the same Atlantic article:

 

It's so stupid that people always take things so literal about everything.  Not just about this.  If I'm close to someone for 3 to 4 minutes I'm not overly panicked on the flip side I don't want to sit inside for 2 hours either :)

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I lied again -- this article just keeps giving and giving:

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Socializing is not a luxury—kids need to play with one another, and adults need to interact. Your kids can play together outdoors, and outdoor time is the best chance to catch up with your neighbors is not just a sensible message; it’s a way to decrease transmission risks. Some kids will play and some adults will socialize no matter what the scolds say or public-health officials decree, and they’ll do it indoors, out of sight of the scolding.

And if they don’t? Then kids will be deprived of an essential activity, and adults will be deprived of human companionship. Socializing is perhaps the most important predictor of health and longevity, after not smoking and perhaps exercise and a healthy diet. We need to help people socialize more safely, not encourage them to stop socializing entirely.

 

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Last but not least, the pandemic response has been distorted by a poor balance between knowledge, risk, certainty, and action.

Sometimes, public-health authorities insisted that we did not know enough to act, when the preponderance of evidence already justified precautionary action. Wearing masks, for example, posed few downsides, and held the prospect of mitigating the exponential threat we faced. The wait for certainty hampered our response to airborne transmission, even though there was almost no evidence for—and increasing evidence against—the importance of fomites, or objects that can carry infection. And yet, we emphasized the risk of surface transmission while refusing to properly address the risk of airborne transmission, despite increasing evidence. The difference lay not in the level of evidence and scientific support for either theory—which, if anything, quickly tilted in favor of airborne transmission, and not fomites, being crucial—but in the fact that fomite transmission had been a key part of the medical canon, and airborne transmission had not.

 

 

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Yet more!

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And sometimes, the way that academics communicate clashed with how the public constructs knowledge. In academia, publishing is the coin of the realm, and it is often done through rejecting the null hypothesis—meaning that many papers do not seek to prove something conclusively, but instead, to reject the possibility that a variable has no relationship with the effect they are measuring (beyond chance). If that sounds convoluted, it is—there are historical reasons for this methodology and big arguments within academia about its merits, but for the moment, this remains standard practice.

At crucial points during the pandemic, though, this resulted in mistranslations and fueled misunderstandings, which were further muddled by differing stances toward prior scientific knowledge and theory. Yes, we faced a novel coronavirus, but we should have started by assuming that we could make some reasonable projections from prior knowledge, while looking out for anything that might prove different. That prior experience should have made us mindful of seasonality, the key role of overdispersion, and aerosol transmission. A keen eye for what was different from the past would have alerted us earlier to the importance of presymptomatic transmission.

Thus, on January 14, 2020, the WHO stated that there was “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission.” It should have said, “There is increasing likelihood that human-to-human transmission is taking place, but we haven’t yet proven this, because we have no access to Wuhan, China.” (Cases were already popping up around the world at that point.) Acting as if there was human-to-human transmission during the early weeks of the pandemic would have been wise and preventive.

Later that spring, WHO officials stated that there was “currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection,” producing many articles laden with panic and despair. Instead, it should have said: “We expect the immune system to function against this virus, and to provide some immunity for some period of time, but it is still hard to know specifics because it is so early.”

Similarly, since the vaccines were announced, too many statements have emphasized that we don’t yet know if vaccines prevent transmission. Instead, public-health authorities should have said that we have many reasons to expect, and increasing amounts of data to suggest, that vaccines will blunt infectiousness, but that we’re waiting for additional data to be more precise about it. That’s been unfortunate, because while many, many things have gone wrong during this pandemic, the vaccines are one thing that has gone very, very right.

 

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... as soon as we began vaccinating people, articles started warning the newly vaccinated about all they could not do. “COVID-19 Vaccine Doesn’t Mean You Can Party Like It’s 1999,” one headline admonished. And the buzzkill has continued right up to the present. “You’re fully vaccinated against the coronavirus—now what? Don’t expect to shed your mask and get back to normal activities right away,” began a recent Associated Press story.

People might well want to party after being vaccinated. Those shots will expand what we can do, first in our private lives and among other vaccinated people, and then, gradually, in our public lives as well. But once again, the authorities and the media seem more worried about potentially reckless behavior among the vaccinated, and about telling them what not to do, than with providing nuanced guidance reflecting trade-offs, uncertainty, and a recognition that vaccination can change behavior. No guideline can cover every situation, but careful, accurate, and updated information can empower everyone.

Take the messaging and public conversation around transmission risks from vaccinated people. It is, of course, important to be alert to such considerations: Many vaccines are “leaky” in that they prevent disease or severe disease, but not infection and transmission. In fact, completely blocking all infection—what’s often called “sterilizing immunity”—is a difficult goal, and something even many highly effective vaccines don’t attain, but that doesn’t stop them from being extremely useful.

 

 

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7 hours ago, IvanKaramazov said:

My personal sense is that the rest of the nation is still mentally stuck in January (or November maybe) and hasn't fully grasped how big a deal widespread vaccination is.  If I were governor of a state with a mask mandate and various lockdown orders -- both of which I strongly supported a few months ago -- I would not be lifting them yet, but I'd be making plans to do so in the near future.  If I were suddenly made governor of a state that didn't have those measures in place, I wouldn't bother spending political capital on them at this point. 

I'm seeing a lot of this stuck-in-two-months-ago mindset in my corner of academia at the moment.  This is the time of year when we need to seriously firm up our plans for the upcoming fall semester.  Under normal circumstances that's completely routine and no big deal at all, but I'm hearing lots of chatter along the lines of "What is fall going to be like?"  It seems like it should pretty obvious to everyone that the fall semester is going to be mostly or entirely normal, but that's not obvious at all to a lot of people, because they're looking at case counts right now and not really thinking ahead to what case counts are going to look like six months from now.

Old people, health care workers, and other folks who used to be "high risk" that we worried about a lot, are now way down in the "basically zero risk" category.  We're not quite there yet, but it won't be long at all before people like us -- late-40s or early-50s, basically good health -- are the highest-risk people remaining.  And honestly, there's little justification for continuing to shut down society on our account.     

I agree with almost everything except widespread vaccination. We’re not there yet. True that we have gotten a big chunk of the high risk people but depending on where you’re at, they may not have gotten a chance.

Regardless, the people most likely to take advantage of opening are not the same ones who have been vaccinated. And while I share the skepticism about the variants being anything to worry about, we really don’t know. If a variant emerges that’s able to evade the current immunizations then suddenly we have a ton of virus in the community.

I do think that we can make some of these moves when we have widespread vaccinations, we’re just not there yet. Maybe in two months that will be true, but not now. If these relaxations of restrictions spread to more states, my biggest worry is that we will never hit widespread vaccination. 

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18 minutes ago, Doug B said:

mrip541 posted this in the Political Forum's thread, but it ties in nicely to today's discussion here: 5 Pandemic Mistakes We Keep Repeating (The Atlantic, Zeynep Tufenki, 2/26/2021). It's a little too long to quote in full, but I'll pull a few choice quotes.

 

There's a ton more in there ... those quotes are just a taste.

Ahem, ahem

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Looking back here are the things I can't prove, but I think make sense.  I'm interested to see if science ultimately backs these up.

1) Masks don't really work in the way we think they might work.  If you are in an environment where you are spending more than 10min with someone nearby that you can't distance from, they work.  Sort of.  

So for schools, hospitals, some office environments, and indoor spaces it makes sense.  For grocery stores, not so much.  For this reason these mask mandates probably coming off won't matter.

2) This thing is mostly spread by people that are symptomatic.  The fear of asymptomatic spread was for the most part overblown.  There simply isn't much compelling out there on Asym spread.

3) Variants are a non-story in the short term, and have minimal long term implications.  Variants might be worse however for one factor, re-infection.  I'm worried that maybe looking at Brazil and some parts of California we aren't dealing with a more deadly variant but a variant that seems to get thru prior antibodes.  

4) Prior exposure to similar but non COV19 viruses played a bigger role than previously let on.  Our lack of exposure to COV viruses in day to day by mostly staying home or masked increased the risk as we got closer to the end of the year as that resistance was waning.  

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