In Case You Missed It…

…a week of Mad Biologist links:


The State of COVID-19 in D.C.: It Has Become Worse. What Comes Next?

This Isn’t Activism, but Terrorism

Calls for Unity: Not a Minor Threat

Remember, Remember the Spike of November

Nosocomial COVID

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Links 1/15/21

Links for you. Science:

S.F. Millennial was fit and healthy before COVID-19. He’s a disabled ‘long-hauler’ now
Pikas Are Adapting to Climate Change Remarkably Well, Contrary to Many Predictions
I’ve received several DMs from friends asking what do to about parents/family members who believe misinformation regarding the election, vaccines and COVID. Here’s a research-based thread to help explain the roots of these beliefs and how to (and how *not* to) address them.
Instead of debating ‘first-shot’ vs. ‘set-aside’ vaccine approaches, hospitals’ study should compare them
Solar-powered barge could take oyster farming deeper into Chesapeake


The case for D.C. statehood, more urgent than ever
For some Republicans, it’s time to head for the exit
This is the America that Black people know
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry tied to group that summoned ‘patriots’ to Capitol to ‘stop the steal’
Going spelunking with Washington’s blue-blooded ‘cave-dwellers’
The riot happened because the Senate acquitted Trump
Donald Trump Is Now a Terrorist Leader
Remove Trump. Do it now. He’s too dangerous to keep around another two weeks.
This Reuters photo is incredible.
The New Progressive Left Shows How to Deal With Sedition
Banish Trump and His Co-Conspirators—Forever
Kid glove treatment of pro-Trump mob contrasts with strong-arm police tactics against Black Lives Matter, activists say
This Isn’t an Insurrection. It’s an Alliance.
DC Lawmakers Were Briefed That Trump Might Go To Extremes: Concerned the president might invoke the Insurrection Act to commandeer the city police, DC council members never expected an assault on the Capitol itself.
Resign, Senator Cruz. Your lies cost lives.
‘It Was No Accident’: Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal on surviving the siege.
Ron Johnson, Scott Fitzgerald and Tom Tiffany should resign or be expelled for siding with Trump against our republic
‘Find the fraud’: Trump pressured a Georgia elections investigator in a separate call legal experts say could amount to obstruction
After The Sacred Landslide
Ocasio-Cortez suggests invoking a constitutional clause to expel lawmakers who tried to subvert the election.
Remember how people were dunking on Parler for being built on WordPress? Well, through a plug-in exploit, literally all the user data (including photos of verified state id cards) has been retrieved by hackers and is being posted online.

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Nosocomial COVID

Because we need one more fucking thing to worry about–and, yes, that is the worst band name EVAR.

Back in the halcyon days of late 2019, one constant infectious disease problem was nosomocial infection–that is, hospital acquired infections, which can be caught from other patients, medical personnel, or surface contamination. Of course, in those sunshine-filled days of yore, the primary concern was bacterial infection. If you have heard of MRSA, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, that was a common hospital-acquired infection (though it’s worth noting that the methicillin-sensitive staphylococci kill lots of people too).

Well, you probably have guessed where this is going (boldface mine):

But in the case of my heart failure patient, it was not lack of hand washing that probably caused the [COVID-19] infection. So, I explored. Could his infection have been from the hospital staff, such as doctors, nurses, care attendants, or physical and respiratory therapists who frequented the room to provide care? Or, was the infection from surfaces improperly cleaned in the rooms or the CT scanners, or was the infection from family members, like his wife of 40 years who had visited him often?

Initially, I thought it must have come from his family. As the epidemic rages in our community, nearly 1 in 10 people with minor or no symptoms has tested positive for the coronavirus. His family members sat a few feet away from his bed for hours every day. Had they unknowingly passed the virus on to him? Given my patient’s fragile heart and lung condition, he rapidly succumbed to the infection.

If covid-19 from family members was causing infection in our hospitalized patients, then the solution would be simple. Close all visitations or require visitors to test negative at regular weekly or biweekly intervals as a pass to enter the hospital. I spoke to the family and they all had indeed tested negative

If covid-19 from staff was causing infection, then the solution would be different: rapid, frequent and regular testing.

A children’s cancer hospital has done that, since the facility has no margin of error. Twice a week, nearly every clinical caretaker is tested with a nasal swab. The hospital’s results over the past seven months have been both expected and remarkable. The number of total covid-19 cases among their employees rises and falls as the epidemic comes in waves in the community, as we would expect. But it was remarkable to learn that regular asymptomatic testing picked up 50 percent of all of the cases among the health workers…

Regrettably, covid-19 among hospital staff is common even after all the precautions with masks, shields and other personal protective equipment. Studies show that front-line health-care workers in the United States have a covid-positive rate that is four times greater than the general population.

So, why don’t many hospitals test workers routinely? It’s more complicated than you might think. Again, returning to our halcyon days of yore, more than one infectious disease specialist raised a serious problem: what if some of your staff test positive for MRSA? While there are therapies to treat MRSA, do you bench part of your neurosurgery team because they test positive for an infection that could persist for weeks? And should you do this if they test positive for other organisms, since many of these organisms live as harmless commensals (i.e., the doctor with MRSA isn’t ill)?

There’s a similar problem at work here:

One afternoon, before my heart patient had died, I had a conversation with a hospital executive who told me: “I can’t afford to test my entire staff. No, it’s not the expense of the test, but the staff I would lose through furlough if the test came back positive.” The executive was talking about not only those who tested positive being in isolation and furloughed but also all their close contacts being in quarantine. While I was sympathetic, it makes no sense to stick our head in the sand. Without testing, we are flying blind.

I agree with the part of the solution:

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services needs to act now. The same regulations which nursing homes adhere to can be applied to hospitals: Until all health-care workers across the country are vaccinated, testing of hospital staff needs to be mandatory based on the community spread of infection in their county, and Medicare payments should be withheld if hospitals do not comply.

I would add that this is where genomic sequencing, when possible, really could help, at least in ruling out cases of hospital transmission (and not mobilizing the U.S.’s considerable resources is one more thing that needs to be fixed and investigated). A fair number of teaching hospitals would have access to this technology.

Routine testing, of course, will mean that some presymptomatic (or asymptomatic) workers will be sent home, but this is a problem we need to understand. Importantly, sick medical workers also put the larger community at risk too, so we would reap benefits there as well. It goes without saying (or should anyway) that medical workers should know, for their own benefit, if they have COVID-19.

Posted in COVID-19 | Leave a comment

Links 1/14/21

Links for you. Science:

For mRNA vaccines, we should stick to the schedule
We lost to SARS-CoV-2 in 2020. We can defeat B-117 in 2021
Releasing more vaccines for first doses could create more problems than it solves
A Question Hidden in the Platypus Genome: Are We the Weird Ones?
Science advocacy groups join calls for Trump’s removal


Pro-Trump dark money groups organized the rally that led to deadly Capitol Hill riot
Pro-Trump Mob Livestreamed Its Rampage, and Made Money Doing It
A Domestic Terrorism Law Can’t Solve Right-Wing Violence
A small group of sleuths had been identifying right-wing extremists long before the attack on the Capitol
Betsy DeVos leaves a controversial legacy that could soon be reversed
12 Sunsets: Exploring Ed Ruscha’s Archive
Republican enablers don’t deserve credit for finally abandoning Trump
Here’s How the Capitol Mob Violated Federal Criminal Law
Stacey Abrams showed that Democrats can match the GOP at state-level organizing
California’s Lagging Vaccine Rollout
After trial runs at statehouses last year, the far-right’s violent tactics erupted at the Capitol
So What About That (Self)-Coup?
Metro expects to receive $610 million in federal stimulus, avoiding cuts to service
What Trump’s Impeachment Could Mean
Scores of nurses with Chicago Public Schools say reopening buildings is still unsafe
Capitol siege was planned online. Trump supporters now planning the next one.
‘The truth is, nobody told us what to be ready for’: Roger Desjarlais, manager in Lee County, Fla., on the unanticipated challenges of rolling out the vaccine
Trump’s Twitter ban is a step toward ending the hijacking of the First Amendment
The Trump mob gave us #GuyOnPorch and #WomanInCar — the real Americans
Taking the white Christian nationalist symbols at the Capitol riot seriously
Capitol siege was planned online. Trump supporters now planning the next one.
The Inaction of Capitol Police Was by Design
The shame of Texas — Ted Cruz, Ken Paxton and the Seditious Sixteen.

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Remember, Remember the Spike of November

Akshually, late October, but why pass on a gratuitous Guy Fawkes reference?

Anyway, one thing I’ve seen in many articles is the claim that Thanksgiving travel led to a massive surge in COVID-19 cases. The new case data, however, don’t indicate this, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Early on in the pandemic, the early figures of cases, either daily new cases or cumulative cases, were constructed using a log scale. While this was useful for understanding if the rate of increase of new cases was increasing or decreasing, there are concerns that the public might be confused by this depiction: when the distance on the vertical axis between 10 and 100 cases is the same as the distance between 100 and 1,000, it might be difficult for people unfamiliar with this depiction to realize that things are much worse in absolute terms. Very quickly, graphics departments started using absolute values on the vertical axis to convey the urgency of the situation. Which is good!


Consider this chart of the one-week average of new daily cases for Washington D.C.:

Screen Shot 2021-01-02 at 8.14.14 PM

It looks like there’s a big Thanksgiving week effect. But now transform the data to a log scale and…

Screen Shot 2021-01-02 at 8.14.28 PM copy

…it doesn’t look like that at all. There’s a regular and increasing trend, with some variability, that definitely starts in late October, as noted by the red arrow. It’s not just D.C. either. Here’s California, where article after article blames Thanksgiving travel for that state’s woes:

Screen Shot 2021-01-02 at 8.19.03 PM


Screen Shot 2021-01-02 at 8.20.19 PM


Screen Shot 2021-01-02 at 8.19.57 PM

Massachusetts did have a plateau right before Thanksgiving, but it had a fairly reliable and ongoing increase in cases starting in September.

So if it’s not Thanksgiving–not that traveling around the country helped at all–then what was it? My speculative hypothesis is we were cursed with nice weather. If ever we needed a grey, shitty, rainy, and windy fall, it was this year. Instead, most parts of the U.S. had really nice weather (#NotAllParts) throughout much of the fall. That leads to people going out to restaurants and engaging other forms of maskless socializing, when we really needed people to stay the fuck at home.

Like I said, that’s just speculation, but I don’t think we can blame Thanksgiving entirely. The problem began weeks before. Unfortunately, exponential growth is hard to see clearly until it’s too late.

Posted in COVID-19 | Leave a comment

Links 1/13/21

Trump_wombatWhy I Got the Russian Vaccine
6 Months After Leaving the Hospital, Covid Survivors Still Face Lingering Health Issues
How the Trump-incited mob may have caused a COVID superspreader event
The Actual Death Toll From the Pro-Trump Riot Won’t Be Known for Weeks
Stop Blaming COVID-19 Deaths On Population Density


My wife and I attended the “Stop the Steal” Trump Insurrection on Wednesday (as observers, NOT participants) and there are FIVE big take-aways from what we witnessed and heard outside the Capitol that I’d like to share. (important, jibes with my experience)
Congress Has All the Impeachment Evidence It Needs
These Black Capitol Police Officers Describe Fighting Off “Racist Ass Terrorists”
The world must do more for democracy in Hong Kong before it’s too late
‘The storm is here’: Ashli Babbitt’s journey from capital ‘guardian’ to invader
Trump Having Second Thoughts About That Concession Video
Trump Has Always Been a Wolf in Wolf’s Clothing
Biden Wants To Give States More COVID-19 Vaccines. But They May Struggle To Give Them To People. (“I’m talking to public health departments that tell me we can do testing or we can do vaccinations — we don’t have the people to do both.”)
The Confederacy Finally Stormed the Capitol
What a Better Biden Would Say About Student Loan Debt
Maggie’s Shocked
‘Find the fraud’: Trump pressured a Georgia elections investigator in a separate call legal experts say could amount to obstruction
Whoops, Dander Way Back Up: What’s With the Vaccines? (I don’t agree with the attacks on public health departments, as they are completely overstretched)
We in Congress must impeach Donald Trump
Let’s Remember How Authoritarianism Takes Hold
‘He’s Going To Be More Unleashed And Unhinged Than Ever’
Progressives Urge Joe Biden To Think Big After Senate Wins
I was embedded in the ‘alt-right’ movement. Two months before President Trump’s inauguration, I captured on video a roomful of his supporters break out into Nazi salutes blocks from the White House. This wasn’t a playful jest. It was a call for armed insurrection.
I’ve finally realized why I’ve always hated the term “Trump supporters.” We never said “Bush supporters” or “Obama supporters,” we said “Republicans” and “Democrats.” “Trump supporter” is a neat parlor trick purposefully used to disguise a truth.
Unlikely To Be Just Incompetence
F*** You, Ted Cruz. You un-American, anti-democracy, lying sack of sh*t

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Calls for Unity: Not a Minor Threat

Over the last few days, the Republican response to an attempted coup have been calls for unity. That’s the kind of bullshit we usually hear but there’s something else Republicans are adding to the unity call: they’re adding something along the lines of ‘turn the temperature down or things will explode.’

That is not a call for unity. That is a veiled threat of violence.

Republicans are saying, if you attempt to pursue justice, or even just enforce the law, against those who committed insurrection, our supporters will hurt or kill people.

That’s not unity. That is a threat. As Comrade Thers once put it:

Anyway, what we have here is a situation where a relatively small minority of Americans are claiming the right, ultimately backed up by their possession of weapons, to define the True Nature of American Freedom…

How this differs in any important philosophical regard from the position, of, say, the Provisional Irish Republican Army, I cannot say.

How it differs in any practical sense, well (McVeigh cough) who knows.

The Republican ‘give‘ should not be and can not be ‘we won’t encourage terrorism.’

Again, this is not just a political dodge, it is a threat of violence.

Posted in Conservatives, Resistance Rebellion And Death | 1 Comment

Links 1/12/21

Links for you. Science:

False Reports of a New ‘U.S. Variant’ Came from White House Task Force
An Extra-Contagious Coronavirus Variant Is In The US — But No One Knows How Widespread It Is
Pfizer Says Its Vaccine Works Against Key Mutation in Contagious Variants
Genomic sequencing of SARS-CoV-2: A guide to implementation for maximum impact on public health
Enabling high-throughput SARS-CoV-2 sequencing and surveillance


What Was the Point of Fortress D.C.? Security swallowed Washington’s public spaces so its protectors could stop a real threat. They couldn’t. (must-read)
Six Republican lawmakers among rioters as police release photos of wanted (“Suspects include Holocaust deniers, White supremacists, and conspiracy theorists”–but I repeat myself…)
They Were Out for Blood: The men who carried zip ties as they stormed the Capitol weren’t clowning around.
Democratic control of Senate — and Capitol breach — put D.C. statehood front and center
It’s really hard to explain to people who don’t live here how incredibly jarring it was to see the events unfold yesterday, not just because the events themselves were shocking, but because it completely upends the entire psychic geography of this place
Jan. 6 Was 9 Weeks — And 4 Years — in the Making
A New 7-Foot Tall Fence Will Surround The Capitol For At Least 30 Days (have you tried treating fascists, white Christian supremacists, and neo-Nazis as existential threats?)
The Washington Football Team Is Improving. Dan Snyder Still Needs to Go.
Republicans own this: The Capitol Hill mob was the logical culmination of years of mainstream Republican politics.
Why the GOP Can’t Quit Trump
American Gentry: Local Power and the Social Order (not how I use the term, but interesting)
The Police’s Tepid Response To The Capitol Breach Wasn’t An Aberration: Authorities are more than twice as likely to break up a left-wing protest than a right-wing protest.
If Trump Is Impeached and Convicted, He’ll Lose His Post-Presidency Perks
‘Inside job’: House Dems ask if Capitol rioters had hidden help
The Man Who Saw Yesterday’s Coup Attempt Coming Is Only Surprised It Wasn’t Much Worse (all coups look pathetic if they don’t succeed)
How Many Trump Sympathizers Are Lurking in Law Enforcement?
Arrested by Capitol Police at peaceful protests? You’re not alone.
Senior Trump Official: We Were Wrong, He’s a ‘Fascist’ (the question is will anyone start listening to the anti-fascists?)
Must-see new video shows Capitol riot was way worse than we thought (important to see; send it to normies)
An Air Force Combat Veteran Breached the Senate
U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian D. Sicknick, who died after assault on Capitol, protected with a kind touch
There’s No Healing From This: A major political party decided they’re done with democracy. We can’t forgive and move on.

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This Isn’t Activism, but Terrorism

Note: I wrote this earlier in the week, before Insurrection Day. What halcyon days those were…

And I’m not referring to the upcoming visit by the Proud Boys to D.C. From New Hampshire (boldface mine):

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) is canceling his outdoor inaugural ceremony on Jan. 7 amid concerns over armed anti-mask protesters.

Sununu said in a statement Wednesday that an outdoor public ceremony is too risky, noting that armed protesters have “increasingly become more aggressive, targeting my family, protesting outside my private residence, and trespassing on my property.”

The governor said that he, state Senate President Chuck Morse (R) and acting House Speaker Sherman Packard (R) will be sworn in during a small ceremony. Leaders of both chambers of the legislature will attend in person, while other members will attend virtually.

Keep in mind, Sunnunu is a conservative Republican, and these bugshitcrazytarians are threatening him (not like I’m a big fan of the guy). Republicans, get your house in order because they’re sure as hell not listening to the left.

Posted in Conservatives, Terrorism | 1 Comment

Links 1/11/21

Links for you. Science:

Don’t let COVID-19 vaccines expire
U.S. Is Blind to Contagious New Virus Variant, Scientists Warn (yes, we are)
Storming of Capitol was textbook potential covid-19 superspreader, experts say
U.S. sets covid-19 death record as researchers point to asymptomatic cases as a major source of infections
One 18-Hour Flight, Four Coronavirus Infections


Will Georgia show Democrats ran the wrong campaign against Trump?
What the Georgia Results Mean for the D.C. Statehood
“They’re Being Told to Stay Away From Trump”: After a Day of Violence and 25th Amendment Chatter, Trump’s Allies Are Jumping Ship (“White House Counsel Pat Cipollone was urging White House officials not to speak to Trump or enable his coup attempt in any way, so they could reduce the chance they could be prosecuted for treason under the Sedition Act.”)
Why Was the U.S. Capitol So Easy to Breach?
America’s Vaccine Rollout Should Infuriate You
Democrats Have a Unified Government — It’s Time to Wield Real Power
Don’t let smarmy calls for “civility” fool you — most Republicans still side with insurrectionists (“In his remarks yesterday, Biden said, “The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect a true America, do not represent who we are. What we’re seeing is a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness.” …The first part of that statement is true, at least when it comes to America circa 2021. The majority of Americans are repulsed by the insurrection. The second part of that statement, however, is false.”)
On Days Like These, I Think About James Meredith
This is why Facebook is suddenly emboldened to deplatform Donald Trump
It Can Happen Here. It Just Happened Here.
Let me explain something to those of you who didn’t grow up around violently abusive white supremacists. They absolutely do not believe their own bullshit, but it’s useful for them to pretend they do.
Seth Meyers Calls For Trump’s Removal After Violent Insurrection at Capitol (very good)
What Joe Biden can learn from Ulysses S. Grant
Capitol Police rejected offers of federal help to quell mob
We Still Don’t Have a Way to Stop the “It Was Antifa” Lie
The Far Right Told Us What It Had Planned. We Didn’t Listen.
The pro-Trump media world peddled the lies that fueled the Capitol mob. Fox News led the way.
Josh Hawley deserves consequences. Losing his book deal is a good start.
Investigate Tommy Tuberville’s Pre-Speech and Debate Actions
The GOP’s Replaying the Conspiracy That Predicted Rome’s Fall
Rep. Joaquin Castro to introduce bill barring federal property from being named after Trump

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