The State of COVID-19 in D.C.: Getting Worse

Though not as much as last week. Before we get to that, only Wards 1-4 are below the German rollback threshold of 50 new cases per 100,000 per week–which also is the threshold the CDC suggests schools for all grades can reopen (0.05% in the second column below; n/a is not available):


Ward one-week prevalence one-week % pos. two-week prevalence two-week % pos.
1 0.049% n/a 0.094% n/a
2 0.037% n/a 0.072% n/a
3 0.029% n/a 0.051% n/a
4 0.043% n/a 0.063% n/a
5 0.064% n/a 0.109% n/a
6 0.068% n/a 0.126% n/a
7 0.064% n/a 0.114% n/a
8 0.092% n/a 0.132% n/a
D.C. total 0.056% 2.7% 0.096% 2.1%

In addition, the entire city, for the first time in a long time, didn’t get below the German rollback threshold of 50 new cases per 100,000 per week. Every ward except Ward 2 saw large increases this week, especially Wards 4 and 8 which had doublings of new cases. We also lack percent positive rates for each ward, so there’s no context for these numbers. The percent positive rates, while still good, are also heading in the wrong direction.

We also had a death this week–and if cases stay where they are, we’ll probably see a needless trickle of COVID-19 deaths. The only good news is that COVID-19 related hospitalizations are low and steady. No increase there (yet, anyway). Mind you, a moderate case of COVID-19 that doesn’t require hospitalization isn’t exactly a walk in the park.

Meanwhile, vaccination is crawling. At the current rate of around 0.1% of the population per day, it will be months before the city is anywhere near herd immunity. Unless, of course, we get there by Delta variant infections (WHEEEE!!!! Akshually, not the recommended way to build immunity to COVID-19). Last week, some asshole with a blog suggested the following vaccine mandates:

  1. All city employees, unless they have a valid medical reason or can perform the entirety of their duties remotely, need to be vaccinated. This includes UDC.
  2. All students eighteen and older must be vaccinated or must learn remotely.
  3. Since it seems unlikely the FDA will approve vaccination for children under the age of twelve, any parent or guardian of a DC K-12 student must have begun vaccination by the start of the school year or that student will have to learn remotely.
  4. Starting September 30, if your vaccination isn’t ‘in flight’ (or completed), no gym or other indoor exercise classes for you. If gyms can keep track of a whole bunch of other information about you (and they can and do), then they can track this too.
  5. Medical workers are supposed to be fully vaccinated by September 30. This should also apply to nursing home attendents (and similar workers).
  6. Want to serve food in a restaurant? Get vaccinated by September 30. Want to dine in a restaurant? Show proof of vaccination.

Will there be people who attempt to cheat their way out of this? Sure, but many will grumble a lot, get vaccinated, and, depending on whether or not they’re assholes, admit that the vaccination actually wasn’t a big deal. At the same time, D.C. should mandate sick leave for vaccination, and just eat the cost of vaccination (stop asking people for health insurance information–this is penny wise and pound foolish).

Will the Mayor or the Council do any of this? Likely not, since they are excessively cautious and slow. But that’s what needs to happen. Otherwise, we’re going to see hospitalizations and some deaths, especially in the areas of the city that resemble Southwest Missouri.

Anger is still the appropriate emotion.

Added: The CDC’s new masking guidance would require indoor masking in D.C. This didn’t need to happen.

Posted in COVID-19, DC | Leave a comment

Links 7/27/21

Links for you. Science:

How Many Numbers Exist? Infinity Proof Moves Math Closer to an Answer.
Spatial, Ecologic, and Clinical Epidemiology of Community-Onset, Ceftriaxone-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae, Cook County, Illinois, USA
New Data Leads To Rethinking (Once More) Where The Pandemic Actually Began
Self-infection with speech aerosol may contribute to COVID-19 severity
Cats Are Better Than Dogs (at Catching the Coronavirus)

Other:

Independence Day (excellent)
My Community Refuses to Get Vaccinated. Now Delta Is Here.
The New Brandeis Movement Has Its Moment: Biden’s DOJ moves toward anti-monopoly enforcement and away from Merrick Garland.
Suddenly, Conservatives Care About Vaccines. A number of leaders on the right suddenly urged their audiences to get vaccinated in the past day. Why now?
Class War Comix
It’s Time to Require COVID Vaccination in the Workplace
My completely uncontroversial take on what to call your professor
America’s least essential pundit hopes Jim Jordan will restore bipartisan comity in America
Can Employers Require Employees to Get Vaccinated? Plus, Answers to Other Legal Questions as We Return to the Office
The Billionaires Did It. They Made Spaceflight Uncool.
Pelosi exploded the myth of bipartisanship
Skidmore Owings & Merrill, Tinley Park Hospital (1958) Tinley Park, IL
Vaccine doubters’ strange fixation with Israel
4 Reasons I’m Wearing a Mask Again. Our vaccines are extraordinary, but right now they need all the help they can get.
D.C. Regulated Third-Party Delivery Apps During the Pandemic. What Happens Now?
When Facts Are Controversial: A Modern Story
Calls to Amend, Delay Non-Compete Ban Grow
Mask requirements can’t exempt the vaccinated, because the unvaccinated will simply cheat
Give Greece Back the Olympics
Biden’s vaccine misinformation road not taken
In the shadow of Nationals Park, longtime residents face threats beyond gunfire

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Some Thoughts on Masking in a Partially Vaccinated Society

One of the worst decisions made during the pandemic, and after an initial good start it pains me to say it, was CDC Director Walensky’s decision to tell people if they were fully vaccinated, they no longer needed to wear a mask in public areas indoors. The notion this would give people an incentive to be vaccinated was, at best, marginal: poll after poll shows that people who are vaccine hesitant overwhelmingly cite concerns about the safety of the vaccine as the key factor in their hesitancy (yes, there are other issues cited such as access or missing work, but, far and away, safety concerns dominate). Likewise, people who were eager to be vaccinated didn’t get vaccinated so they wouldn’t have to wear masks anymore, though that’s a perfectly fine secondary benefit (if warranted by the epidemiology), they (we) did it so they would be safer.

Without any verification scheme, which is to say the honor system was used, it was obvious that people were lying about their status. Many weren’t, but enough were. And here we are.

I think it’s possible over the next few months, at least in states with a modicum of responsible governance, we’ll see a shift towards mandatory masking in public essential places (e.g., grocery stores) and a requirement to prove vaccination in non-essential places. Alternatively, these same places will mandate a whole lot of vaccination. But the current situation, while it won’t lead to a calamity like we had in January, isn’t sustainable. There will be enough American Carnage (to use a phrase) to force officials to take action. It also seems pretty clear that there is a vaccinated ‘silent majority’ that is really tired of people’s bullshit, and that it will only get larger and more vocal.

So my guess–and I could wind up being laughably wrong–is that we’re going to see, in some/many places, either a ‘mixed masking’ strategy or a whole bunch of vaccine mandates (especially once the FDA gets off its ass and formally approves the vaccines*).

*I get that the FDA doesn’t want to be hasty, but this is hardly a case where, after administering hundreds of millions of doses world-wide, one could possibly think there is either fraud occurring or a better therapy. Move faster FDA.

Posted in COVID-19 | 2 Comments

Links 7/26/21

Links for you. Science:

Genomic Elucidation of a COVID-19 Resurgence and Local Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in Guangzhou, China
Mutation-Specific SARS-CoV-2 PCR Screen: Rapid and Accurate Detection of Variants of Concern and the Identification of a Newly Emerging Variant with Spike L452R Mutation
Global variation in sequencing impedes SARS-CoV-2 surveillance (not very complimentary towards the CDC)
Massive and mysterious, a 100-pound fish washed ashore. Scientists hope to learn its secrets. (Opah!)
Wild Pigs Could Trigger Decimation of US Pork Industry (30-50 feral pigs at a time?)

Other:

I’m Fine With Sending Jeff Bezos Into Space, As Long as He Pays His Taxes Here on Earth
Banneker and Shaw: Was the fight really about gentrification?
Right-Wing Group Exposes Colleagues Funded by Big Tech
Shoplifting Is Big News; Stealing Millions From Workers Is Not
Republicans Have Their Own Private Autocracy
Fox Rails Against Vaccine Passports, Uses Vaccine Passports
Trump ally Tom Barrack charged with acting as an agent of a foreign government (the best people!)
Gaslighting right-wing pundits double down on claiming Jan. 6 siege ‘wasn’t an insurrection’
A vile new Trump-GOP claim about vaccines suggests trouble ahead
Why many of the unvaccinated insist on going without
Covid vaccine certificates to be compulsory for crowded venues in England
The idea that COVID-19 will now settle down as an endemic disease as life goes on is a fairytale
A Postal Worker Begged for Stronger COVID-19 Protections. She Ended Up Spending Six Weeks in the Hospital.
Did Ranked Choice Voting Work in NYC? It Depends Whom You Ask…
Biden’s Strategy: Treat Trump Like a ‘Crazy Person’ (“This may end up seeming naive if Republican obstructionism and new voting impediments help rout Democrats in the 2022 midterms. Many of the most vocal Democrats think that’s exactly what’s coming. In their view, Biden may win a few more votes of support for his infrastructure bill, but that could come at the cost of larger initiatives such as eliminating the filibuster and making Washington, D.C., the 51st state.”)
The Real Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan Was Just The Friends We Made Along The Way
Vaccine mandates are constitutional and good policy
China Can Lock Up A Million Muslims In Xinjiang At Once
Trump insurgents came within seconds of capturing ‘nuclear football’ on Jan. 6
CDC guidance on masking needs to change — now
Washington Square Park Neighbors Pleaded for Help, Records Show

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I Thank Nine Percent of Vaccinated Americans for Their Service

Here’s a very intriguing finding in a recent YouGovAmerica poll–note the red squiggles I added:

Screen Shot 2021-07-19 at 4.32.43 PM

I hope this is a ‘protest answer’ and not a seriously-held belief, but, at this point, who the hell knows?

Thank you for your sacrifice, you crazy ass nine percent.

Posted in COVID-19, Polling | 2 Comments

Anti-‘CRT’ and Not Taking Personal Responsibility

From Traverse City, Michigan, we find this wonderful example of ‘heartland values’ (boldface mine):

Nevaeh Wharton was busy with homework one evening in late April when her phone pinged with a warning. A friend had texted to say something disgusting was happening in a private Snapchat group chat.

When the 16-year-old woke the next morning, another message was waiting for her: She had been discussed in the group. Pretty soon the whole story trickled out. A group of mostly White students attending two of Traverse City’s high schools, including Nevaeh’s, had held a mock slave auction on the social media app, “trading” their Black peers for money.

“I know how much I was sold for: one hundred dollars,” said Nevaeh, who is half-Black. “And in the end I was given away for free” — to the friend who first warned her about the group.

The Snapchat group, titled “slave trade,” also saw a student share the messages “all blacks should die” and “let’s start another holocaust,” according to screenshots obtained by The Washington Post. It spurred the fast-tracking of a school equity resolution that condemned racism and vowed Traverse City Area Public Schools would better educate its overwhelmingly White student body and teaching staff on how to live in a diverse country….

The equity resolution was unprecedented in Traverse City, an idyllic lakeside vacation spot with a population of 16,000 that is more than 90 percent White and politically split between red and blue. The two-page document, inspired by nationwide protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death last year, suggested more training for teachers and adding overlooked viewpoints to the school system’s libraries and curriculum…

In interviews, children of color in Traverse City reported enduring years of harassment in the classroom and on the playing field. Black, Native American and LGBTQ students said casual racism, sexism and homophobia form part of daily life. Some White children said they have witnessed this, too.

Sounds good? Maybe that’s something schools should do, especially in the face of bigotry? Never fear, anti-CRT moral panic is here!

But White parents say their hometown was never racist — at least not until an obsession with race began infecting the school system through its embrace of CRT, an allegation school officials have denied. Now, these parents say, their children are coming home from school feeling ostracized for their conservatism and worried they must adhere to a liberal agenda to earn good grades on their assignments. The parents declined to make their children available for interviews, saying the students were either not interested or feared being labeled racist for sharing their beliefs.

“We don’t, not even for a second, think about race,” said Darcie Pickren, 67, a vocal leader of the anti-CRT movement who is White, with Irish and Native American ancestry, and two of whose children graduated from the school system. “We never would. And I think that this is opening a can of worms and we are not going to be able to go back.”

Added Sally Roeser, 44, a White mother of two who graduated from Traverse public schools: “We were all brought up not to take someone’s race into consideration. That’s what we’re guaranteed in America.”

Please hold for a moment, Sally Roeser, while I get centuries of American history on the line. When you add in things like kids saying ‘niagra’ so they won’t get in trouble for using epithets, something isn’t right in Traverse City. Yes, kids will learn bad things from other kids, including those on the internet. But according to the students, including White ones, bigotry seems pervasive enough–not conservative ideology, but outright bigotry–that something has gone wrong. Maybe reading a few history books that highlight that history wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Because it’s pretty clear some parents weren’t teaching their kids bigotry is wrong.

Which I’m sure all of the parents believe, right?

Posted in Conservatives, Education, Racism | Leave a comment

Links 7/25/21

Links for you. Science:

English cave may have ties to king-turned-saint and Viking invasion, archaeologists say
Florida manatees are dying at alarming rates: ‘We’ve never seen anything like this before’
It’s Cold in the Ocean but It’s Hotter Inside Sea Otters
Why England’s COVID ‘freedom day’ alarms researchers
SARS-CoV-2 B.1.617 mutations L452 and E484Q are not synergistic for antibody evasion

Other:

What Looked Like a Mysterious Decision By the Current Justice Department Was a Predictable One By the Previous
Fox has quietly implemented its own version of a vaccine passport while its top personalities attack them
Almost nobody is repaying their student loans
Building Solar Farms May Not Build the Middle Class. Some of the wealthiest companies in the world are investing in the green economy. But they’re not investing in paying union wages.
Why is Tucker Carlson still on the air? (interesting point about the Tide pod challenge)
Rent is out of reach for minimum-wage workers in every state. New study shows how far out of reach
The Problem We’re Now Facing With WFH. And why so much talk of returning to the office is disingenuous.
Despite the hype, iPhone security no match for NSO spyware
Keeping People Out of Jail Keeps People Out of Jail
This deaf-blind Paralympian was told to navigate Tokyo alone. So she quit Team USA. (utterly despicable by USPOC)
U.S. gymnastics alternate Kara Eaker tests positive for the coronavirus in Tokyo
‘I’m sorry, but it’s too late’ Alabama doctor on treating unvaccinated, dying COVID patients
Virginia Studied The Effectiveness Of Those Clever Interstate Message Signs: Here’s What They Found
It’s better to be good than to hope to be lucky
Covid: Boris Johnson resisted autumn lockdown as only over-80s dying – Dominic Cummings
About That Tout…
D.C. Police K9s Still Sniff For Marijuana
I Just Want to Live on Earth???? As Jeff Bezos was launched 60 miles up in a space dick, the people on the television spoke of colonizing Mars.
Should the SBA Have Approved a D.C. Strip Club for a $4.3 Million Grant? (lol)
Inside the Weird, Thriving World of Fake Vaccine Cards
Modern Porn Education Is Totally Unprepared for Modern Porn
Chairman Mendelson’s Newsletter on Raising Taxes, Annotated. Advocates have some thoughts.

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Checkers

Observed on S Street NW, between 8th and 9th, Shaw, D.C.:

Checkers

Posted in DC | 1 Comment

Links 7/24/21

Links for you. Science:

‘They have shown that this is not some impossible thing’: Academic lab copies Google’s big biological breakthrough
CDC advisers to consider additional coronavirus dose for immunocompromised patients
How ‘Long COVID’ Keeps Us Sick
Long COVID and kids: scientists race to find answers
Borgs are giant extrachromosomal elements with the potential to augment methane oxidation

Other:

Nobody Listens To Atrios (you should listen to Atrios)
In Virginia, a historic Black neighborhood grapples with whether to grow
A federal judge upholds Indiana University’s vaccination requirement for students.
The Libs Were Mean
Hair ties and no heels: The evolution of female superhero costumes is finally here
Bullshit artistry
This Sentence Probably Isn’t Satisfactory to Anyone Who Was Trapped in the Capitol on January 6
The Pegasus Spyware Story Is a Reminder of Why We’re So Attracted to Conspiracy Theories These Days
The Villainous Economist Problem
Conspiracy theories are common on the right — but few Republicans adhere to all of them
How the New Child Tax Credit Is Already Changing Lives: “There’s very few good news stories, and this is one.”
The two numbers that could get people to take the vaccine (not sure I agree with the deficit theory at all)
Biden Turns His Back on Voting Rights
A street shooting shut down a baseball game in a tony part of D.C. That’s everyday life for some residents, though.
How Thomas Edison Changed Singing: The great inventor helped launch the jazz and blues revolution—but that was the exact opposite of what he intended
‘Rampant issues’: Black farmers are still left out at USDA (actual critical race theory anyone?)
The Greatest TImes Of Their Lives
“Conservative pornstar” derails Turning Point USA’s right-wing youth gathering
Haitian president’s assassination exposes shady world of Colombian mercenaries
New Legislation Needed to Prepare for the Next Pandemic
It’s time to shut down the Disinformation Dozen

Posted in Lotsa Links | 1 Comment

In Case You Missed It…

…a week of Mad Biologist posts:

No Recovery Without

Why Isn’t D.C. Releasing Its Information About the Delta COVID-19 Variant?

If We Tax the Rich, They’ll Leave D.C.

The State of COVID-19 in D.C.: We Need More Vaccinating and Masking

Should Democrats Embrace the Culture Wars?

Long COVID: When You Don’t Collect the Data, You Don’t Know If You Have a Problem

I Was a Bad Blogger Yesterday, So…

OH NOES! A Tiny Tax Hike on People Who Earn $1 Million Annually

Posted in Weekly Roundup | Leave a comment