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munstead
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28 Mar 2022, 8:32 am

You too, Jakki. Also thank you to you and ASPartOfMe for your wishes.



Fixxer
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28 Mar 2022, 1:31 pm

It's easy. Test yourself, treat the symptoms, keep going. No need for all the pampering and fear that has been going on.



SabbraCadabra
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29 Mar 2022, 6:06 am

munstead wrote:
Right now if I take in a deep breath and blow out my lungs sound really raspy. Finding it much harder to concentrate on things. This is consistent with some grey cell damage that I've read about in the news.

Sounds like pneumonia? I had it on and off a few times with Long Covid.
The brain fog is really difficult to deal with...it takes me so much longer to do simple tasks, or to even remember why I entered a room or opened a cupboard, etc.

I just hit the two-year mark this month, and I'm feeling pretty close to my old self now...maybe 75-80%, but I still have to take care not to overdo it, and I still have a lot of the digestion/histamine issues.
But just being able to walk again is the biggest blessing, and I hope to never take it for granted.

I'm also doing intermittent fasting now, and though it's a bit extreme, and I don't know if it's actually helping my symptoms or not, it has lost me some of these extra pounds that Covid gave me. 25 more to go!

Fixxer wrote:
It's easy. Test yourself, treat the symptoms, keep going. No need for all the pampering and fear that has been going on.

That's a really bad idea, overexerting yourself when you have Long Covid is just going to make your symptoms snowball.
200% need to be pampering, unless one wants to crash and spend the week on one's back (or worse).

There's also some evidence that exerting yourself in general during the initial Covid infection increases the rates of becoming a Long Hauler.


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29 Mar 2022, 6:13 am

I hope you feel better soon, Munstead, with no persistent symptoms.



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29 Mar 2022, 6:54 am

Agrees with Kraftie here , hope you do feel better more completely Munstead .


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04 Apr 2022, 4:02 pm

Pandemic-weary public may resist second booster, experts say
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A second COVID-19 booster shot is now available to certain groups, but experts say they are concerned about whether those who need the added protection will actually take it.

Less than half of the fully vaccinated population in New York has received their first booster shot, federal figures show, and health experts are concerned the pandemic-weary public will show less interest in the second one.

“I don't think there's any doubt that enthusiasm for a second booster is significantly lower and that compliance will be much lower than with the first booster,” said Dr. Bruce Farber, chief of public health and epidemiology at Northwell Health. “Part of it is people are over with COVID in their mind, whether it's present or not.”

Farber said the second booster is vital for the older population and immunocompromised.

“I think people need to accept the fact that if they want to stay well and if they do get COVID, have a mild case, the ongoing boosters are a reality,” he said.

Martine Hackett, director of public health programs at Hofstra University, said people may not be interested in a second booster shot because they are not feeling the same sense of urgency as they did when the number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and death rates were very high.

“That’s a good thing that we don’t have high death rates but I think that people are feeling less at risk and that is influencing their behavior,” she said.

Hackett said the challenge for public health is finding a way to better communicate the changing science associated with COVID-19. For example, people were told just one year ago that fully vaccinated meant either two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“You have to be able to say the virus mutates and there are different challenges that come up and talk about how the vaccines might wane in their effectiveness and communicate those realities,” she said. “No information opens up a vacuum for misinformation.”

Farber said keeping up with vaccinations against the COVID-19 virus is not a lot different from dealing with other chronic medical conditions.

“People take medicines for diabetes, heart disease, chronic pulmonary disease and they are constantly being adjusted,” he said. “So if the price we are going to pay is a booster once a year or twice a year … to me that seems like a relatively small price to pay compared to what can happen.”

Bolding=mine


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05 Apr 2022, 3:46 pm

U.S. colleges that once championed surveillance virus testing are backing away.

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Colleges and universities across the United States have relaxed campus requirements for coronavirus testing of vaccinated people in recent weeks, chipping away at some of the last widespread surveillance testing programs and dismaying public health experts, who say that robust sources of transmission data will be lost.

Cornell University, Stanford University, the University of Southern California and Duke University are among the major institutions that have already dropped regular testing requirements for fully vaccinated and boosted community members, or that plan to do so in the next few weeks.

Institutions like those provided a “rich environment” to understand transmission in shared living areas, said Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease epidemiologist and adjunct professor at University of Arizona’s College of Public Health.

Most universities making the change will continue to require that unvaccinated students and staff members be tested regularly, though that is a relatively small population on campuses with vaccine mandates. Limiting surveillance testing to that group could make it harder to track the spread of the virus and the highly contagious Omicron subvariant BA.2, experts said.

Cornell, for instance, has reported that 97 percent of its students are fully vaccinated and 92 percent have also received a booster dose. The university credited its extensive surveillance testing program, which included testing vaccinated students weekly, with uncovering the rapid spread of Omicron among students in December.

Two months later, university officials said they were “confident that frequent and regular testing of nonsymptomatic, vaccinated-and-boosted individuals is no longer necessary to adequately monitor our community.” In mid-March the school also eased its on-campus mask mandate.

By the end of the month, Cornell experienced a rise in coronavirus cases that appeared to be second in intensity only to its initial Omicron wave in December, which resulted in final exams moving online and the cancellation of all university-sponsored events.

Getting an accurate count of active cases on campus is now more difficult. A majority of positive test results are now being recorded through tests of people who already have symptoms, the university said, meaning that asymptomatic cases — the kind that may only be spotted through surveillance testing — have gone undetected.

Even so, some public health experts say that advances in wastewater surveillance, widespread access to rapid tests and the protection offered by vaccines and previous infections mean that shifting a university’s strategy to targeted testing could work — barring a drastic shift in the virus, like the possible emergence of more vaccine-evasive variants that scientists have warned about.

Universal surveillance testing involves a lot of work and a lot of expense, so colleges are contending with questions of sustainability. Boston University has processed more than two million tests at its own laboratory since August 2020 at significant cost, said Dr. Judy Platt, the school’s chief health officer. The university will end asymptomatic testing entirely after May 23.

Whatever the reasoning, the reduction in testing, particularly alongside the easing of mask mandates, has left many of the most vulnerable people on campuses feeling betrayed.

Rebecca Harrison, a doctoral candidate who was a member of Cornell’s initial reopening committee in 2020 and is immunocompromised, said she found her university’s rhetoric around learning to live with the virus to be a “slap in the face” — particularly its decision to accept some level of “inevitable viral spread” among the vaccinated, as the university’s president said during a January town-hall meeting.

Other U.S. institutions have ended widespread surveillance testing. Businesses that are eager to have employees return to offices have relied on at-home tests and self-reporting. The N.F.L. suspended all its Covid-19 protocols, including random screenings, in March. The White House has warned that some virus surveillance would have to wind down without increased funding from Congress, leaving the country less prepared for the next variant.

“We’re giving politicians justification for the decisions they’re making,” Ms. Harrison said of elite research universities backing away from surveillance testing. “And that hurts everyone.”

Anecdotally, I visited several stores last week. I would estimate that 20 percent of the customers were masked as were employees. I got a haircut today, the barbers were unmasked.


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05 Apr 2022, 3:52 pm

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“We’re giving politicians justification for the decisions they’re making,” Ms. Harrison said of elite research universities backing away from surveillance testing. “And that hurts everyone.”


Well, Ms. Harrison, maybe I'm a bit misguided but I would presume the leaderships of elite research universities do posses the levels of intellectual skills required for the satisfactory performance of their jobs.

(or is it more accurately, "We're giving politicians justifications for making different decisions than my specific goals and interests would lead me to make")


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07 Apr 2022, 10:42 am

America Is Staring Down Its First So What? Wave

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If the United States has been riding a COVID-19 ’coaster for the past two-plus years, New York and a flush of states in the Northeast have consistently been seated in the train’s front car. And right now, in those parts of the country, coronavirus cases are, once again, going up. The rest of America may soon follow, now that BA.2—the more annoying, faster-spreading sister of the original Omicron variant, BA.1—has overtaken its sibling to become the nation’s dominant version of SARS-CoV-2.

Technologically and immunologically speaking, Americans should be well prepared to duel a new iteration of SARS-CoV-2, with two years of vaccines, testing, treatment, masking, ventilation, and distancing know-how in hand. Our immunity from BA.1 is also relatively fresh, and the weather’s rapidly warming. In theory, the nation could be poised to stem BA.2’s inbound tide, and make this variant’s cameo our least devastating to date.

But theory, at this point, seems unlikely to translate into practice. As national concern for COVID withers, the country’s capacity to track the coronavirus is on a decided downswing. Community test sites are closing, and even the enthusiasm for at-home tests seems to be on a serious wane; even though Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced a new deal on domestic pandemic funding, those patterns could stick. Testing and case reporting are now so “abysmal” that we’re losing sight of essential transmission trends, says Jessica Malaty Rivera, a research fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital. “It’s so bad that I could never look at the data and make any informed choice.” Testing is how individuals, communities, and experts stay on top of where the virus is and whom it’s affecting; it’s also one of the main bases of the CDC’s new guidance on when to mask up again. Without it, the nation’s ability to forecast whatever wave might come around next is bound to be clouded.

We can’t react to a wave we don’t see coming. “I keep thinking back to this idea of If we don’t measure it, it won’t happen, says Shweta Bansal, an infectious-disease modeler at Georgetown University. (As President Donald Trump once put it, “If we stop testing, we’d have fewer cases.”) In reality, “it’s very well happening, and we just don’t see it yet.” There is still no guarantee that the next wave is nigh—but if it is, the U.S. is poorly positioned to meet it. Americans’ motivational tanks are near empty; the country’s stance has, for months, been pretty much whatevs. The next wave may be less a BA.2 wave, and more a so what? wave—one many Americans care little to see, because, after two years of crisis, they care so little to respond We can’t react to a wave we don’t see coming. “I keep thinking back to this idea of If we don’t measure it, it won’t happen,” says Shweta Bansal, an infectious-disease modeler at Georgetown University. (As President Donald Trump once put it, “If we stop testing, we’d have fewer cases.”) In reality, “it’s very well happening, and we just don’t see it yet.” There is still no guarantee that the next wave is nigh—but if it is, the U.S. is poorly positioned to meet it. Americans’ motivational tanks are near empty; the country’s stance has, for months, been pretty much whatevs. The next wave may be less a BA.2 wave, and more a [i[so what? [/i] wave—one many Americans care little to see, because, after two years of crisis, they care so little to respond.

Still, new waves can begin before their predecessors conclude. The experts I spoke with said that an increase in SARS-CoV-2 cases that ratcheted up counts by more than a couple percentage points a week, lasted at least 14ish days, and impacted a large swath of the country, would definitely trip alarm bells. On the whole, the United States does not seem to be at alarm-bell level quite yet, Ogbunu told me. Maybe, if cases don’t rise sharply enough, or to a high enough amplitude, the country won’t get there with BA.2 at all. But it’s too soon to tell. The latest estimates put BA.2 at the root of about 70 percent of sequenced infections in the United States. That’s right past the proportion at which BA.2 started putting a serious squeeze on other countries, says Sam Scarpino, the managing director of pathogen surveillance at the Rockefeller Foundation. “Once you get into the 50 to 60 percent BA.2 range is when you see cases going up,” he told me. Experts can’t yet know if the U.S. will be more resilient, or less.

Watching only the national curve can also be misleading. Country-wide data show only a gargantuan average; these numbers smooth and conceal the case rises that have already been erupting in isolated patchworks. That sort of variability is a product of where humans have carried this new subvariant; of the immune landscape that vaccinations and past versions of the virus have left behind; and of the local defenses, such as masking (or not), that people are leveraging against BA.2, says Bansal, who’s been leading efforts to map how different communities will be impacted by future variants. And patchiness is to be expected. And these more regional waves still matter, even if they seem at first easier to ignore.

They will, in many cases, mark the places least prepared to weather another surge in infections. Tests, while more abundant, have remained inaccessible to many of those who need them; without tests, treatments, too, will drift out of reach. And Malaty Rivera worries that, even now, we don’t know which parts of the country are being hardest hit, thanks to underdiagnosis and underreporting. Some places that appear to be coasting on plateaus or trending down may not be as well positioned as they first seem. Wastewater surveillance, which homes in on virus particles extruded in waste, could help—but these monitoring sides aren’t distributed evenly, either.

Not all case rises have to spell disaster. Since November, when Omicron was first identified, more Americans have been vaccinated for the first time, or boosted, or infected; rapid tests have become more available; and the oral antiviral Paxlovid has hit far more pharmacy shelves. All these factors, plus a springtime flocking into the outdoors, especially in the northern U.S., could help blunt a potential wave’s peak; some may even help uncouple a rise in infections from a secondary surge in hospitalizations and deaths. “Those are the numbers I’m more interested in,” says David S. Jones, a historian of science at Harvard University. If cases go up, but the most severe outcomes stay trim, Jones told me, he’ll feel far less concerned; this wave won’t have to feel like the one the country just weathered, by any stretch.

It’s certainly a reasonable future to hope for, but not an outcome that can be taken for granted. Even now, less than half of Americans are boosted, and health-care systems and their workers are reeling from the most recent surge.

Bansal also worries about the implications of focusing too hard on hospitalizations. Taking a so-what approach until a substantial number of severe cases show up, as CDC guidance advises Americans do, is “just too late,” she told me. “The story’s already been written for those individuals who have been infected.” Nor are hospitalizations and deaths the only outcomes that matter, as millions of people in the United States alone continue to grapple with the debilitating symptoms of long COVID, which vaccines only partly diminish.

But Americans are too far along in this pandemic, and too familiar with the tools we need to manage it, to shirk culpability entirely. Pre-vaccine variants pummeled us when we were poorly defended. The antibody-dodging BA.1 circumvented some of our immune shields. BA.2 isn’t a perfect match for our shots, either. And yet, fresh off of its sibling’s winter crush, we would be remiss to be twice fooled.


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09 Apr 2022, 6:21 pm

ASPartOfMe wrote:
For those who have gotten vaxxed, boosted and sacrificed crucial social needs fury at the refusenicks is understandable. This was all avoidable if only the refusnicks listened to science we all be back to almost normal by now.

They didn't just not listen to science, they ran a massive public disinformation campaign. They turned being opposed medical science into a political position. You're damned right I'm furious at them!


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10 Apr 2022, 4:35 pm

RetroGamer87 wrote:
ASPartOfMe wrote:
For those who have gotten vaxxed, boosted and sacrificed crucial social needs fury at the refusenicks is understandable. This was all avoidable if only the refusnicks listened to science we all be back to almost normal by now.

They didn't just not listen to science, they ran a massive public disinformation campaign. They turned being opposed medical science into a political position. You're damned right I'm furious at them!

Yes that, but as I mentioned in the OP the vaccines not being the Polio squashing type cure promised has hurt Baaaad. I am constantly hearing and reading from people saying a version of "I'm done with COVID, I vaccinated I boosted, I masked, and I got it anyway, so f**k it, whatever will be, will be". We are way beyond the conspiracy theorist/anti-vaxx people at this point. If people really complied could we have gotten to herd immunity? Probably not. The flu vaccines don't prevent you from getting the flu. China tried a "zero case" strategy. It seemed to be working for a good long while. Yet now Shanghai cases are doubling every five days. None of the above means that the mitigation measures did not save many lives and hospitalizations and that if everybody complied this would have been a lot less bad.


For those who have not yet thrown in the towel.
Is It Time to Start Masking Again? Well, that depends.
Quote:
Well, here we are again. After our fleeting brush with normalcy during Omicron’s retreat, another very transmissible new version of the coronavirus is on the rise—and with it, a fresh wave of vacillation between mask-donning and mask-doffing.

The Omicron offshoot BA.2 is now the dominant variant around the world and in the United States. Case counts are rising in a number of states. It’s too early to tell whether BA.2 will cause a major spike in cases here like it recently did in Europe, but that possibility is worth preparing for by having good masks on hand—and being mentally ready to put them on again.

If the thought of re-masking feels exasperating to you, you’re not alone.

Most Americans are no longer required to wear masks in indoor public spaces (though in some places, masks are still mandatory in crowded settings such as hospitals and prisons). People who are vaccinated and boosted are hugely protected from severe illness. Making the most of this recent reprieve, I did something I’d dreamed of since the beginning of the pandemic: screamed my lungs out in a tiny karaoke booth with unmasked friends and didn’t think twice about it. It was awesome.

But as much as I want to hold tight to that freedom, I also really don’t want to get sick again.

As I’ve learned firsthand, having COVID can be miserable, even for the healthy and vaccinated, and long COVID is still a frightening possibility, as is inadvertently infecting my aging parents. Masking remains an effective and easy way to avoid getting sick whenever your risk of getting COVID increases, whether that’s because of a menacing new variant, an uptick in cases in your town, or thousands of unmasked strangers sharing a concert venue with you. So how do you know when it’s time to start again?

The answer will be different for everyone. “I get that people are fatigued, and I get that it’s cumbersome,” George Rutherford, an epidemiologist at UC San Francisco, told me. But people need to make decisions based on their own risk, which can vary greatly, depending on who you are and where you live, he said. Tom Murray, an associate professor specializing in infectious diseases at the Yale University School of Medicine, agrees. “Like all things COVID, it’s not a straightforward yes or no answer,” he told me. “It’s an individualized decision.”

Every uptick in risk, at the individual or community level, is an argument for wearing a mask.

The latest CDC guidance on masking, from February, also depends on both personal vulnerability and the level of COVID in a community.

The new system has received mixed reviews from epidemiologists and public-health experts. Murray commended the color-coded map, and Rutherford called the new guidance “straightforward advice that gets right to the core of it.” However, it has its drawbacks. The agency’s formulas might underestimate a given county’s risk, for example. Yonatan Grad, an assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, told me that he worries about relying on case counts and hospitalizations—the former because many people are self-testing and not reporting their results to local health authorities, and the latter because hospitalizations reflect how the virus was spreading weeks ago, not now.

Other experts have argued that the new guidance, with its focus on individual rather than collective behavior, puts an additional burden on high-risk people, who are especially vulnerable if others around them choose not to mask. In light of this, people who are high-risk should use N95 masks, because they’re specifically designed to protect the wearer, Murray noted.

But the decision to mask can still be an uncomfortable one. Much as you might try to be consistent with your personal masking preferences, in reality, people’s perceptions of risk can change depending on the social context. I’ve shown up to parties wearing a mask, then sheepishly removed it because nobody else was wearing one. On the flip side, I’ve felt pressured to put on a mask at concerts where the crowd generally seemed more cautious, even if I felt safe because vaccination cards were checked at the door. When I’m stressed about deciding whether to put on a mask, I remind myself that it’s just one of many precautions that can be layered to help reduce risk, along with testing before gathering and opting to socialize outdoors.

This isn’t the last time that a spike in COVID risk will prompt uncertainty about masking. Many epidemiologists believe that risk levels will fluctuate year after year, as new variants emerge and cases surge alongside colds and the flu each respiratory-virus season. Since mandates seem to be less and less likely, Americans need to get used to making informed decisions about masking for themselves. That will take time. “I do think we’re seeing the transition from pandemic to endemic COVID, and the policies are really starting to reflect that,” Murray said.

Like all transitions, this is an awkward one, and we’ll likely have to endure many more moments of masking faux pas before we fine-tune what we’re comfortable with as a society. Masking, Grad said, is something “we should work to normalize so that people can feel free to make the decision to mask when they feel like it is important to them.” That will be a tall order in the U.S., where masking has become needlessly polarized. But in many parts of the world, people don masks every virus season without much prompting from officials. Maybe, even here, reason—or at least the desire not to get sick—will eventually prevail.


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13 Apr 2022, 6:43 pm

Less than 10 percent of Americans say COVID still a ‘serious crisis:’ poll

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More than two years since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US, fewer than one in 10 Americans view the virus as a “serious crisis,” according to a new poll.

The Axios/Ipsos survey published Tuesday found that nearly three-quarters of Americans (73%) said the pandemic was “a problem, but manageable.” Another 17% said it was “not a problem at all,” while just 9% called it a “crisis.”

There was a clear partisan split in the responses, with Democrats five times more likely than Republicans to describe COVID-19 as a “crisis” — 16% to 3% — while Republicans were 10 times more likely than Democrats (31% to 3%) to say COVID-19 was “not a problem at all.”

More than a third of adults surveyed (37%) said they have returned to normal, pre-COVID habits, with two-thirds saying they have visited friends or relatives in the past week and 65% saying they had gone out to eat at a restaurant in the previous seven days.

Fewer than one-fourth of respondents (22%) said their employers are still requiring them to wear masks — down from 39% last month. Just 19% said they wear a mask at all times outdoors — down from 26% last month.

Approximately 36% of respondents said they still support stores and restaurants requiring a potential customer to show proof of vaccination before being allowed in — a policy recently lifted in New York City and Washington, DC. More than half of Americans (51%) supported such a policy in early February.

Just 44% support state or local governments requiring masks in public places — down from 67% at the start of this year.

Tuesday’s poll surveyed 1,043 adults and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.


Since this is PPR I am going to add more openly political opinions
Masking Is Back, and Democrats Will Regret It by Noah Rothman for Commentary
Quote:
The masks are back in the city of Philadelphia.

Beginning April 18, the city of brotherly love will reimpose indoor masking mandates for the first time since early March. “I sincerely wish we didn’t have to do this again,” said Cheryl Bettigole, the city’s health commissioner. “I wish this pandemic was over just as much as any of you.” Her hand was forced, she claimed, by Philly’s rising Covid-19 case rates. You see, the city’s seven-day average case rate increased to, as of April 8, 142 new cases.

The city was, however, one of the slowest to respond to a trend against masking that overtook the Democratic political class during the winter. Today, the city could be a leading indicator of where progressives in positions of power intend to take the regions they serve.

Philly’s restoration of masking ordinances was preceded by the restoration of similar mandates in colleges and universities. Columbia University restored masking mandates earlier this month for the remainder of the spring semester, though only for the student body. Masking is optional for faculty. Barnard College, too, now requires masking after experimenting with an optional masking regime for all of one week. In Washington D.C., both Johns Hopkins and Georgetown Universities will require masking. Nominally, some of this is a response to rising case rates, but the political culture incubating the return of masking is a factor that cannot be dismissed. Support for the indefinite perpetuation of pandemic-related emergency measures is measurable in locales where progressivism is the dominant governing ethos.

If masking is going to make a comeback amid an increase in case rates attributable to the mild but still contagious Omicron variant, it’s important to recall the conditions that led to the abandonment of mask mandates in February.

It wasn’t a response to reduced case rates. And it had nothing to do with some revelatory new “science,” which some Covid hawks trotted out to explain their overnight 180-degree shift on mask mandates. Masking mandates disappeared because the persistence of Covid mitigation measures produced diminishing political returns for Democratic politicians.
The return of Covid mitigation measures now would only reinforce the public perception that the Democratic Party has been captured by a narrow, ideologically unrepresentative pressure group. After all, it isn’t just the residents of dark-blue Philly who must mask up again after one month’s reprieve; it’s the commuters in electorally pivotal swing counties around the city who have had the tantalizing taste of “normal” turn to ashes in their mouths.

In recent weeks, Covid had become so irrelevant to voters’ daily lives that it barely registers as a priority for them. Progressives are intent on reminding them that government can still take away that which they enjoy arbitrarily and without the consent of the governed. If they succeed, Democrats will regret it come November.

I mostly disagree with Rothman's opinion. I believe a red wave is coming this November but the COVID will be negligible. factor. Inflation, Crime ("No bail" laws, "Progressive Prosecutors". "Woke" issues like "Critical Race Theory", and "TERF" stuff, and oh yeah midterms are usually bad for the incumbent's party. As Rothman said himself the issue is of less importance to the public nowadays. A return to mask mandates will annoy people but will not be decisive. As the poll suggested opposition to mask mandates is real but not at the level its most public opponents make it appear, most of the public is COVID moderate. Arguably in a real close election, it might be a decisive but even then the radical COVID hawks would t probably mitigate or cancel out the radical anti-maskers. I think it would take something like a widespread return to remote learning or lockdowns for COVID to become decisive.

The above is why what Rothman is complaining about and fearing is not likely to happen outside of really blue states, even with a big-time spike.


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“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman


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15 Apr 2022, 7:19 pm

As COVID-Era Restrictions End, Disabled Americans Want to Avoid a 'Return to Normal'

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President Joe Biden hired Kim Knackstedt in early 2021 to make sure that Americans with disabilities were not forgotten as the country returned to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic. A year later, that seems to be precisely what has happened—and it’s unfortunate, Knackstedt says.

“What was considered ‘normal’ was actually not a great way to live, often,” says Knackstedt, who served as the first White House director of disability policy, before leaving the administration on March 11. “It wasn’t accessible. It actually didn’t provide all of the things that we needed to get even basic health care, and so many other things, like basic economic security.”

As states and cities roll back vaccine requirements and mask mandates, companies phase out flexible work policies, and federal funding for pandemic-response measures runs out, millions of Americans who are immunocompromised or who have other disabilities or chronic illnesses that make them vulnerable to COVID-19, are urging policymakers to pump the brakes. They aren’t calling for more lockdowns or never-ending masking, Knackstedt says. Rather, they want government officials to make permanent some of the systemic tweaks that helped make everything from employment and health insurance to housing and schooling more accessible to all Americans during the pandemic.

They also want to add new systems that will help make communities more accessible in the future. Their wishlist includes widespread access to COVID treatments and testing; improved ventilation systems; flexible masking policies that ramp up when necessary; and a slew of economic proposals, including paid sick leave, affordable housing and measures to help people secure disability benefits. They want, in other words, to embrace the pandemic-era shifts that allowed people with disabilities, who are more than twice as likely to live in poverty as nondisabled people, to engage more fully in many parts of society.

People with disabilities or other medical conditions represent a huge segment of the country. Nearly 3% of U.S. adults, or some 7 million people, take immunosuppressant drugs, and tens of millions more have diseases that lower immunity directly or have medical conditions that put them at higher risk from infectious disease. More Americans are joining their ranks every day: studies estimate that between 10 and 30% of people who contract COVID-19 end up with Long COVID, and some fraction of that population is likely to need ongoing economic and medical aid in the future.

“The COVID-19 pandemic spurred the largest influx of new entrants to the disability community in this country in modern history. It has been a mass disabling event and the numbers are continuing to climb,” says Rebecca Vallas, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation (TCF), who leads the think tank’s disability economic justice team. “It is at a scale that policymakers absolutely cannot ignore.”

Knackstedt, Vallas, and another disability advocate, Vilissa Thompson, are now working with a wide array of think tanks and advocacy groups, including the Century Foundation and the Ford Foundation, to push lawmakers to improve existing systems. Their targets include Social Security benefits, food stamps, affordable housing, the minimum wage, paid leave and transportation, and preserving some of the pandemic-era policy changes that benefitted all Americans.

“The question needs to be, how do we lay the groundwork for a better normal?” asks Anne Sosin, a healthy equity fellow at Dartmouth College. “How do we invest in the systems and policies and infrastructure we need to manage the pandemic over time?”

Disability advocates started raising the alarm about the potential fallout from the pandemic in early 2020. They were used to bearing the brunt of public health and economic downturns, and as it became clear how serious COVID-19 was, disabled people started to warn that it could have similar effects to those of polio in the early 20th century: it would permanently mark a generation.

But despite the warnings from disability advocates, public health experts, and initially from Democratic political leaders who said they wanted to change the trajectory of the pandemic after the Trump Administration, much of the country seems to have decided it is no longer concerned about about the potential effects of contracting the coronavirus. Thompson, who says she’s seen both racism and ableism during the pandemic, said that lack of empathy can feel like it’s coming not just from other individuals, but from the government too.

These tensions came to a boil in January when CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, speaking about a study that showed very few vaccinated people died of COVID-19, told Good Morning America, “The overwhelming number of deaths, over 75%, occurred in people who had at least four comorbidities, so, really, these are people who were unwell to begin with.”

The Biden Administration has since taken steps to protect disabled people from the pandemic, including a recent presidential memorandum that directed federal agencies to develop a national action plan to address the looming crisis of Long COVID.

But many are critical of the Administration’s pandemic response overall.

Pandemic fatigue is real, and politicians have often said they are trying to respond to Americans’ desires to go about their lives. But Kaiser Family Foundation polling shows that Black, Hispanic and low income Americans, as well as those with chronic health conditions—many of the groups disproportionately impacted by the pandemic—still support people wearing masks in some public settings. Meanwhile, disabled people reported less vaccine hesitancy but more obstacles in getting vaccinated, and still have lower rates of vaccination than the overall population. Treatments remain in short supply. As businesses scrap mask mandates and some states banned schools from keeping them in place, parents of disabled children have sued, arguing the lack of masking puts their vulnerable kids at risk.

These fears are why Knackstedt and the other disability advocates are launching a new initiative on April 21, the Disability Economic Justice Collaborative, which is designed to reach outside the disability community, into establishment policy making circles. The collaborative includes think tanks like The Century Foundation and the Center for American Progress, as well as more than two dozen other organizations across the progressive policy spectrum, such as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, National Partnership for Women and Families, Justice in Aging, the Urban Institute, the Food Research and Action Council, and Data for Progress.

Convening this kind of group is something disability advocates have wanted to do for years, says Rebecca Cokley, a longtime disability rights advocate and former Obama Administration official. “For decades, [disability groups] were told that the reason we couldn’t do stuff was because we didn’t have money,” says Cokley, who joined the Ford Foundation last year as the philanthropic giant’s first U.S. disability rights officer. Now, she has an annual budget of $10 million and was in a position to help fund this collaboration.

This new energy is leading to initiatives like Data for Progress, which has become a go-to polling firm for liberal policymakers, standing up a disability polling project that will survey people with disabilities to help lawmakers see them as a political constituency and include more disability-related questions in its other surveys of all voters.

Advocates are hoping that having a source for public opinion data that Democratic politicians trust will give heft to their work. Already they have found some allies in Congress. Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts has frequently spoken out about disability issues and says she realized the topic’s importance when she saw a disability advocate treated “as a second class citizen” during her time as a city councilor in Boston. Now she frequently communicates with disability advocates, and recently introduced a bill with Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois that aims to improve access to Long COVID treatment and clinics.

Other lawmakers like Senator Elizabeth Warren have also been vocal about disability issues during the pandemic.

The White House recently replaced Knackstedt with Day Al-Mohamed, another disability advocate who most recently worked at the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Knackstedt hopes Al-Mohamed will be able to build on the foundation she started last year.

Thompson, who is a Black disabled woman and trained as a social worker, adds that she hopes the collaborative can help policy makers understand the way that people with disabilities are often affected not just by their disability but by issues of race, class, gender and sexuality as well.

Advocates say the large number of people affected by COVID could make it hard to ignore. As of March, there were more than 1 million disability benefits cases pending with the Social Security Administration. Even if people don’t enjoy thinking about these statistics, they are having a significant impact on the American psyche and the country’s economy.

Vallas of the The Century Foundation sees incorporating disability policy into every other area as part of the key.

Bolding=mine


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“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman


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16 Apr 2022, 1:32 pm

Have We Already Ruined Our Next COVID Summer?

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Almost exactly 12 months ago, America’s pandemic curve hit a pivot point. Case counts peaked—and then dipped, and dipped, and dipped, on a slow but sure grade, until, somewhere around the end of May, the numbers flattened and settled, for several brief, wonderful weeks, into their lowest nadir so far.

I refuse to use the term hot vax summer(oops, just did), but its sentiment isn’t exactly wrong. A year ago, the shots were shiny and new, and a great match for the variants du jour; by the start of June, roughly half of the American population had received their first injections, all within the span of a few months—a remarkable “single buildup of immunity,” says Virginia Pitzer, an epidemiologist at Yale. The winter surges had run their course; schools were letting out for the season; the warm weather was begging for outdoor gatherings, especially in the country’s northern parts. A confluence of factors came together in a stretch that, for a time, “really was great,” Katelyn Jetelina, an epidemiologist at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, told me.

It’s now the spring of 2022, and at a glance, the stop-SARS-CoV-2 stars would seem to be aligning once more. Like last time, cases have dropped from a horrific winter peak; like last time, people have built up a decent bit of immunity; like last time, rising temperatures are nudging people outside. Already, one of the pandemic’s best-publicized models is projecting that this summer could look about as stellar as the start of last.

These trends don’t guarantee good times. If anything, national case counts—currently a woeful underestimate of reality—have started to creep upward in the past couple of weeks, as an Omicron subvariant called BA.2 continues its hostile takeover. And no one knows when or where this version of the virus will spit us out of its hypothetical surge. “I have learned to not predict where this is going,” says Theresa Chapple, a Chicago-area epidemiologist.

In crisis, it’s easy to focus our attention on waves—the worst a pandemic can bring. And yet, understanding the troughs—whether high, low, or kind of undecided—is just as essential. The past two years have been full of spastic surges; if the virus eventually settles down into something more subdued, more seasonal, and more sustained, these between-bump stretches may portend what COVID looks like at baseline: its true off-season.

At these times of year, when we can reliably expect there to be far less virus bopping around, our relationship to COVID can be different. But lulls are not automatic. They cannot be vacations. They’re intermissions that we can use to prepare for what the virus serves up next.

This time around, some of the variables are a bit different. The virus, for one, has changed. In the past year, SARS-CoV-2 has only gotten better at its prime operative of infecting us. “We have a lot less breathing room than we used to,” says Alyssa Bilinski, a health-policy researcher at Brown University.

The situation arguably looks a bit better on the host side. By some estimates, population immunity in the U.S. could be near its all-time high. At least 140 million Americans—perhaps many more—have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 since the pandemic’s start; some 250 million have dosed up at least once with a vaccine. Swirl those stats together, and it’s reasonable to estimate that more than 90 to 95 percent of the country has now glimpsed the coronavirus’s spike protein in some form or another, many of them quite recently. On top of that, America has added a few tools to its defensive arsenal, including a heftier supply of at-home tests to identify infection early and super-effective oral antivirals to treat it.

90 to 95 percent exposed doesn’t translate to 90 to 95 percent immune. Compared with last spring, the map of protection is also much patchier, and the range of immunity much wider. Some people have now banked several infections and vaccinations; others are many months out from their most recent exposure, or haven’t logged any at all. Add to that the trickiness of sustaining immunity in people who are older or immunocompromised, and the mediocrity of America’s booster campaign, and it’s easy to see how the country still has plenty of vulnerable pockets for the virus to exploit.

I asked Deshira Wallace, a public-health researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, what would make this summer less than rosy—or possibly, close to cataclysmic. “Continuing as is right now,” she told me. The pandemic is indeed still going, and the U.S. is at a point where excessive mingling could prolong the crisis. Tracking rises in cases, and responding to them early, is crucial for keeping a soft upslope from erupting into a full-on surge. And yet, across the nation, “we’ve been seeing every single form of protection revoked,” Wallace said. Indoor mask mandates have disappeared. Case-tracking surveillance systems have pulled back or gone dark. Community test and vaccination sites have vanished. Even data out of hospitals have begun to falter and fizz. Federal funds to combat the pandemic have dried up too, imperiling stocks of treatments and care for the uninsured, as the nation’s leaders continue to play chicken with what it means for coronavirus cases to stay “low.” And though many of the tools necessary to squelch SARS-CoV-2 exist, their distribution is still not being prioritized to the vulnerable populations who most need them. Spread is now definitively increasing, yet going unmeasured and unchecked.

Americans would have less to worry about if they reversed some of these behavioral trends, Wallace told me. But she’s not counting on it. Which puts the onus on immunity, or sheer luck on the variant side, to countervail, which are gambles as well.

Even last summer’s purported reprieve was a bit of an illusion. That lull felt great because it was the pandemic’s kindest so far in the United States. But even at its scarcest, the virus was still causing “about 200 deaths per day, which translates to about 73,000 deaths per year,” Bilinski told me. That’s worse than even what experts tend to consider a very bad flu season, when annual mortality levels hit about 50,000 or 60,000, Harvard’s Grad told me.

The U.S. is growing only less equipped to track cases accurately, given the shift to home tests, which are rarely reported; community-level data collection is also in disastrous flux. So in some respects, the success of future COVID off-seasons might be better defined by hospitalizations or deaths, UT Health’s Jetelina noted, as many other infectious diseases are.

But merely tracking hospitalizations and deaths as a benchmark of progress doesn’t prevent those outcomes; they’ve already come to pass. By the time serious illness is on the rise, it’s too late to halt a surge in transmission that imperils high-risk groups or triggers a rash of long-COVID cases. That makes proactiveness during case lulls key

Inasked nearly a dozen experts where they’d focus their resources now, to ameliorate the country’s COVID burden in the months and years ahead. Almost all of them pointed to two measures that would require intense investments now, but pay long-term dividends—all without requiring individuals, Chapple told me, to take repeated, daily actions to stay safe: vaccines, to blunt COVID’s severity; and ventilation

Most essential of all, vaccines, tests, masks, and treatments will need to become and remain available, accessible, and free to all Americans, regardless of location, regardless of insurance. Supply alone is not enough: Leaders would need to identify the communities most in need, and concentrate resources there—an approach, experts told me, that the U.S. would ideally apply both domestically and abroad.

Instead of holding last summer up as our paragon, we would do better to look ahead to the next one, and the next—moving past wanting things as they were, and instead imagining what they could be.


With so many gathering indoors maskless for Easter and Passover we will find out in a week or two if S.A. 2 is a bump or a full on surge.

The article ends with suggestions that will not be widely followed. We have surrendered our future to the severity snd transmissibility of future variants.


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“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman


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18 Apr 2022, 11:12 pm

TSA will not enforce Covid mask mandate on planes, public transit after court ruling, White House says

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A federal judge in Florida on Monday vacated the Biden administration’s national Covid mask mandate for planes and other forms of public transportation, ruling that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had overstepped its authority.

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa said the CDC had failed to adequately explain its reasons for the mandate, and did not allow public comment in violation of federal procedures for issuing new rules. Mizelle was appointed by former President Donald Trump in 2020.

The Transportation Security Administration will not enforce the mask mandate on public transportation after the court’s ruling, a Biden administration official said. However, the CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks on public transit, the official said.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki, in a press conference Monday, said the administration is reviewing the court’s ruling and the Justice Department will determine whether it will appeal. The Justice Department declined to comment when asked by CNBC.

United Airlines said in a statement that, effective immediately, masks would no longer be required on domestic flights or certain international flights.

“While this means that our employees are no longer required to wear a mask – and no longer have to enforce a mask requirement for most of the flying public – they will be able to wear masks if they choose to do so, as the CDC continues to strongly recommend wearing a mask on public transit,” United said.

Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines also made similar announcements.

Amtrak, in a statement, said: “While Amtrak passengers and employees are no longer required to wear masks while on board trains or in stations, masks are welcome and remain an important preventive measure against Covid-19. Anyone needing or choosing to wear one is encouraged to do so.”

The Health Freedom Defense Fund, a group that opposes public health mandates, and two individuals who argued that wearing masks while flying exacerbated their anxiety and panic attacks first filed the lawsuit against the Biden administration in July 2021.


Philadelphia sued over new mask mandate
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A group of Philadelphia businesses and residents is suing the city’s top officials over its resumed indoor mask mandate, which took effect on Monday.

In a lawsuit filed Saturday, the plaintiffs argued Philadelphia does not have authority to enforce the indoor mask mandate. They also say the order breaches the state constitution and defies recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Philadelphia Health Department announced on April 11 that it would require masks to be worn in indoor public spaces as part of the city’s move back to Level 2: Mask Precautions.

The city said the order was necessary because it was seeing an uptick in cases and would end the mandate when two of three metrics in the All Clear Level are met.


Mayor considers mask mandates, return of Key to NYC as COVID cases rise
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COVID-19 cases are on the rise in New York City and Mayor Eric Adams said than an announcement could be expected as early as Tuesday that the city may move into a yellow alert level.

Yellow alert level means that there is medium risk of community spread of COVID-19.

The mayor said on Monday that he is considering bringing back the mask mandate in public schools, as well as reinstating the Key to NYC mandate, requiring vaccinations for certain places.

Mayor Adams says he’s going to be speaking with doctors to determine whether the mandates will return.
Adams says there aren’t high levels of hospitalizations to go along with the spike due to so many New Yorkers being vaccinated and boosted.

Health experts say that the city’s seven-day positivity rate is 7% and in order for the city to move to yellow, the rate must reach 10%, which it is slowly heading toward.


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“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman


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19 Apr 2022, 6:39 am

We have been lucky that the truckers forced the governments to stop tightening the screw on innocent citizens.

I caught Covid twice and while it is more intense than a flu or so, it is manageable. Finally, the W.H.O.'s Covid Menace, led by Bill Gates, has also bowed down. Gates kinda hinted that he'd be back (reminded me of Trump when he had to let go off his presidency). This sounds pretty bad as the W.H.O. again publicize the idea of viruses coming from the current Russia/Ukraine conflict. Gates had stated that things would have to go faster on the next pandemic, to "avoid the worst". There is still lots of money to be made with "health" by Big Pharma. So, of course the riches look at all of these things, and the war, with a certain hope that things go wrong. Banks would fund both sides of the war back in the day...

Anyway, back to the cirus, we know the worst were the inhuman restrictions forced on us and that what they did was only scaring people into submission.

Anyway, I would rather live with COVID than live with the tyrants like the Gator himself or any president making life miserable for humans, while they do money and gain publicity while bringing you down. Stay strong!!