Of course, the past week or so there was a whole lot more silliness with regard to the politics of COVID, but first let’s look at the current numbers and try to project where we are headed.
U.S. deaths are at their lowest point in the last seven months and new cases at their lowest point in ten months. The skeptical among us would rightly say that a death rate in excess of 700 per day is still very high and translates to more than 250,000 deaths in a year, meaning COVID is still the third leading cause of death in the U.S..
One must look at the trend, however. Deaths have declined 14 straight weeks. The average did not decline every single day during that period, but the trend has been clearly and inexorably down since peaking in late January. Deaths are down 80% from its peak in January. On the other hand, skeptics will say, the graph has declined before and then turned around and moved inexorably in the other direction. Yes, but the current downward stretch, now extending into its fourth month, is the longest slide of the pandemic; the other declines petered out after ten or eleven weeks. Nor is this one ending soon. For the last 19 days straight, the case average has fallen dramatically; over the next few weeks this will translate into yet another steep decline in the death graph. There is no upward pressure on the numbers; indicators are all pointing downward.
The vaccination numbers are also putting downward pressure on the death and case numbers. This past weekend, more than 5.5 million vaccines were administered; the daily average stands at 2.4 million. The daily average has declined slightly from last month, but that’s because more than half of the eligible population (about 45% of the total population) has received one vaccine already.
The U.S. needs to vaccinate another 50 million to get 60% of the population partially vaccinated. Let’s assume the vaccine numbers fall a little more as demand decreases, but that we maintain around a million per day getting that first dose. In another seven weeks, 60% would have at least one vaccine. Three to four weeks after that 60% would be fully vaccinated. So, by mid August at the latest, we would be at 60% fully vaccinated.
60% fully vaccinated is a little better than where both Israel and the UK are today. Israel’s death rate is now 2 per day (down 97%) and the UK rate is 15 (down 99%). Assuming similar results, the U.S. death rate could drop to somewhere between 35 and 100 per day. I will be shocked if our numbers don’t drop in half by the first of June. Look for a really big drop in deaths, starting now.
It is possible the U.S. can get 60% vaccinated? Israel is just about there and a few other smaller countries and principalities like Gibraltar, Falklands, Maldives, Seychelles, Bhutan, and San Marino have reached or exceeded that threshold. One U.S. state, New Hampshire, is beyond 60% and a few other states are in the upper 50’s (Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, and Maine) per Bloomberg: More Than 1.16 Billion Shots Given: Covid-19 Vaccine Tracker (bloomberg.com). If the vaccination rate stays high for a few weeks more, we’ll make a good run at 60% vaccinated.
I think that number is important because given 60% vaccinated plus those who already have natural immunity (and haven’t been vaccinated), we should be very close or at herd immunity levels for the start of the next school year. As the vaccination rate hits the upper 40’s and then the 50’s, we will see downward pressure on the death numbers ratchet up even more. I am very optimistic about these numbers from here on out. Even if If we can’t quite get to 60% vaccinated, the vaccine has been a boon and we will still have a very sizeable portion of the population immune and the country as a whole much less at risk.
The media will continue to look for any chinks in that armor and will report on any fishy looking numbers or events. For example, in the last three weeks, one state, Oregon, has seen a significant increase in cases moving up 50%, but I think that too is short-lived, nothing like the run up in cases Michigan experienced last month. No other state has had any significant increase in cases the last few weeks. Plus, it’s warming now even in the most northern states, so I don’t see what we should be worried about at this point.
It would be nice for rates fall to zero, but that has not happened anywhere in the world, and given that COVID is still on the move world-wide, I think it is highly unlikely to disappear in the next year. I suppose we could even see a little bit of rebound in the fall, but with the country at or close to herd immunity by that point, we should remain at very low levels. Let’s not let them panic us again. Use these facts to push back against the panic peddlers.
The 6-foot Rule?
It has been gospel since the start of the pandemic that we all remain 6 feet apart, but it was never made clear where the six-foot rule came from. There was at one point also a three-foot rule. The distance seemed a bit arbitrary, but as it wasn’t an imposition, there hasn’t been much debate on this matter. Personally, I prefer people to keep a little bit of distance in any case. I certainly don’t want others close enough so I can smell their breathe, whether during a pandemic or not. In any case, a recent MIT study found that the six-foot rule isn’t that necessary after all; here are a few snippets from the author:
- “The distancing isn’t helping you that much and it’s also giving you a false sense of security because you’re as safe at 6 feet as you are at 60 feet if you’re indoors,” MIT engineering professor Martin Bazant, who authored the study, told CNBC.
- He added, “What our analysis continues to show is that many spaces that have been shut down in fact don’t need to be. Oftentimes the space is large enough, the ventilation is good enough, the amount of time people spend together is such that those spaces can be safely operated even at full capacity and the scientific support for reduced capacity in those spaces is really not very good.”
- Bazant said 6-foot social distancing rules that have shuttered businesses and schools are “just not reasonable.”
- “We need scientific information conveyed to the public in a way that is not just fear-mongering but is actually based in analysis,” he said.
- “This emphasis on distancing has been really misplaced from the very beginning. The CDC or WHO have never really provided justification for it,” Bazant said.
The full article is here: You’re no safer from COVID social distancing at 6 or 60 feet: study (nypost.com)
This MIT professor needs to be careful or our social media fact checkers will shut him down for not following the science as prescribed by Dr. Fauci, the CDC, and the WHO.
A thinking person who knows just a little bit of the science can figure out that the virus is microscopic and therefore lighter than air. The COVID particles are not likely to linger in one spot any more than a cork stays in one spot as it drifts in the ocean. Yet, we’ve been told over and over that six-feet is the rule and that we are much safer because of it. If they were wrong about this one, what else do you think they were wrong about? I’ve made many of the same observations with regards to masking, lockdowns, curfews, and other restrictions.
The CDC made news last week because they are loosening the masking rules, well kind of, sort of. They say vaccinated people still need to wear masks in most situations. They are ever-so-gracious to allow us to go without masks in certain limited situations.
I don’t know about you, but I find the CDC chart rather silly. Am I expected to carry it around in my pocket and refer to it throughout the day? I really don’t need the CDC to control my life in this much detail. As I’ve said a dozen times before, the vaccine is the end of this. Once you’re vaccinated, there is no need for these silly rules. Even if not vaccinated, the rules are still overbearing and ineffective. People don’t like wearing the masks and they want the mask mandates to end–and they should end. Furthermore, insisting on mask wearing after being vaccinated seems a disincentive to being vaccinated. Did they ever think about that before issuing these guidelines?
In any case, as I’ve said often masks haven’t been proven effective. Dr. Michael Osterholm, a renowned American epidemiologist, compared wearing the mask to putting a screen door on a submarine (it stems the flow a little bit, I suppose). The vaccine, on the other hand, has been proven effective, yet the CDC wants us to continue to wear the ineffective mask after being vaccinated. I just love the science of that one! My pediatrician put it this way in his most recent newsletter: you are trying to protect us from sharks while we swim in the backyard pool. And Joe Biden, married to the renowned Dr. Jill Biden, continues to tell me its my patriotic duty to wear a mask. Well, I don’t take that advice too well as it is coming from someone I consider far less of a patriot than myself.
I also find it odd that Biden announced the CDC’s relaxation of the mask rules outside at the White House while wearing a mask to the ceremony. If you are going to make this announcement wouldn’t it make sense to shed the mask before walking to the podium outside? On the other hand, if you don’t agree with your CDC, then why make the announcement at all? As Rand Paul said it’s political theatre. Here are a couple of stories on this:
If our government leaders want people to get vaccinated then they ought to better demonstrate the benefits of being vaccinated, namely restoring things to normal and shedding the masks which most people dislike wearing.
Biden also attended a Zoom conference during which he was the only world leader wearing a mask. He was vaccinated long ago, so why does he need a mask in any case? Everyone around him in the White House has been vaccinated as well. If you want to convince people the vaccine is a good thing, try sending a consistent message. It’s not the end of the world, but I think it is a really bad look for them to tout the new CDC rules but continue to wear the mask in any case. Biden wants to virtual signal on how much of a patriot he is by wearing his silly mask all day long.
Following the Science
Even after a rare call out by CNN anchor Jake Tapper, card holding member of the one-channel media and Biden fan club, Biden continues to insist on wearing the mask outside. Check out this hilarious two minute clip of Biden looking for his mask while speaking at an outdoor event. Maybe he just forgot that CDC Director. Dr. Walensky, said he didn’t have to wear it?
Remember, Biden is the person we are told is bringing us back in line with science. And what about this comment that he is in going “get in trouble” if he doesn’t wear it? Who is going to put him into timeout for not wearing his mask?
Even though Tapper strayed off the reservation to criticize Biden with regards to masking, it is good to know that MSNBC personality Joy Reid is still doing her patriotic duty. She informed us that she double-masks while jogging in the park. Good for her. I don’t know what I would do if we had a cacophony of opinions from our one-channel media. I am sure Tapper will once again fall in behind Biden, Reid and the rest of the one-channel media and restore order to the universe.
On a more serious note, this week the NY Post uncovered evidence that the teachers unions were advising the CDC prior to developing guidelines for opening schools this Spring. Are we shocked to find gambling in Casablanca?
- The American Federation of Teachers lobbied the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on, and even suggested language for, the federal agency’s school-reopening guidance released in February.
- The powerful teachers union’s full-court press preceded the federal agency putting the brakes on a full re-opening of in-person classrooms, emails between top CDC, AFT and White House officials show.
I’m glad the scientists at the CDC, supposedly our foremost government scientists don’t claim to know everything about science and are consulting with other reputable scientists. I know the teachers unions’ administrators don’t have reputations as great scientists, but their scientific knowledge is greatly underrated and the CDC was right to defer to them on this matter of science.
There is so much following of the science going on lately that I can hardly stand it, but I think I can squeeze in one more example of public policy which purports to follow the science. Now that the pandemic is ending, the folks in Oregon are bitterly clinging to the science of masking. As mask mandates end, Oregon bucks trend with permanent rule (apnews.com). It is good to know that science won’t die in Oregon as the pandemic wanes and the heathen states lift their mask mandates.
It seems to me the folks in Oregon want push the limits of what government can and cannot do, to see what they can get away with, to see if the courts will approve of this power grab and imposition and if the people won’t complain too loudly about it. If you live in Oregon, tell them no you won’t abide by a permanent mask mandate. Ask them what’s the science they are following for this new rule.