COVID: Going, Going … Gone?

No, COVID itself isn’t going away just yet, but for many people it is no longer a factor in their lives, and hasn’t been a factor for a year or more. I don’t want to minimize COVID’s impact in any way. COVID has been the third leading cause of death for the last two years and has devastated many families, yet for many folks it has not been impactful. Let’s keep such problems or crises, whatever you want to call them, in the proper perspective, especially in today’s world in which we understand more about pathogens than ever before. We’re not living through one of the black plague epidemics of the Middle Ages. COVID doesn’t kill at the rate of smallpox (smallpox is 60 times more lethal).

It is also important to be reminded: the choices should be yours.  We all have different risks and different calculus for deciding what to do.  Our family returned to our normal lives once we understood the threat COVID actually was for us. At the same time, our leaders continually reminded us COVID is a real threat (thanks again, but we already knew it). Worse still, they pretended they could fix it all–if we would just do what they tell us. They demanded we make our safety and everyone else’s safety around us paramount, and if we had different points of view, they said we were not patriots or spreading “disinformation”. Who is actually spreading disinformation, Dr. Fauci?

Despite the government zealots’ constant appeals, we do not need to make safety our top priority.  That’s the real problem with COVID policy.  Life is full of risks today, but it always has been.  We don’t stop living (i.e. go into “lockdown” or focus only on “safety” to the exclusion of all else) for yet another new threat to our lives.  We make adjustments and move on as all great civilizations have done in the past. 

I thank the government for paving the way for the vaccines and for its treatment recommendations. These were helpful for many I am sure.  Still, we take what the government provides under advisement and fit its advice to our individual situations.  On the other hand, government’s help, their solutions, their rules for our safety and protection, have often as not been counter-productive. Thanks for the offer, thanks for your concern for our safety, thanks for the advice, but we can think and do for ourselves. We are happy to hear your ideas, but don’t force your solutions upon us because you don’t know what’s best for me or my family.

Unfortunately, the one thing our political leaders do well is work around their own rules and manipulate the system to retain power for themselves. They are looking for new opportunities to snap the rules back in place. That’s reason enough to continue to pay attention to what’s happening.

I have to say a bit more on our culture’s elevation of safety and our societal risk aversion. I tell my kids constantly: you will accomplish nothing significant in this world if you don’t take risks, make sacrifices, and endure some hardship.  Nothing worth accomplishing comes easily (obtaining a degree, losing weight, getting a promotion, winning a competition, having a baby, etc.).  If you obtain such things illicitly or without effort, you will not remember them fondly and will not be proud of them in later years.  Great societies and great individuals have never taken the safe and easy routes. Great societies and individuals have done hard things under difficult circumstances. That’s what makes them great. God allows us to suffer and face challenges, so we can overcome those challenges, learn from our mistakes, improve ourselves (we should continually strive to become more like Him), and make the world a better place for all.  Overcoming hardship, pain, and difficulty to accomplish something meaningful is a wonderful thing.  We often suffer because something is lacking or out-of-place. Suffering is often a reminder that we must get back on the right path or restore what is lacking. We shouldn’t just complain about our suffering or wait for a white knight to provide the solution; instead, we should heed the reminder and seek to overcome and put things right again ourselves.

Therefore, despite the threat of COVID, we take appropriate and reasonable risks; we continue to live our lives as normally as possible.  We don’t demand everyone hunker down and simply focus on staying safe. We overcome, not succumb. Stand up for this freedom, the freedom that God intended for us always.  This is what we should have learned this last two years. After living through this pandemic, it should be clear there are many in our culture that want to take away our freedom under the guise of protecting us all. They suck the life out of our culture. Stand up for your freedom and the freedom for all to live their lives fully and follow God’s plan for our lives.

Remember this person? She is one of those trying to shame you and your friends who want to return to normal. She thinks she is the hero in the X-Files, but let the rest of us should live in reality. Don’t let her shame you. She is the one who needs a heap of Xanax (anxiety medication). I wonder why. (https://seek-the-truth.com/2021/12/24/covid-hope-or-fear-and-is-omicron-really-the-big-bad-wolf/)

This past week, Elon Musk tells us he wants to restore the open-ness (i.e. freedom of speech) on Twitter and there is a media meltdown over the risk such freedom means. Oh my gosh, someone might lie on Twitter. We will be even more awash in disinformation. Civilization might end if the Twitter status quo is altered! Remember Twitter is the platform where mostly famous, often out-of-touch, people say all manner of silly, if not down right insane, things. Do you wonder what makes the media so scared that all sorts of people, not just those crazy folks they agree with, might be able speak their minds without fear of censorship? A few years ago, Jeff Bezos, another eccentric billionaire, bought the Washington Post, and few seemed to care all that much. Why the alarm now?

When men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in these ideas–that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That, at any rate, is the theory of our Constitution. It is an experiment, as life is an experiment. — Oliver Wendell Holmes

The Numbers

Another reason to pay attention at this moment is that COVID cases are on the rise again. It is not yet a cause for alarm, but it is a reminder it hasn’t gone away. When someone out of the blue tells you to panic due to rising cases and new variants, you need to be able to put the situation into perspective. You need to know what is really happening.

Last year, the year of vaccine immunity, was a dud in terms of ending the pandemic. This year, the year of natural immunity, our prospects are much better, despite that cases are rising again at this moment.

It is not easy to see the rise the last two weeks, but the 7-day cases average has risen every day the last two weeks, up from 28,000 to 36,000 per day. We have new variants, sub-variants of the original Omicron strain which are driving this increase. Remember the virus mutates rapidly, according to one study every nine days (source: https://odysee.com/@FrontlineCovid19CriticalCareAlliance:c/flccc-weekly-update-28-july-2021-covid:6; fast forward to 10:55 mark). There are actually thousands of COVID variants, but most are inconsequential. The new Omicron strains spread so rapidly, each new one spreading more rapidly than the last. This means the Omicron family has easily displaced Delta, Alpha, Beta, and the other variants often mentioned in 2021.

Cases will no doubt continue to rise the next few weeks and there will be some deaths because of that. Dr. Campbell recently discussed a new study of COVID particles in sewage. This happens to be a leading indicator and that indicator says we are headed for a decent rise in cases (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9FpS8nbYhs).

The best news is that U.S. COVID deaths are nearing record lows. COVID has fallen to the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. Given the milder nature of the current strain, we are not doomed to re-live the past two years. We should remain vigilant but not panicked. Older individuals and those in poor health should worry the most; the young and those in good health have almost no risk.  Don’t be led astray by those playing on your emotions. (https://seek-the-truth.com/2022/01/02/covid-checklist-please-be-prepared/).

As of Friday, April 15, U.S. COVID deaths have fallen to 370 per day. Expect a slight increase in last week’s tally as more deaths are confirmed over the next week, but we will still be well below 400 per day for a while.

  • Except during the initial stage, deaths in 2020 were never lower than 550 per day.
  • Deaths have been lower than 400 per day only once before, during late June/early July 2021, when they fell to about 250/day.
  • The deaths number is going lower for sure. Deaths dropped more than 25% in the last seven days. It will take a while for that trend to slow down.
  • The graph makes clear we could possibly best the numbers from last summer in the next two weeks.

Previously, rising cases meant rising deaths a few weeks later. The model may be different today because nearly half of the U.S. population already has natural immunity from Omicron. The current variants are in the Omicron family which are less deadly than the 2021 Delta strain. Omicron has greatly boosted natural immunity levels (which is far superior to the vaccine immunity we relied on in 2021). We are in the best position we have been in a long time.

In each of the prior two years, we had a watershed in December.

  • Vaccinations began in December 2020, and we entered 2021 with this new promise. After this hopeful beginning, during the first three-and-a-half months of 2021, there were 214,000 deaths (61,000 per month).
  • Omicron was the new wave that sent cases skyrocketing to never before levels (four-fold higher than ever before) beginning in December 2021. Deaths went up because of Omicron, but much less than the year before. During the first three-and-a-half months of 2022, there were 165,000 deaths (47,000 deaths per month).

So far, during 2022 there has been a 23% reduction in deaths over the same time period in 2021, in part because of the less deadly nature of Omicron and in part because of natural immunity. Which type of immunity, vaccine or natural, do you believe is our hope for 2022? As smart as some of the folks at Pfizer are, the human body does a remarkable and far better job at stopping disease than they do. God did a better job designing our bodies than Pfizer did designing the vaccines. It’s not even a close contest.

As I mentioned in my last COVID post (COVID-New-Variant-New-Milestone-What-to-Expect), we didn’t seen much change in death rates in 2020 and 2021. That’s changing now. We’ll continue to see that increasing gaps between the last two years and 2022 grow as this year unfolds.

So Why Still Panic?

There may be more consequences yet to deal with, especially for certain individuals; however, at the macro level COVID is in recession, so why are government officials not reacting accordingly?

Philadelphia is re-imposing mask mandates. They are telling us yet again they will get ahead of the contagion. The new variants are even more transmissible. Omicron BA-1 was prevalent in December and cases skyrocketed. Then came Omicron BA-2, which is even more transmissible. Now we have new Omicron strains and they are even more communicable than BA-2. Yet, the city of Philly is going to get out ahead of this one. No way.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/philadelphia-brings-back-mask-indoor-mandate-as-covid-cases-rise/ar-AAW6vof?ocid=BingNewsSearch

Public health officials in Philadelphia announced on Monday that the city’s indoor mask mandate would return beginning April 18 as coronavirus cases there rise, making it the first major U.S. city to reinstate a mask mandate this spring.

“Our city remains open,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement. “We can still go about our daily lives and visit the people and places we love while masking in indoor public spaces. I’m optimistic that this step will help us control the case rate.”

Bless your heart Mayor Kenney but I doubt your measures will accomplish anything meaningful. Florida, Iowa and Texas among other states have done without mask mandates for more than a year. These states have fewer deaths per capita during the last two years than the state of Pennsylvania. Just saying. Keep believing though. You might prove us wrong this time

Other than Philly (and whatever other city joins the panic wagon), airline travel is one of the few places where masks are still required (along with doctor’s offices). The CDC refuses to loosen its grip on restrictions in this arena.

https://www.cnet.com/health/airline-mask-mandate-extended-15-days-heres-the-latest/

The April 18 expiration date for mask mandates on airplanes and other public transportation is being extended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new expiration date is now May 3. Last month, some pilotsflight attendants and 21 states with Republican attorneys general, all filed lawsuits against the current federal masking rules.

The federal mandate requires travelers to wear masks on buses, subways, trains, ferries and other forms of public transit. The original order from the CDC has been in effect since Feb. 1, 2021. First set to expire on March 18 that year, the mandate has now been extended four times since.

You can go to large public events, outdoors or indoors without masks, but you must still wear a mask when traveling. Why the inconsistent application of rules? Why ignore input from airlines and airline employees?

The one instance the CDC is contemplating eliminating COVID restrictions is at the Southern border. It seems, we would rather import COVID than have it spread among our own citizens. Of course, those imported citizens are more likely to vote in a way that the Biden administration approves of, so they tell us we can make exceptions for them.

NY-post-lifting-title-42

The chief of the Border Patrol says his agency is on track to make 2 million arrests of illegal immigrants this fiscal year, up 20% from the year before. That’s not counting the estimated 40,000 “gotaways” who elude the Border Patrol each month. The result is that since President Biden’s inauguration, the number of illegal immigrants in the United States has grown by about 1 million.

And a Border Patrol overwhelmed with the “processing” of illegal migrants turning themselves in (knowing they’ll be released) is powerless to stop drug smuggling, which has also surged under Biden.

And things may be about to get much worse.

No decision has been made yet (as of April 16). Public pressure may keep the administration from this step to further open the borders. If implemented, it would make a bad situation even worse. Anyone ever thought of a finishing the wall along the Southern border? Seems like a crazy idea, but it might work.

Then there is the insanity in Shanghai, China. The Chinese government has locked people in their homes, literally starving them to death, in order to save them from death by COVID. In 2008, President Obama told us how wonderful the Chinese were in putting on the Olympics and building cool-looking, super fast trains. These are the same tyrants who have committed genocide against Tibetans and Weigar Muslims, who took away the promised 50 years of freedom for Hong Kong, and threaten the freedom of Taiwan. Unlike Florida, China doesn’t actually tolerate the word gay or gay characters in Harry Potter movies. I don’t want to hear again from our silly politicians how great the Chinese government is and how awful Florida’s is.

https://www.cnn.com/2022/04/11/asia/china-shanghai-lockdown-culver-intl-hnk-dst/index.html

https://redstate.com/nick-arama/2022/04/13/hollywood-hypocrisy-we-say-gay-unless-china-doesnt-want-us-to-n549860

Vaccine Mandate

There were several COVID vaccine mandates imposed; the one for large businesses was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, but the one for federal employees is once again a thing. The stay on mandating vaccines for federal employees has been reversed by an appellate court, lifted at the same time the federal government once again brings folks back to the office (most federal employees have worked strictly at home for more than two years now). Again, it is a bit of schizophrenia. They take measures regarding unvax’d employees spreading the virus, yet at the same time require all employees to come into the office at least once a week. As an IT government employee, I can tell you we’ve been productive for two years, in fact, more productive at home than we were when required to come in at least once a week. This fact does not seem to matter to our leadership.

If the government is concerned about COVID spread by unvax’d folks, why not let them continue to work from home? Problem solved. Instead, they bring folks back into the office while instituting a new (and probably expensive) testing policy, but only testing for the unvaxed, despite the fact that COVID infects the unvax’d and the vax’d at the same rates. Our government officials are not getting any smarter or more honest. We have to continue to hold them accountable.

A colleague of mine offered the following insightful analysis.

My interpretation is that if you are required to go into the office and your county is considered a medium or high Covid-19 community level then you have to get tested every week that you go into the office while at medium or high.  Based on my understanding fully vaccinated people do not have to get tested even if it is a medium or high.  Also working from home during medium and high does not seem to be an option instead of going into the office.  I have highlighted or bolded for emphasis.

Review link: https://irssource.web.irs.gov/Lists/General%20News/DispItemForm.aspx?ID=3887

If you have a vaccination status of either no vaccine, partial, requested reasonable accommodation, declined or not reported, you will be required to undergo weekly COVID-19 screening testing for any week during which you work onsite or have a scheduled in-person contact when the COVID-19 Community Level is medium or high in the county where your post of duty or the taxpayer facility is located.

Employees are not required to participate in weekly COVID-19 screening testing if their facility is located in a county determined to have low COVID-19 Community Levels. COVID-19 Community Levels for all IRS facilities can also be found on the IRS COVID-19 Community Level Report.If your county is considered low COVID-19 community level then no testing required. 

For Medium and High, you will be required to test every week you have to go into office.  One would think logically if it is a medium and high transmissibility that people should work from home if they could instead of forcing them to go into the office.  But that would just be too much logic.  This appears to be more punitive in nature than really trying to keep federal employees safe.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/community-levels.html

What does Medium or High COVID-19 community level actually mean?

According to the CDC, if 1 person per 10,000 hospital admissions is attributed to COVID then your county is a medium and if 2 people per 10,000 are admitted into the hospital it is a high.  The time is based on a rolling 7 days and not per week.

1/10,000 sounds like such a low number and a very easy threshold to reach in most small counties.  So what else is an easier risk to beat than 1 per 10,000?

According to the National Safety Counsel who sources information for insurance actuarial tables NSC-Odds-of-Dying

  • 1/6 people die from heart disease
  • 1/7 people die from cancer
  • 1/93 people die from suicide
  • 1/101 people die from a motor-vehicle crash
  • 1/221 people die from a gun assault
  • 1/1,450 people die from fire or smoke
  • 1/2,745 people die chocking on food
  • 1/3,396 people die as a bicyclist
  • 1/7,998 people die of accidental gun discharge

Wow!  What a clear way to demonstrate CDC reasoning is not at all supported by science. It is no wonder people come up with all kinds of nefarious reasons to explain such practices.  Maybe the government has no idea what its doing, or worse yet, maybe it does. Is this policy designed to be punitive against those who are unvax’d?  I can’t say, but I can understand how someone would conclude that.

If you were double-vaxed a year ago, like me, the vaccine protection you now have is minimal, probably non-existent, yet that would place me (were I to actually report my status), in the “protected” group. How silly. Thankfully, I am protected now because I contracted Omicron in February, but that doesn’t count in the CDC’s estimation.

If the goal was to protect people from COVID, measures would be consistent with science and data; the data shows those who are vaccinated are as likely to contract COVID as those who are unvaccinated.  If you test folks going into the office (I don’t advocate for it), then test everyone because everyone is equally likely to contract COVID.  Otherwise, as many of colleagues have pointed out, it appears to be an unjustified discrimination.

Last year, we asked for answers regarding policies and got nothing.  I personally went six levels up the chain of command, and I received no clear or cogent responses from anyone in my chain of command. Nothing. I got nothing because there is nothing behind their thinking; there is no real logic to this.  A few I asked said, “Don’t blame me. I am just following orders”. However, you did support it, you did enforce it, and if more like you had objected, it could have been stopped altogether, so I don’t accept that excuse. I am in management as well and I voiced my concerns. You could have too.

The CDC and other government officials have so damaged the credibility of scientists and medical professionals for years to come.  It is a real shame because they have made it so hard to know who to trust any longer. Still, hold on to what I said earlier: Stand up for your freedom and the freedom for all to fully live their lives and follow God’s plan for our lives. Our civilization can withstand a change in leadership at Twitter (or no change at all), but it cannot withstand a loss of freedom. We have to draw line here. We have to re-unite behind such simple but profound common beliefs.

For more on COVID and a variety of other cultural topics, refer to my blog page: Blog – Seek the Truth (seek-the-truth.com)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: