COVID-19

Trending the wrong way

It’s been a while since I wrote a COVID report. It’s been an even longer while since I showed the Indiana positive cases graph. We looked like we were coming out of the woods for a while, but the Delta variant has caused a new surge.

Some headlines have read that this is now a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” But someone on my team at work tested positive for COVID this week despite being fully vaccinated. She didn’t have a bad case — she was out of work only for a couple of days, and reported fatigue as her primary symptom. It remains to be seen whether vaccinated people who get COVID are at risk of long-term effects.

In Indiana, Delta and this spike have not led government to order lockdowns or even masks. There’s a tussle in our state government over whether the Governor has the powers to invoke the emergency measures he did in months past. The state legislature passed a law giving it powers to intervene during public health emergencies, curtailing the Governor’s power. In response, the Governor sued the state legislature. In response to that, the state Attorney General asked the state Supreme Court to prevent this suit, but the Supreme Court refused.

To me, this all seems like a bid to prove who’s the reddest Republican. Our state government is fully controlled by Republicans — this is the party fighting within itself.

Whitestown Meijer

Meanwhile, in this climate the government has issued no orders, not even advice, for how we should behave in the face of Delta. We’re on our own. Some stores are requesting masks of everyone, even those vaccinated; the Meijer across the street is among them. The CDC recommends masks for everyone in areas of high transmission. That would, it appears, include grocery stores and restaurants.

Yet I am loath to give up the freedoms we have only recently won back. I don’t mind masking up in the store, but every part of me wants to pretend that my vaccination will cover me when I sit at a bar or enjoy a burrito in the Mexican joint around the corner.

Indiana’s government is surely dysfunctional right now. But I wonder if a part of the reason it hasn’t ordered any COVID protections is because they would be unpopular with everyday people like me.

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38 thoughts on “Trending the wrong way

  1. It is true that cases are trending upward fairly significantly. The death rate, however, is up only very slightly. The odds of a healthy person under 70 dying from Covid is far more remote than is commonly believed.

    There is solid evidence that masks do virtually nothing, and emerging evidence that the vaccines protect against (or lessen) symptoms but do nothing to slow spread. I got my shots but did so with full knowledge that I have signed on for a gigantic uncontrolled medical experiment.

    There is a great human temptation to “Do something!” even when “doing something” doesn’t really help. In my view, government actions at this point will cause as much damage as they may avert. Whatever the reasons for State inaction, I will count it as blessing.

    • Given the risk of long-term effects, I think it’s prudent to avoid getting COVID.

      What evidence that masks do virtually nothing? When I google “evidence that masks don’t work” I get an avalanche of articles with reasons why they do “work,” meaning slow the spread. Not prevent. Not eliminate. Just slow.

      • I think the use of Google might be one issue. I searched “evidence masks don’t work” on Brave and got a bunch of hits, this one at the top.

        https://www.rcreader.com/commentary/masks-dont-work-covid-a-review-of-science-relevant-to-covide-19-social-policy

        If I were around someone elderly or unhealthy, I would have no problem with a mask, if only as a precaution – especially if I was not feeling well. But government authorities are ascribing to them magical traits that they do not possess.

        • I did a Brave search on “masks don’t work” and got substantially the same results I got from Google on “evidence that masks don’t work.” Heavy hitters like Mayo believe that masks can help slow the spread. Not that they are a cure-all, a panacea, or even perfectly effective — just that they can help slow the spread.

    • Deaths may not be as high as in previous waves, but we’re still seeing a lot of hospitalizations, and increasing rapidly. Let’s not kid ourselves and think it’s a binary between “dead” and “fine”. It’s not just the elderly that get sick enough to require hospitalization, which is expensive and distressing. And people have experienced significant impacts months after the illness has “passed”.

      Calling the vaccination an “uncontrolled medical experiment” is disingenuous at best. All of the vaccines have gone through controlled studies just like every other vaccine you’ve received in your life.

      • Thanks Ben, for these right-up-the-middle words. I don’t know what lies between “dead” and “fine” for vaxxed people who get COVID, but I’m not eager to find out how that would go for me.

    • tbm3fan says:

      There is so much I could take issue with this being a doctor but I won’t. If someone wishes to be, how should I say it, ill informed, then so be it as long as they keep to themselves and don’t drag anyone else with them. I have run into the ill informed over 40 years of practice, and will continue to run into them, so I let them run their merry way when they know better than me. My wife is in the health care field and we both had the original Covid but what would we know.

  2. Andy Umbo says:

    As I’ve stated before, having actually read the constitution in it’s entirety (back when I worked for the census), I can state that there’s nothing in it that allows people to have the “freedom” to participate in behavior that causes death and damage to other people! For the most part, a lot of local and state constitutions DO have the ability to mandate behavior in a health crisis as well. BTW, there’s no data that suggests that masks aren’t effective. Cheap cloth masks that a lot of people are wearing ARE NOT anywhere near as effective as an N95 mask, and even a blue paper nurses masks, when made by a professional med supply company, have a much higher level of filtration than almost any cloth “fashion” mask. Just shine a light through it, if you can see pin-points of light, it’s really not filtering.

    If this was 1950, and the uneducated republican anti-science factions were setting policy the way they are trying to do today; half the country would be in an iron lung with polio!

    I had to laugh about three weeks ago, when I saw footage of Mitch McConnell begging people to get vaccinated! I think he finally woke up and figured out it was his constituency that was dying!

    • “I can state that there’s nothing in it that allows people to have the “freedom” to participate in behavior that causes death and damage to other people!”

      Andy, I can’t let this one go by. The Constitution does not grant rights to the citizenry. It limits the federal government’s infringement of rights that exist inherently in a free citizenry. The 9th and 10th Amendments make clear that what powers not granted therein (or not prohibited to States therein) are reserved to the States or to the people. Courts have stretched government’s power beyond recognition, but every such exercise of federal power must be justified. In other words, the burden of proof is on the government to prove it has the power, not on us to prove it doesn’t.

      • Andy Umbo says:

        BTW, I say this about the constitution absolutely BECAUSE every time a see an uneducated right-wing doofus on TV, he’s telling me that the constitution gives him the right to not wear a mask, which, it of course, does NOT, as you so succinctly put my friend!

  3. We have had a horrific increase here in BC as well. It seems the standard Canadian policy of asking people to please do the right thing is completely ineffective on morons. Well here’s hoping the vaccine is effective against the variant strains the non-compliant have allowed to blossom and spread. It’s bad enough not being able to draw a lung full of air without sucking in fire ash; if you’re infected with a pulmonary virus as well …

  4. Just like the common cold and influenza, Covid is not going away. It appears that the vaccines largely protect against Covid attacking the heart, lungs and other internal organs but not against upper respiratory effects. Not surprisingly, this is very similar to the way the flu shot works. People still get the flu but the vaccinated don’t get as sick as the unvaccinated.

    Given that Covid is here to stay, each of us will have to decide how much control we are willing to cede to the authorities on a continuing basis and get on with living our lives.

    Notice how COVID has become Covid in many contexts. We’ll know we’ve reached steady state in the public mind when it becomes covid.

    • In time, I hope we have vaccines and treatments for COVID like we do the flu, and we won’t need to take steps to protect each other from ourselves like the authorities ordered us to in 2020.

    • tbm3fan says:

      Although the pathophysiology of COVID-19 has not been fully elucidated, several evidences pointed toward the strong involvement of proinflammatory cytokines in the genesis of systemic hyperinflammation, multiorgan dysfunction and death [9]. Such observations provided a premise that immunosuppression could potentially be beneficial in COVID-19. However, higher comorbidities, increased rate of intensive care and in-hospital mortality were observed in immunocompromised COVID-19 patients, indicating the potential risk of immunosuppression in COVID-19

      https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21505594.2021.1943275

      Call it collateral damage as it is your particular immune response. So how can that be dealt with. The Delta variant has shown the ability to create a greater response in those who would have had a limited response to the Alpha variant. That means those under 50 to children who will now succumb. To me this is where public health and safety override an individual freedom. An analogy would be where we all stop at a stop sign/red light hopefully. If we don’t someone could get killed by running the light so we suppress our individual right to do as we please in order to protect the public safety.

  5. DougD says:

    Jim, you and Margaret should come and sit with us and talk it through. Foreign nationals can enter Canada if double vaxxed and tested, although there is some rigmarole there’s no more quarantine.

    Anyway we are getting more cases too, but most importantly it’s not translating into more deaths or hospitalizations. Since single payer healthcare doesn’t have any slack built in it’s most important to keep the system from being overwhelmed. In Ontario we’re still wearing masks indoors but we’re so used to it now it’s not an issue for 98% of people.

    Tammy gets hesitancy from a lot of her long term clinic patients (who have survived bone marrow transplants) and has a pretty good track record of bringing them on board.

    “Ok you’re worried about putting this vaccine in your body. I put chemotherapy in you, destroyed your immune system then replaced it with entire immune system of a random stranger. And you’re worried about a vaccine?” She has to be good at it because her patients are much more likely to die from COVID, some have. :(

    • Thank goodness it’s not leading to more hospitalizations or deaths. Not just because of the health system, but because we don’t want more hospitalizations or deaths just on the face of it!

    • Ok you’re worried about putting this vaccine in your body. I put chemotherapy in you, destroyed your immune system then replaced it with entire immune system of a random stranger. And you’re worried about a vaccine?

      Brilliant!

  6. An interesting and perhaps useful piece of history regarding the Spanish Flu pandemic after WWI. In the first year about 1,000,000 deaths. In the second year about 50,000,000 deaths. It is still to early to think we have won back any freedoms I think….

  7. Sam says:

    “Yet I am loath to give up the freedoms we have only recently won back. I don’t mind masking up in the store, but every part of me wants to pretend that my vaccination will cover me when I sit at a bar or enjoy a burrito in the Mexican joint around the corner.”

    I have been reading your posts examining the pandemic handling in Indiana with interest but this sentence was surprising. I am outside the country, but like many Americans, have two children whose lives were completely upended by the pandemic. They and their peers have endured a lot to protect vulnerable people in the population and they have done it willingly. In my city, children are finally back in school but must be tested three times a week (sometimes more) and wear masks all day at their desks. Workers and the vaccinated in restaurants and bars can take their masks off at tables, and can eat and drink with abandon.

    Children under twelve remain vulnerable – not only in terms of their health, but also in terms of their access to education and social development. I do not believe they feel free of this virus. Our societies and governments must continue to do all we can to protect them in the same way they have protected us.

    • I’m not sure why my sentence was surprising. I was just expressing my feelings — it felt so good to get these freedoms back and it sucks to think I’ll have to give them up again. That’s it.

  8. Indiana’s government is dysfunctional? Here in Mississippi, our douchebag Governor Reeves is trying to compete with DeSantis and Abbott as to who’s the most red of them all, regardless of how many people get sick or suffer. The start of the school year has turned into a real shitstorm with thousands of kids needing to be quarantined now. This is the lowest vaccination percentage state. Some of that is due to poverty and lack of health facilities in parts of the state, but much of it is due to the MAGA mindset and the endemic ignorance and stupidity.

  9. Peter in Savannah says:

    This whole controversy reminds of a statement attributed to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.:

    “Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.”

  10. Kurt Ingham says:

    I like your last comment. Unfortunately ‘science’ has a pseudo-religous meaning for many-they base their faith on it. ‘Science’ is often subject to error and influenced by fashion-seldom if ever absolute. Scientific inquiry is a great thing, and has created marvels but it isn’t even close to being infallible

  11. Christopher May says:

    My wife linked to this article on Facebook:

    https://www.tampabay.com/opinion/2021/08/10/what-we-now-know-about-how-to-fight-the-delta-variant-of-covid-column/?fbclid=IwAR2jptmE_g8SYNZt_8qxEbojhYXsulzFv6oiAvSyOXjvDkZ1MemqPOvy6To

    Like you, I was loathe to start masking up again, especially given the fact that I’m fully vaccinated with the vaccine with the highest efficacy. The article has given me some clarity on why I need to go back to the old, new norm of masking and I’ve been donning mine again whenever I’m indoors.

    I’ll be honest and say that I hate this. I hate that so many people turned this into a political fight and that Delta has gotten such a strong hold on the country because of that. I hate that I can’t take my daughter to indoor venues like restaurants, museums, family gatherings, etc. because she isn’t vaccinated and from what I’ve read, likely won’t be until sometime in 2022 because of her young age. The hardcore anti-vax, anti-mask crowd keep clambering on about their rights. What about hers? Why can’t I take my daughter to these kinds of places and apparently won’t be able to for some time yet?

    It was precisely that sentiment along with the points made about the Delta variant in the article that have caused me to rethink my personal approach to wearing masks again. I loved those couple weeks of mask freedom but things have changed again and it’s time for me to once again do my part to fight this for the ones who can’t get vaccinated against such a highly transmissable virus.

  12. If people think it is their right to not be considerate to others, especially those that cannot take vaccine for medical reasons, shouldn’t they be responsible for their own belief? The government should stop wasting my tax dollars on treating these people when they fall ill to COVID-19 virus. Unless there is pre-existing medical condition that vaccine is not advised, people who chose to skip vaccine should pay for their own medical bills. Announce the withdraw of this backstop is not heartless now that Pfizer vaccine has been granted full approval. Get the jab or pay for your own treatment, which has gotten much less study than any vaccine.

    • I understand where you’re coming from and there’s a part of me that wants to go along. But on the other hand these are real lives with people who love them and I can’t in good conscience let anyone die from this who doesn’t have to — even if their own poor choices put them in peril.

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