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☕️ Coffee & Covid ☙ Saturday, February 12, 2022 ☙ OMICRON PRESSURE 🦠
Bloomberg questions masks; Pfizer pushes toddler jabs; Universal goes maskless, mostly; Norway drops all restrictions; Uganda opens up; the federal employee mandate stays enjoined, for now; & more...
Happy Saturday, C&C! Today’s roundup includes: Narrative 2.0 pops up in a Bloomberg article about how masks DON’T work; Pfizer pushes toddler jabs; Universal goes maskless, mostly; Norway drops all restrictions; Uganda opens up; the federal employee mandate stays enjoined, for now; a CDC study shows waning booster efficacy; a trucker update; the South African doctor who discovered Omicron reveals pressure to recant; a Florida weekly update, and more.
🗞 *THE C&C ARMY POST* 🗞
🪖 We continued to work to stop HB 7021 all day yesterday, organizing health freedom activist groups and talking to donors. Look for Rapid Response orders coming early next week.
🗞*COVID NEWS AND COMMENTARY* 🗞
😷 Bloomberg published a remarkable article this week headlined, “Mask Mandates Didn’t Make Much of a Difference Anyway.” The subhead says, “The policies clearly didn’t stop omicron. Let’s focus on tactics that have worked better.” My goodness.
As with other long-form mask mandate editorials lately, it is really aimed at lockdowners. It says mask lovers “need to take a deep breath: Dropping mask mandates isn’t the same thing as ignoring Covid-19.” First the article questions whether any scientific evidence supports masking: “there’s no avoiding it: The benefits of universal masking have been difficult to quantify.” It points out some obvious problems, “the states with mask mandates haven’t fared significantly better than the 35 states that didn’t impose them during the omicron wave.” It also implies that something is … well … OFF with American mask lovers: “In other countries, mask mandates have been imposed and lifted with little or no rancor.”
But why? Why don’t the beloved masks work? This is all so complicated. Bloomberg agrees it is “complex;” that’s why it took so long to figure out. The answer is that “given the current understanding that the virus is transmitted in fine aerosol particles, it’s likely an infectious dose could easily get through and around loose-fitting cloth or surgical masks.” Remarkable! When did they discover this astounding new theory?
Bloomberg cherry-picked an expert for the article who, of course, agreed with the new narrative. “It’s absolutely appropriate to relax mask mandates as cases drop below a threshold, particularly in areas with high vaccination and particularly once hospitals are not in crisis mode,” said Megan Ranney, an emergency medicine physician and a dean at the Brown University School of Public Health.
It tries to soften the blow a little for mask fans. The article says you can keep your mask if you want one. “Future policies should focus on helping people understand their risks and making sure everyone who wants a supply of N95 masks can get one,” it said. But it is clear, it’s time to move on. Otherwise you could be seen as … selfish:
Americans are not selfish — we think about protecting society too — but we’re deeply divided about what our obligations should be. One way we might ease our tensions is by putting the role of mask mandates in perspective.
See? They don’t SAY, not directly, that you’ll be selfish if you fight the great de-masking. They just put the word “selfish” right next to the idea of keeping things in perspective, to show you where this whole thing could go if folks don’t get in line and stop complaining.
💉 Yesterday, Pfizer unexpectedly announced that it will push back its submission to the FDA for EUA approval of the jab for kids under five. “The extension allows the FDA time to receive updated data on the two and three-dose regimen, conduct a thorough evaluation of it and facilitate a robust, public discussion,” Pfizer said in a news release.
Lovers of jabs for toddlers were distraught, expressing their keen disappointing online in various twitter threads about the announcement.
😷 In festive news for theme park fans everywhere, Universal Orlando announced this week that the resort will no longer require fully vaccinated guests to wear face coverings anywhere, indoor or outdoor, effective today (Saturday, February 12). The change is really an end to ALL park mandates, for everybody, because Universal does not require proof of vaccination, which would be needed to enforce mask mandates on unjabbed people, and the announcement only says it will “encourage” — not require — uninjected park-goers to wear masks.
What do you want to bet this will work out the EXACT OPPOSITE? Meaning, anyone you see at Universal wearing a mask will be vaccinated, and all the ones showing their faces will be the unjabbed. Isn’t that funny? They should just change the signs to say “VACCINATED people are encouraged to wear masks” but that would trigger Karen. And then she’d have to pull her mask down to ask for the manager. No bueno.
I think that Universal, home of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the first major theme park to effectively lift all Covid restrictions. So.
🔥 Norway scrapped its final Covid restrictions yesterday, despite being in the middle of an Omicron surge. Who cares about cases! Norwegians can now look forward to seeing faces, no mask requirements between the hostess stand and the table in restaurants or anywhere else, no more social distancing, and no more self-isolating requirements.
The Nordic country’s official government travel website was upbeat about the news, saying :
One gets the sense that the staff in the travel office was just a little excited by the news.
🔥 The BBC reported Thursday that Uganda’s schools — closed for two years now — have finally reopened. The Beeb reported that Uganda, which has had some of the world’s strictest lockdowns, is now moving to fully reopen its economy — despite being at the start of its Omicron wave.
🔥 On Wednesday, a Fifth Circuit federal appeals court denied a Biden motion to reinstate the federal employee vaccine mandate while the Court considers a lower court’s injunction stopping the mandate’s enforcement. The Biden Administration could use the denial to take the case up to the Supreme Court. But so far this week, the Administration has NOT appealed the decision.
🥃 A new study — from of all places, the CDC — concluded that Pfizer and Moderna boosters lose most of their efficacy after only about four months. The CDC found that after more than five months, vaccine effectiveness even fell to as low as 31%. The study also reported waning immunity from the real world, after the third jab in Israel and in preliminary reports from the CDC compiled during Omicron.
You have to think the CDC made every possible assumption in favor of the jabs. The spin on the study was tthe hopeful argument that, while their beneficial effects don’t last very long, the drugs “still provide significant protection in keeping people out of the hospital during the Omicron surge.”
Well. That’s not what the study says, at all, except that if the Omicron surge is shorter than four months, I guess the aspirational comment about keeping people out of the hospital “during the Omicron surge” could be correct. The whole article was about jab efficacy against HOSPITALIZATIONS.
📈 The Wall Street Journal published an article Thursday headlined, “Higher Inflation Is Probably Costing You $276 a Month.” The paper calculated the ‘average’ cost to American households from the stunning 7.5% jump in average prices between January 2021 and 2022. I think we all know from personal experience that the 7.5% number is low.
Most economists expect the fed to start raising rates soon to combat the rising prices. For example, one PBS article published yesterday was headlined, “Inflation hits 40 year high, reinforcing Fed’s decision to raise interest rates.” The article doesn’t mention anything about a Fed decision, though.
Rising interest rates hamper borrowing ability, which reduces other economic activity like home purchases, for example. Higher interest rates are politically unpopular, making them seem unlikely during an election year, and could trigger Carter-like. So personally, I doubt that this Fed will raise rates this year in any significant way, but will allow inflation to run wild for another year.
🚛 Bloomberg reported that US and Canadian officials are “working together” to re-route traffic around the trucker protests that are blocking various border crossings.
Bloomberg also reported yesterday that, apparently spurred by the Canadian Freedom Convoy, trucking-related protests have arisen in France and New Zealand.
Yesterday afternoon, feckless Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau publicly threatened the truckers, labeling them criminals, and saying that “all options are on the table.” ALL options. He summed it up like this:
I want to make something very clear. The illegal blockades seeking to take our neighborhoods and our economy hostage, and the collective Covid fatigue we are facing, are two very separate things. If you joined the protests because you are tired of Covid, you now need to understand you are breaking the law… you don’t want to end up with a criminal record… We’ve heard your frustrations with Covid, with the measures that are there to keep people safe. We’ve heard you. It’s time to go home now.
🔥 The Daily Mail UK reported Wednesday that the South African doctor who first discovered the Omicron strain revealed she was pressured by ‘scientists and politicians from around the globe’ to describe the variant as more dangerous than it really is. “Because of all of Covid’s mutations, all of these scientists and politicians who aren’t from South Africa were contacting me telling me I was wrong when I spoke out, that it was a serious disease … they were telling me I had no idea what I was talking about, they kept attacking me,” Dr. Coetzee said. “There has been a lot of pressure from European scientists and politicians who have said ‘Please don’t say it is a mild illness’.”
This is shocking. Politicians pressuring scientists to say false things about Covid? Shocking, appalling, and surprising. And I’m SURE this was just a stand-alone incident; it’s never happened before. Fortunately. Thank goodness that science is usually independent from political pressure.
📊 *COVID IN FLORIDA AND ALACHUA COUNTY* 📊
The new weekly report shows Biden’s new push to “improve” hospitalization figures seems to be working; national hospitalizations plunged by about 30% since last week. Florida likewise shows falling numbers in every single category except R-naught. Our positivity rate is now down in normal ranges at 14.3%. Cases are about equal to the first real week of Omicron.
The trend in increasing R-naught over the last three weeks could just be the figure bouncing around inside a range, or it could reflect changing testing policies as schools and businesses relax requirements for negative tests.
Have a super Saturday, and I’ll see you back here on Monday for a fresh week of Coffee & Covid.
You can help get the truth out and spread optimism and hope: https://www.coffeeandcovid.com/p/-learn-how-to-get-involved-