☕️ Coffee & Covid ☙ Sunday, December 26, 2021 ☙ DE-COUPLED 🦠
C&C is back with a report and analysis of Florida's remarkable new weekly Covid update—is it a real pandemic yet? Plus, a post-holiday roundup of news from over the last few days.
Happy Sunday, C&C! I hope you all had a blessed and rewarding Christmas holiday. Given the unique Omicron experience and the remarkable statistics, not to mention two days without C&C, a special Sunday edition for everyone. We’ll start with Florida’s Covid stats today since things are so extraordinary. Then we’ll get to the roundup.
📊 *COVID IN FLORIDA — STATS AND ANALYSIS* 📊
Florida’s newest weekly report is out and … Wow! Omicron is DIFFERENT. Very different. And — this is critically important — because, and only because, of universal testing, intense focus, and widespread reporting we are in for a wild ride. The Omicron experience is NOT going to be like previous waves, not at all. And it looks like it’s going to be a whole lot better.
First, of all, Omicron BLEW OUT the testing stats this week:
— Cases jumped over 400% in one week, springing from about 30,000 the week before to over 125,000. We’ve never seen anything like it. The media lied to us repeatedly over the last two years by suggesting cases were increasing geometrically — “doubling” — but now it looks like that might actually be happening.
For comparison, at the peak of last summer’s wave, we hit 151,749 cases. At the PEAK. That was in the 10th week of the summer wave. At this point, we’re only in the third or fourth week of the winter wave, and we are now within striking distance of the prior peak.
Omicron is spreading. And it is spreading FAST.
— Florida’s positivity ratio almost tripled — in one week! — mushrooming from 5.4% to 13.8%.
— The Sunshine State’s cases per 100K ballooned by 420%, skyrocketing from 134 to 569.
— Our R-naught — the measure of how fast a virus is spreading — shot up from a cozy 0.59 to 1.68. Since 1.0 is the threshold point where an epidemic is either expanding (over 1.0) or shrinking (under 1.0), Florida is in the midst of a real, fast-expanding pandemic.
So, even without genetic testing, this HAS to be Omicron. It’s a guess, but it’s pretty safe bet. Delta didn’t spread anywhere close to this fast.
But, there’s a very bright side. Now look at what DIDN’T blow out:
— Despite the crazy-high cases, deaths fell. Reports of “covid-involved” deaths actually decreased from 39 to a record weekly low of only 29. This is especially remarkable because any Covid-positive death is counted, even if the person died from some other cause (allegedly excepting true accidents). With so many people testing positive, you’d expect Covid-positive deaths to also increase; at least, to some extent.
— Although weekly cases increased by almost +100,000 over the previous week, Florida’s hospitalizations increased by only +750. Again, since ANY Covid-positive patient is counted, regardless of whether they were admitted for Covid or some other reason and were asymptomatic, we EXPECT hospitals to report higher bed use when cases are rising.
So, CASES quadrupled — up by 400% — but hospitalizations increased only by about 45%.
THIS is de-coupling. Deaths and hospitalizations are NOT mirroring the increase in cases anymore. Until about two weeks ago, total weekly hospitalizations ran between 10-15% of total weekly cases. Not now. Now, hospitalizations are only 1.8% of cases.
Just look at the chart. Compare cases to beds, and then compare positivity rates to beds. You’ll see what I mean. There’s a clear historical correlation between cases, positivity rates, and bed usage. But not anymore.
Our 7-day case average as of December 23rd was almost 18,000, with only 1,900 hospitalized patients. But in the summer, there were over 12,000 hospitalized patients in the week we hit 18,000 average cases.
Back on August 3, over 25% of the hospital beds were in use for Covid-positive patients. But now it’s only around 4%.
The deaths report is even more remarkable. Our prior minimum was 32 weekly deaths, back in July. Then, after the summer wave, we nearly reached the same low point at 33 in the week of November 11. Death reports crept up a little, but then WHAM. We’ve suddenly been buried in cases — but deaths FELL to a new record low, even lower than the earlier minimum.
In other words, the deaths figures aren’t correlating to the case numbers. They’ve also de-coupled, like the hospitalization numbers.
If this season peaks after 10 weeks like the last one did, we could see nearly every Covid-naive Floridian infected with what seems clearly to be a non-lethal variant. And then the pandemic will be over.
It’s pretty exciting. And, it’s not AT ALL comparable to prior years.
🗞*COVID NEWS AND COMMENTARY* 🗞
🔥 I have never — not in almost two years — known so many people to have Covid at one time as I do right now.
One good friend and his wife had Covid last December — loss of taste and all — then got jabbed in July. Now they are Covid-positive again and having cold symptoms. They say the couple who sat next to them at church last Sunday is also sick and testing positive. Another friend, uninjected but Covid-naive, spent the weekend with flu symptoms and a positive test. Our church’s pastor and his family were out for Christmas Eve service with the flu.
And that’s just a start. I’ve lost track of how many others I’ve heard about.
My family, uninjected, unmasked, and living normally, is just fine. Not even a cold. And that’s even though I’ve been to the gym where almost everyone is unmasked and breathing hard. Well, they are breathing hard if they’re doing it right.
Think about this. Do you suppose ALL new cases are included in the 125,000 new reported Florida cases this week? Because I’m guessing that with the holiday rush, a lot of people who just had mild cold symptoms either didn’t get tested or tested at home. I’m guessing that the number of infected is actually MUCH higher than 125,000.
This thing is happening super fast.
🔬 A new Nature pre-print studying Omicron concludes — you’ll never guess — that the new variant is MORE transmissible and LESS virulent than previous variants. They analyzed Delta first, finding that due to the shape of its spike protein, it was actually both more transmissible and more pathogenic (virulent).
By contrast, the researchers found that Omicron was 3 to 5 times more transmissible than the highly-infectious Delta. The finding is not particularly surprising; any variant that overtakes the field HAS to be more transmissible than the previous dominant strain, by definition.
They also found that the new variant’s spike protein has a shape that makes it less virulent than not only the Delta variant, but also the original strain. In other words, it’s the least dangerous type of Covid of all.
🔥 Apparently, that single reported U.S. Omicron death turned out — you guessed it — to be not so much of an Omicron death after all. Public officials and media had reported that a man in Texas was the first American to die from the Omicron variant. But journalist Dan Cohen checked with the Harris County Public Health Department. He put the audio of his call up on Twitter — the department of health official clearly says they CANNOT conclude the man died from Omicron.
I know, you’re shocked about the spread of official misinformation. Somebody needs to shut down all those experts who are spreading false facts about Covid, am I right?
🪳 Last week, Doctor Fauci’s medical advice was to disinvite uninjected people from holiday celebrations. In an interview with MSNBC, reporter Alicia Menendez asked him, “If someone in your family isn’t vaccinated, should you ask them not to show up?”
“Yes, I would do that,” Fauci answered, adding, “I think we’re dealing with a serious enough situation right now that if there’s an unvaccinated person I would say, ‘I’m very sorry, but not this time. Maybe another time when this is all over.’”
Remember, “unvaccinated” now includes “unboostered.” That vaxx card is going to be critically important in the Fauci household. Assuming anyone was coming anyway.
Fauci is a jackass.
🔥 Here’s a link to Jeremy Redfern’s tweet guide to finding a monoclonal treatment site: https://tinyurl.com/yexea5te. This is a good resource for folks outside Florida who might need to find a place to get the treatment because their state isn’t particularly helpful when it comes to anything besides remdesivir and the vent.
🔥 According a tweet by his wife, New York Times’ Asia Editor Carlos Tejada suddenly died of a heart attack on December 17 — one day after getting his Moderna booster. He’d had J&J in July as his “original” injection. He was 49.
Now don’t run out there telling everyone he died from the shot. It could have been anything. You never know. It’s just another Covid coincidence.
🔥 Massachusetts announced it will activate 500 National Guard troops to help critically understaffed hospitals. Apparently, there aren’t enough doctors and nurses around. For some reason. I wonder what could possibly have caused this unexpected emergency shortage of critical healthcare personnel? Experts, baffled again.
🔥 Omicron is forcing changes to the paradigm. ESPN published an article headlined “NFL chief medical officer: Symptomatic players driving COVID-19 spread; no indications of asymptomatic spread.”
Remarkable! And here, I thought it was all because of asymptomatic people.
The sports media giant reported unironically that the new “position represents a significant departure from the pandemic-long stance of public health authorities.”
So who should we believe? Public health officials? The NFL? Our own eyes?
But the league has now tested more than 300 players as positives. And that’s not good for business. So, the NFL’s health director disclosed that the closely-monitored, constantly-tested league was only seeing spread by vaccinated people: “Once [the virus] replicates enough to cause you to have symptoms,” he said, “now there’s enough there for us to say that you’re going to be shedding it out in a live form to infect someone else.”
Too bad they didn’t let us know this earlier. It might have been helpful.
The announcement was ostensibly issued to support the league’s decision to halt testing of asymptomatic players, at least injected ones. They still plan to test uninjected players every single day, though, symptomatic or not. Because science.
🔥 The CDC issued some new emergency guidelines for hospitals, to help them prepare for a surge of Omicron hospitalizations. You might be thinking that they are going to stop firing doctors and nurses for not getting the shot. Nope. That would be ridiculous.
Instead — get this — the CDC announced it is SHORTENING QUARANTINES. That’s right. If a doctor or nurse gets Omicron, they no longer have to stay home for seven days and then get a negative test in order to come back to work. Under new “crisis” status, health care workers can return to work after only five days, and EVEN IF they are still mildly symptomatic, and now, even without testing.
Science! Seven days was always just a fluid concept anyway. Five days is fine. And who needs a negative test? Those things aren’t accurate.
You might be thinking that this is going to increase risk, but don’t worry! The CDC stressed that these workers will be required to WEAR MASKS whenever they are around patients. This is so hilarious. Like there’s any hospital anywhere in the country where healthcare workers are unmasked. Thanks CDC!
🔥 According to ABC-NYC, New York set another new daily record with +44,431 cases. But, the affiliate reassuringly reported that hospitalizations are still low compared to 2020, with only +4,744 new hospitalizations.
Isn’t it great that the news is now DOWNPLAYING the virus? Another Omicron miracle!
🔥 Media reports say that the travel restrictions on eight African countries will finally be lifted on December 31, according to anonymous administration officials. So that accomplished a lot.
🔥 WHO Director Tedros Something Something’s tongue slipped in an unfortunate way during an Omicron presser this weekend. He said, “It’s better to focus on those groups who have risk of serious illness and death. Rather than, as we’ve seen, some countries are using boosters to KILL CHILDREN. Which is not right.”
Kill children? Whoops! He’s not supposed to SAY that! Even if he’s thinking it, like the rest of us.
🔥 Finally, according to NPR, 23 House Democrats have announced they will retire and not seek re-election this cycle. There are 221 total Democrats in the House. That means more than 1 out of 10 of them have announced they aren’t running again.
Have a blessed Sunday, and I’ll see you back here tomorrow for more!
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