☕️ Coffee & Covid ☙ Tuesday, December 7, 2021 ☙ 100% UNEMPLOYED 🦠
An Omicron update; surprising headlines; NYC mandates jabs for private employers; Nevada surcharges uninjected employees for tests; an Israeli study endorses natural immunity; new FL numbers...
Happy Tuesday, C&Cers! Today’s roundup includes: an Omicron update and some surprising language in major media headlines; New York City mayor de Blasio sets a new mandate record; Nevada charges uninjected workers for testing; Ghana, of all places, illustrates the problem with public health mandates; a letter in the Lancet goes there; a new Israeli preprint study give high marks to natural immunity compared to injected immunity; a funny headline and a funny comment by the Governor; and Florida’s new numbers show the winter wave has probably arrived.
🗞*COVID NEWS AND COMMENTARY* 🗞
🔥 Omicron update: cases involving the new Omicron variant are popping up everywhere the officials look for it. But the good news is that the variant — while it does seem even more infectious than Delta — is very mild in symptoms. In fact, as of late yesterday, there have been ZERO deaths reported involving the new variant. Initial tests suggest that natural immunity is just as effective against Omicron, even if the variant can escape injection immunity to some extent.
Some scientists are speculating that Omicron may actually herald the end of the pandemic. The timing would be consistent with when the 1918 pandemic ended, about two years in. The reason they think this might be the end is that, because it is so infectious, it could out-compete all the other strains; since it is so mild, most folks will get sick and recover without even knowing it, rushing the general population to final herd immunity.
Major media had some surprisingly mild takes on the news. The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed yesterday headlined, “Omicron: Keep Calm and Carry On.” If that’s not enough of a signal that the Narrative is dead, I don’t know what to tell you. I feel like framing that headline. For 18 months, papers couldn’t run an article without using the word “worry” in the headline. At last we’re back to “keep calm.”
The op-ed by Marc Siegal starts this way:
“The Omicron variant may be what we need to learn to live with Covid, especially if it turns out to be much milder than Delta, as it appears, and overtakes it. That would signal the actual end of the pandemic and the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 into an endemic, far less dangerous pathogen.”
The New York Times wasn’t quite as optimistic, but it still had a completely new tone. While it didn’t tell folks to “keep calm,” it DID say not to panic, if you can believe it. In an article yesterday, the Times’ subhead said, “World leaders and public health experts have urged people not to panic — and to get vaccinated, if they can.”
NOT to panic.
If it’s true that Omicron is less virulent, it would be exactly how viruses normally act — they evolve to become more transmissible and less virulent. It only takes one good variant to end a pandemic for good. And the fact that the media is rejecting the public health crowd’s hot-take on Omicron is significant evidence that we are close to the end.
💉 Outgoing New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has announced the first ever municipal vaccine mandate covering all private employers. Compliance with the mandate is due on December 27, three days before the mayor leaves office. The mandate excludes states and municipal workers.
Specific guidelines — including, presumably, some kind of enforcement mechanism — won’t be out until December 15 — twelve days before the deadline. And ever more remarkably, de Blasio didn’t justify the mandate by any particular emergency: the mayor said the new policy was “pre-emptive.” That is, it’s aimed at a FUTURE hypothetical emergency.
According to the New York Post, last week the Big Apple had a per-capita death rate only about one-third the United States’ average. Pretty good, but still too high for some people. Dr. Mitch Katz, head of the city’s hospital system, told the Post, “We desperately want everybody vaccinated so that we do not have to have any more death in New York City. We have gone through enough.”
No more death in New York City? They think they’re defeating death. Remember what I told you about the high-functioning mental illness.
Representative Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) wondered how many more New York employees would become Covid refugees in Florida because of the new mandate. “Mayor de Blasio can’t leave fast enough. He has crushed small business, the economy and quality of life. How many more New Yorkers does he want to see move to the free state of Florida?” she asked.
We’ll take all the good ones.
💉 Nevada is also getting real with its uninjected workers. On Thursday, it became the first U.S. state to surcharge uninjected employees, although the penalty won’t take effect until July 2022. The surcharge, +$55 for the employee and +$175 for dependents, increases health insurance premiums for public employees in Nevada to “offset the cost of testing.”
The surcharge — which ignores natural immunity, healthy lifestyle, and lack of comorbidities — was compared to surcharges for smokers. It’s JUST LIKE smoking. Because Science!
If they can surcharge employees for this, they can surcharge them for any lifestyle choice. And they will. So get ready.
🔥 A Ghanian official justified the country’s laws criminalizing homosexuality recently by explaining, “Public health. To stop the spread of HIV.”
See how it works?
🔬 A new Israeli preprint study in MedRxIV titled “Protection and waning of natural and hybrid COVID-19 immunity,” compares natural immunity to injection-induced immunity. Guess which one was stronger? You got it, on the first guess.
The study concludes that:
— Naturally immune have a far lower infection rate than injected.
— Naturally immune have a lower infection rate than Injected then Recovered from subsequent infection.
— Naturally immune then Injected have only a slightly lower (almost imperceptible) infection rate than naturally immune without injection.
For severe cases, the researchers found:
— Naturally immune: 0.5 severe cases per 100K
— Naturally immune + Injected: 0.6
— Injected then Recovered: 1.1
— Injected only: 4.6 — nine times (9X) the naturally immune!!
— Boosted: 0.4 (only for the first 0-2 months, though)
🔬 The Lancet published a letter last week titled, “The epidemiological relevance of the COVID-19-vaccinated population is increasing.” That’s a fancy way of saying, “pandemic of the vaccinated.”
After reviewing the most recent worldwide numbers, including the fact that the CDC ranks four of the top five most-injected countries as having “high” transmission rates, the letter concludes:
> “Many decisionmakers assume that the vaccinated can be excluded as a source of transmission. It appears to be grossly negligent to ignore the vaccinated population as a possible and relevant source of transmission when deciding about public health control measures.”
“Grossly negligent” is even worse than just regular negligent. So.
🔥 The Babylon Bee ran a story yesterday headlined, “Unemployment Rate Among Cuomo Brothers Rises To 100%.” Dang it. I wish I’d thought of that one!
🦸♂️ Governor DeSantis checked all my boxes yesterday when he was reported to have said in a press conference, “Our medical workers have been on the front lines since the start of the pandemic. There’s a nationwide shortage of health care professionals, but instead of getting people back to work, Biden followed the ‘science’ of corrupt bureaucrat Dr. Fauci.”
Corrupt bureaucrat! Okay, it’s not “puppy-torturing money launderer” but it’s still pretty good.
📊 *COVID IN FLORIDA AND ALACHUA COUNTY* 📊
Florida cases ticked up a little, signaling the start of the expected winter wave. I’m not surprised to see the bump, since I’ve been waiting for this signal of the winter wave for the last two weeks. Last year, the winter wave inaugurated around Thanksgiving. This year, the week ending November 25 was probably 2021’s fall minimum. In other words, the winter wave is basically right on time.
🔥 The big mover was Florida’s “R-naught” — the number that predicts whether cases will increase or decrease in the future. It shot up quickly from 0.40 last week to 1.54 this week. Figures over 1.0 signal increasing cases, whereas if it is under 1.0, the cases are predicted to fall. So, this is the most compelling evidence that we aren’t just bumping around the bottom but are almost certainly headed into our winter wave.
— Cases ticked up from 9,663 last week to 10,892 in this report. Cases per 100K also ticked up, from 44 to 49.
— Hospitalizations were pretty much flat, increasing marginally from 1,247 to 1,298. Only 2.3% of all hospital beds in the state were used for Covid.
— Covid-positive deaths were down from 44 last week to 35 this week — pretty much flat. These small numbers don’t really tell us much.
— Here in Alachua County, the positivity rate scraped the bottom, falling from 2.3% to only 1.8%. The minimum in June, before the summer wave, was 2.0%.
Let’s get ahead of this thing! I’d like to see an education campaign directed at Covid-naive folks, teaching them about prevention and early treatment if they’re symptomatic. I also hope that the state starts re-staffing the monoclonal centers so we can keep folks out of the hospitals.
Have a terrific Tuesday, and I’ll see you back here tomorrow for more.
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