Category Archives: Covid

this and that on St. Stephen’s

Isla learning her rope routine in rhythmic gymnastics below.  She will compete / perform her rope routine for the first time in January.

Our flight from Santa Rosa was canceled both the day before and the day after we flew, but thankfully we got home on time.  We had a very relaxing Christmas and have barely left the house since we got back from CA.  I have been working, but in a relaxed sort of way – the way you work when the office is half empty and you feel like anything you get done is gravy because everyone else is slacking.  I’d hoped to go skiing, but it’s been so warm it’s been raining on the ski slopes.  On the plus side, I’ve been able to run in shorts today – it was 51 or so for my run today.

See below for our tree in all its glory.  I do love having a beautiful Christmas tree.  It brings me joy every time I look at it.   We have given up cutting trees, something I used to be very enthusiastic about, and just get a tree from our local grocery store.  Next year, of course, it won’t be our local grocery store any more.  We’ll be living in a whole new place.

My Dad finally got Covid, and I thought it might be useful to share his experience.  My Dad is 81, and he has fairly severe high blood pressure (multiple meds) but is otherwise in decent shape.  I don’t think he shares with me the full extent of his medical issues, though.  He had surgery in this year in January or February, and the recovery was a struggle.  Needless to say, I was worried about how he might fare if he got Covid.  I’ve encouraged / hassled my parents to get every shot available to them, but I was insufficiently annoying or persistent this winter, and so he hadn’t had a shot since spring.  In other words, he’d had four shots in total, instead of the recommended five.  When he tested positive, I obviously regretted not being more persuasive about getting this fall’s shot.  My parents intended to get it but were just being kind of lazy and felt they’d gotten lots of Covid shots; did they really need another?  While I’m very skeptical about the need for, say, college students to get another booster or for 3-year-olds to get a shot of unproven efficacy, I am 100% on-board with all the shots for oldsters and feel that yes, they did need to get another shot.  One thing I did do right was mail them Covid tests periodically and remind them regularly about the importance and value of testing if they experienced symptoms so they could get Paxlovid, which greatly reduces risk of hospitalization.  If you have elderly or vulnerable parents, relatives or friends, and you think they won’t take the initiative to get tests, I highly encourage you to send them some.  Paxlovid is a game-changer, but many people won’t get it promptly because they don’t have tests or don’t know how to use them or don’t understand or know about the importance of Paxlovid.

In any case, my Dad experienced very mild symptoms Tuesday evening and more significant symptoms on the Wednesday (fever, coughing) and tested that evening.  He started Paxlovid Thursday morning.  Covid turned out to be extremely mild for him, a day or two of fever and mild to moderate cold symptoms.  He felt that Paxlovid gave him insomnia but nonetheless finished it.  In other words, Covid was mild and NBD, thanks no doubt at least in part to the vaccines and Paxlovid.

Meanwhile, my Mom and Dad took no precautions whatsoever to prevent passing it to one another, but my Mom never caught it.  (She took three or four tests.)  Her last vaccine was six months ago, and she’s almost certainly never had it.  Crazy!  But obviously I’m super happy.  The thing about Covid is that you never know who’s going to get seriously ill.  Anyone over 65 is potentially at risk.

Meanwhile, my brother’s MIL just tested positive.  They have a two-week-old baby and of course they were socializing together over Christmas.  If you read my blog, you know that I am fed up with Covid caution and in general am pretty anti-paranoid about Covid, the flu, RSV, etc.  But with a baby under 12 weeks, I always favor caution.  Before Covid, I personally went nowhere for the first 12 weeks of my kids’ lives.  Not to the grocery store, not out to eat, literally nowhere except for a walk or to the park by ourselves or whatever.  We wore masks before they were a thing when S came home.  Tiny babies are just so vulnerable.  I’m very worried about the little one.  Hopefully everything will be OK.

dystopia in the offing

Locally, there has been a lot of hysterics about flu and other respiratory illnesses in the news.  I think this is also the case nationally, though to a lesser extent.  So, let’s look at the numbers.  Source: CDC.

The CDC has two major sources of flu data.  From the first source, we have the following plot.  Note the x-axis is week number, 1 to 52, and is 1 to 2 weeks behind.  (In this case, the data is from the week ending 12/3.)

Now, one data point does not a trend make, but we’re talking about a lot of data here.  It’s not particularly noisy.  My very strong suspicion is that we’ll see at worst a plateau next year and more likely a drop.  Here’s their second source of data:

In this plot, which covers the same dates, the trend is very clear.  The peak has passed.  In fact, the peak was nearly a month ago – the week from 11/13 – 11/19.  And yet, reading the news, you’d believe quite the opposite, that we were building to some kind of flu crescendo.

Next question, is this flu season historically bad?  I’ll give you one guess.  Answer: almost certainly not.

The trend line to the far left is this year.  Clearly, flu season began earlier this year.  Is that “worse”?  I think that’s unclear.  Mainly, I would argue it’s different, and not bad I think Covid has yet to peak.  If hospitals are “overflowing,” you can’t blame the prevalence of flu.  Levels are similar to those in two of the last three “real” flu seasons.  And how do those flu seasons compare historically?  2017-2018 was on the high end, and 2019-2020 was pretty average to low.

Of course, there could be a double hump.  You can see that’s happened in a few seasons.  Let’s hope for the best.  But so far, I see no reason for panic and hysteria beyond what the media used to drum up before Covid.

What is interesting to me is that here in WA, we actually are having a more severe flu season than usual.  Why?  I’m guessing it’s because this state was far more aggressive in mandating masking, closing schools, shutting down extracurriculars, and getting people to work from home, so we probably have zilch in the way of natural immunity.  Of course, the graph is absurdly unhelpful since it has only one data point on it – 2019-2020.  We haven’t had a normal flu season since then.  It would be a much more useful chart with more than one past data point.

Of course, the giant headline splashed across the front of Seattle Times was a dire warning to mask up.  With some difficulty, it’s possible to extract useful data from public health agencies, but at this point, I don’t trust a word they say.

It’s time, Washingtonians: You should resume regularly wearing a mask indoors, if you haven’t already.

The new guidance from 12 county health officers and 25 hospital executives is fueled by the region and country’s surge in viral respiratory illnesses — mainly influenza and RSV, though COVID-19 numbers are beginning to creep back up.

Please note that the reasoning for the strong guidance to mask is based on the flu and RSV.  Will someone wake me up from this fucking nightmare?

The flu is expected to continue circulating for months, according to the officials’ advisory released Friday.

“As health officers and health care leaders working to improve the health of Washington residents, we recommend that everyone wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask when around others in indoor spaces to protect against both acquiring and spreading these infections to others,” according to the advisory.

Gotta love this gem:

Because emergency rooms are so packed with patients, doctors recommend instead going to an urgent care clinic if you have non-life-threatening injuries or illnesses, including coughing, wheezing, sore throat, mild dehydration or fever.

Really?  So if my emergency room is not crowded, I should go there if I have a sore throat or fever?

You might say, oh, this just a public health recommendation.  It’s not a mandate.  Well, in Washington state for the last nearly three years, mandates have generally followed “recommendations” with a two week lag at best.  I pray that is not the case this year, but I guess we’ll see.  I am so sick of the mandates, and I am also sick of worrying about it.  I want to live in a place where I don’t have to worry about whether I’ll be able to find a preschool I can send S to that won’t require masks.  (As a side note, the awesome outdoor preschool we sent the older girls to was a casualty of Covid and doesn’t exist anymore.)

Covid in Seattle

There are so many examples of harm done by stupid pandemic policies, but just in case you need another, here it is.

The jail discontinued group activities, classes and in-person family visitation at the outset of the pandemic as a way to reduce COVID-19 transmission, but those policies have continued as the jail grapples with an understaffing crisis.

Families of people in jail custody have cited the jail’s shutdown of in-person visitation and programming like Narcotics Anonymous and group religious services as contributors to their loved ones’ deteriorating mental health.

What a surprise that the jail seized the opportunity discontinue services with Covid as an excuse, and more than two years later, they’re still stopped.  How horrible that they’ve stopped in-person family visitation!  Disgusting.

Between August 2021 and July 2022, four people died by suicide in the downtown jail or in the hospital following a jail stay, a rate more than four times the national pre-pandemic jail average, according to Seattle Times reporting.

These are small numbers, but for all the people who actually manage to kill themselves, imagine how many others must be in a state of despair.

But don’t worry . . . they’ve got a 2-year plan to restore visits.  Yes, a 2-year plan.  By 2024, people will be able to have visitors again.  Can you imagine?  I’m no bleeding heart and don’t spend a lot of time worrying about criminals, but this is ridiculous.  I think a lot of people and organizations have shown their true colors in their response to the pandemic.  And Biden is right, the pandemic is over and has been for a while.

Meanwhile, Seattle libraries had 130 closures this summer.  Yes, 130.  You really couldn’t make this stuff up.  Seattle librarians are STILL required to wear masks.  (Yes, those books are apparently still dangerous.  Remember the ones they were quarantining for 72 hours for a solid year?)  Libraries used to close at 85 degrees, which is rather unusual in Seattle.  Now they close at 80 degrees, which is far more common.  Why?  Because the masks make it unsafe to work in temperatures above 80.

the reign of terror

Here in Seattle, the Covid reign of terror continues.  The girls’ school theoretically lifted their mask mandate a few weeks ago but with a caveat – if anyone in the class tests positive, everyone has to wear a mask for ten days.  If anyone who has contact with multiple classes tests positive (like a teacher or aide), the entire school has to wear a mask for ten days.  What this boils down to is that the girls have had like three days of mask free school.  It just makes me so furious I want to break things.  Effectively, the school still has a mask mandate.

They are also still requiring PCR tests to return to school after illness (of any kind) which means a mandatory two to three day stay home if you keep your kid out for a cold.  Furthermore, they continue insane levels of surveillance testing – anywhere between one and three tests a week, depending on I don’t know what.  Isla will take at least five Covid tests this week alone since she was at home sick and had to take a couple extra tests.  (In addition to the PCR to return, an immediate lateral flow is required so they know whether to impose masks on everyone else at school.)  Isla has taken well over a hundred Covid tests.  Are we approaching two hundred for her?  I don’t know.  What a waste of resources!  My Dad has taken less than five, all but one mandatory before medical procedures / surgeries.  What kind of madness is it to test healthy low risk kids dozens or hundreds of times for a disease that poses little or no risk to them while high risk elderly adults almost never test?

Remember L’s field trip to Mt. Rainier that I had to get the extra PCR for (despite the daily rapid testing planned)?  Well, that was canceled because someone at the Mt. Rainier Ins.titute apparently got Covid.  I don’t know if the school canceled it or the institute did.  Either way, L didn’t get to go.

Meanwhile, outside of school, half the kids, including the ones we choose to hang out with, don’t wear masks and socialize freely and do sports and dance and have sleepovers and pass illnesses back and forth at will.  Everyone in our family has the same cold I’m sure that L’s best friend’s family are also struck down with.  (Ironically it originated with one of the little siblings; I’m pretty sure B has a crush on the boy from that family in her class.)  The Covid theater at school just becomes increasingly absurd.

And yes, I blame the Democrats for encouraging this nonsense.  Much as the overturning of Roe v Wade infuriates, alarms and honestly even frightens me, the Democrats nonsense is affecting our family negatively every single day.  To avoid Covid lunacy, we’ve changed so many aspects of our daily lives – changed the pool we go to (so I could get in the pool and be in the same lane as my non-swimming daughter), pulled L from the ballet school she was attending (to avoid virtual classes), applied to different schools (didn’t get in sadly), childcare decisions and on and on.  (Childcare here for the under 5s is completely and wildly unreliable due to covid closures.  I have a friend – a nurse! – who went to weekend part-time work because it became too difficult to manage canceling shifts due to daycare Covid closures.  Our governor also put out guidance advising eliminating all drop-in childcare – since you can’t have cohorts, and thus have different groups of kids mixing, which makes backup childcare even harder.)

another school rant

So, L’s school finally announced the end of their indoor and outdoor mask mandate, as of Monday.  However, this is the e-mail that I received:

The CDC and the AAP recommend masking indoors at school but does not require it. Therefore, FISW will recommend and encourage but will not require masking.

This is simply not true.  However, it is true that the CDC has failed to fully update their school recommendations webpage.  They have added a cryptic blurb at the top, but that’s it.  Talk about f*cking ambiguous messaging.  If you dropped an internet capable alien on earth right now, I doubt it could figure out the CDC’s position on school masking.  You have to go to here – which was very hard to find – to see their updated note that schools should follow community guidelines on masking.  The AAP national organization has updated its masking guidance here, but Washington state, as the e-mail suggests, hasn’t released a subsequent press release since early Feb.  Are we to conclude that they STILL believe all children should mask all day long in school?  I suppose so.  The whole thing makes me f*cking furious.

L is heading on a field trip to Mt. Rainier next week.  The fact that she is going on this field trip is a minor miracle.  It is the first non-virtual field trip since 2020.  However, I find it beyond absurd that I must get her a PCR Covid test 72 hours in advance.  Really?  You must be joking.  The sooner they end free PCR tests the better as people will feel less entitled to arbitrarily require them without rhyme or reason.  Mt. Rainier, in case this is unclear, is an outdoor destination.  Yes, they will be on a bus to get there – but with the same kids they’re with all day anyway.  I mean really.  Is this a joke?

(ETA: The kids are rapid tested once or twice weekly regardless, so the PCR is in addition to the normal rapid testing.)

But then, today, I got a permission slip for another field trip.  They’ve been making us sign permission slips all year long for VIRTUAL field trips which just makes my head hurt.  This one is non virtual but on school grounds.  Schools grounds are very small.  It’s not even clear to me where they’re going.  To the gym?  Why the hell do we need a permission slip for this?  It’s beyond absurd.

I was, however, pleased to see the nonsensical public transportation mask mandate lifted today.  The judge called it arbitrary and capricious.  I agree.  As a claustrophobe, I find plane travel unpleasant at best.  Wearing a mask makes it worse.

Now, if I could just shop for new glasses without a mask.  I went to the optometrist today, and I can totally get how the patient area where they’re checking your eyes is a medical area, but the front where you’re shopping for glasses?  They also clean any pair of glasses you touch, which makes me feel guilty about trying them on because then they have to go through this whole disinfection process.  The good news is that my eyes are almost holding steady.  I’m at -7.25 in the left, up from -7.00, but only marginally.  At this rate, I won’t go blind before I die.

rant coda

The thing with my frustration with Covid restrictions is that it gets stoked every day, often multiple times a day.  For example, today I received an e-mail with a bunch of Covid nonsense in it, including the following gem:

Additionally, as per our Covid protocols, valentines must be brought in on Friday, February 11th to quarantine before they are passed out on Monday, February 14th.

Does the CDC recommend we quarantine Valentines?  Why the hell are we quarantining Valentines?  When will this insanity end?  Every day I believe more strongly the answer is “never.”