Category Archives: Covid

Daily Covid

From WaPo:

“I think the central issue is that vaccinated people are probably involved to a substantial extent in the transmission of delta,” Jeffrey Shaman, a Columbia University epidemiologist, wrote in an email after reviewing the CDC slides. “In some sense, vaccination is now about personal protection — protecting oneself against severe disease. Herd immunity is not relevant as we are seeing plenty of evidence of repeat and breakthrough infections.”

Yes, CDC is acknowledging what is becoming very obvious.  The vaccine does a great job of protecting against infection initially, but that protection wanes – rapidly.  75% at three months, 67% at four months, 44% at five months, and 16% at six months.  Anyone who says that people have a moral obligation to get vaccinated to prevent the spread of Covid is not looking at the numbers.

That doesn’t mean there is no moral obligation to get vaccinated.  The real risk of Covid is straining hospital capacity, resulting in substandard care not just for Covid patients, but for the heart and cancer patients – both diseases which kill far more people than Covid does annually.  80% protection against hospitalization at 6 months is excellent for anyone under 65 who’s reasonably healthy.

Israel is now providing boosters to all its citizens who are 5 months out from their vaccine and age 60 or older.  My parents got their vaccine 6 months ago.  My Dad is pushing 80 and has a host of health issues.  Same for my MIL.  When is the FDA and CDC going to get their act together and offer him a booster?

Other thoughts: I was a big advocate for “persuading” people to get vaccinated.  The persuasion has been done, and I am sure a lot of people got vaccinated as a result.  But it’s over.  No one is getting persuaded any more.  It’s time for vaccine mandates.  I think what’s being done in NYC and with federal workers is a great model.  Get your vaccine or get tested (at least) weekly.  Or find a new job.  Naturally, such rules haven’t been enacted in Washington.  It’s also no surprise that the national teacher’s union has come out against it.  NYC unions want to get paid overtime to go get their Covid test.  You must be kidding me!

In fairness, I did read today that the likelihood of myocarditis in teens is six times higher as a result of Covid than as a result of the vaccine.  I figure in many areas, including where I live, a teen has substantially less than a 1 in 6 chance of contracting Covid, especially if they lead a relatively tame lifestyle (no clubbing or hookups).  My teenage self would never have caught Covid.  Anyway, this implies that it is more dangerous for a teen to get the vaccine than not.  And I don’t think it’s right to mandate vaccination in this scenario, given that the vaccine is still considered experimental.  So, if I were king, I’d be very aggressive about mandating vaccination in workplaces and educational institutions, but only for ages 25ish and up.  But WA’s attitude with regard to Covid is “suffer the children” so you can be sure that we’ll be leading the way mandating vaccines for kids when adults are still happily lallygagging about vaccine free.

Bad news from Israel

Have you been watching the news out of Israel?  It’s not good.  Here’s the source from the Israeli government.  And here’s the money plot:

The two numbers of greatest interest are:

  • After six months, the Pfizer vaccine is 16% effective against symptomatic Covid infection
  • After six months, the Pfizer vaccine is 82% effective against hospitalization.

First, the 16% number.  This is supposedly adjusted for age, but the bottom line is that the Israelis just don’t have that much data for people who’ve been vaccinated for six months and then had Covid.  We’ll have to wait and see if this is consistent for younger folks with potentially stronger immune systems.    But the trend seems very clear from the chart.  Until we get better news, I think the most likely outcome is that your vaccine is starts losing effectiveness against symptomatic infection almost immediately, and it starts dropping off sharply at four months.  This is extremely troubling.  Because vaccinating the bulk of even a highly willing population (like Newcastle) every four months is impractical at this point, barring technology innovation, herd immunity is not possible with this disease.

The newspapers are not citing the 16% number.  It’s dishonest of them not to given who excited they get about citing case numbers.  (Oddly, I haven’t seen any coverage of the UK’s dropping case numbers either.)  They’re also not citing the 82% number, which is also very important.  There is a big difference between 95% (20x) protection and 82% (5x) protection.   For those of us in the 18-49 age-group, our risk from Covid is about 10x that of the flu.  In other words, with an 80% effective vaccine, we’re back in flu danger territory.  We’re safe.  But for the 65+ set, Covid is at least 36 times as dangerous as the flu.  Divide that by 20, and you’re in good shape (though the flu is a lot more dangerous for 65% than for younger people.)  Divide that by 5, and you’re still at seven times as dangerous as the flu, which for older folks is not great news.  Not terrible news, but not great news.

There’s always a worse road than the one you’re traveling on, though.  Australia just extended it’s Sydney-area prison-like lockdown until the end of August.

vent

King County just reissued a mask mandate.   I am so fucking sick of this nonsense.  Not vaccinated and get sick?  NOT MY PROBLEM.  We have a 75% rate of being fully vaccinated anyway.  Newcastle, where I live, has a rolling average of 1.6 cases per day and a vaccination rate over 90% in the 12+ cohort.

1.6

There have been two hospitalizations this year, for one day each.  Two days.  Total.

People in South King County aren’t vaccinated and are getting sick?  NOT. MY. PROBLEM.

I recently learned that my kids will miss two weeks of school this fall due to Covid quarantine.  Why?  We’re going out of state in late August, the week before school starts, and again in October for Fall break.  According to the CDC, if you leave the state and are unvaccinated, you must self-isolate for 10 days, or take a Covid test and self-isolate for 7 days.

Have kids?  Left the state lately?  For the next week after you get back, that means no daycare, no school, no camp, no grocery store, no camps, no trips to the park.  No interaction with other humans of any kind for your kids.

If you live in a “free state” you’re probably not even aware of this.  But if you live in King County, it impacts your life directly because schools and daycares adopt and enforce the rule.

Soon they’ll probably start asking women for proof of birth control before they let you drink at a bar.  Except that in King County, the bar will probably be closed.

I have to say that I would not move to King County at this point if I lived elsewhere and had a job opportunity here.

I’m still wondering if they’re actually going to open schools full time this fall.  With Delta, it seems likely that Covid levels will be higher than in the spring (when they opened less than 6 hours per WEEK for the last month for middle and high school).  And the vaccine was highly effective against the variant circulating at that time.

Covid exposure thoughts

I’m curious about what people think about self-isolating if you have been exposed to Covid.  I have a friend who is married with two kids.  He and his wife are both vaccinated; his kids are too young to be eligible.  One of his two kids was exposed to Covid at daycare.  Both his kids and his wife ended up testing positive.  Neither child had any symptoms whatsoever.  His wife had moderate cold symptoms.  Because all of the three who tested positive did not do so simultaneously, because it took time for the kids to test negative (despite not showing symptoms), and because it took a while for the wife’s cold to go away, their total “self-isolation” time is a month.

Now, if you’re in the UK, self-isolation means you do not leave your property – at all.  Not for any reason.  You don’t have anyone over to your house for any reason.  You do not answer the door.  If you have housemates, you may not be in the same room as them (non-family members – if family, all should isolate), and you must clean the bathroom “thoroughly” after each use before anyone else can use it.

In the US, self-isolation probably has a definition, but I don’t happen to know what it is.  My friend has not stayed home.  They go out, just not around other people.  They might go to a deserted park or whatever.  They haven’t gone to work or out to eat or had any visitors.  So not as bad as the UK version by a long shot.

Still, for a family of four, having no contact with other humans is a lot.  Especially for my fully vaccinated friend who has not even tested positive.

This makes me wonder – is all this really necessary?  If there is a vaccine available, why should anyone without symptoms isolate?  Vaccination reduces hospitalization 97%.  That means the already relatively low percent of Covid patients who require hospitalization is further reduced by 97% (or thereabouts).  And if you aren’t vaccinated, and you get sick, tough luck, as far as I’m concerned.  Obviously, if you’ve had a Covid exposure, you shouldn’t go visit a nursing home or your friend who has cancer.  It probably makes sense to stick to outdoor socializing and wear a mask at work.

What do you think?

I think this is a very pertinent question because Delta is spreading so rapidly, it seems inevitable we’ll be exposed sometimes in the next year or two.  Granted, a booster is coming, but by then there will be a new variant.

From the WSJ:

If you haven’t had Covid yet, you will. If you’ve had it once, you’ll have it again. If you’re vaccinated or were infected previously—which will one day be most people except the very young—your symptoms will likely be mild or nonexistent, but it’s not guaranteed. Words the CDC says about the flu it will say about Covid: “Vaccination is especially important for people 65 years and older because they are at high risk of developing serious complications from flu. Flu vaccines are updated each season as needed to keep up with changing viruses.”

life in the time of Covid

88% of people in my health district (a subset of the county) ages 12 and up have gotten at least one vaccine shot.  More than 80% have completed the series.  (Those who have only one shot are disproportionately young.  More than 95% of the 80+ contingent, for example, are fully vaccinated.)    In my city, we are averaging 1.4 positives a day.  There have been no deaths since September 2020, and there have been two total days of hospitalizations for residents of my city since January (one person for one day in March, one person for one day in April.)

The Pfizer vaccine is highly effective.  I am well past my second dose.  Even against the “delta” (Indian) variant which is purportedly more contagious than the UK variant which is currently dominant in the US (and has been since Dec / Jan), it is ~90% effective after two shots.

And yet . . .

  • My county still has a mask mandate.  I ignore it unless the vendor has a sign up, but King County residents are required to wear masks indoors AND outdoors at all times, vaccinated or not.
  • My grocery store, in defiance of the mandate, has a sign saying masks aren’t required if you’re vaccinated.  I started going in without a mask the last couple days, and I feel like I’m not wearing a shirt.
  • There are still 50% capacity restrictions everywhere.  This means, for example, that if you want to go “out” to eat (we haven’t eaten indoors since Feb 2020), you need to show up by 5 sharp in most places.  It means that I get a daily e-mail from the pool saying they’re at capacity and not to come in without calling first.  (We are having a heat wave.)
  • There is still all manner of silliness.  For example, my daughter is at art camp this week.  I must fill out an affirmation within TWO hours of the start time of her camp every day stating that our family is in optimal health.  She (of course!) must wear a mask every day.  If she wants to have a snack or a drink, an instructor will take her to a special “isolation” area where she can safely take off her mask to eat or drink.  At pickup, I must fill out a form saying I’ve arrived so she can be escorted out to avoid any crowding at the pickup area.

Washington state is supposed to reopen at the end of the month.  And yet, Seattle will be having a “virtual” fireworks show for the second year in a row.  Other cities, like Newcastle (where I live) and Kirkland have canceled their events.  Bellevue will be having live fireworks, but to discourage attendance, they will not have music or entertainment or any other activities.

You might think, oh I’ll just spend the day at the park, but the nefarious county officials do things like lock park gates and close parking lots to discourage people from leaving their homes, and naturally, encourage house parties, which are so much safer!  (At least from litigation.)

Wouldn’t want anyone congregating at an outdoor picnic shelter!

Make sure you wear a mask if you go into the individual cubicles to use the bathroom!  Most parks in Seattle have actually closed their brick and mortar bathrooms and replaced them with porta potties because of Covid danger.

Pick up dog poop to save us all from Covid!

Be sure to wear a mask, even if you’re cycling or running alone!  And come prepared with hand sanitizer.  (No, I am not going to carry hand sanitizer when I go for a run.)

Wear a bandana!  Or a niqab!  But not a triple layer surgical mask well fitted around the nose – you know the type of mask actually shown to be effective.

The library has purchased chairs to replace the couches they used to have, lest two strangers dare to sit next to each other!  The chairs are carefully placed AT LEAST six feet apart.  Don’t move them!

Libraries are VERY dangerous places.

More bathroom instructions.  Using the bathroom is extremely dangerous in the time of Covid.

All these photos were taken in the last few days.

Covid never ends in Seattle

I don’t know why the ongoing Covid restrictions make me so crazy.  Their impact is not that great.  I think it’s just that I KNOW that half the people in this country are living their lives as normal, while in Washington, that’s still far from the case.  Ongoing restrictions, large and small.  Mostly small, but seriously annoying in many cases:

  • Capacity, indoors and out, is generally restricted to 50%.  As an example, since highs here are generally in the 50s or 60s, I wanted to let Bri sit in the hot tub for a few minutes after swim.  She is often so cold she cannot even put on her own sandals.  But the hot tub is not large enough for the post-swim demand with the 50% restriction, so they’ve closed it completely at that time.  My solution is to no longer have Bri attend swim unless the high is at least 65.  I’m not sure it was that warm on any day this week, though I’m hoping it’ll get warmer soon.
  • 2/3 of local libraries are closed.  Our nearest library that is open is a 30 minute drive away.  Libraries are only open one hour at a time, followed by an hour being completely closed for cleaning.  Typically, the few that are open are open only three or four hours a day.  What exactly are they cleaning?  And why are they still quarantining books?  Because of the 72 hour book quarantine requirement, our local library, which is never open for entry, only accepts books returns during very limited hours.  (That enables them to ensure the full quarantine period for the books.)
  • I could not pick up my daughter’s glasses without setting up an appointment in advance so they could insure that my 2 minute entry to pick up the glasses (which I’d already paid for – literally just needed someone to hand me the bag) would not push the optometrist over their 50% capacity limit.
  • Masks are still required in most locations, including outdoors.  For example, masks are required at the pool, and based on e-mails from the pool, will be required all summer to “protect the children.”  Never mind that in most cases, the children are in the pool, not wearing masks, obvs, while the adults are all on the pool deck waiting for swim lessons or swim team or whatever to finish.  I’m not sure what magic powder they’ve put in the pool to make it safe for the kids to be mask-free, but it must be pretty special!  More than 85% of adults in my area have had at least one shot, and 70% are fully vaccinated.  And we’re OUTDOORS.
  • King County, where I live, still requires masks at pretty much all times, except when running or cycling alone, or for SMALL private gatherings at which 100% of people are fully vaccinated.  Needless to say, if you were to enter, say, a grocery store without a mask, you’d be shot dead on the spot.  Or surrounded by taunting shoppers who believe you’re a pro-Trump, anti-vax, Covomaniac.
  • If any member of our family leaves the state for any reason (say to visit my MIL, who’s dealing with serious health issues), our kids have to miss the next two weeks of school.  To comply with state guidelines (which we would merrily ignore), our entire family would need to get tested for Covid and quarantine for seven days – no grocery shopping, no running, no contact with other humans of any kind.  Or for ten days if we didn’t get tested.  That’s even if we set foot in Oregon or Idaho.  Insane!  This is true even for Jonathan and I, who are fully vaccinated.  We still have a month of school left, and Jonathan is obligated to spend a certain number of weeks in California every year for work.  As it stands now, those are all going to have to happen in the summer.

The local newspapers take?

This isn’t normal. Not yet. It is the necessary middle step to get to that long-awaited destination, though. Mask up and be patient. Every vaccination brings the end of the pandemic closer.

OoooKaaaay.   Last time I checked, vaccination worked.  Either open up now, or mandate vaccination.  One or the other.  And if 85% vaccination isn’t sufficient, what the heck is?

 

after the vaccine

Jonathan got his second shot yesterday.  This is him under pretty much every blanket we have in the house, dealing with chills.  He was about as sick as I have seen him in the last few years, which is mostly a reflection of the fact that he pretty much never gets sick.  Hopefully the reaction means that the vaccine was extremely effective!

I was very happy to see the new CDC guidelines yesterday.  It’s hard to take “the science” seriously when it doesn’t make any sense.  Sadly, Washington seems in no hurry to actually follow the guidelines.  I getting particularly tired of performative *outdoor* masking.  We had a meeting about L’s swim team last night, and masks must be worn pretty much all the time, unless you’re actually in the water.  Further (and worse), no parents on the deck, VIRTUAL swim meets, etc.  It’s making me crazy.  One dose of Pfizer or Moderna is HIGHLY effective, and if you haven’t gotten a vaccine dose yet, I find it hard to feel sorry for you if you get sick.  I am totally on board with continued masking in medical settings, but can I please watch my daughter swim the 50 free in a swim meet?  Is that really too much to ask?