|The new mask rules from the C.D.C. amount to an honor system of sorts, where only unvaccinated people are expected to keep wearing masks in most places. But many Americans are wondering whether they can trust others to do the right thing.
|In social psychology, there’s a well-established principle that a common enemy is supposed to bring people together. But shortly after the pandemic arrived, the U.S. saw a partisan divide over masks, screaming crowds outside state capitols and death threats against health officials.
|It quickly became apparent that, even in a crisis, Americans were finding it difficult to come together. So it’s no wonder that the federal government’s new mask guidance has been greeted with reluctance — especially when fewer than half of Americans over 12 are fully vaccinated.
|Celeste, a newsletter reader from Dayton, Ohio, wrote in with her own experience.
|“The first day of The Great Unmasking at work went exactly as you’d expect: people who have previously bragged about not being vaccinated walking around without masks on,” she wrote. “Assuming people would act unselfishly to protect others goes against everything we’ve seen so far this pandemic.”
|The C.D.C. is also asking Americans to trust one another at a time when faith in institutions and their neighbors is particularly fragile. According to a 2019 Pew Research Center report on Trust and Distrust in America, trust in the federal government was near record lows, and seven in 10 people said they thought that Americans’ trust in one another had declined over the past 20 years.
“Betrayal is the wound that cuts the deepest.”
Boise State Public Radio
Most people in the Mountain West are still unvaccinated. Idaho has the second-lowest rate in the region with only 34% of its residents getting one or more doses.
COVID-19 vaccine supplies are now abundant – nationally about 60% of adults have had at least one shot.
“At least here in Casper, (Wyo.), you can go to the clinic and pick one of the three vaccines. It’s like a menu: I want Moderna, I want Pfizer, I want Johnson & Johnson. We have that much vaccine now,” said Mark Dowell, an infectious diseases physician and Natrona County health officer.
Even so, most people in the Mountain West are still unvaccinated. And Wyoming has the region’s lowest vaccination rate with about a third of residents with at least one shot. Idaho is a close second at about 34% of its residents with one or more doses.
To achieve herd immunity, epidemiologists have suggested we need about 70% of people to be immune, though that number is hard to pin down without more research.
Dowell said we also don’t know how many people actually were infected with COVID-19, how many of those built up antibodies, and how long those antibodies might last.
“We think that for every one infection, there may have been one or two more that had symptoms that went undetected,” he said.
Even if we could figure out how many were infected, he said we still have one big unanswered question: “Of the people that had the infection but didn’t know it, did they get good protection from their immune system to add to our herd immunity?”
We also don’t know how long the vaccines will stave off the virus, though many expect them to offer protection for at least a year.
Dowell says it could take several months to figure out how much of the virus we’ve stopped, saying, “The proof of the pudding will be next fall and winter when everybody’s inside again.”
At the same time, areas with low rates of immunity and high rates of spread could allow the virus to mutate into a more dangerous strain.
“That’s another reason to get vaccinated, to head off the mutations,” he said. “The worry is that you’ll find a variant eventually that will not really be covered by the vaccines.”
Dowell said he is continually talking to patients who believe in false conspiracy theories about the vaccine, ranging from it causing infertility to vaccines actually being tracking microchips from Bill Gates. At the same time, he still hopes he can convince more people to get it.
“When you’ve seen people die horrible deaths from COVID, it changes your perspective on things,” he said. “I had a close, healthy friend that died of COVID way before we had the vaccines. And it was a rough death. I sat at his bedside as he died, as we took him off the ventilator … it’s rough.”
Guest essay on why novelty means severity, and why so many questions about variants, children, Long Covid, endemicity and more revolve around that very notion by Dylan Morris, PhD.
. Nothing in this pandemic makes sense except in the light of novelty.
‘…wealthy countries have two choices for how the global pandemic ends: via natural infection or via vaccination. We should choose vaccination.’
‘Remembering that novelty means severity helps us see that the vaccines provide cause for hope, even if SARS-CoV-2 manages to stay with us for years. SARS-CoV-2 might stick around; the COVID-19 pandemic will struggle to do so.
But it also makes clear that those of us in wealthy countries have two choices for how the global pandemic ends: via natural infection or via vaccination. We should choose vaccination. And we must commit to that choice now. We don’t have much time.’
I continue to think where we’d be as a country right now with this pandemic if it had not been allowed, and encouraged, to become political. Hundreds of thousands did not need to die. -dayle
“One day some historian will look back and say how remarkable it was that these strange folk who called themselves ‘Americans’ governed themselves at all, given how they went about it.” -Michael Lewis [p.78.]
💯%: “…this was a major blunder that threatens to set back much of the progress made. President Biden needs to fix it, urgently […] for the public good.” -Dr Leana Wen
While many people happily shed their masks and celebrated the apparent end of the pandemic, others are concerned that with only 37 percent of the country fully vaccinated, this relaxation is premature and could lead to a resurgence of infections
The CDC’s mask guidance is a mess. Biden needs to clean it up.
This was an astounding strategic and tactical mistake. It will have lasting repercussions unless the White House steps in to clean up the CDC’s mess. As a start, the administration should clarify that while vaccinated people are generally not at risk, the unvaccinated are still at high risk. Therefore, if there is no reliable way to verify vaccination status, indoor mask mandates must still remain in place.
“We do not have enough vaccinated; we are seeing frequent emergence of new variants[…]Relaxing NPIs (masks/distancing) before adequate vaccine coverage could result in tremendous loss of potentially averted cases, hospitalizations & mortality.” -Dr. David Pate, Idaho Covid Task Force
Please. Just a little while longer.
This is the only herd we’re going to have if you don’t vaccinate.
COVID is here to stay. With so many hesitant, and anti-vaxxers, it is now believed we will never reach herd immunity in this country.
What will the psychology and existential remains be as we settle into a new existence? -dayle
Dr. David Pate, Idaho COVID task force:
“I am very pleased with many of the efforts being made to address vaccine hesitancy, but we lost our chance a year ago to rid ourselves of this virus and unfortunately, I suspect we are unlikely to reach herd immunity given more and more evidence that prior infection is not going to be as protective as we had hoped, the unwillingness of people to follow guidance that would allow us to control disease transmission and therefore the evolution of variants, and the currently inadequate numbers of people willing to be vaccinated. Most likely, we just have to prepare for SARS-CoV-2 to be endemic.”
[Christakis is a physician and sociologist who explores the ancient origins and modern implications of human nature. He directs the Human Nature Lab at Yale University, where he is the Sterling Professor of Social and Natural Science in the department of sociology, medicine, ecology and evolutionary biology, statistics and date science and biomedical engineering.’]
‘…and frequent funeral piles of the dead were continually burning.’ -Homer, The Iliad
‘Humanity has but three great enemies: fever, famine, and war; of these by far the greatest, by far the most terrible, fever.’ Sir William Osler 
New York Times
“The story changes daily and so do the prognostications about where this pandemic is going, how it will end (insofar as it ever does end), what toll it will take and whether it will serve as a critical inflection point, or not, for how we humans live on this planet. Will it deliver a deeply absorbed lesson, not just on disease preparedness but also on climate change and vanishing biological diversity, the three greatest problems we are facing and causing? Or will it drain away and be forgotten, as the 1918 influenza pandemic largely drained away, its lessons ignored and its grim particulars seemingly blocked from public memory for decades? Along with the prognostications we’re also getting postgnostications (it’s not my neologism), efforts to understand the past by predicting what happened: Where did this virus come from? A wild animal? Which animal? How did it manage to be so nefariously well adapted for human infection? How did it get into us at the start? Has it evolved since?
Given that Christakis is a physician and sociologist, the co-author of an earlier book about social networks and how they shape lives, the co-author also of an influential paper on “social contagion theory” and the co-director of the Institute for Network Science at Yale, one naturally expects that “network science” might afford him special insight into Covid-19.
Dr. David Pate serves on the Idaho COVID task force. He is the former President & CEO of St. Luke’s Health, receiving an MD in internal medicine from Baylor College of Medicine, and a JD in health from University of Houston Law Center.
Many of us who live in Idaho are exhausted by a politically polarized legislature, none more than Dr. Pate who continually puts the health of Idahoans first, while the state legislature does not. (Many whom are less than intellectually sound and gravitate to red hats, but, hey, that’s a personal take.)
Here is a recent thread from Dr. Pate’s twitter feed as we head into a potential fourth wave of COVID while states like Mississippi and Texas reverse mask mandates and open businesses. Idaho just introduced legislation this week that would eliminate mask mandates in certain communities, like Blaine County and McCall. Governor Brad Little never implemented a state-wide mask mandate. -dayle
As Idaho Republicans keep introducing bills, I have to continue to rearrange to a new one to the list of stupidest bills. This is ridiculous. Legislation Introduced That Would ban Mask Mandates in Idaho.
I warned school board members in the middle of February: Please don’t commit to bringing students back for full in-person classes given admin admitted that we would have to decrease physical distancing. I warned that the UK variant behaves differently in schools and it is likely to become the dominant strain right as you plan to bring all these students back. At that time, the UK variant accounted for about 1% of cases. Today, just two weeks later it accounts for an estimated 10% of cases.
That is a doubling time of 5.6 days.
Using some simple math – with West Ada’s plan to bring everyone back in 26 days – that would mean 4.5 more doubling times = the UK variant will indeed be the predominant strain, in fact, unless we find that one of the other variants (maybe the California variant?), out-competes it, it will completely replace the previous variants on which their whole operating plan was based. I should know- I wrote it.
This variant [P1] has shown up next door, Idaho. I guarantee you this is not the time to give up masks & physical distancing, & I have no idea why elected leaders think we should have larger gatherings. Brazil’s Covid Crisis Is a Warning to the Whole World.
Brazil’s Covid Crisis Is a Warning to the Whole World, Scientists Say
Brazil is seeing a record number of deaths, and the spread of a more contagious coronavirus variant that may cause reinfection.
Dr. Pate can be heard on Boise State Public Radio’s ‘Idaho Matters’, every Wednesday, KBSX radio, or online streaming. Also available via podcast.
From the Washington Post this afternoon, 3.4.21:
Health officials continue to criticize Texas and Mississippi’s moves to rescind mask mandates and let businesses operate at full capacity.
The nation’s top infectious-disease expert, Anthony S. Fauci, called the choices “ill-advised,” while some local officials begged residents to keep wearing face coverings. Previously plummeting infection totals in the United States have stalled in recent days, possibly because in part to the spread of more contagious variants.
Many businesses in Texas and Mississippi were quick to remove their “masks required” signs, but some of the country’s biggest retailers – including Target and Starbucks – said they would continue to mandate masks in their Texas stores to protect front-line workers and customers.
Meanwhile, Europe is also experiencing an end to six weeks of declining case numbers as the virus mounts an unwelcome resurgence. New cases have risen by 9 percent in the past week, with central and eastern Europe impacted the most. World Health Organization officials attributed some of the increase to a more contagious variant, first detected in the United Kingdom, that is driving an outbreak in the Czech Republic and Hungary.
From Dr. Anthony Fauci:
Public health officials have been warning of a possible fourth wave of the pandemic should the nation let its guard down, especially since the seven-day average of new cases remains at roughly 65,000 in the U.S.
“I don’t know why they’re doing it, but it’s certainly from a public health standpoint ill-advised.” If you look at, right now, the curves of the diminution of infections that are going down, it’s reached the point where the last seven days have plateaued. We’ve been to this scene before, months and months ago when we tried to open up the country and open up the economy, when certain states did not abide by the guidelines, we had rebounds that were very troublesome.”
Earlier in the day, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky acknowledged that a year of restrictions was helping to fuel a worrisome change in behavior.
“Stamina has worn thin,” Walensky said during a press briefing Wednesday morning. “Fatigue is winning, and the exact measures we have taken to stop the pandemic are now too often being flagrantly ignored.” [Yahoo News]