The Delta Variant Thrives in a State of Political and Public Health Discord

Yves here. It’s frustrating to see the reductivism in the reporting on the spread of Delta in the US, that “those bad deplorables” drowns out other factors. Vaccinated people are getting Covid and are playing a role in its spread, given that positive cases often show up in family clusters when they get tested to travel. As we’ve pointed out repeatedly, some lower income workers are reluctant to get vaccinated for totally sensible reasons. If they have a common “bad” reaction of being too sick to work, that results in the loss of hours and possibly even a job that they simply cannot afford. All the ads and “greater vaccine access” in the world won’t solve this problem.

In the meantime, city after city is starting to reverse itself on mask use. Los Angeles Country re-imposed an indoor mask mandate. New Orleans has adopted a “mask advisory” and may move to a mask mandate. I was just in NYC and Mayor Di Blasio rejected calls for renewed masking…no doubt because the city is hell bent on reopening Broadway and other live performances this fall. Tokyo Olympics redux?

From CNBC:

From Los Angeles to Massachusetts, local officials across the country are pleading with Americans to once again wear masks inside as the delta variant rips through the U.S.

Several counties across California and Nevada are now advising all residents to wear masks in public indoor settings — whether they are vaccinated or not. Local leaders in at least three more states have reinstated mask mandates, issued facial covering recommendations or threatened the return of strict public health limits for all residents — in defiance of federal health guidelines that say vaccinated people don’t have to follow those protocols in most settings.

I would rather not be right, but we did point out that the decision of Las Vegas to reopen for conventions would be one they’d come to regret. The first big show was for the World of Concrete in early June.

By Lauren Weber, Midwest correspondent for Kaiser Health News, covers how America’s health system is working — and not working — for patients in that region. Formerly a health policy reporter for HuffPost based in Washington, D.C., she has covered a wide variety of topics including Ebola and hepatitis A outbreaks as well as the health of migrant detainees. Originally published at Kaiser Health News

The day after Missouri Gov. Mike Parson finished his bicentennial bus tour to drum up tourism to the state in mid-July, Chicago issued a travel advisory warning about visiting Missouri.

Earlier this summer, as covid-19 case counts began to tick up when the highly transmissible delta variant took hold in the state, the Republican-majority legislature successfully enacted laws limiting public health powers and absolving businesses from covid legal exposure.

The state health officer post has sat vacant since Dr. Randall Williams resigned suddenly in late April — leaving Missouri without a permanent leader as the covid numbers grew. And Brian Steele, a mayor in the Springfield area, which is at the epicenter of swelling cases, faces a recall vote for his masking mandate that ended in April.

Hospitals in southwestern Missouri are overflowing. As of July 19, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show Missouri is worst in the nation for covid case rates over the past week, and in the bottom 15 states for vaccinations against the potentially deadly virus. Though cases are not even half of what they were during the winter spike, they continue to rise rapidly, sending a warning to other states with low vaccination rates about the havoc the coronavirus’s delta variant can bring.

Divisions abound in Missouri, where vaccines are widely available but only 40% of the state has been vaccinated. Public health mitigation measures to reel in the rising case counts would be wildly unpopular in a state that never had a statewide mask mandate. And the more the virus circulates, the higher the chance it could mutate further into something more transmissible or deadly, even for those already vaccinated.

Escalating political backlash to public health efforts has the state staring down the barrel of potential incoming disaster, said Kelley Vollmar, executive director of the Jefferson County Health Department.

“Missouri is the Show Me State,” Vollmar said, as the state has made headlines for its surging cases among its many unvaccinated residents. “I just wish we could do it for the right reasons.”

Kelli Jones, a spokesperson for the governor, said the national media spotlight on Missouri is misdirected. Flare-ups where vaccination rates are low are to be expected, she said, adding that hospitals in those areas may be strained, but that’s partly because a backlog of elective procedures are being performed during this iteration of the pandemic.

“When the national media catches on stuff, they don’t have all the full facts of all the details,” she said.

Jones and Lisa Cox, spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, both pointed to a $5 million multimedia campaign aimed at encouraging vaccinations. They have been heartened to see an increase in vaccine orders from vaccinators — this past week, it was more than triple the usual demand, Cox said.

Vaccines, however, take time to take effect.

Meanwhile, hot spot Springfield has requested state funding for an alternative covid care site to treat patients, saying health systems are at capacity. The Springfield-Greene County Health Department Facebook page shows the stark contrast between the vaccinated and those resisting the call, as it’s littered with warring comments, some containing vaccine misinformation.

Will Marrs, a lobbyist for the Missouri Association of Local Public Health Agencies, was born and raised in the heavily afflicted Springfield area. He’s been trying to persuade high school friends to get vaccinated but said it’s difficult to penetrate misinformation echo chambers.

Marrs blames national politics seeping into the Statehouse and the political lifeblood of Missouri, arguing state legislators are following national Republican Party trends instead of shouting from the rooftops about the importance of vaccinations. Earlier this month at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, attendees cheered over the country not hitting vaccination rates.

And the state’s Senate delegation shows the trend: Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican eyeing higher national office, has appeared on Fox News likening a vaccine misinformation initiative from President Joe Biden to a “surveillance state” that is “out of Beijing.” His counterpart, Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, who has frequently stressed the importance of getting vaccinated, is not seeking reelection.

“We’re in a crisis not only here in Missouri but around the country and the world, and we are acting like it’s just business as usual,” Democratic state Sen. Jill Schupp said of the Republican leadership in the state. “They have chosen to take the side that says, ‘I’m going to turn a blind eye to this, to this pandemic and to this variant, and I’m going to pretend like it doesn’t exist.’”

Parson has urged Missourians to get their vaccinations to prevent covid. But he also took a public shot at the federal government, tweeting: “I have directed our health department to let the federal government know that sending government employees or agents door-to-door to compel vaccination would NOT be an effective OR a welcome strategy in Missouri!”

Local public health workers, not federal agents, have been going door to door in Springfield and elsewhere in the state to encourage vaccinations.

Jones said some of the critiques that Parson isn’t doing enough to promote vaccinations come from an ideological divide: The governor does not believe the government has the power to mandate such things, much as he doesn’t believe in mandating masks, she said.

“It comes down to some personal responsibility; the governor said that from the very beginning,” she said. “And people are just gonna have to decide to, you know, hopefully, to get vaccinated.”

Amid the uptick in cases, the White House announced it was sending a “surge response team” to help Missouri.

That “team” currently consists of one epidemiologist on the ground in southwestern Missouri and a vaccination specialist offering virtual support, numbers based on what the state said it needed. Cox said the state is requesting more resources.

But two people — one remote — are hardly enough to combat decades of underfunding and a year and a half of political vitriol, said Brian Castrucci, CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation, which advocates for public health.

“We are being forced to apply band-aids where we don’t have the resources for stitches,” he said.

Back in eastern Missouri, Vollmar’s county is inching back up the covid case chart. She suspects everyone went to tourist (and delta) hot spots in southwestern Missouri over the Fourth of July.

While she’s thrilled to have the game-changing vaccine, only roughly 30% of Jefferson County is vaccinated. Unlike last year during a similar rise in cases, she feels she doesn’t have the political buy-in from her area for mitigation measures like masking. Candidates for her local school board ran and won on the idea of eliminating mask mandates in schools.

The state health department’s advisories to hot spots say “social distancing, masking, and other precautions remain important” but do not mandate them.

Vollmar also warned about a lack of funding for contact tracers and other public health measures needed for the wave she worries is coming. Funding has been slow to reach local health departments, much as it was last year when some county commissioners around the state withheld funding for local departments, angry about lockdowns and other restrictions. Platte County in the Kansas City area paid roughly the same in pandemic relief funding to a local cruise ship company as it did to its health department, which served nearly 90,000 people.

“We all hoped that once the elections were over, that this would die down,” Vollmar said. “If you don’t have the support of your leaders, you don’t have the support of the community.”

Without a state health officer coordinating the response or getting the ear of the governor, Vollmar said, local officials like her have been interacting more with federal officials. The governor’s office said a new director will be announced Wednesday. Cox said the acting director, Robert Knodell — formerly Parson’s deputy chief of staff, who does not have a public health background — had been “very involved” in the response.

A 2020 KHN and AP investigation found Missouri’s public health spending was one of the bottom 10 in the nation at $50 per Missourian per year before the pandemic. Missouri public health staffing had fallen 8% from 2010 to 2019 with the loss of 106 full-time employees.

Williams’ departure was one of at least 10 Missouri public health leadership departures amid the pandemic, according to another piece of the KHN and AP investigation. Nationally, that report found at least 248 state and local public health leaders exited — leaving nearly 1 in 6 Americans without a local public health leader for some length of time.

But Schupp asked, considering the recent legislation and political climate in Missouri, will any qualified state health officer want to come? “We’re not allowing anyone to do a good job,” she said.

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  1. a fax machine

    I’m expecting the political equivalent of a car crash before the end of the year. It’s clear that the government won’t figure this out. Biden’s “K-shaped” recovery will nosedive and then what? Do we have another ’round of bailouts and stimulus checks to fend off the inevitable? If half the country ignores the virus many, many people will get sick and prevent industry from operating leading to bigger supply shortages. If the other half refuses a true progressive (one might say, social) platform then we get banks tipping over when landlords aren’t paid. The government cannot allow a few pharmaceutical companies from essentially commanding the economy, and vice versa banks (who are supposed to fill that role) are incapable of stopping the virus or making people less sick.

    I’m way ahead on this but, considering the damage another lockdown will do, these are the conversations people must have now. Not in September. If one thing is clear, it’s that people can only be physically healthy when they have their material needs satisfied and they have a dignified existence. The lockdowns, in their present form, fail because they are not coupled with a broader social plan to manage the human elements in all this. Much of the healthcare here isn’t healthcare at all, it’s giving people a safe, air conditioned and ventilated place to stay so they don’t have to work 70+ hours a week. Only then do the conditions required for high social trust, cooperation and mutual disaster aid can occur. Sound familiar?

    1. vlade

      Here’s a prediction:

      The vaccines will work as said in the small print – reduce severe ilness – at least for a few more months.
      The hospitalisations will go up, but the severe ilness will be mostly in unvaccinated – cf Yves on why many of them are and will be unvaccinated.

      A great roar will go up from the vaccinated PMC, about the irresponsibility of the unvaccinated, and the govt will blame them too, with the prime example being the wild student parties that everyone can safely tut over.

      In the meanwhile, discaring of the all other rules and opening travel will mean that more mutations will come up. It highly likely that some of them will be able to avoid the antibodies. I cannot say how possible it is for them to be more deadly, as I don’t know what evolutionary pressures favour that.
      Big Pharma will rush to roll out boosters, and more pressure will be piled up to vaccinate the unvaccinates (see above), who will be blamed for it all.

      Early next year, we’ll be in a situation not dissimilar to say May this year, just post another CV wave “sucessfully seen off” by the vaccines. Maybe.

      TLDR; – vaccine silver-bulleting still has space to run till at least end of this year, as it hasn’t run out of “if only”ies.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I think now, insofar as they have a strategy, many governments have a PR approach to Covid – pretend the worst is behind us as soon as each wave subsides, and when a new wave hits, claim that its someone elses fault (deplorables, foreigners, random scientific stuff that couldn’t have been anticipated, etc).

        I think the huge problem that they haven’t anticipated properly is that economically this could be the absolute worst case scenario. All businesses open, but customers and staff fearful and not turning up, fiscal stimulation being withdrawn, and monetary tools becoming more useless.

        1. David

          I think governments are suffering from Micawberism – the belief that “something will turn up.” Governments in many countries have been so weakened and deskilled that this is actually a crisis quite simply beyond their capacity to deal with. They’re playing it long, and hoping that the crisis will just go away, or at least be reduced to manageable levels.

          1. KLG

            The affliction of our times…something will turn up. Actually, no. As was said of a friend of mine: One of these days he’s going to get into a situation in which no law of physics can help…We were talking about his freestyle driving, but as AFAIK that never happened to him physically. But regarding climate and coronavirus, we have fishtailed our way past about five exits that could have made a difference. The next exit will be one that says “No Return Access.” James Kunstler has been preaching this for 20 years. He has been right all along. The Long Emergency is now short. A question is whether there will be a short happy life like that lived in the end by Francis Macomber?

            1. JBird4049

              Didn’t his wife kill Francis Macomber using whatever wild animal he was shooting at as the cover? Makes me think that we have someone ready to do us in with the virus and, or climate change as the cover.

          2. PlutoniumKun

            I don’t know if its still widely read, but back when I was doing decision theory one of the most popular texts was ‘the Science of Muddling Through by Charles Lindblom. There are pretty good reasons sometimes for not making a firm decision until you really, really have to. Merkel has made an entire career out of it.

            The problem though is that viruses don’t seem to know much about, or respect human decision making constraints. Much the same can be said for the climate.

          3. Brooklin Bridge

            I suspect that Biden and Johnson agreed together that time was ripe to go for natural herd immunity to cover what the vaccines don’t while still opening up the economy. If true, it aligns somewhat with your suggestion that they’ve run out of ideas, other than to keep vaccinating, and are just hoping it will all work out. I would add only that they are under constant and no small pressure to open the economy back up regardless of cost in human lives. That pressure might explain some of the “deer caught in the headlights” inability to address the present danger of the Delta variant beyond repeating the magic word, vaccine, over and over and falling back on the brilliantly thought out blame anyone other than themselves strategy to explain vaccine hesitancy.

              1. Schofield

                Doesn’t stop Libertarian and Republican Party supporter dolts believing there is and systematically wrecking the economy as a “patriotic” consequence!

              2. Cuibono

                In Scotland, 88.6% estimated to have antibodies, 90.0% for Northern Ireland, 91.9% for England & 92.6% in Wales. Office for National Statistics based on a sample of blood test results for week beginning June 28. and no herds in sight anywhere. this herd immunity beast might be mythical as you say

            1. Cuibono

              i think this is right. They all wanted to blame Sweden, but at the end of the day that was where there hearts were. Especially if they feel they are safe and can profit

      2. LawnDart

        …discaring of the all other rules and opening travel will mean that more mutations will come up. It highly likely that some of them will be able to avoid the antibodies.

        Spell-check flagged “discaring,” but according to Urban Dictionary: A combination of dislike and don’t care. A response to something totally irrelevant somebody says to you.

        I like this word, discaring. It seems appropriate for these times– “Senator XYZ is discaring of their constituents who are dropping like flies from disease and destitution…”

        A combination of dislike, don’t care, plus narcissism, (willful) ignorance and plain old dishonesty well sum up what passes for the American character in the 21st century– noting that there are still a great many individual exceptions to this in USA (to include many readers, the authors of this blog).

        I think that most will agree that we are probably screwed: Mr. Virus has evolution on his side, and we have… well, look around us.

        Personally, I’m restocking for the next bout, to include more books and a selection of nice red wines (my weekend treat!), things to accompany my newly enhanced variety of cookware. I’m especially looking forward to creating different sauces and more experimentation with food-types.

        It’ll be nice if government pays us to stay home for a while.

        Thanks Vlade, for the new-to-me word.

      3. WhatdoIknow

        Typical NYT comment section today:

        “…Unmasked people are literally killing our children, and I also have no patience for this. I can’t believe this country has the smarts to develop the mRNA technology and vaccines, and at the same time has so many stupid people who want the virus to win, and are helping it in its cause…”

    2. Thistlebreath

      Agree w/all. Keep an eye peeled for Lambda and Epsilon variants. So far.

      Waaaaay back when, in the time of wire service overseas bureaus’ teletype lines, the last line was “…more to follow.”” Still applies. True anecdote below–

      A rascally UPI pal was staggering back from a nightlong session w/fellow correspondent types in a Bierstube in the very early morning when he passed by Konrad Adenauer’s home as Herr Doctor was shaking his head in sadness at the great man’s passage. Said pal hot footed it back to the office, sat down at the tele and made his career w/the breaking story. Them wuz the dayz.

  2. Sound of the Suburbs

    Tried and tested strategies are the best (UK)

    The Kent variant.
    Keep calm until the numbers can no longer be ignored.
    Bottle it just before Christmas and ruin everyone’s plans.

    The Indian variant
    Same again?
    Why not?

    They kept calm until the numbers could no longer be ignored.
    They bottled it just before Freedom Day and ruined everyone’s plans.

  3. Jackiebass

    In terms of cost , this is like routine maintenance. Instead of spending money on maintenance, you end up with a huge replacement bill. Regularly changing the engine oil prevents having to replace a failed engine. Much cheaper. Using cost as an excuse to discard safe behavior will lead to more expensive costs. You have deaths and expensive medical treatment. Then you have the expense of caring for those that suffer long term or permeant effects. This will have a domino effect on everything. Businesses will be unable to function.we are already seeing a problem with businesses not being able to hire. If it continues there will be mass business failures. The economy will be destroyed. It could eventually lead to a depression world wide. I hope not but it is a possibility. Then you have a bigger problem facing the world, climate change. Unless we get real leaders willing to address our problems, the future looks bleak. We don’t need more talk. We need actions.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      ” The economy will be destroyed. It could eventually lead to a depression world wide……Then you have a bigger problem facing the world, climate change….”

      i wonder if the former will help to mitigate the latter…even just a bit.
      one can hope.
      as far as maintenance vs eventual catastrophe…lol.
      these folks(, and other, similar groups, have been yelling about that for decades.
      look at the grid in Texas…2011, big, unprecedented ice storm knocks out the grid…report comes out that “we” hafta do something RFN about the state of the grid=> nothing gets done, because profits are all that matters=> even worse unprecedented ice storm comes along, and an even worse failure happens.
      now, the Texas “government” is predictably waffling on doing anything about it…because what’s a few thousand frozen people when profits are all that matter?
      let them burn their houses and apartments to stay warm…bootstraps, baby!

      been rewatching “The Last Kingdom”…an historical drama about the time of Alfred the Great, in the nascent England…and thinking about the whole 500+ years after Rome left Britannia…that’s the closest historical parallel, in my mind, to what we face, near term…except the natural world is depleted(not enough acorns or wildlife to feed all of us), and there’s no enormous store of concentrated ancient sunlight any more to allow us to climb out of the chaos.
      I’m preparing, best i can, for autarky and for fending off warlordism.
      cynical pessimism looks like the only rational stance to take, to me.

      1. Wukchumni

        Was watching a reality show on the Bakken a few years ago and the lengths we’ve gone to as far as retrieving fossil fuels have been nothing short of heroic in a way, to get to shale they go down a few miles and then hang a left for a few miles.

        No oil whatsoever will be available to the remnant and the only thing left being trees for producing energy, and everybody knows oak burns hot & long, so I sadly expect to have somebody deforest my surroundings. Oh well, shift happens.

        1. kareninca

          There will still be enough coal for four hundred years. You can make a vehicle that runs on coal. It will be very, very dirty and destructive. They’ll probably burn the oaks anyway just because that is the kind of thing many humans do.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          If people start cutting down the oaks in your surroundings within your own lifetime, you can coat the trunk and all major branches of the oaks with poison oak oil. Poison oak is like poison ivy. Here are some images for poison oak.

          Put on a totally oil proof home-made hazmat suit of some kind and gather lots of poison oak leaves. After that, I am not sure how to soak off the oil. Maybe it is alcohol soluble. If it is, you can get the oil off the leaves and into the alcohol and then paint the solution/mixture onto the target trunks and branches. It should dry and the poison oil persist for some time.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            16p nails at random around the trunk at chainsaw-level is also a deterrent.
            run across this a lot in cutting up standing dead mesquite for firewood…many were often used as ready made fenceposts, back in the day.
            tree just grows around them and moves on.

            the Big Oak at the center of our part of the place is like that, although i only knew about the fence staples in her skin when one of the bolls(like a scabbed over wound) fell off one day….and there was the round end of a fence staple. from what i can see of the staple(now grown over, again), it is at least 100 years old, and likely homemade, on-site…as was the way. ergo, there used to be a fence, there…and based on other random archaeological finds from the immediate vicinity, likely some kind of enclosure…prolly for male livestock of some kind(to sequester them from the females, and/or to await castration or butchering, as is still the way….the historical barnyard proper was 300′ away, where mom’s house is)
            tree, herself, is likely 500-700 years old…trunk around 10-12′ in circumference at shoulder-hight(wife and i cannot touch fingertips around her)

            poison oak is already present in this area, of course…along with about an hundred different thorny and or itch-inducing other plants. the local firewood guys know how to overcome all that…but they do not like nails embedded in the wood.

            mesquite and the cedar elms are more likely fuel sources for this entire region…and both do well with coppicing.

  4. Samuel Conner

    > But Schupp asked, considering the recent legislation and political climate in Missouri, will any qualified state health officer want to come? “We’re not allowing anyone to do a good job,” she said.

    Back in the 2017-2020 period, the thought occurred that taking a senior position in the DJT administration might not be a great career move. It appears the same here; who would want to oversee an inadequate response to public health disaster that he/she had no part in creating and for which he/she would have inadequate mitigation tools and in an context of inevitable political push-back? Who would want to be in the senior blame seat when the inevitable disaster fully unfolds?

    It seems to be down to the counties to sort it out themselves.

  5. Arizona Slim

    Just spitballing here, but what if there was a door-to-door campaign to offer people masks and, oh, alternative prophylactic treatments like IVM?

    1. Arizona Slim

      If door-to-door is considered to be too risky, an alternative could be as near as the US Postal Service. It was going to be involved in a mass distribution of masks in 2020, but, if I recall correctly, the Trump administration stopped the USPS from moving forward.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Maybe they could make up a Covid Safety Pack to mail out to people. So not only masks but some Zinc, Vitamin D, Povidine Iodine, etc. Even when that stuff runs out, people would then know what they should restock up on.

        1. Mantid

          Rev, Here’s a PSA that would nip this pandemic in the bud …. “Wallet spectacles, ….. Ivermectin”. Or “Don’t forget the Ivermectin”. But there’s no money in it.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        “…door-to-door is considered to be too risky…”
        where i live, the Census has a hard time getting people to go door to door to chase down the scofflaws…too dangerous and scary.
        even the VA Transport people who have come out here forever to take stepdad to the VA are notorious for being terrified of going through the wrong gate, getting the wrong house, etc….many’s the time that his ride has simply turned around and gone back to san antonio(130 miles away)…because i can’t be quick enough to throw on a bathrobe and run out to flag them down. Most of this fear is, of course, overblown: city folks believing the propaganda about rural america, as if we all are ready to shoot strangers who come to our door.
        we even have cell phones, too,lol.
        and a “street address” more or less clearly marked on the gate.
        on the other hand, our fedex and ups guys live here, and have worked this neck of the woods for a long time…no such issues.

        and like i said the other day, “they” are NOT making it easy to get a shot if you want one…clunky third party appointment apps, limited times that they give shots, few places that do shots, at all(none in my county)…nowhere that i know of can one just wander in for a shot when one has a spare minute….it is instead, an arduous, byzantine—even sysiphean…slog.

    2. IMOR

      Won’t happen, not because of risk, but due to the foreshortened, withered, ephemeral range of options the PMC can imagine to address ANYTHING: look at a screen, hire a crony to ‘consult’ or cobble together a lousy app, tweet and hold a press conference. That’s it. “What do you mean, ‘act’? We just did!”

    3. Thistlebreath

      Re: Ivermectin.

      This morning’s LA Times officially started sliming the idea of using it. Now in the same category as mainlining bleach and Hydroxychlor stuffs.

      I asked my horse about Ivermectin but they just gave me some side eye.

      Gonna watch Soylent Green again.

  6. DJG, Reality Czar

    Is it time for that National Conversation on Looted Institutions, Low Social Trust, and the Self-Defeat That Belief Is?

    What we are seeing here is the playing out–with many people being harmed–of vaunted American individualism, which is the idea that the typical American owes nothing to the community. But one’s obligation to the community is not to harm the community, isn’t it?

    Both fan clubs, the Aqua fan club and the Mauve fan club, have inflicted great harm. Further, market fundamentalism and religious fundamentalism have inflicted great harm. You’d think that with so many at fault, we could all agree that there’s a mess to be dealt with (and not blame).

    But no: Propaganda, marketing, slogans, monotheism-in-crisis, the horrible Gini coefficient will all continue till there is nothing left for the powerful to loot.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      To quote the timeless Constantine Cavafy, from the end of “Waiting for the Barbarians,” Keeley translation

      Why this sudden bewilderment, this confusion?
      (How serious people’s faces have become.)
      Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
      everyone going home lost in thought?

      Because night has fallen and the barbarians haven’t come.
      And some of our men just in from the border say
      there are no barbarians any longer.

      Now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
      Those people were a kind of solution.

  7. GeoCrackr

    One thing I haven’t seen anywhere yet in relation to the spiking rates in southern Missouri is that that’s where Branson is. Branson is the Las Vegas of the “family friendly” set (although Vegas has been making inroads into that market in the last few decades), and is a massive tourist draw that flies completely under the radar of the bi-coastal/DC corporate propagandists. I have no idea how well Branson weathered the COVID storm (since, you know, ignored by the media), but considering the demographics and politics of their clientele and the politics of MO, I wouldn’t be in the least surprised if they didn’t shut down at all during the past year, and if they did I’m 100% positive that any restrictions they did deign to implement have been completely removed in the last months.

    I’m sure that has nothing to do with the exploding infection rates in that part of the state…

  8. saywhat?

    in Drudge today:

    Infectious disease experts say there are a number of factors fueling this hot, sneezy summer. While pandemic lockdowns protected many people from Covid-19, our immune systems missed the daily workout of being exposed to a multitude of microbes back when we commuted on subways, spent time at the office, gathered with friends and sent children to day care and school.

    Although your immune system is likely as strong as it always was, if it hasn’t been alerted to a microbial intruder in a while, it may take a bit longer to get revved up when challenged by a pathogen again, experts say. And while some viral exposures in our past have conferred lasting immunity, other illnesses may have given us only transient immunity that waned as we were isolating at home.

    “Frequent exposure to various pathogens primes or jazzes up the immune system to be ready to respond to that pathogen,” said Dr. Paul Skolnik, an immunovirologist and chair of internal medicine at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. “If you’ve not had those exposures, your immune system may be a little slower to respond or doesn’t respond as fully, leading to greater susceptibility to some respiratory infections and sometimes longer or more protracted symptoms.” from Why Everyone Has the Worst Summer Cold Ever

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      that’s a really good point.
      the science behind it is the same for why it’s a good idea to let yer toddler kiss the dog, or loll about in a mudhole.
      also: here, in central texas, we’ve had like a monsoon since late march…and mold has, ergo, been super high.
      Worst allergies i’ve ever had…and everywhere i go, people say the same.
      Everyone has red watery eyes and a constant sniffle/snort.
      unnerving, at least for those of us who believe in the reality of an ongoing pandemic.

      1. saywhat?

        Flonaise was such a miracle worker for my allergies in my 30’s that I’d tell strangers about it in the elevator.

        But they gradually went away anyway, thank God, by my 50’s!

        But that black mold stuff in India scares the Hell out of me wrt using steroids for Covid prevention/treatment – I’d rather get Covid again!

        Benadryl is my occasional go to for itching.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          yeah. loratidine…rotate to cetrizine periodically
          plus OTC flonase…. and the “red pills”, which are generic sudafed PE for prophylaxis when i’m gonna mow or if the air is particularly odious.
          there’s been a haze over the whole region for months…like smog, or mexican smoke we get sometimes, except not.
          i think the haze is mostly water vapor, but assume, due to symptoms, that it’s mold spores.
          i think we’ve definitely broken the planet, this time.

      2. Mantid

        Amfortas, Head’s up because the top symptom of Delta is runny nose, sniffles, and light sore throat – it may seem like an allergy but I’ve never heard of “long allergies”. Scary stuff. Of course the symptoms of Delta variant are not to be found on the CDC website. U.S. tax dollars in action.

  9. Brooklin Bridge

    If there is anyone guilty of killing people with misinformation, it’s Joe Biden when he declared the Pandemic over and opened up everything for those fully vaccinated with no provisions or checks of any kind other than the honor system on who was indeed vaccinated. Mush worse than that, the pandemic was far from over and as if that weren’t enough the delta variant was already causing serious problems in other countries and had a foot-hold here. If pressed, would he argue, “Who ever could have guessed the delta variant would get here by plane?”

    It is stunning that no one in the main stream media is pointing out this mission accomplished failure publicly if only in response to his efforts to abrogate the first amendment.

    And it’s equally breath vaporizing that so many took that assertion as gospel and still are; no less that they refuse to do a little math regarding just what 5-7% of the US population means assuming the current predictions of who will be hospitalized regardless of getting both shots are correct. If a doctor told a patient that the operation he was proposing had only a 7% chance of killing them horribly, would they breath a sigh of relief and sign on the dotted line? I think not.

    1. juno mas

      Well, it depends.

      Open heart surgery (CABG) has a general mortality rate greater than 7% (slightly), but patients agree to it because of the alternative. The mortality rate is a function of age, health, length of operation (time), etc. (Like Covid-19). BTDT, by the way. Dying horribly (painfully) from surgery is rare, as you’re anesthetized. Waking up alive is exhilirating (but not without pain).


      1. Brooklin Bridge

        Horribly? It depends. For one, on who you are talking about, the patient or those close, or both; without even talking about the grisliness of the experience, the duration, the fear… But in either case, it can be absolutely “horribly” and drawn out “horribly” as well, even with the pain dulled. I’ve seen it. I know.

        As to mortality, your example doesn’t compare at all. Open heart surgery is do or die or suffer major life restrictions if you are insanely lucky where as getting the vaccine or not is, or at least seems, more like a lottery. Regardless of that, the point is that Biden et all is pushing the vaccine as if it virtually solves all problems, but 7% adds up to a hell of a lot of people in absolute terms. And that’s before we even discuss breakouts or that you can still pass the disease to others.

        Is it still worth it? Yes, as far as I’m concerned, but it would go a long ways further toward gaining peoples respect and trust if the administration and their toadies such as the CDC and the FDA were simply more frank about the fact that it is not perfect than they are currently getting by forbidding any communication they deem (by measure totally vague and undefined) to be misinformation.

        1. juno mas

          If a doctor told a patient that the operation he was proposing had only a 7% chance of killing them horribly, would they breath a sigh of relief and sign on the dotted line? I think not.

          The above quote is what prompted my comment. Not sure what your rejoinder is about. While the vaccines are not 100% (and that has been made very clear from my reading) they are extremely effective at reducing mortality (as well as hospitalization). My point is that patients accept the risk of medical complications with much higher mortality than from from Covid.

          With the onset of the Delta variant, vaccination is the best choice at the moment.

          1. Brooklin Bridge

            1) horribly means much more than painfully
            2) My example may have been bad, but my point was fairly clear. The risk in your example and the risk involved with the fully vaccinated getting covid are very different. The real risk with covid is that the desire for profit far outweighs the desire to maximize health outcomes. Thus, the vaccines are touted as the be all and the end all when they should be but a part of the fight against covid and when social behavior (in public areas, ect.) and reductive treatments such as ivermectin should be part of that effort as well rather than everything evaluated by its impact on the economy or the profit of a particular industry. To suggest that 7% is an acceptable mortality rate is ignoring that 7% or even 3% of of those who get covid even though they were vaccinated adds up to a lot of people and that that number could be significantly reduced.

    2. Stephen the tech critic

      I don’t think the 7% figure means what you think it means. I’m not certain because the Israeli reporting I saw did not qualify the precise method of calculating “efficacy vs. hospitalization”, but it’s almost certain that what this is really saying is that if we compare vaccinated vs. unvaccinated one-for-one, then for every 100 unvaccinated who go to the hospital, 7 vaccinated will go. That “7%” is nowhere near as high as “7% of the population who gets COVID”.

      However, if we are to assume that Delta is 4X more likely to cause hospitalization than Corona Classic in unvaccinated people, then we can (very crudely/roughly) estimate (with lots of caveats, etc.) that, all else the same, an “average” person is still 4X as likely to be hospitalized with COVID Classic while unvaccinated than to be hospitalized with Delta while fully vaccinated. As I said, many caveats here including the fact that no one is really the “average”, and the relative distribution of risks among different demographics could be very different.

      On the face of it, that factor of four remains significant, but it’s not “silver bullet” territory, especially if our public policy tries to push for “herd immunity” while blaming the unvaccinated for all the failure. It is also very concerning that as far as hospitalizations are concerned, the vaccines appear *much less effective* against Delta as compared to the previous variants. If the virus continues evolving according to this trend, then the vaccines may become practically irrelevant before too long.

  10. Jeremy Grimm

    I count ten days until the end of the foreclosures and evictions moratorium. Has some new moratorium been declared that I missed?

    I also get the feeling that there is little agreement among our rulers about how they might react to the next wave of the Corona pandemic. Thanks to benighted US public health policies, the Delta wave appears to be cresting at an accelerated rate. What comes next could be very unpleasant.

    1. WhatdoIknow

      Here in California the eviction moratorium ends Sept 31st.
      Please dont tell me that I have to keep my non paying tenants for another year.
      I’d rather get the Covid, any variant, but please don’t extend the eviction moratorium.

  11. VietnamVet

    The silence about doing basic public health measures is deafening. It is people who transmit the virus. It is just that the Delta viruses is very good at contaminating the atmosphere around super-spreaders. Yesterday, it felt like, the battle was lost.

    If humans don’t fight back and do what is necessary; universal testing, bubbles, closing borders, contact tracing, safe quarantines, social distancing, masking, providing prophylactic vitamins, minerals, & off-patent treatments to all, free public healthcare, and develop sterilizing vaccines (cooperative communities), we don’t deserve to live on.

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