The Coming School Opening Covid Train Wreck

Our GM has thrown down a marker on what the fail will look like in the US, Covid-wise. Via e-mail:

There is no conceivable way there will be school without mass infection.

The most optimistic modelling I have seen, assuming masking and everything, project 30% of kids getting infected within 2 months. But without masks it will be 80% within 2 months.

And with B.1.617.2 household attack rates are near-100%. Make that 50% with vaccines, that is still a total disaster. Especially where you have multigenerational households (and we all know who will be hit the hardest because of that factor, and vaccine uptake is very low there too).

The only time we saw what truly uncontrolled mass infection looks like in a place with a high median age was in Bergamo early on in the pandemic. Even NYC only managed to infect 25% of the population, and that caused all-cause mortality to shoot up 900% and killed 0.35% of the population. Everywhere else we had one of two situations:

1. In countries with high median age, there was some form of mitigation or people were aware of what is happening and retreated voluntarily, because they could, as high-median age countries are also generally better off economically

2. Really high attack rates above 50% were only seen where populations are young, in Latin America, Africa and India. Because young populations make that more tolerable while young populations are also found in poor countries where people cannot shield.

That still resulted in truly catastrophic situations, e.g. Guayaquil in Ecuador in March/April 2020 (where they had corpses out on the streets bring-out-your-dead style because too many were dying and they could not bury them), Iquitos in April/May 2020, Manaus (twice), India, etc.

But we have not really seen 50-70% of the population getting infected at once in an area with a median age of 40. It is anyone’s guess what that looks like, the higher-order effects are unpredictable, all sorts of things can break down without anyone expecting it.

The hope is that the vaccines will blunt the impact, but that is not guaranteed at all. Viral evolution has actually accelerated — we are up to AY.25 now, it is picking up mutations in the Nsp and ORF proteins at a crazy rate, and nobody can figure out what is happening.

Now of course, the immediate answer is there won’t be school, or there will only intermittently be school. That’s already started. From the Montgomery Advertiser, Pike County first of Alabama districts to temporarily close schools due to COVID-19 cases:

The Pike County School system in Troy announced it would cancel classes on Friday to deep clean its buildings amid a spike in COVID-19 cases, largely among its youngest students.

In a social media post Monday evening, the district outlined the plan to cancel Friday’s classes, keep Monday as a virtual learning day as planned and have students return on Aug. 24. The district did not address concerns from social media users about the decision to wait until Friday to take action.

The district reported 45 positive cases among its five schools, with two of those cases among adults, according to data posted Aug. 16 by the district on its website. The largest percentage of positive cases were among pre-K through third grade students, representing about half of the total. In addition to the positive cases, another 124 students and two staff members were in quarantine.

Lordie, hygiene theater still? The CDC’s refusal to loudly correct early misperceptions about Covid means that what has become misformation has a log tail.

Note that Pike County is far from the worst Covid area in Alabama. Per the Mayo case tracker, it’s seven day average case rate is 45 per 100,000 versus 110 per 100,000 for Shelby County, 115 per 100,000 for Mobile County, and 120 per 100,000 per Elmore County. Pike County also has a higher proportion of black citizens than Alabama as a whole (36% versus 26.8 for the state) so blaming this outcome on Bubbadom would be misleading.

The story concludes:

As thousands of students across the country are sent home to quarantine not even a month into the new school year, more Alabama districts are likely to close their doors in the coming weeks. Districts in several southern states have announced closures, including at least one in Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana and four in Texas.

Here’s the problem. As with Pike County, the pressure to open up schools is so great that they will be closed for short or longer term only after the contagion horse has left the barn and is in the next county. Notice the part where the biggest cohort positive cases was pre-K to third grade, and the additional 124 told to quarantine almost certainly had a significant representation in this age group.

Now….drumroll…kids 8 years old and younger quarantining? As in isolated in single room or part of the house for 11 days, meals delivered outside their doors and dirty dishes retrieved, plus a bathroom set aside for their exclusive use? I know of only two American adults who did a full bore quarantine, and one already lived alone. We don’t do quarantines in America.

So GM is right about 100% household attack rates before you get to any possible vaccination blunting. How far infections advance in schools before they move back to online learning is anyone’s guess. The one thing, perversely, that will favor schools being closed faster is that word has gotten out that children are winding up in hospitals with Delta, which wasn’t the case with wild type. So even though many parents, all things being equal, would prefer schools to be open, the possibility of having a severely ill child in most cases will more than offset that. And that’s before you get to evidence suggesting kids are also more susceptible to long Covid than adults:

Mind you, this likely outcome is dreadful not just from the standpoint of potential human cost but also stress on parents. KLG pointed out this Atlantic article Parents Are Not Okay:We’re not even at a breaking point anymore. We’re broken, which I urge you to read in full. After describing how hard it was to get through the last school year, the author states:

I am a father. I have a 6-year-old and a 16-year-old. And what I can tell you is that I am furious and I am afraid. I can also tell you that the only real difference between this year and last is that the most effective tool for keeping our kids safe—remote school—seems to be off the table. When cases were plummeting this spring, most every district and state board of education made the quick decision to stick a knife in remote school. It was awful last year, don’t get me wrong, and I understand what motivated that decision. But now we’re stuck with full-on, 30-kids-in-a-room, wide-open school as the Delta variant rages.

It’s a real monkey’s-paw situation, because, as a parent, all I’ve wanted for a year and a half is for my kids to go back to school—for their sake and for mine—but not like this. Now I’m stuck wishing that the thing that barely worked last year was still an option, because what’s looming is way worse.

School is only just starting and already kids are being quarantined in mind-boggling numbers: 20,000 across the state of Mississippi, 10,000 in a single district in Tampa, Florida. They’re getting sick too, with hospitalizations of kids under 17 across the country up at least 22 percent in the past month, by the CDC’s count, and each new week sets pediatric hospitalization records for the entire pandemic. The rapid increase of COVID-19 cases among kids has shattered last year’s oft-repeated falsehood that kids don’t get COVID-19, and if they do, it’s not that bad. It was a convenient lie that was easy to believe in part because we kept most of our kids home. With remote learning not an option now, this year we’ll find out how dangerous this virus is for children in the worst way possible.

And this is before the word has really gotten out that the vaccines we have now don’t do much to blunt transmission of Delta and their efficacy against severe infection wanes faster than anticipated too. More and more studies from reputable sources show how fully vaccinated people are testing positive and some even getting quite sick. As we pointed out, and the MSM is finally taking notice. We wrote about New York Magazine on Eric Topol of Scripps and the Financial Times worrying about lower than expected protection levels. Over the weekend, Bloomberg went the “whocouddanode” angle in he U.S. Is Getting a Crash Course in Scientific Uncertainty. From the top:

Anecdotes tell us what the data can’t: Vaccinated people appear to be getting the coronavirus at a surprisingly high rate. But exactly how often isn’t clear, nor is it certain how likely they are to spread the virus to others. And now, there’s growing concern that vaccinated people may be more vulnerable to serious illness than previously thought.

There’s a dearth of scientific studies with concrete answers, leaving public policy makers and corporate executives to formulate plans based on fragmented information. While some are renewing mask mandates or delaying office reopenings, others cite the lack of clarity to justify staying the course. It can all feel like a mess.

The lack of agency is stunning. It’s the CDC’s damned fault there is no data. The UK launched regular large scale blood tests. It also sequences the virus vastly more than we are.

And it was Rochelle Walensky and Fauci, admittedly amplified by far too many people who should have known better, who sold the vaccines as a magic bullet. Why aren’t they being held to account? It was obvious that unless and until we had a nasal vaccine (Novovax has one in the works and if we are lucky it might be out by late 2022), no Covid vaccine would achieve sterilizing immunity.

But the CDC and Biden Administration all got high on their own PR and told Americans to abandon masks, even when, assuming wild type Covid vaccine efficacy, the US vaccination rates were way too low to abandon caution. With Delta already rampaging across the US, this policy change was criminal. It cost lives and it will cost more lives.

From GM:

To me personally it was never a shock to see the events of the last few months. As I have said on multiple occasions, the surprises were that the vaccines initially cut transmission by as much as they did, and that they worked as well as they did — few knowledgable people expected either. And we will probably never see those numbers again.

I did expect boosters to be needed, in two years, not in 6 months, but that is a difference of degree, not of a kind.

The shock to me was when I saw people in research, very prominent scientists I work with, authors of many papers on various aspects of immunology, directly involved in various projects studying COVID, etc. behaving as the regular people you are referring to. They genuinely believed it was all over. And they had been believing it since November 2020. But it only dawned on me that they truly are this deluded at some point in April 2021. I myself was in denial — of the reality that they were in denial of the reality of the virus — for many months.

And KLG:

I never would have believed such political and scientific ineptitude would rule the world. Walensky and Fauci can move the goal posts and prattle all they want to, but the word “vaccine” means to the people that they will be protected and spread will diminish to nearly nothing as a result of widespread vaccination, as with polio and smallpox. The people are also willing to accept some risk, too, if that is explained to them.

The relative ineffectiveness of these vaccines is becoming obvious to all but the most obtuse, who seem to be (1) physicians who seem to believe rather than see, public health officials who have lost the plot, and politicians at every level (local School Boards to the two nonjudicial branches of the US goverments). Still, I see some evidence we, as represented in the legitimate and disinterested scientific community, are doing much better on the science. At least I think we are, but I’m not sure it will matter as the backlash strengthens.

The Biden Administration is out to make the backlash worse. It’s doubling down on vaccinations as its one trick for dealing with Covid. On Monday, the Administration made clear that the reason for pushing for Boeing 737 style full authorization of the Pfizer Covid vaccine was so that employers could mandate vaccinations without worrying about pesky lawsuits. The lead para of the Financial Times story:

Joe Biden urged employers to require workers to get vaccinated against Covid-19 after the Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to the BioNTech/Pfizer jab.

Yet it is already obvious that variant proliferation means that for the near future, vaccine development and deployment will hopelessly lag the state of play and thus be less than fully effective.

What happens to the credibility of scientists, doctors, and officials as it become increasingly obvious that the “blame Bubba” for rising case counts doesn’t cut it, as more and more people know of someone or even themselves become Covid positive despite being fully vaccinated? There are already too many stories like this to keep under wraps:

We’ve also been told, contrary to the official narrative, of Covid deaths among people who were fully vaccinated, with no co-morbidities. Yet the media is keeping up the story that Covid deaths among the vaccinated take place only among the diabetic, obese, and/or immunocompromised. Even if the exceptions so far aren’t a large proportion of the total, pretending they don’t, as if can’t, exist will only increase the credibility gap.

We’re going to see even more acting out as a result of trying to deal with cognitive dissonance among the PMC who’ve invested a lot in the “magic vaccines” tale. And as with Bubbadom, their first impulse will be to project and lash out at others as more and more evidence comes in that contradicts their deeply-held faith.

In other words, batten down the hatches. If you think it’s been rough so far, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.

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  1. Retaj

    An acquaintance who is a high school teacher tested positive about a week and a half after school opened. The county is defying the Florida governor’s ban on mask mandates, but only on grades K-8.

    There are two children under 18 who are hospitalized here as well. I fear that this will be increasing.

    1. Arizona Slim

      The latest celebrity case: “Breaking Points” co-host Saagar Enjeti has COVID.

      In recent months, Saagar seemed like he was a little bit too sure about the immunity that being fully vaccinated conferred. Methinks he may be changing his tune now that he’s stuck at home with the Rona.

      1. Adam

        “Breaking Points” has been far too sanguine about the virus; even yesterday they had a segment on why kids shouldn’t wear masks in class. In fairness though, NC is the only place where I can get any trustworthy information about how covid develops so I understand how people are consistently underestimating it’s potential impact and trajectory (or treating the outcome as binary life or death and ignore long covid).

      2. Mr. Magoo

        I am not so sure. In the same day that Enjeti announced his covid, they ran a segment basically saying that the masking requirements for schools was BS. The argument they used was that there was no study showing masking kids was effective – and argued that masking kids had significant negative psychological effects (interestingly enough – without any studies to back that).

        The BreakingPoints position on masking and school safety procedures will come back to haunt them. It is unfortunate, because of outside of this topic – they are one of the more balanced sources of news and analysis.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          I’m not so sure. We did the hybrid model at my district last year with about half the kids in school on any given day. The superintendent emailed all parents on a regular basis any time anyone affiliated with the school came down with the rona. Quite a few people evidently got it. The emails were so frequent but also detail-free that they became a joke and I tuned them out. Nobody died. And that was before anybody had been vaccinated.

          Now we have 50%+ vaccination nationwide and over 90% in my town. According to the charts posted daily at NC mortality is way down (not saying it can’t go back up again, but it is still low despite the Delta variant “raging” for weeks).

          My sister refused to get vaccinated. She is a grown adult and understood the risk that she could contract the rona and that there was a chance she could be hospitalized or worse, but also that it was a small chance.. She got it a few weeks ago. Sick for a week or so and back to work after that.

          For a lot of people, they have measured the risk and are willing to take it. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I will say that I don’t think we should be making decisions based on what the most fearful minority believes.

          1. GM

            This is the first infection out of many.

            The people who get it now and walk away fine because they are 30 and in good physical shape will not be so fortunate by their N-th reinfection when they are 45

            I know it is very hard to understand because the scientific and public health establishments have completely betrayed their stated missions and have been lying about the situation from the start.

            Also because we live in a society in which long-term thinking is nearly extinct as a habit.

            And because it has not happened yet, thus people having hard time believing what to them is just a hypothetical.

            But that makes it no less true.

            1. CloverBee

              This is what I find so incredibly frustrating.

              Someone commented the other day that reading NC is like living in the future, and it rings so true. I see it coming, but no one around me does, and they think I am A) crazy, B) alarmist, C) a right wing follower.

              I talk to fellow parents who say how their kids got it once and had only mild symptoms. I just have to bite my tongue. I see ZERO follow-up in the US, and as you keep saying (thank you, it helps me reality check myself since we live in the future at NC) the infections could get worse. Wasn’t there a hypothesis that each infection gets worse? Are there studies on this, or was it (hopefully) disproved?

              I think an informed person also stated that the reactions to the vaccines get worse AND are less effective with each dose?

              Is knowing what is likely coming worse or better? Philosophically, that is. If everything is going to hell, why not just enjoy things while we can? Hard, hard choices.

        2. BeliTsari

          Just imagine what’ll ensue, as poor bus drivers, custodial and support “essentials” sicken? As kids infect teachers, family members; asymptomatic at day three, chronically PASC , thereafter, while poor folks only pack hospitals, weeks later? Gothamist seems to have silenced comments, along with most Prop’RNot conforming, servile media/ blogs? Thank HEAVENS, NC welcomes astute, pertinent reader input!

            1. BeliTsari

              Not on THIS one? Or, anything about the necessity of (real) masks and distancing, indoors supplementary to mRNA inoculation, previous to CDC changing their mind a few weeks back? It’s been that way on CommonDreams for right about a month & TruthOut forever? Pretty much since Israeli studies, Mayo Clinic… your own excellent coverage of breakthrough cases of Delta & Lambda, BioNTech “targeted boosters” or anything likely to touch-off citation of contradictory links

      3. The Historian

        His constant cheerleading for the vaccine and opening up society full bore was really irritating to me to the point I was skipping any episodes where he talked about Covid. But since he is so invested in his mantra, I don’t think his getting Covid will change anything. But we can hope!

        1. Arizona Slim

          That cheerleading has been chapping my hide too.

          But I think that Saagar may start to hear from other people who are going through what he is. They might convince him that breakthrough infections aren’t as rare as he’s been saying they are.

          1. Brooklin Bridge

            Saagar seems to be doubling down on his dislike of mask requirements, at least given the intro to the 8/23/ video where he states mask requirements play a big part in why dems are not popular. Crystal, while not mentioning it specifically, stated she didn’t agree with all of his assessment and stated rather that Biden’s popularity drop is due to the fact that nothing is getting done (Afghanistan excepted) and that Biden is too willing to woo the GOP, conservative dems, the parliamentarian, and whoever, to get his bills past the meat grinder.


            I also would have hoped that getting Covid would give Saagar second thoughts on being so sure of our Constitutional right to infect ourselves and other innocent bystanders while we’re at it.

        1. Terry

          I can buy concern about break-through cases among the vaccinated, but the fact still remains that vaccines save lives and reduce hospitalization rates. That in itself remains the SINGLE greatest variable in reducing the overall societal impact of the pandemic.

          But masks do indeed work. Study after study backs that up, before and during Covid, so it’s disappointing to see those purportedly on the left eschewing science and parroting the rabid right’s nonsense about freedumb and masks not working.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Saagar purportedly on the “left”? I thought Saagar was purportedly on the “right”.

            I thought Saagar being on the “right” was supposed to match Ball being on the “left”. I thought that was part of their shtick . . . ” on the Right its . . . Saagar. and on the Left its . . .Ball”.

      4. Soredemos

        This might never get out of moderation since it’s an ad hominem, but Saagar is mostly a typical conservative idiot. If you follow him on Twitter it quickly becomes apparent how much of his comparative reasonableness on camera is basically an act, and how much heavy lifting Krystal Ball has been doing this whole time to lend that duo an air of credibility. I will not at all be surprised if he changes his tune now that he’s personally been impacted, because that’s usually how it goes with conservatives.

        Not that I on the whole even consider Ball to be particularly credible; her recently opining that she’d only consider masks for the sake of protecting children just reeks of typical suburban liberal, as well as non-covid related things like the Sanders soft-ball interview.

        She was basically able to make a splash by being the conservative Hill’s token pet ‘lefty’, and she’s been riding that wave ever since.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          This is borderline. It is OK to describe Saagar as a typical conservative (an example would have helped) and then say how this blinkers him or severely limits his utility as a commentator.

        2. Joe Well

          Glenn Greenwald, an actual professed socialist married to a socialist legislator, spouts the same kind of wishful thinking about Covid being no big deal for the vaccinated, as well as the insane idea that masks impose a heavy cost, particularly on children.

          And he has socialist Twitter followers who agree with him.

          This seems to be a genuine failure of logical reasoning among a lot of intelligent people rather than conservative ideology.

          I’m going to guess it’s emotionally motivated denialism in the face of terror and horror.

          1. Darius

            Consistently rotten messaging—noble lies, etc.—by CDC and other public health authorities has sown so much confusion that conspiracy theories and bad analysis proliferate like wildfire. Even normally analytical voices are susceptible.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              To paraphrase Hunter S. Thompson from a very different context . . . ” the Conspiracy Theorists are running wild in the Power Vacuum of the Establishment’s hopeless bullshit.”

    2. Jackiebass63

      My daughter who teaches in FL became infected one week after the start of school. Fortunately she was vaccinated and her case was mild. To safely open schools would require many more teachers. Class size would have to be drastically reduces so proper distancing could be provided. If you are going to cram 30 students into an ordinary classroom, you are asking for trouble.

    3. Towfiq Al-Thawri

      I’m sure it depends on the school district, but the education system is a tremendous COVID problem. The will to get students back into school and ‘back to normal’ drove a system of bait-and-switch last year at the school my wife was Kinder teacher. Her attempts to ensure militancy against community spread unleashed a Kafkaesque system which, eventually, led to her termination for being a somewhat squeaky wheel where it appears there was likely tremendous corruption as far as school safety was concerned.

  2. 430MLK

    Correction on the Kentucky reference from this story–it was reported yesterday that the state is up to 4 county school closures.

    Mostly E. KY counties, a couple with no remote learning in place. Here in highly-educated Fayette County (home to U.KY), the school system has no plans for going remote. My daughter’s 25-person fifth-grade class is, 2 weeks into school, down to 12 students.

    I just wish my county schools would have shown that they were _attempting_ to honestly live with the virus. Big tents for outdoor eating and classrooms, staggered meeting days, opened windows. The only thought last summer was, following our local progressive columnists, to get vaxed and to out the un-vaxed with lots of frustrated words.

    1. groovingpict

      Indeed. My mother is a teacher at one of the closed schools in question and I thought I would add some anecdata for the benefit of the commentariat here.

      Here is the latest available report from the school system regarding covid transmission and quarantine in the schools.

      The schools were open, in-person for, I believe, 5 full days. My mother said the kids were very good about masking. That said, not only do they not seem to be considering ventilation issues, but, if they were to do so, there would be very little in the way of actual resources, budget, and staffing to address the problem in any reasonable fashion. These schools can barely function and maintain their facilities as it is. The renovations and diagnostics that I presume something like that would require are out of the picture entirely. I do agree with the above commentator about those simple measures such as windows and tents, but again, they are not considering this. They haven’t been told to do so.

      After the first five days, school has been cancelled from last Thursday (when the above report was released) into this coming Friday. No remote options in place. No plan announced for after this. Just no school right now. Until very recently, they seem to have not expected covid to “come back”. Now the county (and whole region of Eastern Kentucky) is getting slammed again.

      Going remote in this region does not just mean getting kids to pay attention on video calls, it means providing homes with internet access and the necessary devices. This suddenly became the responsibility of local school officials. This is a town (the county seat) where they recently closed the county DMV and redirected residents to a regional DMV serving multiple counties— an hour’s drive away. I think the schools did an admirable job last year, but given this summer’s media blitz, I don’t think they are prepared for a second go around.

      My mother stresses that kids cooperate, the teachers are great and try their best, and the administration is giving it their best effort. There is no element of Covid disbelief in the leadership of the school system. There is not an issue of compliance. Rather, they have all been failed institutionally. They are not provided the capacity to react properly, with reference, yes, to their budget and funding, but moreover with reference to the basic information that they are led to believe is authoritative. Bottom line seems to me to be that it doesn’t much matter how hard you try to do the right thing if you have no idea what is going on.

      It’s truly criminal what is happening.

  3. vlade

    Last week we had friends come over for a couple of drinks, trying to enjoy the last of the summer outside (it was cold in the end, but didn’t rain so we still ended up outside).

    When I mentioned that I only got vaccinated due to possible need to travel (a possible difference between having a client and income or not for me), I was told “So you’re also anti-vaxxer?”. When I said I don’t see much point to a non-sterlising vaccine for low(er)-risk people, it was “I don’t wan to talk about vaccines”.

    These are educated, smart people.

    But, as most people, they want to go back to normal, so will be closing their eyes to the reality until it’s totally inescapable. There are no pols here who (assuming they have a clue) are willing to tell them it ain’t gonna happen, but many who are telling them we can go back to normal, right now.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      What I find fascinating in a macarbre sense is the number of people I know who are aware that the vaccines are non-sterilising, they know exactly what this means, and yet they still support policies that only make sense if the vaccines were sterilising, and behave in their own lives as if this was so.

      And in my anecdotal experience, the more educated the person is, the more likely they are to suffer from this cognitive dissonance.

      1. vlade

        “vaccine” is now the magic word. It doesn’t matter what it actually does, it’s existence became a cantrip, counter-curse allowing the return to reality.

        I worry what it will do for the genuinely good vaccines which were already under attack before all this.

      2. Samuel Conner

        There’s an epidemic of cognitive distortions that is feeding the disease epidemic.

        I find that I’m very vulnerable to confirmation bias and have had to force myself to question the evidentiary bases of things that that I think I know to be true.

        Perhaps the skepticism toward “the science” that is emerging in response to the calamitous character of our present public health leadership could be a good thing, provided that it doesn’t become a settled thing, but moves in the direction of “prove it with better evidence.”

      3. NoBrick

        “the more educated the person is, the more likely they are to suffer from this cognitive dissonance.” The mark of an “expert”…often wrong but seldom in doubt.
        Divide and rule is the game, cognitive dissonance is the same. Who wins when
        you fight yourself? They do…

        1. Hiroyuki

          Especially since as Yves says:
          “their first impulse will be to project and lash out at others as more and more evidence comes in that contradicts their deeply-held faith.”

      4. saywhat?

        What I find fascinating in a macarbre sense is the number of people I know who are aware that the vaccines are non-sterilising, they know exactly what this means, and yet they still support policies that only make sense if the vaccines were sterilising, PlutoniumKun [bold added]

        Even that the vaccinated, ala Marek’s Disease, might be breeding more dangerous variants for the unvaccinated and perhaps ultimately for everyone?

      5. James E Keenan

        I have to admit that, outside of NC, I have never heard the term “sterilizing vaccination” — even though I’m well aware that vaccines have variable efficacy rates.

      6. Mikel

        There are people that don’t see the seriousness of constant reinfection – no matter the symptoms.

        Just an example: I’d be alarmed at getting sick twice in a year when before it may have been once every two years or maybe less. Takes alot of denial to think you can walk around like this is some “normal flu” by just catching it again and again.

    2. Terry

      With all due respect to the NC OP, there is virtually no such things as a “sterilizing vaccine.” That’s a rarity in the history of vaccines. But vaccines DO reduce the disease burden, and that’s precisely why Fauci et al. are flogging them. The great tragedy, unfortunately, is that the White House has pressured the CDC/NIH to pretend things could get back to normal, and that masks were optional for the vaccinated. This, in the context of Delta in particular, was almost as dumbass a recommendation as the spring 2020 claims (all common sense and evidence to the contrary) that masks were not needed against Covid.

      And of course the irony of the mask relaxation is that the only way things could have remained a semblance of normal would have been using every tool in the non-pharmaceutical playbook (masks, distancing, etc.) to complement the vaccines’ protection. Foolish decision to virtually abandon masks just when we had a chance to suppress the Delta variant.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Sorry, there is such a thing as sterilizing immunity and your comment that vaccines seldom achieve sterilizing immunity is false. The vaccines for yellow fever, smallpox, polio, and now HPV all achieve sterilizing immunity.

        Where sterilizing immunity is rarely achieved is for respiratory viruses. But as we have also said repeatedly, there is a nasal vaccine under development for Covid that looks like it could achieve actual or near sterilizing immunity. The problem is it might have to be administered relatively frequently.

        The other issue we raised from the very outset is that immunity to coronaviruses has always been short-lived, from six months to the common cold to 34 months for MERS (which also conveniently has a case fatality rate of 34%). So even if a vaccine were developed that achieved actual or near sterilizing immunity, you’d also need high levels of vaccinations and revaccinations to get contagion down to the noise level.

  4. Mikel

    “Viral evolution has actually accelerated — we are up to AY.25 now, it is picking up mutations in the Nsp and ORF proteins at a crazy rate, and nobody can figure out what is happening..”

    I don’t know exactly what this means, but isn’t it line with a virus learning it’s way around vaccines? It has lived for months now in vaccinated bodies (becasue the shots are non-sterilizing) generating all kinds of spike proteins and now we are seeing accelerated mutations of certain spike proteins.

    This isn’t the first time the virus or mutations have moved among the school aged. It’s not Delta’s first walk around the block with the school aged. So, yes, it raises questions about what exactly these “vaccines” are most effective at.

    I’m not expecting the narrative of “it prevents hospitilization and severe disease” to hold up.
    The caveats will keep piling up until they can’t quantify away or anecdotalize every exception.

    I also think there are more people concerned about testing precedents for more mandates and controls (those for and against) than really understanding how the virus transmits. Look at the case above with the school shutting down for Deep Cleaning Theatre instead of ahutting down to air out the building, install powerful air filters, and testing wastewater in bathrooms.

    1. Raymond Sim

      Mikel, can you not see that what you have written is both tendentious and ignores content in Yves article?

      To answer your intial question what we’re seeing in Delta is completely consistent with the virus evolving towards greater overall fitness as a human pathogen, no vaccines needed to explain it. Have you forgotten where it came from?

      Your remarks about the virus and children truely make no sense to me, unless perhaps you don’t believe any disease has ever changed to become more dangerous? Also, you are ignoring the well-documented tissue damage even asymptomatic infections can cause. Are you ignorant of this?

      1. Mikel

        What are you talking about? You need to read again what I wrote. That’s exactly what I’m saying is that it is changing to be more dangerous.

        That the Delta was around before and didn’t seem to be hitting the young the way it does now – and now we even have the shots and the spike protein mutations according to the poster seem to be off the charts.

    2. Skip Intro

      They will be very good for proving ideological obedience more comprehensively than any verbal demonstration of extreme cognitive dissonance ever could.

    3. PKMKII

      Right now, it looks like it functions closer to the flu shot than a traditional vaccine. Get the jab at the start of the season for the current variant, virus mutates over the course of the year, new jab at the start of the next season for the newly mutated variant. Prior year’s doses may provide some mitigation against new strains but not outright prevention.

      1. KLG

        Sort of, but the virology and immunology and the viral evolution are completely different. Flu viruses have two major proteins in their envelopes that are targeted by the vaccines: H, hemagglutin; N, neuraminidase. They shuffle as intact proteins, and the yearly flu vaccine is tuned to the H-N pair predicted to be the major variant in circulation. The key is predictability, which sometimes goes awry at WHO and CDC. With coronaviruses, that kind of predictability is just not possible, although the bioinformaticists and molecular evolutionists are trying very, very hard.

  5. Louis Fyne

    “There is no conceivable way there will be school without mass infection.”

    I’m not doubting the intent of GM. Just throwing this anecdote out there (maybe the modelling needs better real-world data or adjustments for different preventative behaviors)…..

    the local Catholic and mainstream and evangelical Protestant schools were open all of last year in our area.

    Door, daily temp checks, masking, as little congregation of students as reasonably possible, open windows (cuz their buildings were built pre-A/C).

    No covid clusters, no transmission into the community from the schools. (not applicable to every community, every schools as our area, overall, has below average risk due to income, education, health care access, vaccination, trust in municipal authorities, community trust)

    Just saying. Just an anecdote. I am as religious as a tomato.

    1. GM

      The virus is much more contagious now and gets around PPE much more easily

      Regular cloth and surgical masks won’t have the same effect as last year

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        “More contagious” is a polite understatement (I am saying what follows for Louis Frye’s benefit, since I assume you were too busy to unpack further).

        The Lancet estimated the R0 of wild type Covid as 3 and Delta at 7.

        This greatly increases the speed of growth, as it gets to exponential much faster unless/until radically mitigated. That usually means lockdowns.

        And there were most assuredly asymptomatic infections among children during the last school year but severe cases and hospitalizations were unheard of. In the UK, the large-scale Imperial College tests found that elementary school age children were 2x as likely to bring Covid into a household as adult, and older kids, 7x as likely.

        Kids getting Covid last year was completely under the radar. It isn’t with Delta.

        1. korual

          NZ government has delta at R6 and they describe that as a game changer compared to the initial covid strain. Even if you don’t care about the public health implications that will wreck your economy.

        2. Eric377

          Well asymptotic is a way of saying not sick, which is what parents mostly concern themselves with. My children went to parochial school last year with masks and really no COVID disruptions at all. So if I get information that says last school year probably had considerable unobserved COVID activity, it serves to reduce my worries for this year to a degree. So is Delta COVID a more severe disease or only more contagious? The same severity of disease in a more contagious form is less problematic if you are telling us that pediatric expression is so asymptotic that it flies under the radar. Well the radars were set to “11” last year, so it’s not a small thing.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            But delta aside, many of the kids in private chool last year had nowhere to go and had parents who could isolate. Then when there was a break through, we basically closed schools, even private ones for three weeks. Though it definitely had to be present, kids weren’t getting that many opportunities to get sick.

            I know there was an outbreak among special ed kids at a public high school almost immediately when they went back which I think was just after memorial day.

          2. Reds

            A few things:

            The Delta Variant is both more transmissible and more severe.

            A disease increasing it’s transmissibility is worse than an increase in severity, assuming in the article that severity can be measured by mortality.

            Asymptomatic is not a way of saying not sick, it just means that they aren’t showing symptoms at the point of infection but may show the disease post recovery. Granted some asympotomatic individuals will be just fine while some others will not be.

            Apologies, if I’ve increased your worry, but I’m dreading sending my child back to school in the UK. At least Illinois has an indoor mask policy for kids, I can’t say the same over here.

          3. Grumpy Engineer

            So is Delta COVID a more severe disease or only more contagious?

            That’s pretty much the question of the year. Proper decisions regarding the health of children depend greatly on the answer to that question. Alas, I don’t know what the answer actually is.

          4. Medbh

            Asymptomatic doesn’t mean unaffected. This NY Times article states that 23% of people with covid go on to develop long covid, including those with mild or asymptomatic cases.

            “The study, tracking the health insurance records of nearly two million people in the United States who contracted the coronavirus last year, found that one month or more after their infection, almost one-quarter — 23 percent — of them sought medical treatment for new conditions. Those affected were all ages, including children.

            Post-Covid health problems were common even among people who had not gotten sick from the virus at all, the study found. While nearly half of patients who were hospitalized for Covid-19 experienced subsequent medical issues, so did 27 percent of people who had mild or moderate symptoms and 19 percent of people who said they were asymptomatic.”

            This article talks about cognitive deficits of people who had covid, including those who had no symptoms or were never hospitalized (look at the chart in figure 2).

            People have also shown lung and heart damage without having symptoms, as discussed in this article:

            “Case studies from recovered asymptomatic COVID-19 patients have shown lung abnormalities using CT scans. For example, take the case of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, where there was an infamous outbreak of COVID-19 at the beginning of the pandemic in February 2020.

            73% of positive COVID-19 cases on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship were asymptomatic, of which 54% showed lung opacities (ground-glass opacities; GGO) which reflects the filling of the air spaces in the lungs with fluid relating to edema, fibrosis (scarring) and inflammation in the lungs.”

            1. Eric377

              I’m thinking that few asymptotic infected are ever identified as having had COVID. How would that happen? Pretty much during subsequent medical care I suspect. Not challenging this data , but suspect a big hole in it in that asymptotic cases mostly self-identify months later when they experience problems. Many asymptotic individuals with lung problems report lung problems, but how many don’t?

              1. Jason Boxman

                In a functioning country, we’d take random samples of the population and provide free lung x-rays or some other diagnostics to try to get a handle on how big the problem might be.

                In the US we’re going to simply ignore it and maybe it goes away.

              2. Yves Smith Post author

                No, for one thing people get tested weekly in hospitals, nursing homes, and MD offices (pre widespread vaccinations). People also get tested to travel overseas and at points in The Covid, domestically.

                I’ve been tested 4x and symptoms were never why I got tested

                1. Keith Newman

                  Additional info on testing: I know 6 people personally who travelled from the US to Canada and back within the last 3 weeks. All 6 required a negative Covid test to get into Canada plus an additional negative test once in Canada within 24 hours of arrival to ensure they hadn’t caught it during travel.
                  To return to the US they all required a negative test taken within 3 days before returning to the US. I don’t know if an additional test once back home in the US was required or not.

          5. Raymond Sim

            “Well asymptotic is a way of saying not sick, …”

            False, we are months past the point where anyone saying that about SARS-CoV-2 is either a dupe or a tool.

            It is urgent that anyone saying this sort of thing in good faith be confronted with the truth – you’ve been played.

            1. Eric377

              Not saying they cannot be a transmission vector, simply that without any symptoms of illness, how are they sick? I currently am without symptoms but I suppose the virus could reside in me. But I’m not sick and a confirmation of viral presence would not change that.

              1. megrim

                Chlamydia is asymptomatic for 70% of women, but half of those will develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which has a lot of nasty outcomes, e.g. making it really difficult to get pregnant or carry a child to term. Just because you don’t get symptoms doesn’t mean a pathogen isn’t doing long-term damage.

              2. Raymond Sim

                This website is profusely adorned with links to findings of injury in asymptomatic people. Or you could try a web search, though you’ll want to spell it right.

              3. Noloni

                Are you kidding me? How are you incapable of understanding that you can have health consequences and not manifest symptoms in the short term?

              4. Medbh

                A lot of serious diseases don’t show symptoms until months or even years later. HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) can be asymptomatic for 10 years. People can have asymptomatic hepatitis for decades before developing cirrhosis or liver cancer. TB can also be asymptomatic, but cause severe disease or even be fatal later in life.

            2. Captain Obious

              I’m not a mathematician; can someone explain “asymptotic” to me like I’m five?

              1. Raymond Sim

                That would obiously be a pretty clever five year old!

                When I was five I couldn’t even spell ‘asymptomatic’.

          6. Yves Smith Post author

            What tripe.

            No, asymptomatic is NOT “not sick.” You can have cancer and be asymptomatic up to the last month or two when it’s metastasized and you are a goner.

            Asymptomatic individuals are contagious, even more so under Delta.

            1. Tom Stone

              As a matter of fact I had stage 4 Lymphoma and no symptoms, it was caught by a very sharp tech who noticed an anomaly at the edge of an image.

        3. Raymond Sim

          I would add that even an R number of 6 effectively understates the virus’s potential for mass transmission, because situational factors are so important. In a closed room, with a person at peak viral shedding, R is liable to look like a sideways eight, and that goes for all the variants, and lots of other respiratory viruses too.

      2. vlade

        At least here cloth/masks are not considered good enough anymore. Except they quietly dropped the requirements to mask indoors (sort of “you did, we did not, you did”), partially because they were all govt decrees, which were badly formed and so immediately court-challenged and govt kept losing in the courts. I think after the last one, they just stopped bothering.

        1. Carla

          So nice for us to see all of our filthy rich Congresspeople and Senators wearing FABRIC masks. (the Democrats at least). It’s going to be tough for them to get N95 masks that match their outfits.

          And DAMN, I admit it, those N95’s ARE uncomfortable. I’ve been double-masking on trips to the grocery store, but I know I should be wearing N95’s and need to order more. On the other hand, having to don an N95 might keep me home even more — a good thing, in the end.

      3. Grumpy Engineer

        @GM: I’m not sure the regular cloth masks were ever of real benefit. They were recommended when COVID was viewed as a “droplet-borne” disease, but we now know that isn’t true. Sub-micron COVID-bearing aerosol particles will whistle right through a cloth mask with little impediment.

        The surgical masks are better, but they typically fit poorly and permit significant leakage around the sides. So here, I suspect your prediction is right on target. The higher R0 of Delta will make them less effective as well.

        I recently had to travel for business, and I noticed that the majority of people in the airport were wearing cloth masks. And the majority of airport personnel were wearing loose-fitting surgical masks. I wore a tight-fitting N95 mask, which I only saw a handful of other people doing. It was definitely less comfortable, but given the high level of crowding and limited ventilation, I chose explicitly to minimize my risk.

        1. vlade

          I’ve seen studies showing that two-layer (or more) of cloth were reasonably efficient even for small particles. But that was with the wild variant, which was much much less troubling than the current one.

          Say the NZ outbreak is now thought to be caused by the fact that the quarantine outdoor exercise area is “mere” meters from public space, so likely aerosols from the patient 0 got far enough to infect someone. Which really means that to kill it, you really need to have zero-tolerance lockdown, with solved critical workers separation (which may involve them not going home for the period of the lockdown) etc. etc.

          And that’s unenforceable Earth-wise (or a new reason why to go to Afghanistan?), so closing the borders pretty tightly is a must, and I’m not sure how well that can work short of states deploying deadly force (and even then – Soviet block had deadly force-borders, and people still got through).

        2. Raymond Sim

          Cloth masks are effective against aerosols via mechanisims whose importance may not be intuitively obvious, e.g. reduction in particle momentum.

          It’s important to understand that the dogma of droplet transmission has always been bogus – zero rigorous evidence. If measures employed in the past against droplet transmission have been effective it is in all probability because they were reducing aerosol transmission.

    2. Vodkatom

      Louis Fyne – This raises the question that’s been worrying me. How much of what we did last year to be safe, is no longer sufficient against a more contagious delta variant? It seems we’re in a different pandemic now. Will the measures in those schools trying to minimize contact be enough now? I’m assuming masks weren’t involved? And how effective were the ventilation efforts?

      1. GM

        Vietnam did the same things it was doing last year (relying on contact tracing and limited quarantine), which had managed to eliminate the virus multiple times.

        And that got it to 300 deaths and 10K cases day, and that’s probably past the point of no return.

        On the other hand China did Wuhan-2 (videos were again surfacing of people being welded in their homes), even though Western media has been mostly silent about the whole operation (because covering it in detail will only expose the inhumanity and incompetence of the response to the crisis in the West) and managed to crush it once again.

        But that took more extreme measures than ever before — while in the past it was enough to test a whole city only once or twice, this time they had to do many rounds of mass testing.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Vietnam I think will be a test case as to whether its possible to eliminate it again from those levels. From what I’ve read, they are on pretty much a war footing.

          Unfortunately, due to the opaqueness of China (and the terrible state of reporting) its very hard to judge if China was successful, and from what baseline.

            1. vlade

              There’s very little verifiable evidence for that. They well may be, but we can’t really tell.

              What you get out as official is irrelevant, and it’s a question of whether anyone can get reliable information out as opposed to anecdotes pointing either way.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          Just as an anecdote about China, I just got a message from an Australian based Chinese friend who has been stuck in China for months due to the travel restrictions. She has gone to Tibet for a break as she can’t do anything else – I find it significant I think that the Chinese are not restricting internal travel to Tibet (which of course has some land borders with India), which indicates to me that they are not worried about internal spread.

  6. Tom Stone

    The fact that Fauci and Walensky still have jobs and are still treated with respect by the MSM is telling.

    The disruption from the first wave was bad, this is going to be a lot worse and one of the compounding factors will be a loss of trust by the PMC.
    And the subsequent rage when they realize that the lives of their kids have no more value to TPTB than Bubba’s kids do will be incandescent.
    If this plays out in the most likely manner “Bring out your Dead” will be heard even in the “Nice” neighborhoods.
    And supply shortages will be common.
    All in all the response to the first wave found most Americans cooperative because there was a general feeling that our institutions were worthy of trust.
    This time, dead kids and crippled kids.
    Lots of them, and not just “Those People’s” kids.
    And disrupted supply chains, I’m seeing a LOT of “We’re Hiring” signs at retail establishments, what happens when our “heroic essential workers” decide that $7.25 an hour isn’t worth dying for?
    Perhaps Safeway and Costco can hire some of the 2 Million plus newly homeless and house them in in tents on their parking lots?
    This has gone beyond mere incompetence.

    1. Tom Doak

      I think you underestimate the power of denial, especially PMC denial. They cannot give up on their Science and their Experts without giving up on their own education and worldview. Some lost their parents and stuck with the Experts. But, if kids start dying in numbers, all hell will break loose.

      1. Basil Pesto

        But, if kids start dying in numbers, all hell will break loose.

        Yep, and slightly tangentially this brings me to one of the media clichés in Australia about why we need to end lockdowns in pursuit of zero covid: ‘because of the toll on mental health’

        On the one hand, it would be blithe to pretend that lockdown conditions aren’t going to have some effect on mental health.

        On the other hand, it’s a copout. What does ‘mental health’ mean? anxiety? depression? Where is the meaningful quantification of this concept?

        Because that quantification would be useful for compare it to the state of ~Mental Health~ next April or so, when parents have to cope with kiddies who are getting quite seriously ill. That’s always good for the ol’ mental health of parents. Or, as that Atlantic article put it:

        I am furious and I am afraid


      2. JBird4049

        I am a big believer in the scientific method, but not this religion called SCIENCE! especially as practiced by its fanatical followers.

        It is both amusing and interesting, if you do not think about the strong possibilities of the future Bring Out Your Dead scenes, to think about how this is like all the many examples of science, medicine, and technology being made wrong or just stopped; people found or created reasons to deny what they or others were seeing. It often became quasi religious to believe or deny something, to not listen to the “wrong people,” or to even just forget or distort what was know even if the reason was not consciously religious.

        Just going from memory:

        Copernican or the Heliocentric astronomical model
        Adam Smith
        Ignaz Semmelweis
        Germ theory
        The Four Humors
        The Wright brothers
        Plate tectonics
        Piltdown Man
        Taung Child
        The Leakeys
        Modern economics generally

        In each of these examples, aside from modern economics, people in general today often ask just how could they have been so wrong. Reading today’s screaming discussions on Covid sounds much like those of people discussing controversial, sometimes life and death, ideas.

        Lastly, guilt can make someone deny something. Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis’ new ideas about infections being contagious and washing one’s hands was life was denied because that would mean that the other doctors would inadvertently have been responsible for their patients’ deaths. Dr. Semmelweis had worked mainly in maternity wards. He, along with his fellow doctors, were mass murdering women and babies. Not deliberately, of course, but their habits of never washing their hands and always wearing the same work clothes encrusted in bodily fluids did spread death.

        Only Dr. Semmelweis had the observational and deductive skills as well as the courage to find the deaths’ causes as well the preventatives and to implement them. Too bad he was essentially fired and ignored.

        How many Semmelweises do we have today?

    2. AndrewJ

      All I’m seeing is big indications they’ll just blame the unvaccinated. That’s all they hear in mass media, and Fauci yesterday dropped a big ole turd along those lines (“it could be under control by early 2022 if everybody get vaccinated!”), and it aligns with their internal desires for a magic bullet and a return to normalcy.
      I do not look forward to all that howling. Caitlin Johnstone is right… Americans are one of the most heavily propagandized populations on the planet.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      If that happens, the PMCs will realize they are not any kind of a ruling class, or even a very highly valued servant class.

      If/when they realize that, where will they place themselves on the social class ladder? Where will they choose to stand on the social class battlefield?

  7. korual

    Zero covid is the only sensible policy. Global lockdown for 4-6 weeks will happen sooner or later. Or we can hope for some technological vaccine breakthrough of the hail mary type? Or biological mutation of the hail mary type? Global lockdown for 4-6 weeks seems the most likely, but how can we make that happen?

    Lockdown (quarantine at all borders and essential workers only working with everyone else including my gig worker son getting 80% wages paid) is working in Aotearoa, The majority of people are walking outside with masks on during our short lockdown. It’s not impossible.

    1. GM

      Zero covid is the only sensible policy. Global lockdown for 4-6 weeks will happen sooner or later.

      It will have to be paid for dearly with the blood of probably hundreds of millions (we are at 12-15M dead globally now, and it’s let-it-rip-baby in most of the world)

      Only when there are dead bodies literally piling on the streets will there be a realization about how serious this is.

      1. J7915

        If 4-6 week lockdowns are not feasible, how does or did ‘Detroit’, survive the annual model change shut down? Same with the german and french month long vacations each year?
        It would be a challenge to arrange necessities, but not impossible.

      1. The Historian

        Global lockdowns aren’t going to be ideal for anyone, not just farmers. But do you have a better way of stopping this disease?

        Civilization is going to pay a heavy price for this disease either way simply because we would not do the necessary steps when the disease first broke out – because, you know – money! And when making money becomes more important than saving lives, people die.

        1. Glossolalia

          We have to accept the possibility that stopping the disease can’t be done in our modern world. Reminds me of various politicians and talking heads saying that failure is not an option in Iraq and Afghanistan when for course it is.

          1. saywhat?

            We have to accept the possibility that stopping the disease can’t be done in our modern world.

            Which implies that our modern world is diseased and that’s no surprise to anyone who takes the Bible, including the Old Testament, seriously wrt economics.

          2. lyman alpha blob

            Thank you. There seems to be this pervasive attitude that this will all just go away if people would just behave and follow “the science”, whatever that is supposed to be on any given day.

            This fear that if we don’t eradicate it, it will mutate into something even more deadly also seems unfounded. Maybe, but generally these things mutate into less deadly or even beneficial variants as evidenced by the estimated trillions of benign or beneficial viruses that inhabit the average human body. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t be here to talk about it, would we?

            1. Raymond Sim

              “This fear that if we don’t eradicate it, it will mutate into something even more deadly also seems unfounded.”

              It already has! Did even glance at the article?

              But you know what? Go for it! Dip into your crock of wisdom and explain why it seems unfounded.

              1. lyman alpha blob

                “will” is different than “may”. And NC had posted charts for weeks now that show it has not become more deadly.

                As I said above, I don’t believe we should base our decisions on what the most fearful minority thinks.

                If the situation does get more serious, then I will most likely change my mind, but for now I’m not going to panic. Fear is the mind killer.

            1. Glossolalia

              That’s like saying you don’t have to accept that if you choose a card at random from a deck you might get the ace of spades. Sure, you can refuse to accept that possibility, but it doesn’t mean that you won’t end up with the ace of spades.

              1. Noloni

                Lmao, except we are not drawing cards at random. We have agency and can fight to eliminate the virus.

          3. Raymond Sim

            “We have to accept the possibility that stopping the disease can’t be done in our modern world. “

            Really? Explain the advantages of this ‘acceptance’.

            Be sure to double check that you’re not merely explaining how you’re stupid rather than evil.

            Honest to God folks I’m a very civil person normally.

            1. lyman alpha blob

              Accepting it doesn’t necessarily confer any advantages. It’s also quite possibly true. “The science” isn’t some magic bullet than can cure any problem. That certainly doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to find a cure, but one may not be forthcoming. The common cold is caused by a coronavirus too.

            2. Glossolalia

              Accepting that it might not be possible to stop it is not the same thing as saying we shouldn’t make efforts. It’s just acknowledging that it’s one of the possible outcomes which it seems a lot of people can’t or won’t admit to. So, in short, it means acknowledging reality, which, if you don’t, in turn leads to bad decisions (not necessarily bad ideas in principal, but decisions that stand no real chance of being successful. eg. the constant references to New Zealand’s successes battling covid as if an island nation with the population of South Carolina compares to continent-spanning nation with hundreds of millions of people.)

                1. Glossolalia

                  But China doesn’t have vast swaths of the country where state and local officials will just refuse to enact any restrictions and its populace is very submissive to government.

                2. Glossolalia

                  I just read this after posting my previous reply: China Hits Zero Covid Cases With a Month of Draconian Curbs

                  Two points. First, imagine trying to implement this in the US on a national level with a population that doesn’t fall in line like the Chinese do:

                  Other regions introduced sweeping curbs, from barring entry for people from high-risk areas to asking them to cut short vacations. Most had to remain isolated at home – a rule that was strictly enforced – before returning to work and school. More than 200 neighborhoods were labeled high- or medium-risk, triggering sweeping curbs that disrupted lives and businesses.

                  Second, this:

                  It was more difficult this time, even though the leaders of the world’s most populous nation used the same playbook they followed to quell more than 30 previous flare-ups.

                  So they’ve tried harsh lockdowns THIRTY TIMES and are still having covid outbreaks.

                  1. juliania

                    I am remembering that in ebola communities with severe morbidity it was possible to enforce a similar kind of severe lockdown as was put in place in China, just by the community itself monitoring the boundaries. Here in the southwest, the pueblo Indians do this. They simply have only one entrance to the community and residents only going in and out. If we could have those personal test kits developed, that could be, in worst scenario, a solution to just ‘let her rip’.

                    Given how much money was sloshed around in Afghanistan, surely some consideration could be given to coordinating such red painted areas, and bit by bit progressively penning in and defeating contagion. But we would need a government, perhaps, of IM DOCs.

                    The pueblos do it.

                  2. vlade

                    Re the last point – that’s to an extent my point. You can suppress the virus locally, if you’re willing to take harsh measures.

                    But unless you can control your borders, and it’s very very hard for China to do so, you will get infections from the outside. And since we know there can be asymptotic carriers, one infection can trigger X infections across the country down the track.

                    It’s IMO extremely unlikely that the virus will be ever stamped (via lockdowns etc.) out in Africa, parts of Asia (Middle East/India), possibly South America and also Europe (there mostly because of its vast hard to control borders).

                    Moreover, let’s remember something – this is the first time in say 100 years when we had something like that, but historically, new pathogens are relatively common. We were just lucky (especially with the discovery of antibiotics, but that may prove fleeting), but I have a strong suspicion we’ll be less lucky as time goes on.

                    So we’d not look at “returning to normal”, because the last 50 or so years are actually historical abberation in a way, which would have been nice if sustainable, but I have very strong doubts it is.

                    So we need to look at how to live in a much more dangerous and uncertain world – but that’s not what people want to hear or do (cf comment from David on the entitlement feelings in much of population and the impact of that on the politics)

        2. Grumpy Engineer

          @The Historian: I fear that Glossolalia is correct, and that we can’t stop this with lockdowns. Why not? Because any lockdown will have too many exceptions.

          Farmers must continue farming, or we’ll have food shortages. We need power, water, and telecom workers to remain at their stations. [One of my wife’s best friends works at the water company, where she caught a case of COVID that landed her in the hospital. But what were they supposed to do? Shut down the water and send everybody home?] People at hospitals, pharmacies, police departments, rescue squads, and fire stations must all continue working. And there are many more exceptions I haven’t listed.

          And because we have all of these exceptions, COVID will linger in these populations, ready to re-explode when the lockdown is ended. And what about the “long haulers”? Some will remain infectious through the lockdown and beyond.

          We can’t completely eliminate it with lockdowns. We might be able to knock it down enough for contact tracing and quarantining to do the rest, but only if every government on the planet does a highly effective job here simultaneously. And 100% of people are 100% cooperative. And long haulers are willing to live in “COVID colonies” indefinitely. I don’t see it happening.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Lockdowns have worked in other countries. And they worked in NYC in Spring 2020. So this “we can’t” is nonsense.

            But what we need is income support too and that won’t be forthcoming.

            1. IEL

              What is the current thinking on animals (especially rats) as a viral reservoir?

              There are also many places in the world (Democratic Republic of the Congo, etc.) that do not have the resources / institutional capacity to impose or survive a full, sustained lockdown, and their neighbors can’t lock the borders down 100% to prevent people from crossing and carrying it with them. What is the strategy for dealing with that situation?

            2. Sue inSoCal

              Bingo Yves.

              And yours from the piece:

              “Now….drumroll…kids 8 years old and younger quarantining? As in isolated in single room or part of the house for 11 days, meals delivered outside their doors and dirty dishes retrieved, plus a bathroom set aside for their exclusive use?”

              This is exactly what happened to my friend in Sacramento three weeks after the school opening. All 3 grandkids under 12 were infected, mom of kids was vaccinated but was infected and quarantined exactly how you describe above. Zoom learning is off the table, despite the chaos. Are they sending the kids back? I doubt it.

          2. GM

            Farmers must continue farming, or we’ll have food shortages. We need power, water, and telecom workers to remain at their stations. [One of my wife’s best friends works at the water company, where she caught a case of COVID that landed her in the hospital. But what were they supposed to do? Shut down the water and send everybody home?] People at hospitals, pharmacies, police departments, rescue squads, and fire stations must all continue working. And there are many more exceptions I haven’t listed.

            Farmers are generally not the problem, they tend to not live in apartment blocks.

            But you are missing the two key pieces of the puzzle — mass testing and proper PPE.

            That is how China manages to do it — test everyone, if need be a dozen times. That is how you find all the infected people, and you find them quickly.

            And everyone wears proper masks.

            It helps that they have little spread when they do the mass testing — that allows for pooled testing.

            But there are ways to do mass testing without pooling, the problem is that we placed all our bets on vaccines and investment in testing R&D ended in the middle of 2020.

            Because clearly there was no intention to use it for what it could be used.

            P.S. You are talking about key personnel, but that has another side — what happens when one day we get an even more contagious variant but instead of killing 1% and mostly old people, it is now on the level of SARS-1? And that sweeps through the ranks of the critically important workers? What then?

            1. JBird4049

              >>>even more contagious variant but instead of killing 1% and mostly old people, it is now on the level of SARS-1?

              I am thinking more of the 30% of smallpox strain Variola major and the milder 1% of Variola minor. IIRC, even without mass vaccinations, quarantines often stopped smallpox and/or got the less deadly Viola minor (much like with cholera with its different varieties of more and less lethal infections).

              What needs to be done to either eliminate or strongly moderate Covid is all there to be seen. The methods used were used for centuries and even when vaccines and antibiotics were finally available. And they worked.

              Only, we don’t want to see them.

          3. Joe Well

            >> And what about the “long haulers”? Some will remain infectious through the lockdown and beyond.

            Wow, this is a pretty big gap in understanding and it makes me wonder how many others share it. I wish there were good regular survey data on scientific literacy.

            “Long covid” means that they suffer from symptoms long *after* the virus has been cleared from their bodies. Obviously they are not infectious after those first weeks.

        3. Carla

          Money has always been more important than people.

          Just another way of saying power has always been more important than people.

    2. Glossolalia

      How do people get food in a 6 week lockdown? I live is a house in the burbs so I could probably stockpile 6 weeks worth of food. But what about apartment dwellers? What’s an essential worker? The guy at Home Depot selling me a new toilet is pretty essential if my only toilet is busted and flooding the basement with sewage.

      In short, the scenario you describe is impossible.

      1. The Historian

        No, it is not impossible but it does require a huge government investment in getting food, fuel and necessary assistance to its people, something our government chooses not to do.

        I had people working in my house during the worst of the Covid to replace my heating and cooling systems. They were masked, I was masked and I had the windows open to fully aerate the house. The wiped down everything they touched with alcohol and there were no problems. I only hope the workers got a bonus for doing this but somehow I doubt it.

        1. Glossolalia

          They’re not choosing to because they don’t want to, to a degree, but I think even if they chose to try it would become apparent that there simply aren’t the skills available to do it. I believe that in a world as incredibly complex as ours there are not enough competent people to do what you’re suggesting.

        2. Romancing The Loan

          I did something similar having a new floor put down in the den – we opened windows and hung box fans in front of them from the curtain rod, facing out and running on high, turned off the regular heating/cooling system, and blocked off that part of the house, essentially creating a negative pressure room. We let it run for an hour or so after they were done before using it again.

          This article is very helpful in making me feel less alone. I am still refusing to meet my vaccinated friends inside (I did once, when cases were at their lowest, and the guy next to me started bragging about just returning via plane from a covid hotspot, but it’s ok, because we’re all vaccinated! egads.) and have been feeling like a little more of an intellectual outcast than usual.

        1. Randall Flagg

          Conceding immediately to my lack of intelligence here on figuring his out but having folks work on your house (as a former contractor I understand all that goes with it), solving that compared to keeping our food processing plants/food supply systems with it’s just in time operations running smoothly, with very large numbers of folks working shoulder to shoulder to feed a locked down populace is a difference of galactic sized magnitude.
          Speaking now as someone with family in farming along with my own herd of cattle on the front end of the food supply it’s hard to resolve the conflict between the number of folks that HAVE to work no matter what to keep us all fed, seems pretty daunting To keep the system going and protect them as well by staying home? Yes, you can stay home, but not those folks who have to be on the line shoulder to shoulder to process the food the will be delivered to your door on a 4-6 week lockdown. Gonna be a tough nut to crack.
          But, this world is full of very clever people.

          1. Raymond Sim

            Read a history of the ‘Great Patriotic War’.

            This virus is highly contagious and destructive, but it’s not magic. If we can’t beat it we don’t deserve this country.

            1. Lupana

              I agree. I think in many cases we’ve forgotten how to ‘get by’. People just need time to prepare and resources to make it happen. A short term lockdown during which time we prepare for a coherent re-opening process where we realize the virus is not going to go easily and will require vigilance is so much better than this state of mass confusion we’re living in. And as a bonus it might prove the world can actually work together.

              1. Glossolalia

                But why would our “short term” lock down end any differently than all the other places that have done much longer and stricter lockdowns, only to have covid reemerge?

                1. Lupana

                  I guess I’m thinking of a worldwide coordinated lock down and a real one not like the last one where everything and everyone seemed to be exempt. Viruses are not really alive until they are in a host so we have to deny Covid any hosts and let it just die out. The virus keeps reemerging because there are too many countries just letting it proliferate and – I’m not sure – but it seems in places where they’ve gotten it under control and it reemerges, it comes from outside. This is a global issue and needs a global solution. What is the alternative? What we’re doing is clearly not working – Unless we can hope that it is going to mutate into a bad cold, which I’ve read it might but what if it doesn’t and something even worse than Delta comes next?

                  1. Noloni

                    You don’t need it to be global, just enough to allow for travel between countries that have also eliminated it. This will create enormous incentive for others to join.

                    1. Basil Pesto

                      yeah, this is what I’ve been thinking for a little while now (or putting it another way, to refuse travel from non-eliminationist countries to a zero-covid one). Unfortunately it won’t work for minor countries like Australia, NZ, Singapore. You’d need uptake from China and/or the US and/or Schengen area.

                  2. Glossolalia

                    But this gets the issue of what a real lockdown looks like. Grocery stores have to remain open, right? What about pharmacies so people can get their medications? What about gas stations and car repair shops, so that those essential workers who need to drive to work can do so? What about public transportation so that essential workers who don’t have cars can get to work? What about all the warehouses and distribution centers that deliver supplies to hospitals?

                    1. Lupana

                      I think if you’re talking about a lock down, it has to be real in order to work. We have to look and see what’s worked in other countries. You can’t declare everyone an essential worker and exempt everything from being closed and expect a different result than last time. I believe in China, food etc were delivered so people could stay home. In Italy, people were allowed out for daily exercise but otherwise were to stay home. We’re on a main road so we watch the town buses go by and last lock down, we would watch them go by hour after hour – completely empty. Were those drivers really essential workers or could they have stayed home? Each locality would be different in terms of what is essential. It would be a pared down life no doubt for a short while but it would just be for awhile.
                      We would also need places for strict quarantine of those infected and contact tracing. Then after things started to open, we would have to maintain vigilance. We can’t declare victory prematurely as we’ve already seen.
                      The main thing to get people to buy in is financial and health support across the board for everyone. We’ve invested trillions of dollars in destroying other countries, we can certainly invest trillions for save ours.

        2. Mantid

          Logistically in advance I’d propose, as with iodine, put Ivermectin in salt. Sounds far fetched but the logic is sound. Trouble is it won’t make any money for anyone and would show the folly of the current Madison Avenue sales pitch for an ill designed vaccine – non sterilizing. Who the billy heck thought that one up …. in a pandemic. Your curse word here.

          1. Shonde

            Issue those N100 respirators worn by those working in
            TB hospitals to every essential worker. Maybe even to everyone.

      2. Raymond Sim

        Seriously Glossolalia? “If we lock everything down, nobody will be able to do anything!”

        This is simply asinine. It doesn’t even rise to the level of strawmanning.

        1. Glossolalia

          I’m pretty sure I didn’t say that, but I’m not sure which comment you’re referring to. If you can clarify then perhaps I can see what you mean.

          1. Skk

            Wow, that was wonderfully civil, considering the provocation. I was getting triggered by the increasing incivility, and I’m only reading stuff, I seldom comment nowadays.
            Kudos to you.

  8. Mikerw0

    The is an abject lesson in labeling something a crisis and not managing it as a crisis by looking for the easy way out. If leadership, across the board, had approached this as the threat it is (+600,000 official deaths, record daily deaths in FL right now, etc.) which would include both being firm in what we need to do and being honest we would likely be in a different place.

    As the post says, vaccines were touted as the silver bullet which they aren’t. To now get society to deal with it (look how quickly New Zealand locked down with relatively few cases) will be next to impossible. We are unwilling to do what is required and weed out incompetence throughout government.

    Sadly, we’re screwed.

    1. juliania

      The great thing for New Zealand was that with us to watch they already knew that the vaccines didn’t prevent the virus from spreading, so they locked down and went to tracing contacts right away, not relying on the ‘protection’ scenario for vaccines although there is a vaccination program starting as well. I hope they succeed because it will be a lesson to us all that it is possible to do so. And don’t worry about your kids learning – they will! Keep them home and have them do projects, even just look after a sibling. Kids will learn; it’s their nature to do so. Above all, keep them safe. During the polio epidemic we kids had correspondence classwork printed in the newspaper! I don’t think it held me back at all, in fact I know it didn’t.

      Nobody really knows what all this mutating will lead to — that’s a good thing. We hope for the best and that is how we beat this thing.

  9. JT

    Just received an email from the Chief Medical Officer of my place of employment. The email states that the Pfizer vaccine (now “sold as Comirnaty”) offers protection against “all variants” of the virus. Really? All?

    Interesting to note that even though all employees are now required to be vaccinated, we are also going to be required to wear masks at all times, and social distance, when on site. What level of mixed messaging is that?

    1. Reds

      Airbags offer protection against all car crashes to their occupants, that doesn’t mean everyone inside will survive.

      1. tegnost

        As with airbags, vaccine manufacturers should not have an EUA authorization, especially if they are mandatory and “approved”.

    2. Mantid

      If you’re in a position of trust and likely won’t get fired, send your boss a few of the articulate comments from NC (no, not mine). 1 – 2 from IM Doc, GM etc.

      If he/she cares about the workers, they will take note. If they’re only worried about their specific job, like Faucci and other worthless (ahem), then they’ll poo poo it, deny it or just ignore you.

      Bon Courage mon pote

      1. JT

        Let’s just say I work for what some may consider the enemy, so what you suggest is not a possibility.

    3. Mikel

      “Protection against all variants”

      They are playing everybody for damn fools.
      Like they can predict what the spike proteins are up to next.
      What money grubbing garbage…

  10. PHLDenizen

    Breaking Points (née Rising) has been disappointing with their Covid coverage. Generally, Krystal and Sagar run decent segments on leftish narratives, but they’ve all but capitulated to what they deem to be “hysteria” around the Delta variant. It’s not unhinged and violently partisan, but the framing, IMO, feels slanted towards masking isn’t convincingly effectual and is possibly damaging for kids.

    For instance, yesterday there was a segment titled “The TRUTH About School Masking As Elites Push Restrictions” ( One point Krystal raised was to what degree masking young kids impaired social skills, e.g. her 4 YO in pre-school is possibly handicapped by having masks cover facial cues necessary to social functioning. Her 8 YO has a speech impediment and masking is burdensome during speech therapy. It amounted to “yes, masking and keeping kids safe is important, but what about the OTHER costs? No one seems to know.”

    I haven’t looked into the studies they referenced, but perhaps someone here can weigh in. I also don’t have kids, so I know fsck all about their development. Sagar did use the Unabomber’s medical quarantine as a toddler as a possible causation for his conduct later in life — which is a stretch.

    Sagar, who is vaccinated, also contracted Covid. Doesn’t appear to be ill, but yet more, relatively high-profile proof that breakouts are occurring.

    1. Mr. Magoo

      They have been fairly anti-mask for children, going back to their time at Rising/TheHill.

      I raised the fallacy of their argument in which they raised about other costs of masking in which they admit ‘No one seems to know” – and use that to promote not forcing kids to mask in school.

      Usually, weak arguments are what they are good at pointing out – except when it is their own.

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        Yeah, that’s a really weak argument. Of course no one seems to know. We haven’t been through this before. Maybe a year ago when it seemed COVID had less impact on school age kids, they might have sounded sort of reasonable. But I don’t see how you make that argument now. And I say that with an autistic niece who has had a very difficult time with masking and home schooling.

    2. Steven Greenberg

      Saagar doesn’t appear to be very ill now, but he referred to more severe symptoms he had before his most recent Breaking Points episode.

      1. polar donkey

        Saagar said he most likely got it at the gym or on an airplane. I quit my gym (but still pay dues because the YMCA does more than just fitness) and I sure am not getting on an airplane. The vaccine has given many people hubris.

  11. The Rev Kev

    Last year you had all these creatures come out of the woodwork and demand that the economy stay open as this virus really only killed – mostly – old people. They actually said that grandpa and grandma should sacrifice their lives for the good of the economy. So, 600,000 deaths later on we are pretty sure that that was not a real winning idea. But this time it really is different. This new variant has a taste for young kids and what is more frightening, it leaves long term effects on them which I never somehow expected. So I can see a crunch time approaching.

    It has been noted frequently how the credentialed class appears to be capable of ignoring in your face facts and believe patent lies from public figures like Fauci. And there have been too many anecdotes given here on NC that confirm that this is actually a thing. So what happens now with the developing clusterf*ck of their own kids now being firmly in the line of fire of this virus. They have an excellent chance of falling sick. How will they react? Even then some may try to rationalize this away but they will also be aware that when their kids come home, they too will be almost guaranteed of catching it. So now it is personal. So what will they do?

  12. MT_wild

    In looking at the Pike County case, schools opened August 9th and they announced the temporary return to remote learning on August 18th.

    For anybody that’s looked at the return to school data, is that a typical time span for the reality of the situation to rear its ugly head?

    I’ve got a five and a six-year-old about to return to school tomorrow, and right now my plan is they’re not going. The county we live in currently has low spread, but vaccination rate is about 35%. We’re directly adjacent to, and bus students in from, a county that’s seeing extreme spread with something like 50 cases per 100000 each day despite a slightly higher vax rate of 46%.

    The school is going full-on return to normal, with the exception of hygiene theatre. I expect we’ll see rapid and widespread transmission shortly.

    1. Raymond Sim

      It seems pretty typical.

      I’ve been trying to look over as much back-to-school data as I can. If you’re familiar with my comments here you’ll know I was expecting the worst. What I’m seeing borders on the surreal.

      I’m going to try to persuade my kids to let Granny and me homeschool. It will mean a big increase in our risk, but I far prefer that to exposing a child to whatever it is that’s out there.

        1. Mantid

          MT, I’m a teacher in middle school. I suggest staying home, if you can, in any form until school is closed. I’d give it two weeks if they care, four weeks if people are screaming at school board meets.

          Plan ahead and try to find a couple like minded families and one teacher, depending on kid’s grade level and other variables. Many teachers do not want to go into the classroom, they know better. If you offered a teacher a chance to teach – online – a small cohort of students, you may have a good possibility to line something up, NOW. Anticipate and organize now because the close is close :-)

  13. Gabriel

    Relevant study, basically every kid will get COVID if schools are kept open without masks. Quebec is about to walk back their previous “no masks in class” decision later today.

  14. LaRuse

    I dropped my daughter at her middle school door today for the first day of 8th grade. She’s vaxxed but she’s been listening to me and even before VA mandated in-school masks, she had every intent to wear a mask in school. But she and I are of the mind that it feels inevitable that the household will get Delta.
    Could we have done remote learning? Maybe – the state and county created options but there was high demand and nearly instantaneous waiting lists. Further, she is in a gifted program, is deeply extroverted, and remote learning last year had serious mental health consequences for her that no matter the risks that COVID poses, cannot be overlooked as a parallel threat to her health.
    What should a parent do?
    All of this would be easier of our local, state, and federal governments were being transparent.
    All of this would be easier if we would stop the kabuki theater around the vaccines and acknowledge their limitations and add more “slices of swiss cheese” to our safety equation.
    All of this would be easier if there were affordable and readily available COVID treatments that were widely accepted or even newly developed since 2020.
    I appreciate all that NC has done to help educate me – this has allowed me to take whatever steps I can to protect my daughter even though I feel the only feasible option is to send her back into the classroom. My fingers are crossed for the best, but I have also taken every practical step I know of (thanks to NC) to prepare for the worst.
    Best wishes to all of the parents out there facing the same insanely difficult situation we are.

  15. Blue Duck

    My children attend public elementary school in California. Their school is following the California guidelines. Everyone is masked and there is increased hand washing. However there is no increased ventilation in the classrooms and no social distancing. More importantly there is no social distancing at lunch when all the children have their masks down. My school is defending themselves by saying they are following California guidelines. However the California guidelines were released in early July, and updated three weeks ago in early august. The California guidelines do not adequately address the delta variant. As such, and in my opinion, we can expect mass outbreaks of the delta variant in California public schools in the coming days/weeks. (Side note: These outbreaks will occur as California voters vote to recall Governor Newsome…)

    1. Medbh

      Our district is also requiring masks, but having the entire high school eat together in a cafeteria with no distancing, and is also having band practice indoors with no masks and no open windows/ventilation. They will do contact tracing in the event of a positive test, but anyone wearing a mask will not be considered a close contact. Students who are vaccinated do not have to quarantine upon exposure, but can continue going to school. It’s infuriating.

      1. ptb

        but anyone wearing a mask will not be considered a close contact

        Then they are not actually doing contact tracing, just pretending.

        1. Medbh

          Yep, is a 20 page document of contradictions and nothing of substance. We’re in a high-income, liberal, highly educated school district. It’s like they decided to require masks to show they’re on the right “team,” but ignored the practices that would actually keep kids safer.

    2. Mikel

      I just saw some insanity from my workplace. They have a space in the owner’s headquaters (if you choose to use) and while you will be required to wear a mask upon entering the building and if you’re walking around, you don’t have to wear a mask while sitting at your desk space.
      What part of aerosol transmission don’t they understand?

      Oh, and nothing about ventilation upgrades or windows or anything….

  16. LAS

    I think most public health professionals are very hard working and well meaning, but there are systemic biases in the profession — of a political power nature. For instance, I see incredible “group think” linkages in the local public health dept. where I currently work.

    Currently the uptick in vaccination rates are being touted as a reassuring metric of success (while no one parses the reasons behind it) and some of my colleagues still think things are getting progressively better with this particular metric as their guide (as opposed to referencing the test positivity rates which also exist). They may have confounded influence over the public with public safety.

    A lot of local public health work is funded with grants from the CDC and/or the state, and because of this there is the necessity for local public health departments to conform to CDC/state guidance, metrics, and narrative — at the expense of independent solutions. General work force are told to keep their mouths shut, not speak to the press, and wait for talking points from the communications department — apparently so we don’t accidentally botch up important linkages with our own separate ideas. I’ve seen the same kind of semi-delusional thinking in environmental lead remediation actions, the construction of metrics that tell a positive story and the suppression of metrics that tell a more nuanced or negative progression.

    In actuality, it takes a wide range of research, reading, news, and voices to get a well-rounded picture, what we’re achieving and what we aren’t achieving.

  17. michael hudson

    A byproduct of this already is anti-Asian violence.
    They’re being blamed for the covid and lockdowns. My wife’s Asian friends are experiencing rising hostility on the streets and subways, and are afraid to go out alone. The noon local news broadcasts often now lead off with anti-Asian violence.

    1. The Historian

      I have an Asian son in law and an Asian daughter in law and both have told me about the increased hostility they are seeing. Neither of them are Chinese but apparently even that doesn’t matter.

    2. Mr. Magoo

      My family is half-asian, and no reported issues. There generally seems to be an increase, but from very low levels. Maybe a bit of mixing in of click-baiting/sensationalizing? At least from everyone I talk to – everyone hears about it, but nobody I have talked to (half are asian around here) – no personal experiences. Conversely as there is a large Asian population here, might be why it is not an issue.

    3. Mikel

      Not only is this type of hysteria leading to violence, there are some pockets of unvaccinated (definately not all) who take not being vaccinated with big doses of religious fervor. It’s the “devil’s vaccine”. That exists with vaccinated who treat “the science” with religious fervor.
      All can lead to hysterical violence.

  18. Blue Pilgrim

    * There is no solid evidence that Delta is worse, but absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Greater spread can be attributed to founder effect with Delta and rotten policies for non-medical practices such as masking. We don’t really know what the story is yet but we should certainly take a serious ‘conservative’ approach and minimize risks considering the catastrophic possibilities.

    * Classrooms should be closed until the children can be vaccinated, or it’s just tempting fate (same reasoning as wearing seat belts and having house insurance). Throwing millions of unvaccinated children into massive daily superspreader events is begging for disaster. Break open a piggy bank somewhere and make sure all children have decent computers for online learning and give financial support to the parents who stay home to watch the kids.

    * Make sure all essential workplaces are safe, and workers protected, to keep up supply lines and needed protection. Yes — create/spend the money needed to maintain as much real wealth as possible. Forget about giving billions to the banks and military industry and the rich, who do not need it. Stop the wars and blowing stuff, and people, up, and direct resources to real wealth and production and greater efficiency.

    * The sars-cov-2 virus is now endemic and can’t be eradicated, and will at least maintain reservoirs among various animal species. Do massive testing early on and respond early with monoclonals, and whatever other new anti-virals can be developed. Vaccines were never supposed to stop infection (sterilize or neutralize), but to boost the immune system so that infection could be handled to stop or minimize disease. Anti-body levels always drops off after a while and protection against disease relies on memory cells for anti-bodies and T-cells — that’s how the immune system is supposed to work. Antigen / sera testing is needed to find someone who has gotten the disease because PCR detects both replication-competent virus, RNA litter from a cleared infection, and also vaccine RNA. The right tests have to be used for finding the results one looks for, and plaque assay is the one to use to find ‘live’ virus which can replicate, with other tests being only correlates of active virus.

    * We need to put a lot more money into research and real science, get politics, ideology, and religion out of control, and get some recognized solid sources of real information, even if it is often uncertain and ambiguous, to counter the lies and nonsense everywhere. If we don’t deal with the actual reality or the reality with deal with us, in ways we don’t like, and quite possibly fatal.

    1. Raymond Sim

      * There is no solid evidence that Delta is worse, but absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Greater spread can be attributed to founder effect with Delta and rotten policies for non-medical practices such as masking. We don’t really know what the story is yet but we should certainly take a serious ‘conservative’ approach and minimize risks considering the catastrophic possibilities.

      I propose than henceforth we stipulate that absence of evidence is indeed evidence, if there’s evidence the absence is contrived.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Making Shit Up is against our written site Policies. Your opening statement is absolutely false. One more like that and you will be blacklisted.

      Delta has a MUCH higher transmission rate than wild type Covid. This is undisputed. We’ve linked repeatedly to modeling that shows that higher transmission rates with no change in mortality results in more deaths than no change in transmission rates but increased mortality levels. And it may also be more lethal, see the impact on teens and kids, which was largely absent in wild type Covid.

      And see this new paper:

      The SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant is poised to acquire complete resistance to wild-type spike vaccines

      1. Mantid

        Yves, thanks so much for two things, your response and your link. Just went there and can’t wait to review their literature. A teacher learning, mi piace.

      2. Hiroyuki

        warning do not read that if you want to sleep tonight.
        also, non peer reviewed so there is that to help you sleep tonight.

  19. samhill

    This seems the latest plan being seeded for us all, in the West at least, the transition from pandemic to endemic, from Prof Eleanor Riley, straight form that mouthpiece of the UK/USA state

    Here’s Doc Campbell doing a run down of the above. I really like the good doctor but he’s standing on his head here suggesting maybe it’s now best for all of us vaxxed to go out and get covid. This is after singing the praises of the mRNA vaxs for a year and half with the assured optimism (as almost all doctors) that they’d confer long lasting immunity for individuals and sterilizing immunity for the herd. Too many variables for me to go and seek out sickness. At this point I’m sure I’ll get it, but I’m still going to make it run me down.

    This just seems the new bad policy to replace the old bad policy that was, get the old and frail up to high ground (those that push up the politically lethal hospital curve) announce Freedom Day, and blow the herd immunity levees. Now it’s, don’t worry if you get covid after vaccination, it’s the best thing for you and everyone. I’m going to go hit my head against the wall.

    1. Kevin Carhart

      ffs. I said this about Campbell. He’s out of the rotation as far as I am concerned. In the leadup to “Freedom Day,” he runs a short clip of the emergency summit from the Lancet/Gurdasani/Cadwalladr group. And then says “Well I’m convinced.” Great! But generally when someone is convinced of something they don’t do a 180 three days later, push the idea that case prevalence no longer matters and it’s a good idea to get covid. Youtubers are compromised by the contours of their medium and can’t be trusted. As it is, I should have known better because I would go listen to Campbell, read around, then check in with Smith Strether and the NC braintrust and commenters. They’re consistently different and Campbell is always curiously sanguine in ways that the brain trust is not. He adds nothing. I would go “okay then, I’ve just spent 20m with Campbell, maybe the sanguine view is correct, I would certainly like to genuinely come out of this. The cessation is upon us.” Then you read IM Doc/GM and say well why in the world is Campbell doing that and still taken as “one of the good ones”?

      1. GM

        Campbell is an example of someone who has a hard time thinking independently and still thinks the authorities of the past are reliable.

        Which is a huge problem because in the pandemic those authorities — WHO, CDC, many prominent scientists — have been a consistent sort of disinformation and misinformation, always playing down the seriousness of the situation, propagating outright denial about important aspects of it, and often just blatantly deliberately lying.

        To his credit, he does correct himself, but that only comes many months later and by then the damage is done.

        For example, he talked about how reinfections are first impossible, then extremely rare for most of 2020. Now he acknowledges them as something common, but to this day he is talking about how they are “mostly mild” as if that solves the problem (it does not, and it is not even really true).

        And part of denying the reality of reinfections is that he also talks a lot about herd immunity. But there is no herd immunity with this virus, you can only reach it temporarily, and talking about it is in fact an implicit promotion of GBD-type strategies.

        That sort of thing.

        You cannot deal with a rapidly developing crisis with that kind of thinking — you need to cut through the BS and obfuscation, not take anyone’s word just because they are in a position of authority, and always assume and plan for the worst, because the consequences of not doing that and the worst happening vastly outweigh the cost of preparing for it and it not happening.

        But we consistently refuse to do that. And Campbell is exactly the kind of gentle mild mannered person who is not being “extreme” and sounds very “reasonable”, etc., but in reality he just lulls people into voluntarily submitting to the slaughter even if he himself does not realize it.

  20. Jason Boxman

    The Pike County School system in Troy announced it would cancel classes on Friday to deep clean its buildings amid a spike in COVID-19 cases, largely among its youngest students.

    Is the building going to catch COVID? We care more about buildings (capital) than people in this country.

  21. WhatdoIknow

    The narrative has clearly switched from full protection to the vaccine will make your symptoms lighter and you will suffer less from the covid if you are vaccinated.
    There was even a story of someone who died from covid and their family came with a statement that thankfully he suffered less because he was vaccinated.
    How is this assessment made in an objective manner?
    How can one who gets covid tell that the symptoms are milder than they would have been if not vaccinated?

  22. Raymond Sim

    What I’m about to say is not based on anything like as solid a foundation as anything I would normally proclaim on a public forum. Rather, I’m speaking from the intuition I’ve acquired over this past long twenty months trying to understand what’s going on in the course of the pandemic.

    As others have said, right now our collective situational awareness of the pandemic is about as poor as it was in Spring 2020. In trying to peer through the fog I’ve been seeking out first-person accounts from healthcare personnel and educators (I’ve found this ‘anecdata’ to be reliable and very valuable in evaluating official pronouncements) as well as looking at news reports on the situation in schools that have opened, and at hospitalization reports from the states the schools are in. I’ve mostly been ignoring official new case statistics, as they are so wildly variable in their truthfulness.

    In particular I’ve been trying to get a sense of the aggregate virulence in children of whatever our ensemble of variants is. The numbers I’m coming up with in my very approximate estimates of things like the rate of infection in the school population, or relative increase of virulence in children versus adults are so high that even if my overestimate is double the real number, or even triple it, the reality will be utterly unmanageable at the school level. The schools leadership in many places that are in trouble have done a terrible job, but I don’t think there’s a single one of those communities where in-school mitigations alone could have kept in-person classes from producing a calamity.

    I, and more importantly, my grandkids, live in California. Looking at official case reporting, we’re rather neatly two weeks behind the states where school districts are shutting down, and steering the same course. Community mitigations are not significantly different. Vaccination rates currently seem to correlate with increased rates of growth, though don’t quote me on that – I didn’t crunch numbers. That means it’s on the schools to stop the monster. I don’t see why anyone would even see that as reasonable, but in any case, based on current events in the rest of the country, it’s not even remotely possible.

  23. lb

    I’m going to throw out a partial narrative that’s been bouncing around in my head for a while and I’m curious what others think of this:

    Increasing precariousness in all ways of life is part of managed decline for the American population. We had financial precariousness for many after the 2007-8 financial crisis, which remained permanent. A generation now exists with little hope of home ownership and persistent debt. This is their new normal.

    Presumably events from climate crises will push more people into having a new, lesser normal as they’re displaced or forced into poverty or illness — water scarcity, the Texas freeze, persistent wildfires and smoke, et cetera. It remains to be seen how those things will be managed, or not, by the powers that be. I expect a normalization of lower quality of life.

    COVID with forced reopening may be the public health ratchet-down of a similar decline in quality of life. It may be that the Chamber of Commerce equivalents around the world decided that “it’s just the flu” is a guideline: we will force people to accept COVID-level precariousness as they accepted vulnerability to the flu, even if the risk numbers are way worse/broader. Forcing kids in schools, where the state can compel attendance (for all but those with the resources to homeschool), to see this new normal may be the indoctrination into precariousness of a new generation. A previous generation may have waited until seeing massive student loan debt to open their eyes to permanent precariousness. Now a five-year-old can see that possibly permanent illness, possibly bringing your sniffles home to kill grandpa, and so on is just how life works.

    The missing piece here is how much social resistance there is and will be to living through “let ‘er rip” style forced opening. Since it would take a coordinated resistance to actually affect change and we’re ever-more-fragmented as individuals and groups… I don’t see much hope.

    1. Nada

      I feel you so much on this. Hard not to despair. The hope I do find is in the ordinary people reaching out to each other. Maybe being human is not just about quality of life but the “qualities of care” amidst the storms? There is some dignity in tapping into reservoirs of love while also facing interminable odds. See Cape Town Together for some of what’s happening in our neck of the woods.

      1. Mantid

        IB and Nada, fine observation. When and as the general population understands the folly of leaders at all levers, from school admin all the way up to Fucci, CDC, WHO ….. it will get messy. In the US however, with the monopolization of public discourse via MSM, it will be easy to keep people divided and arguing about side issues, straw men, etc.

        Connect with a handful of friends and family, possibly coworkers, and discuss as much as you can. Information is out there (here chez NC) that is reliable, but turn off the telly, except for comic relief of course.

        1. juliania

          Some time back I stopped watching tv except for some entertaining old programs, upbeat movies and the like. No news; no exceptions. If I want news I can find it here online – and only music on the radio. I’m an oldie and I don’t need to know everything when it happens. I’ve been doing this for years, and maybe it doesn’t suit a younger person, but I do advocate it for us oldies. Life is precious; enjoy it while you can.

    2. ChrisFromGeorgia

      I have some bias here being a critic of the Chamber of Commerce but I suspect you’re onto something.

      There is a lot of cognitive dissonance between the almost celebratory mood on Wall St, with S&P and Nasdaq ripping higher and higher, and the reality out there in the street. Getting people to just accept the possibility of death from COVID is part of “the deal” in order to keep on keeping on, taking vacations, cruises, etc. I’m highly suspicious that the campaign to herd folks back into offices with long commutes despite the risks, not to mention the outright stupidity from a climate perspective, is part of this too. Can’t have all that shiny CRE getting sold for pennies on the dollar or bulldozed and turned into parks.

      Normalization of a decline in quality of life might well be the only “strategy” they’ve got to deal with this virus. It’s not going to end well, but it will keep the can bouncing down the driveway for a bit.

      I am reminded of the 2010 BP oil spill and how some folks didn’t cancel their vacations to the Gulf and literally swam in tarballs. “Whatever it takes” to keep the ponzi scheme going.

      Mother nature bats last, though. Climate change is going to open up a big can of “you know what” on lots of folks.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      It may be sad that we have to DIY this sort of thing … but it is very empowering that we can, and that it may help.

  24. tongorad

    I teach high school in TX in a portable classroom packed with 30+ students. At least I can open the windows, I suppose.
    I feel like I’m constantly on the edge of a panic-attack meltdown and insomnia has hit me hard. Try teaching after you haven’t slept in days.
    Good times.

  25. drumlin woodchuckles

    . . . ” Lordie, hygiene theater still? The CDC’s refusal to loudly correct early misperceptions about Covid means that what has become misformation has a log tail.” . . .

    Is anyone willing to consider the outside chance possibility that the CDC is secretly assisting in the advance of its OverClass Masters’ secret agenda to raise death rates over time in order to reduce the population over time? Is the possibility worth even a passing thought?

    1. Raymond Sim

      It’s a worthy thought I would say, in the sense that, if you’re not starting to wonder about that kind of thing, I wonder what’s wrong with you.

    2. Cutiepatutie

      Yes. Not feasible and a rehashing of a very old conspiracy theory. As I understand it people would have to be dying at a global rate of almost triple what it is now.

      Also the super competence assumed by this kind of thinking is imho utterly fantastic and misguided. We wish our administrators were this organised. They just are not.

      Not saying that there might not be opportunists but lack of competence and the difficulty of decision making under uncertainty and implementation across complexity is usually enough to create apocalyptic-seeming scenarios as is.

  26. Jeremy Grimm

    “…batten down the hatches. If you think it’s been rough so far, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.” This encapsulates my own concerns about the ongoing Corona circus.

    Lies and tall tales may be fine for ignoring the unhappy fates of the many who could not work from home. They do not work so well when children are harmed … when your children are harmed by lies and malpractices of public health policy and common sense. I believe most people have a special affection for their children that all the spin and message shaping money can buy, cannot blunt.

    We have been lied to about our foreign wars. The mishandling of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan is beyond anything I could have imagined. The mishandling of the Corona pandemic and the concurrent deconstruction of the US economy has exceeded all my most pessimistic projections. If Ivermectin and other non-‘vaccine’ approaches for dealing with the Corona pandemic prove out as I expect they will, I cannot imagine the impact that could have on all but the most recalcitrant true-believers in the Government’s fabulations.

    This post is concerned with school openings. I believe that is a terrible tragedy ‘under-construction’. I do worry about that, but I also worry about the ends to the foreclosure and rent moratoriums, and the huge amount of money that seems to be entering the markets for housing as a consequence, I believe, of the CARES Act largess heaped upon the Fed — money heaped upon the Fed for reasons and justifications completely occult to me. The bizarre public relations campaigns at the World Economic Forum add confusion and apprehension to my feelings about what may come.

    I grow fearful we no longer live in interesting times. These are quickly becoming dangerous times.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Are there any “standing-threads” in the NaCap archives which might be a sensible place for the concerned among us to bring realistic survival and survivalist information and resources to, for others to find, read and consider? If a shapeless formless diffuse group of NaCap readers all slowly settled by evolving common agreement on such a thread, perhaps a bunch of actionable survival information might build up for people to find, take from, add to, etc.

      In a few years time, there probably won’t be any more internet. In a few years after that, there may not be any computers beyond the castles and the bunkers of the rich and of certain neo-monastic technology preservation fortresses. The giving and taking of online information not done in the time-shrinking opportunity still remaining will be information which will never be given/taken among large numbers of people ever agaiin . . . once the internet goes dark for good.

      1. Nada

        Try for rationalist perspective and of course for philosophical.

        Keep some hope though. Although it can feel insane, it becomes ever more necessary with every veil lifting.

  27. Soredemos

    I’ve just got to say, on the subject of masks, the way this became a battle in the culture wars will never cease to amaze me. In reality it’s simply not anything more than an at worst minor inconvenience (and if you wear them habitually, you quickly mostly stop noticing them) for most people. There are people who work eight hours or more a day in masks (and more constricting masks at that, I’m thinking of jobs like house painting) who get along just fine. Yet it became the hill they’ll die on for many self-proclaimed champions of ‘freedom’. People wouldn’t just refuse to wear them, but it quickly became a cliche for people to blatantly lie and claim they couldn’t wear a mask because of some never defined ‘health problem’.

    Even now where I live, which is solidly liberal blue, most people are only wearing them again now because the state has reimposed the order to do so (I simply never stopped wearing them). Most people I see are following the order, and I haven’t even heard much grumbling, though clearly most people find it to be an annoyance. But that is also a problem: people need to be told to do it. Even the better part of two years into this pandemic, no degree of medical common sense seems to have penetrated; you have to order people to wear masks. The idea that the virus doesn’t care what your county or state has ordered and is still out there infecting people has apparently completely failed to register. A million dead Americans (I’m convinced that’s what the real covid toll is close to) and so many people still aren’t actually taking this seriously. It’s just amazing. And yes, I get that many of them think they are taking it sufficiently seriously. They’ve been told they didn’t need masks once they got vaccinated, now they’re being told to wear masks again. And since no one in this country bothers to put any effort into doing their own research, they just accept whatever Fauci et al say.

    And that’s just speaking of individuals and their self-preservation. It goes without saying that the concept that “this isn’t about you; it’s about not infecting others” simply never got off the ground. A significant part of the country managed to turn ‘grandma killer’ into a meme to sneer at. Well, sorry, but yeah, that is what you’re actually doing if you’re needlessly cavalier about this virus and about taking precautions against it. Even now parents seem mostly concerned with the safety of their children, which yes, I absolutely understand that that is a parent’s priority. But while some kids will die, and others impacted long-term, the much bigger danger of reopening schools is that the kids will become super-spreaders.

    While a lot (a lot) of blame goes to our ‘public health’ authorities and their atrocious public communication policies, this whole affair also reveals something about the American cultural character. There is a deep-seated mean-spirited selfishness in many people in this country, that I almost want to say borders on the autistic in the degree it is oblivious to the needs and well being of other people.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I like my mask and I like my mask with a badger seal even more.

      And I wear mine 6-8 hours a day in my house because aides and 93 year old mother.

    2. alan2102

      Note added in proof: snippet from CDC blog dated June 2020

      NIOSH Science Blog

      The Physiological Burden of Prolonged PPE Use on Healthcare Workers during Long Shifts


      Respirator wearers should be aware of the potential physiological impact of using each type of respirator.

      Filtering Facepiece Respirators

      An N95 FFR user is always going to experience some level of difficulty breathing, or breathing resistance, even though these devices are designed to minimize breathing resistance as much as possible. Enough breathing resistance could result in a reduction in the frequency and depth of breathing, known as hypoventilation (the opposite of hyperventilation).

      Hypoventilation is a primary cause of significant discomfort while wearing an N95 FFR (Williams 2010). However, studies done by Roberge et al. (2010) indicated that this hypoventilation did not pose a significant risk to healthcare workers over the course of less than one hour of continuous N95 use. When HCWs are working longer hours without a break while continuously wearing an N95 FFR, blood CO2 levels may increase past the 1-hour mark, which could have a significant physiological effect on the wearer (Lim et al., 2006)*. Some of the known physiological effects of increased concentrations of CO2 include:

      — Headache;
      — Increased pressure inside the skull;
      — Nervous system changes (e.g., increased pain threshold, reduction in cognition – altered judgement, decreased situational awareness, difficulty coordinating sensory or cognitive, abilities and motor activity, decreased visual acuity, widespread activation of the sympathetic nervous system that can oppose the direct effects of CO2 on the heart and blood vessels);
      — Increased breathing frequency;
      — Increased “work of breathing”, which is result of breathing through a filter medium;
      — Cardiovascular effects (e.g., diminished cardiac contractility, vasodilation of peripheral blood vessels);
      — Reduced tolerance to lighter workloads.

      They’ve attempted to disclaim the obvious by posting at the top of the page the announcement that “this blog is specifically about respirators used by healthcare workers during long shifts and not facemasks worn as barrier control to stop the spread of COVID” — as though the basic physiology were different! At least no different for any well-fitting mask, and for N95s. If they fit well, which is essential for reducing viral transmission, then obviously and necessarily there will be great concentration and re-breathing of CO2. There will be quite a lot even if NOT well-fitting. Unavoidably.

      This is one example of the ham-handed way in which the public health establishment has tried to re-write history and obscure plain relevant facts. And indeed the way they seem to regard intelligent people with contempt, as though we will believe ANY absurdity or obfuscatory lie that they care to spew out.

      Once again, this is beside the matter of whether or not masks are worth it. That worth is certainly questionable based on impartial examination of the available literature. Regardless, it may exist. Masking MAY BE WORTH IT. But that in no way excuses the contemptuous, insulting lies and bullshit we have been asked to believe.

  28. VietnamVet

    Connective dissonance is naturally rampant now. Things literally are falling apart. I thought I’d accepted isolating in suburbia. No. Not forever. The clip of Rachel Maddow sneeringly blaming the unvaccinated for the South’s overflowing hospitals and Dr. Anthony Fauci saying the FDA is the regulatory gold standard and now that Comirnaty vaccine is approved, businesses and government can mandate vaccination, I felt bursts of hatred of the incompetent fools that I thought had been buried years ago (it last popped out on seeing LBJ in “Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam”).

    Either Joe Biden is playing the senile idiot or somebody thinks the troops are needed back home to protect the money making machine since there is no way the global oligarchs will spend a dime to save lives by eradicating coronavirus and lose profitable mRNA treatments. They exploit, addict, maim, and kill to make a profit.

    The Professional Overseers will do something when they realize their kids are no safer than hillbilly rugrats and no one picks up their garbage. Tragically, as always, the unwoke working classes, will be scapegoats, cannon fodder, and victims of the unrest and splintering apart of America.

  29. BlakeFelix

    I wouldn’t say Delta has been raging in the US for weeks, it’s only spiked recently, and deaths usually lag quite a bit. We’ll see how it works out.

  30. Lone_Geek

    Yves — latest info from the university I work at. Applies to all students / faculty especially international.

    “Only FDA-authorized COVID vaccines will be accepted. These three vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, J&J/Janssen) have all shown effectiveness against known variants. Any individuals who have not received one of these vaccines must be revaccinated with a full course of one of these vaccines upon arrival, that is two doses, properly spaced, for Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, and one for J&J/Janssen.

    Previously, we allowed any vaccine authorized by the World Health Organization, but given growing data about the potential for lower effectiveness against delta, we are now mandating revaccination for those who have received non-FDA-approved vaccines. “

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