Administration’s Obvious Covid Flail: Officially Abdicates as Case Count Hits Record; Scientists and Press Misrepresent Data to Put Happy Face on Omicron

Forgive me for doing a cursory job on such an important and sorry set of Covid developments. But I had really intended this to be a holiday week and instead I’m up to my eyeballs in family duties. But the raw facts are so bad that to a fair degree, they speak for themselves.

It’s become painfully evident that the “follow the science” and Biden Administration campaign promise to act as the adults in the room are a sick joke. Policy all politics. Public health long ago left the barn and is now in the next county. Biden threw in the towel on Monday after having promised on the campaign trail to shut down the virus:

While constitutionally, public health is indeed a state and local responsibility, the Feds have the say over interstate commerce, and they also have many other powerful levers they can pull though their bully pulpit, data collection and dissemination, and their ability to fund nationwide programs. We’ve instead had inconsistent, often inaccurate, and actively damaging messaging (“if you are vaccinated, you are protected”; “the vaccinated can stop masking”) but also making things worse by not understanding how poor the CDC’s data is (something the agency has abjectly failed to address) made worse by officials apparently believing their own spin.

The latest is the CDC making horrendous decisions based on its own crap information. The agency admitted that its December 18 estimate, that Omicron represented 73% of all cases, was too high and the point estimate should have been 22.5%.

This CDC bad call, just like its 2020 fail on test kits, has real world implications. IM Doc had been complaining that his hospital could no longer get Regeneron when his patients were clamoring for it. He learned from his mafia that the CDC had believed its 73% Omicron estimate and based on monoclonal antibodies not being effective against Omicron, it wasn’t cost justified. IM Doc is sure some of his patients have Delta and he now can’t treat them properly.

Yet alarmingly, we are also seeing Saint Fauci and Rochelle Walenksy, despite their repeated abject failures, act as they are in running Covid policy, in defiance of Biden and the states. Fauci tried to assert authority over the airline industry during his Sunday talk show rounds by pumping for a vaccine mandate for domestic air travel. This was extremely presumptuous in light of:

The industry lobbying Congress during formal testimony for an end to masking, based on the claim that planes have super duper filtered air (yes, but what about the guy near you coughing or talking and his Covid cooties getting to you before a filter?)

Delta [the airline] petitioning for reducing vaccine quarantines to five days for the fully vaccinated…despite evidence that for Delta [the variant], and even more so for Omicron, the vaccines do little if anything to reduce spread

Many employers retreating from the >100 employee Federal vaccine mandate while it is in legal play, demonstrating they are not on board

The real possibility that the Supreme Court will overturn or restrict the employer mandate, and that could have implications for other Federal vaccine schemes

On Monday, the Administration capitulated to Delta’s request and reduced the recommended quarantine to five days, and Fauci reversed himself on a vaccine mandate for flights.

Even former Administration backers were gobsmacked. From the Financial Times:

Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in California, said: “It seems pretty chaotic. You have an announcement yesterday on isolation guidance with no data, no evidence, nothing. And this is from an administration that says it wants to stick to the science.

“Then today, we have the drastic changes to their genomic estimates. The last 24 hours show that the credibility of the agency is lower than it has been at any point during this administration.”

Topol has even more unkind words in The very bad day at the CDC, which I strongly urge you to read in full. He makes clearer than the press does the degree of the CDC’s data failure.

Scientist GM’s take on the quarantine reduction:

So now if you work in, for example, retail or fast food, your boss can force you to come back to work on Day 6, where you will proceed to infect all customers you interact with.

Also, people will die on the job because of this. How is that going to play out in practice?

You test positive, then you go through the flu-like phase of COVID. A lot of people will not at all be in any shape to come back to work on day 6, many are still really sick at that time.

But bigger problem comes later — you have come back to work, you start your shift, then the day-10 rapid deterioration kicks in, at which point you need to be in the hospital ASAP. But you just started your shift and will be fired if you leave so you try to carry on.

One hypothesis about why we no longer see people randomly dropping on the street as was the case early on on in China, Iran, Italy, etc. is that everyone is aware of COVID now and has tested positive before it gets to that point and is thus either in hospital or isolating at tome. While those people randomly dropping dead were the rapid deterioration or heart attack/stroke cases that thought they had the flu at the time nobody was aware of COVID and were thus were freely walking around.

We are about to test that hypothesis now…

P.S. This is straight up premeditated mass murder at this point

He added:

It includes HCWs [health care workers], but this is definitely not about them.

They could have been handled with a specific provision.

And that provision could have been temporary.

And it could have been to the effect of “if you test positive, you are assigned to the COVID ward, but you must absolutely not step foot in the oncology department next to the chemo patients”.

This is nothing of the sort — this is a permanent irreversible policy shift for everyone.

So from now on wherever you go to buy anything you have to be aware that the people working there might be on their Day 6…

IM Doc confirmed the management response:

The ERs and urgent cares in the affected areas are being cremated as we speak. The hospital units not so much – at least yet. You should hear some of the horror stories I am hearing from colleagues.

It has indeed now risen to the level of a public health menace.

After years of nurse mis-treatment, on top of COVID burnout, firing tons of staff over vaccine mandates – and now seeing whole units being quarantined – they see the writing on the wall.

The only one of those issues that is readily fixable is changing the quarantine time. Calling in the National Guard is simply not going to do much at all – as they are finding out the hard way right now.

So much for the whole argument that the vaccine people have had – I DO NOT WANT TO GET CARE FROM AN UNVACCINATED HCW – Well now you are going to get care from a HCW who may very well still be contagious.

This is a clusterfuck of obscene proportions. I can scarcely believe what I am seeing.

And if we are to hold Biden to his word – why would anyone listen to the CDC anymore – this is not a federal problem as of his speech today. Why is the CDC even making proclamations like this.

And he confirmed shortly that his hospital’s personnel department had sent out a “celebratory e-mail,” for those coming off the new shortened quarantine to contact their supervisor pronto since there were many open shifts.

Other news tidbits are similarly damming if you have a modicum of the backstory. The Financial Times tells us Biden’s promised 500 million home test kits are yet to materialize:

Last week, the US president announced that the federal government would respond by distributing 500m at-home tests. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Biden said his administration had “a bit of progress” on distributing the test kits.

In fact, the normally Democrat-friendly Vanity Fair broke the story that the Administration had nixed an October proposal of a mass home test program by Christmas. On top of that, Biden hadn’t even signed a contract when he announced his scheme; a Johns Hopkins expert said it would likely be a year before the kits were distributed.

Walensky, like Fauci, is also operating well beyond her authority. She not only fell in line with Fauci on giving in to the airlines on the length of recommended quarantines, but she also appointed herself as arbiter of broad social policies:

Neither Fauci nor Walensky were subject to any democratic approval process. Decisions about non-health impacts are none of her business and should be left to those who are supposed to be in charge. Unfortunately, there appears to be a gaping power vacuum and she’s all too willing to seize ground.

A final issue, which will get only brief treatment, is putative experts and the press are pushing every bit of Omicron hopium they can find, to the degree that they are baldly misrepresenting research….which even if the spin were accurate, should be treated with caution. We still don’t know enough about Omicron to be certain of much save its very high level of transmission and resistance to vaccines and monoclonal antibodies. As Lambert put it:

If you believe in the precautionary principle, then you don’t amplify “emerging data” where the policy implication is to do nothing.

One reader with a medical background sent a link to the hopium in question, a very small South African study where the title of the preprint, Omicron infection enhances neutralizing immunity against the Delta, flat out misrepresents what the data actually says. As GM said:

The PR spin is profoundly misleading and the opposite of what the data says, but unfortunately in this case the scientists themselves are to blame as they are pushing that narrative too.

The data shows little actual cross immunity.

I would not be surprised if Omicron burns through the whole world and then in mid-2022 it all starts again in some part of the world with a new strain….

Here is the first Delta/Omicron cross-neutralization data:

There is some cross-neutralization, but if you look at the unvaccinated subjects, half of them were below the limit of detection at the follow up. Which was two weeks after the initial presentation.

So they were infected with Omicron but are not showing appreciable neutralization against Delta.

Overall, including the vaccinated, titers went up 14.4x against Omicron, but 4.4x against Delta.

Which is touted as great protection against Delta, but it really is not, as titers are going down from there.

This might be enough to push Delta down in the short term, though it will not be a fast displacement into oblivion.

But it will do nothing against future variants a year from now.

And yet what does the abstract of the paper say?

The increase in Delta variant neutralization in individuals 39 infected with Omicron may result in decreased ability of Delta to re-infect those individuals. Along with emerging data indicating that Omicron, at this time in the pandemic, is less pathogenic than Delta, such an outcome may have positive implications in terms of decreasing the Covid-19 burden 42 of severe disease

Which fits well with a very disturbing trend over the last few weeks — most of the top scientists in South Africa have come out in support of the governmental policy of abdicating completely from infection control and have given statements in the spirit of “Omicron is mild and will end the pandemic”.

I have no information of why that is being done, but the suspicions are obvious and natural — this has all the hallmarks of political pressure from on top.

Because those people do/should know better scientifically.

And even if the “mild” narrative were true (the UK’s Imperial College is not on board, and the UK, between having an actual national public health service plus regular surveys of 100,000 people, has some of the best Covid data in the world), that is not necessarily good news. It appears if anything that more are getting symptomatic Omicron than Delta. In particular, note the relatively high level of symptomatic Omicron in children and young adults who have robust immune systems and showed a much lower level of symptomatic cases under Delta…and this with much more of the population, even young adults and teens, vaccinated than before.

The reason for concern is that a new, reasonable size study (n>500) found that 67% of those who had mild to moderate Covid developed long Covid. There’s no reason to think Omicron will be more forgiving.

Yet the CDC keeps digging its hole even deeper:

The Administration can barely keep up its pretense of being in the business of protecting the public. Every man is now on his own, at least in the US.

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  1. Taurus

    Bernie ran on making the US into Sweden, yet it was Joe Biden who finally accomplished that /s

    After the CDC announcement “Let’r’rip” became official policy of the US government.

    Walensky is a despicable character but the CDC has been broken for a long time before she came to the scene. The worst thing she, Tony “the Science” Fauci and their predecessors in the Trump administration (Birx et al) did is that they torched the very idea of public health for at least a generation, possibly longer.

    The constant “noble lie” modus operandi of this group of people obliterated any trust ordinary people had in the public health authority.

    One potential- very small – silver lining to the latest CDC pronouncements may be that these made it extremely difficult for the media to give them cover anymore. Hopefully, this let’s us move past the vaccine-only policy and leads to a thaw on the discussion of early clinical treatment of the decease.

    1. Otis B Driftwood

      It is too easily ignored or dismissed that Sanders, above all else, is a man of rare integrity.

      It may be pointless to speculate how he would have acted differently than Biden, but I knew Biden wasn’t up for this job. His career as a corrupt politician, not his manifest declining faculties, forboded his failure as President.

      We should be in the second term of a Sanders administration. Not this.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Biden’s efforts towards lobbying other senators weren’t directed at bringing guys like Biden and Manchin on board. They were directed towards bleeding hearts who didn’t want to see the fallout of underfunded projects being taken away with a friendly face. This kind of act doesn’t work on Manchin. This is what I think he’s been doing. Manchin ultimately doesn’t give an eff about his state. Right, he didn’t ask for the Manchin Space Port brought to you by Elon Musk because he doesn’t care.

        Obama sent him out to soothe senators and congresscritters with real concerns, not to bring aholes on board. The promise of HMOs funding campaigns and hiring their kids brought them on board. Even an attempt to look like a competent country won’t work because Biden doesn’t know how to deal with his kind. Manchin won’t be remembered or praised by BBB, but he clearly whined about the staff, excluding Biden. He’s still afraid of the president. He only understands fear.

        1. Big River Bandido

          Biden doesn’t seem the least bit disappointed with Manchin’s demands. It’s almost as if he wanted Manchin to take the axe to the “social spending” in the bill, all along.

      2. BeliTsari

        Not that Sanders would’ve succeeded in COVID containment/ prevention/ treatment or relief. But, any attempt to nationalize vaccine, PPE or prophylaxis research, production, distribution (while protecting W4 EMPLOYMENT, worker health & safety, day-care, respite-care, special ed, unemployment training; support of HCW, Education, transit, agricultural, food-processing, warehousing, distribution & delivery workers & first responders would’ve ENSURED Democrats a Congressional advantage to end-run SCOTUS autocracy or right wing racist insurrection? Good thing NOBODY we know misconstrued Bernie’s promise to Hillary to let Debbie, Robby & John install a psychotic nazi clown in 2016!

      3. Lambert Strether

        > It may be pointless to speculate how [Sanders] would have acted differently than Biden

        Sanders was a real executive; he was mayor of Burlington, and by all accounts a good one. That’s different from sitting in the chair next to Obama, like Biden.

        I don’t think Sanders would have taken the path of least resistance, which is Vax Vax Vax, and I think Sanders would have been much more amenable to Defense Production Act programs for, say, masks and testing. He also would have had a better health care team around him. Maybe Fauci’s untouchable (both senses, heh heh) but it’s hard for me to believe Sanders would have put Zients in charge of his Covid response.

    2. Sam Adams

      The political establishment in the USA have chosen to cull the herd in favor of profit (and to a small extent to mitigate climate change by population reduction ) . The USA has also decided to bank on natural immunity not killing too many of the population before some natural immunity for the remaining survivors kicks in. What a world we live in. I want to see a scaffold and some swingers.

      1. LawnDart

        I have long felt the Madam Guillotine was more fitted to the task.

        Perhaps we could compromise by making the rope a foot or two too long?

        1. wilroncanada

          Unfortunately, the Guillotine would probably be “cut rate”, purchased from the far east somewhere. By the time it arrived all the malefactors would have taken their booty and moved on to the next grift. And they would be pardoned.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Funny how ISIS sawing heads off people is abhorrent, but thinking about doing the same in this context to the people who are killing us is pretty much all okay with an ever increasing number of “citizen consumers.”

            I guess the difference is that the ISIS types are “anti-social” and killing mostly innocent people, while being as horrid as the sh!ts who are “managing” the megadeath machinery of neoliberal globalism…

      2. jrs

        Yea but the problem is not just the political establishment. The only thing that gets protested is public health restrictions being too strict (mask mandates, shut downs etc.) Public health restrictions being too lax and killing people meets no protest. And this is how it has been the whole time, attempts to protect public health meet resistance, not caring at all about public health doesn’t meet resistance. So message sent.

  2. Basil Pesto

    So much for the whole argument that the vaccine people have had – I DO NOT WANT TO GET CARE FROM AN UNVACCINATED HCW – Well now you are going to get care from a HCW who may very well still be contagious.

    Ooof, great point, I wonder if that cognitive dissonance will get a public airing. Doubtful.

    It also looks like the UK and Australia are making similar noises about following the CDC’s 5-day isolation policy, because reasons. Wild stuff all round. It’s hard to imagine what the long term political consequences of all this are going to be.

    I very much hope the ‘Omicron is the beginning of the end of the pandemic’ line turns out to be true, and it’s attenuation all the way down. But as a non-scientific outsider weighing the claims being made by both camps (‘beginning of the end’ vs. ‘nope this is going to keep happening and it could even get worse’), it looks a lot like bullshit to me – in part because it is coming from the usual bullshit artists. Here’s hoping for the stopped-clock phenomenon but yeah, the sense is very much that we’re on our own or are about to be fairly soon.

    Oh, and maybe my socialised medicine privilege is showing, but I find that final ad from the CDC shamelessly revolting.

    1. Jeff

      Your do know your can get COVID from a vaccinated HCW too. The misinformation is no longer shocking. It’s still frustrating to read.

      1. Basil Pesto

        Yes. This is the point that was being made. Months ago certain people were outraged by the idea of being treated by unvaccinated HCWs because they thought they posed an infection risk. Now vaccinated HCW’s. it only pose an infection risk, they are being rushed back to work. Will umbrage now be taken at those infectious and contagious HCWs by the same people, or will it no longer be an issue because they’re vaccinated?

  3. Randall Flagg

    -Every man is now on his own, at least in the US-

    Seems like the Libertarian dream has arrived.

    1. Deuce Traveler

      Your Hated Libertarian Lurker here,

      You could prove us Libertarians wrong by actually having a competent government, instead of name dropping us every time the government fails. We’ve poured a lot of taxpayer money into our government health organizations only for the nation to suffer from cronyism, corruption, and ineptitude. You can rail about Libertarians saying small communities and individuals need to think as if they are on their own during a crisis, but in this case we are on our own in many ways despite the huge bureaucracy. I’m finding more wisdom in the small Naked Capitalism community than I am in the CDC or NIH.

      Trump should have nationalized factories during the crisis and mass produced test kits, masks, and early treatment medications. We could have sold off these production centers to private business sometime after the crisis was over. We could have offered vaccines from other countries, including those from Russia, China, and Europe so the vaccine hesitant would have other options. We could have been more open to information about the virus, its variants, and the vaccines instead of resorting to dogma. Biden could have done the same as soon as he stepped into the oval office. Neither a Republican President nor a Democratic one did any of these reasonable things, and no one in the PMC has offered a road map on how to do anything other than vax. Libertarians are not to blame here and many of us are in agreement with the options set forth by those not of the Beltway.

      1. JohnH

        The people who think government can’t and shouldn’t do ________ have nothing to do with the reality that government can’t and doesn’t do________?

        1. Pate

          Deuce Traveler: “You could prove us Libertarians wrong by actually having a competent government, instead of name dropping us every time the government fails. We’ve poured a lot of taxpayer money into our government health organizations only for the nation to suffer from cronyism, corruption, and ineptitude.”

          It seems to me that our’s is not a competent government because government has been captured by the “libertarian” – the same “libertarian” aka “for-profit private interest ideology” that has corrupted government health organizations. In other words, private interest has undermined public interest; we are not a government of, by, and for the people, but a libertarian hell-hole in which Atlas Shrugged at the common good.

          A separate question is whether humans at this scale are capable of something better.

          Meanwhile the notion of “libertarian freedom” is, arguably, really only “negative freedom” – the freedom of the powerful to exploit the weak.

          Why is there police?

          1. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

            Can we draw a distinction between right libertarians, and left libertarians, please? Two really different animals.


            Your Local Anarcho-Pacifists

              1. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

                Actually, to be immodest, we are the original libertarians. The label was co-opted sometime around the turn of the prior century.

                Look us up!

                1. anon y'mouse

                  we won’t be looking you up, because you won’t help us fight the Revolution like a good comrade.

            1. Soredemos

              While anarchists have infinitely better intentions than the right propertarians, fundamentally anarchists are just as braindead. You guys have never succeeded at anything, anywhere, ever. The state is required, period. It’s also inevitable in any kind of.large-scale society, because it (and yes, that includes the oft hated bureaucracy) actually serve not just useful, but necessary functions.

              And that includes the monopoly of force. Politics is about power, which anarchists have never really understood, and power abhors a vacuum. Which is why every anarchist experiment either quickly implodes, or gets steamrolled by other political factions that do understand power.

          2. Deuce Traveler

            “Meanwhile the notion of “libertarian freedom” is, arguably, really only “negative freedom” – the freedom of the powerful to exploit the weak.”

            No, what we are actually talking about is an exploitative oligarchy. Under Libertarian philosophy there would be no bail outs for corporations which have allowed them to grow so powerfully. Under Republican philosophy there would be equality under the law that would prevent the two-tier legal system we have today. Under a Democrat philosophy corporations would be taxed heavily to support programs for the poor. We have none of these things. We have the freedom of the powerful to exploit the weak principally because we are not governed by a group with set ideals, but instead by a group who exploits the population for personal gain and who legislates on behalf of keeping the gravy train running. If the ruling elite does mention any ideals or philosophy it is to pick and choose choice bits to justify the exploitation. Blaming those that prefer to see a smaller bureaucracy than what we have now is blaming a small political group that holds no little power through elected office. I could see your point if we had a ton of Libertarian mayors, state Senators, or Congressmen and the world was what it is now. But that is not the case.

            1. Pate

              My mistake for assuming “right libertarian”. Otherwise I find myself thinking we are pretty much on the same page (if you don’t mind the company).

              But I worry about “I could see your point if we had a ton of Libertarian mayors, state Senators, or Congressmen and the worlds was what it is now. But that is not the case.”

              Can’t help thinking about the Koch network and all the secret ALEC activity.

              1. JBird4049

                Co-opting “libertarian” from the left and sticking onto the right was done deliberately. Just like how the political in political economy was removed and we all got the Chicago Boys statistical flimflamming masquerading as economics; all the professors who used or taught Marxism or even his analysis were also eliminated from their jobs

            2. SouthSideGT

              “Under Libertarian philosophy there would be no bail outs for corporations”

              Republicans (really libertarians, I guess) did not want Obama to bail out the auto industry and that ultimately turned out well. Besides the jobs saved in the auto industry, GM and Chrysler paid back their loans to the U.S. Treasury. And so thanks to the Democrats if one wants one can have the freedom to choose to buy a Ford, a GM or a Chrysler car.

              Libertarianism exists. I read a lot about it. There are people like Rand Paul who claim to be libertarians. There are famous novels illuminating its precepts. But I guess libertarianism is an idea, which has had some successes to the detriment of many poor and working class people in this country and around the world, has yet to be fully realized in the real world.

          3. lance ringquist

            and brad delong said it also. nafta billy clintons disastrous polices were pure economic nonsense that came right off of the desk of the C.A.T.O. inst.

            there is a very very fine line between libertarianism and fascism, the line is so fine, you cannot see it at all.

            nafta billy clinton just removed government out of the equation, and let the markets decide.

            libertarians and free traders(which are one of the same)are the only people that i know of that bitch at the results of their own “CRANK” policies, then they blame government.

      2. Joe Well

        Countries that have handled this relatively well: South Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, Cuba, Vietnam, New Zealand…

        Countries with little or no libertarian dogma: South Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, Cuba, Vietnam, New Zealand…

        1. Kevin Carhart

          NZ… I take your point about Ardern’s covid policy although I learned from Richard Smith about the “cretinously blithe deregulating New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key.” So I don’t think they’re immune over the longer term. He deregulated the corporate registrar facilitating open season for shell companies and fraud. So that kind of panders to dogma about easier business formation without friction and red tape, right?
          I learned from Alister Barry about Rogernomics and Ruth Richardson and Don Brash, dogmatic scuzz.
          Maybe they face less but there has been quite a bit of that dogma over time. I’m glad they were able to do it.

        1. DanB

          I’ve posted a form of this comment before, yet is is appropriate here to say it again. I worked at a school of public health in the mid-2000s and one of my colleagues had worked in the Bush I White House on health policy. He once told me, “Republicans simply do not understand public health. They think public health is about STD tests for poor people -stuff like that. They disdain public health and assert that they don’t need it because they ‘have health insurance’. They have no conception of the purpose of public health.”

          1. Larry Y

            Didn’t President Bush II take the flu pandemic very seriously? Later administrations had not kept up with the preparations (to put it mildly).

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              That was Obama with the swine flu. There were severe outbreaks where federal aid didn’t come under Shrub.

              Obama’s pandemic plan was built around ebola which isn’t really what we have.

      3. Telee

        I’m well acquainted with libertarian views. My doctor is a libertarian. First thing is that since covid is a natural disaster, the government should do nothing. He was angry when the government gave aid after Katrina, mad that the government gave restitution to family members of deceased of 9/11. He supported the idea of herd immunity etc. Libertarians think democracy is a failed system that should be replaced with feudalism. Imminent libertarian Professor Herman Hoppe, who is in good standing with the Mises Institute proposes that the US should be ruled by insurance companies which he calls government Like Organizations or GLOs. Basically, libertarians funded by Koch, look at Bolsonaro and Urban as ideal leaders. Basically, the goal is to let the oligarchs and rent seekers to have unchecked, unlimited power. And when libertarian ideas are put into practice such as in Chile under Pinochet, you have to be willing to kill all people with other ideas. I could go on.

        1. Jeff

          You’re well acquainted with 1 libertarian so you’re now knowledgeable of libertarian beliefs. Just, wow.

      4. Lambert Strether

        > We’ve poured a lot of taxpayer money into our government health organizations

        No, you haven’t. Federal taxes do not fund Federal spending. I hope you find the freedom you seek elsewhere. Have a blessed day.

        1. CoryP

          Understandably not taking any shit around here this week.

          (I can only assume there were worse comments we can’t see because this one was pretty mild. You did use the ban-hammer phraseology.)

    2. Bart Hansen

      Didn’t the previous president also abdicate responsibility?

      ‘Masks, gloves and ventilators? We ain’t got none. YOYO!’

      1. Randall Flagg

        True, but we did have the two week stay at home orders to flatten the curve. LOL.
        IIRC Trump had early on proposed stopping flights from China and other air travel and promptly roasted by the Democrats. There were local mask mandates, etc., etc., but now all of that has gone by the boards. And all that was to be expected that Republicans were looking out for big business first.
        As a commenter says below, they wonder if it would have been better if Trump had won re-election. I’m no fan of the guy at all but good grief, all we’re getting is “Pass the buck Biden” now
        C’mon man.

      2. Darius

        Trump listened to religious fanatics and self-dealing billionaires. Biden listens to the business lobby. I don’t know which is worse. Neither listens to actual public health experts. Their hoping COVID just goes away or becomes “manageable,” meaning with low impact to “people who matter.”

      3. Debbie Hawker

        Bush I started the ‘pandemic response’ team included in NSC. Obama sent pandemic stockpiles for Ebola use in Africa and never replaced them. Thus, Trump had no stockpile when Covid hit.

  4. Redlife2017

    Report from England:

    Media is reporting there are now no available walk-in PCR tests and the lateral flow (rapid) tests are basically missing from pharmacies as well as online. LBC (radio) was reporting on this over an hour ago and the Guardian has just reported this as well. Some reports on twitter have it that there are no mail-order ones available as well.

    The lateral flow tests have been on and off missing online for several weeks. Here in Islington most pharmacies have signs up stating they have no lateral flow tests for the past 10 days, so it’s hardly a new thing – but I suppose the rest of the country (with the Christmas super-spreader event) are finding out what it’s like to be in an Omnicron centre.

    And the BBC’s Health Correspondent is very much spreading the “don’t worry about it sweetheart” government viewpoint (sorry, this is on the live feed and I’m not clear if the link they give me will work):

    With the Omicron variant leading to milder disease, we need to think differently about Covid now.

    Hospital data requires much closer analysis than it once did.

    On paper there is the highest number in hospital in England since early March.

    But that has been artificially inflated by two things this week.

    Firstly, the number of people being discharged from hospital will have dropped significantly over the festive period. Last year the rate of discharged halved, meaning there are likely to be hundreds of patients in hospital who have recovered from Covid.

    Secondly a growing proportion of hospitalisations are for what is known as an incidental admission. They are people being treated for something else, but just happen to have Covid.

    Last week this stood at about three in 10, but the expectation is this will have increased by now. The latest figures will be released on Thursday.

    Therefore, it is possible of the 9,500 in hospital maybe around 6,000 are acutely unwell with Covid.

    These numbers are undoubtedly going to go up in the coming weeks as Omicron spreads.

    But the raw data will only tell us so much.

    So basically the BBC is saying that the hospitalisation numbers are lies. Sweet. And the numbers will go up, but hey, that’s OK. I’m excited for when the kids go back to school and I finally lose my lucky horseshoe of not getting infected by my unvaxxed 5 year old.

      1. Redlife2017

        Thank you for suggesting I get fined by the local council and that possibly my son would then be excluded from school and then only be allowed into one with violent children. I will say it in a simple way: That is illegal and I will pay for it in multiple ways (not just monetary). I do not have endless amounts of money, so sure sounds great.

        I know…don’t feed the trolls…

        1. CuriosityConcern

          I think I can unpack a little – in the US, we can(have the freedom to?) home school. I think that was what the OP was implying, I know I was unaware of the ramifications you described…

      2. BenSoCal

        Yeah, why should a child get an education. What parent should want or expect that in the USA!
        Need more cheap labor! Maybe he will be able to live out of his car one day!

    1. Pavel

      A friend of mine just returned to the UK (she lives in Madrid now) for Xmas and she had to pay £340 for a PCR test. (That is *not* a typo! Three hundred forty goddamn quid!)

      I was in France a few months ago and got one test for a flight to the States for 30 euros. A Japanese friend needed a very special lab test signed by a physician which we arranged at a local hospital. The cost for that was… 35 euros.

      As the great author wrote: They order, said I, this matter better in France.

      As the less than great PM has done, there is now a crony capitalist Covid testing industry in the UK exploiting this public health crisis.

      1. Felix_47

        You should see the new Porsche our local PCR clinic owner just bought!! And that on just 100 Euro per test retail. The reagent kit is 12 bucks according to my daughter. Doing the amplification without contamination requires some care and the machine costs around 20k.

      2. Tom Doak

        Totally concur with this. I had to visit the UK twice last year on business. The first time, the entry form directed me to ONE testing lab to arrange tests 2 days and 7 days after arrival, for £140 I think. You couldn’t complete the form without a code from the designated lab that you had paid them!

        The second time, there were about 500 choices for the lab you’d use, but you still had to pay well above the amount anywhere else.

        Bojo has crony corruption down to an art form.

  5. Wukchumni

    Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not going to count on Federal help in Kansas anymore…

    Joe kinda looked away in the brief snippet and I wouldn’t call it a wince, but close.

    He looked like a beaten man, a Willy Loman who should have stayed in Senate selling malarkey.

    I mentioned the other day he’s a teetotaler and really the polar opposite of Yeltsin in that regard, but both will prove to be tragic failures in the endgames of mutual cold warrior empires.

    Sometimes I wish the Bizarro World parallels wouldn’t always come into play regarding the collapses of the USSR/USA…

    1. drsteve0

      Biden doesn’t drink? Good Lord! Did not know that. I’m of Irish extraction. One of my uncles told me never trust an Irishman (Irishperson) that doesn’t drink as they’re terrified of revealing some dark secret about themselves while inebriated.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Im not sorry but white men (some women and maybe except Jews in parts of the country) who identify as a grand or earlier parents nationality since JFK was President are just weird. I mean it’s not like Biden faced the klan in 1920’s Indiana. He was in Scranton. Superman doesn’t even need to add “the American way.” The non-waspy white skinned immigrants won.

          I’m down with dunking on the English monarchy, but the whole, “I’m a tough Irish/Italian” vibe in US politics from people with money is just deranged. They haven’t been forming mutual insurance societies in almost a century.

          It might be something to talk about in lieu of anything interesting to say, but why the eff, do we know or care a US Senator since 1972 is of Irish extract?

  6. CoryP

    “In particular, note the relatively high level of symptomatic Omicron in children and young adults who have robust immune systems and showed a much lower level of symptomatic cases under Omicron”

    I believe the second instance of ‘Omicron’ should be ‘Delta’.

  7. VietnamVet

    The Omicron wave is overwhelming the dysfunctional US government. This post clearly points out that the Biden Administration (CDC, NIH, FDA & HHS) are incapable of managing it.

    The basic reason is that North America is intentionally being pillaged to increase multinational corporation profits. Only Plan A “warp speed” vaccination was implement that increases pharmaceutical industry profits. All else is ignored. There is no intention of doing any public good. Public health was privatized. There is no one, no groups, no institutions with the power or ability to see reality and prevent the collapse of the for-profit hospital system.

    The next month will tell if Americans are lucky or not. The fifth Omicron wave with no national emergency intervention could be another one of the many past and future plagues to sweep across the Americas killing off the indigents who simply do not matter.

    1. jefemt

      I think Canada is coming out of its torpor and waking up to the many failures of the US health ‘system’.
      I omit ‘care’, as it is obviously absent, on many levels.
      Mexico is a completely different fish- ironically we may be heading that way, other than the vast cost of care differential.

      I’d be careful of using “North America” as some sort of unified block, from soup to nuts. It is hardly a monolith, and yes, ‘We’re number 1!!’

    2. flora

      This post clearly points out that the Biden Administration (CDC, NIH, FDA & HHS) are incapable of managing it.

      CDC should stop issuing orders about what docs are and aren’t allowed to try in treating C19. The hardline CDC protocol need to be lifted, imo. Let doctors be doctors. Get the hospital and PE admins out of the way. my 2 cents.

  8. Wukchumni

    And even leaving it up to states is fraught with factions not willing to play along.

    Seemed to me that people were quite adamant in regards to mask wearing in LA County last week, whereas a foray for food into Visalia yesterday came up with about 50% mask wearers.

    The Tulare County Sheriff has stated in the past that they wont enforce a mask law mandated by the state.

    Does Newsom tell every county they are on their own, pull a Biden?

    1. The Rev Kev

      Taking an idea from a book, how about anyone that takes office like that sheriff first has to take an oath to fulfill lawfully given orders. So if they refuse to do so, then you nail them in court for perjury when taking that oath. And yes, it would also apply to an official that refuses to marry a gay couple for example because it is against their beliefs.

      1. Tom

        Most officials already take a similar oath. And you can drive a truck through the “lawfully given order” caveat. Sanctuary cities and non-prosecution of xyz “minor” offense are two simple examples.

  9. Mikel

    “The latest is the CDC making horrendous decisions based on its own crap information. The agency admitted that its December 18 estimate, that Omicron represented 73% of all cases, was too high and the point estimate should have been 22.5%.”

    Dec. 18th. They jumped out with that wild percentage with “mild” BS at the same time before Christmas.
    That’s not an “oopsie” error.

    1. Mantid

      You’re right, it’s not an error. It’s going just as planned. The true powers that be want people sick (more money for pharma, high tech, etc.) and dead, good for the goals of gates (he doesn’t deserve a capital) and other eugenic/population controlists. People seem surprised when 2, 3 or more countries announce the same strategies “against” Covid within a day or so of each other. The puppet masters tell them what to do and boy howdy, they hop to it. The CDC, NIH, FDA …… are inept because they’ve been eviscerated and stocked with followers and status seekers (many directly from pharma corporations). I feel there’s a decent and becoming large cohort of people who “aren’t going to take it anymore” and are taking things into their own hands. Soon it could be pitchforks – I don’t see any other route out of this feudalism.

  10. cocomaan

    The administration does not care about Covid anymore, clearly. They’ve moved on to something else. Not sure what, though. Maybe midterms.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Biden doesn’t have quite the influencer fantasies as Obama, but Biden and his staff clearly don’t see the job as more than a ceremonial role that is meant to bring “respectability”.

      And now he’s dumped on everyone, he has the cpc openly calling him dishonest, a whiner in Manchin, and his strongest supporters are getting wobbly like Spannberger because no one gives an eff about highways and expects they will get done. The man isn’t an leader by any stretch, so he has no real way of getting out. His staff took time to help Rahm Emanuel rather than pursue better Covid policies.

      He’s dumb and lazy, pining for the real world to be just like when Senators go drinking with rich people.

      1. Pavel

        “His strongest supporters”?

        Apart from Dr Jill, does he have any strong supporters? Psaki plays one on television, I suppose.

        Between Joe’s cognitive issues and political failures, Kamala’s personality issues (nobody likes her), and the disillusionment by the progressives and the millennials, 2022 is going to be a disaster for the Dems. No sympathy from yours truly; they brought it upon themselves.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Biden could be as sharp as he ever was and he would be the same. His strongest supporters would normally be centrists, but they have to run for reelection too. Based on Spannberger’s comments and guys like Warner who moved to embrace Manchin in September and have disappeared, they know not doing anything is a threat and highways aren’t the prize they thought they would be.

          We don’t see them raising their voices to defend the President who is openly being called emasculated by AOC. They hate her, more than Jimmy Dore in reality.

      2. Darius

        I’m a little in awe of the breathtaking collapse of the Biden presidency 11 months in. He’s a lame duck with three years to go. An empty suit surrounding himself with empty suits. Failure doesn’t even begin to describe his record on COVID, to name just one area.

        Obama at least had his obsession with personal brand management making him try to look good, even if he was in many ways even worse.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Biden was Obama’s running mate and BFF per Biden. Given how these kinds of cycles run, Obama and then subsequently Democrats made promises things would be different. They weren’t.

          Obama having run against a member of the Clinton Administration avoided being too closely associated with Bill. So its the start of a new cycle. Relative charisma and popularity aside, Biden is simply repeating the Obama experience. The GOP being the GOP isn’t new. They can’t say they’ve never been like this and be nostalgic for Nixon or some other hideous monster.

        2. LilD

          Only anecdata but several local Maddow / blue team women have been hating on Biden pretty hard recently.

          Dems are doomed

          Trump 2 is now looking like upside for 2024
          (Ie there are actually worse Republicans possible and zero Democrats capable of salvaging anything)

          Agree with the above, wish we were in Sanders second term

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            The promise of Hillary for many of her supporters was that she would stand up to the GOP. Its actually her better set of lines. Its totally fictionally, but its out there. One line used by her supporters was that unlike Obama she had balls. Pelosi soothed donors by promising HRC would take names and kick a and that they were waiting about Obama.

            Not looking like a chump will work. Its just Biden looks like a chump to the average person on the street when again his perceived personality was that he was a “tough guy”. He was going to beat Trump up. Now, he is being emasculated by a Senator who is trying to assuage everyone that he didn’t lie to Biden but that the White House staff was mean and that Biden was always nice. The guy is afraid of Biden, and Biden can’t even handle that.

            One of the stories being circulated about Reid about actual policy is when he tossed Obama’s letter about offering more concessions to McConnell into a fireplace and telling his staff to tell McConnell to get bent. The other story is about Reid telling Obama not to be such a turd on DADT and to support a repeal. Obama was worried about a foreign policy treaty as his claim.

            The kowtowing of Biden is very familiar.

      1. ChrisFromGeorgia

        I’ll wager there is a large corporate donation incoming from Delta, given that their CEO Ed Bastian now controls public health policy in the country.

  11. Henry Moon Pie

    I have to vent about an experience I had yesterday, and while it’s not directly Covid-related, it certainly is connected to the state of our PMC.

    A few months back, I received an email from my college alumni association. (I’ll leave the specifics out, but just say that the college is the “McGill of the United States.”) They had created “special interest groups” that presented programs to alums, offered networking possibilities, etc. One of these groups dealt with climate and the environment, so given my interest in that topic, I checked it out.

    Eventually, I ended up in a Zoom meeting a few weeks back where a committee was considering what programs to present in the coming year. I was encouraged by the fact that this committee had previously presented a program on regenerative agriculture, something I consider an essential part of any climate solution, and that first meeting was a positive one. When I brought up the idea that we should have a panel on the connection between GDP growth and carbon emissions, people first looked shocked, but one young grad said, “Why not? We said we wanted to shake things up in this committee. Let those ?BS guys go pound sand.” I thought there might be a real shot at delivering some reality to this crowd.

    Then reality began to encroach on my hopes. First, I received a link to a recording of that earlier regenerative agriculture presentation. It consisted of a project director from a cereal company’s greenwashing department and some entrepreneur looking to connect ostensibly regenerative ag projects with “markets.” Fine. My idea was to bring some people with dirt under their fingernails and not a single Ivy degree among them.

    Yesterday was a more serious blow. A meeting of this committee was hastily called a few days in advance, and I was emailed a personal invite, so I attended. The focus and tenor of the meeting was completely different from the first. A new player had arrived on the scene, and now the whole idea was for this alumni special interest group to play “Shark Tank” in the “climate space.” All the young people present at the meeting–and the young man from the first meeting was not in attendance–were solely interested in what new companies they could find to present to some ad hoc committee of these “angels.”

    I couldn’t help but comment that I found it surprising that there was such unanimity that great challenges were best met by organizing humans under profit-seeking companies, and that what we were trying to do in Cleveland actually had no role for companies but relied on people coming together under more democratic forms to organize a response to climate change.

    Given how inept our society and system has proven at handling Covid, it shocked me that these highly educated people were so foolish and short-sighted that they actually put all their hopes for dealing with our ecological crisis in more technology and some f-cking start-up. These people are so trapped inside their little boxes made of ticky-tacky (thanks, Malvina Reynolds), they are blinded to reality, but then that’s been the whole point of the upbringing from the beginning:

    And the people in the houses all go to the university
    And they all get put in boxes, little boxes all the same
    And there’s doctors and there’s lawyers
    And business executives
    And they’re all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same
    And they all play on the golf course and drink their martini dry
    And they all have pretty children and the children go to school
    And the children go to summer camp
    And then to the university
    And they all get put in boxes, and they all come out the same
    And the boys go into business and marry and raise a family
    And they all get put in boxes, little boxes all the same

    Malvina Reynolds, “Little Boxes”

    1. flora

      Not surprising. Read up on the big ag and corporate influence at the USDA. They leave no potential threat to profits unchallenged.

    2. DJG, Reality Czar

      Henry Moon Pie: And as the graduate of a certain Maroon university, I can assure that the real purpose of the alum committee is to garner donations. The alums fancy themselves to be experts and part of the University Community or the Life of the Mind, and the universities consider such folks to be qualified leads.

      Of course, you may be able to get more out of them if you have $10 million or so for the naming rights on a building—or endow a chair of regenerative agriculture. Insist on the Henry Moon Pie Regenerative Plant Science and Economics Center.

    3. CuriosityConcern

      You are fighting a good fight Henry, seems like this is a lost front but there are other paths to victory. Keep it up sir!
      (NOTE I’m only a remediation evang online, still need to put rubber to the road and start community work myself)

    4. Mantid

      Henry, thanks so much. I’m glad you feel free to vent here as it’s a unique place. I always loved “comments” and the local paper’s editorials. I’m at an age where I remember Steve Allen’s editorial reads on the early Tonight Show. I teach teens and they have been pretty well indoctrinated into a tech fix for everything. That is their daily lives. It’s no surprise, since the tech push has been on for so long, that your colleagues’ first level response is that “we can make an app for that”. The ruling class has laid the railroad tracks and here comes the train. Regenerative agriculture? We have a nice thick snow now that will help our trees all year in 2022. Still letting my garden sleep, outside of some kale, lettuces, onions, collards, etc. Have yet to edit my garden notes from 2021 to remind me what works/doesn’t for next year. Oh, and the garlic is just now coming up. Life CAN be good. Peace.

    5. Kevin Carhart

      Extremely important, thank you for writing this. It would go well on a Sunday. Very few people are skeptical about an entire incubator situation like you describe. There is something rotten about the approach. Market solutions are a racket. Who ever says that and why don’t they?

      – Part of the problem is compartmentalization. When someone says oh, this one type of startup which I have had a good experience with personally is completely unrelated to this other kind which got bad publicity for misclassifying workers, they miss the boat of saying these are both market solutions with a common philosophy and people like hbsangels up the chain, applying their common biases to a variety of endeavors.

      – Part of the problem is startups that don’t especially stand out as startups, like when a data dissemination startup pushes the “Omicron picked up genetic material from the common cold”, which is then run by the Washington Post, which is then picked up by others. Who knows, it’s a source within a source and will not attract much attention in its own right. The people in the third hop are just quoting the Post and don’t think twice about it.

      – Part of the problem is emphasis on fraud/bezzle rather than your critique of hbsangels types and their entire approach and set of norms.
      For instance Elizabeth Holmes is just so exceptional because she had money from Kissinger and Schultz rather than the usual SV. (Jason Calicanis said this.) Therefore she can be hived off as a bad apple and fraud at Theranos does not need to reflect anything about startups generally. (But she was friends/neighbors with Tim Draper’s daugher, growing up in Woodside. You can’t be more in the startups beltway than that.)

      – Part of the problem is siphoning attention to other parts of FIRE. “I’m less worried about hbsangels and more worried about this other segment of FIRE which is just pure hot money. Or whose derivatives do not even lead back to a real bushel of wheat. At least VC has a kernel of real engineering and impressive fresh ideas from young people.” Also, “they don’t use leverage, somebody put up real cash.” Does nothing to attenuate what you experienced in the committee and what we’re stuck with when market solutions are rolled out for a particular purpose and have certain perversities baked in.

      – Part of the problem is siphoning attention to the garish and mean right wing, like press attention on 1/6 investigations, rather than the cool, ingratiating right wing, like hbsangels.

    6. Darius

      Sounds like the history of the Obama administration in a nutshell. Corrupt and ineffectual but thinking they’re the smartest and most idealistic people in history. And always patting themselves on the back.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      At the very least, I think Trump was starting to realize he couldn’t keep doing nothing. I also feel a second Trump administration would be under continued scrutiny that we are just now starting to see apply to Biden’s. And, of course, we’d be spared the whole Joe Manchin kabuki distraction, for what it’s worth.

      OTOH, #McResistance would likely have doubled down and, as we saw with the relief checks, would do anything they could to prevent granting Trump a “win”. Not to mention, given Trump’s waffling on vax at recent speeches, how hard does anyone think he would have gone on any of this anyway if the base didn’t approve?

      And there’s the whole point that maintaining capitalism would still be the priority. I can’t see Trump not also ordering people back to work or being too different than Biden on this front.

      So I don’t know. I really don’t. I can say with confidence, I don’t think things would have been any worse. I just don’t think there’s a possibility they could be better either.

    2. LawnDart

      I’m beginning to think that it might have been better if Trump had won

      Soon, so too will many of the fans and supporters of democrat, inc.

      As a PSA regarding Yves’s,  (“if you are vaccinated, you are protected”; “the vaccinated can stop masking”), here’s the relevant video clips against forgetting:

      If you are vaccinated, you are protected:

      The vaccinated can stop masking:

      And, bonus, masks don’t work:

      Enjoy the clips before they’re swallowed by the memory hole!

      1. Brian

        The childish simplicity of we/they thinking, the inability for any leaders to walk back mistakes, and the reflex to try to censor or dumb down messaging keeps pushing people toward dogmatic positions.

        This is extremely difficult to fix and it may actually be nobody’s fault. It just got this way and now we have to deal with a world where, like before, nobody knows anything for sure and our perception of the truth evolves. There is nothing more gracious in the world of science than someone who admits they were wrong.

        If you see the Buddha on the road, kill him. Or in other words, above all else, be suspicious of someone who claims to know all the answers, especially when their answers coincidentally align with their previously stated biases. Go back to the words of Sagan and Feynman and do what you can to drill down to sources of information. It’s an information jungle out there.

    3. Larry Y

      I’m trying to think of what Biden has done that is significantly better than previous administrations.

      Appointing Lina Khan and Tim Wu. Minor signalling on Keystone pipeline and other projects like that.

  12. Tom Stone

    I think we’ll see President Harris before the end of summer,probably on July 4th.
    This is a spectacular abdication of responsibility on the part of Biden on top of murderous corruption at the CDC.

    This has gone beyond mere incompetence.
    And the consequences will range from disastrous if we are lucky, to catastrophic if we are not.

    1. Louis Fyne

      The idea that “President Harris” will somehow save the Democrats is so ludicrous that there will be DC Dems who will be actually deluded enough to believe it.

      Let’s go down the entire line of succession after Harris….Pelosi? no way. Next is Patrick Leahy….who actually might not be bad.

      As next up is Blinken….who legitimately might get the US into a war with Russia and China simultaneously . And after him is Janet Yellen.

      Thanks Democrats!

      1. Lee

        On the Republican side, my money is on Trumpism without Trump. After the Obama induced electoral debacle of 2010 and Republican districting and other machinations since, the Democrats, in spite of receiving millions of more popular votes in the last two presidential elections, have lost one, and won the other by the slimmest of margins: some 45K votes spread over three states. Is there any Democrat that can overcome those obstacles or am I missing something?

        Add to that the ratphking and infighting that will ensue among Democrats if Harris is not anointed as she whose turn it is.

    2. flora

      Maybe not. Before Nixon was ousted, Agnew was eliminated as VP by finding enough dirt on him from his time as Governor of Maryland to bring charges, thus causing his resignation as VP, replaced by Ford. Nixon couldn’t be ousted if Agnew would become pres because the country wouldn’t accept Agnew as pres. Once Agnew was out of office the way was cleared to push out Nixon.

      I think if there’s serious talk of ousting B then watch to see if there’s first a move to get Harris to resign the VP office. They’ll need someone else as VP before getting rid of B. As long as Harris is VP then B is pres. My 2 cents.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Manchin would need to be brought to heel first. I think Sinema already knows she isn’t going to come off as anything other than a villain. Anonymity is her best option now.

      2. rps

        Oracle Flora, in agreement but before Biden is sent on his merry way to a nursing home, first things first such as Pelosi. She voluntarily retires early; if not, then under investigation for financial malfeasance, misappropriations, etc…and thus resigns. I think the old bitty will scrape and claw against removal hoping to be declared the first woman president just to see Hillary seized with spasms of hatred and jealousy. Onto the Harris resignation. Like Spiro Agnew, Harris will be investigated for suspicion of criminal conspiracy, past bribery, extortion, tax fraud, kickbacks, etc… Biden is the last and easiest chess piece removal. To quote Schumer, Intel officials ‘have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.’ 10% big guy, well so much to choose from to nail Biden Inc

  13. Pat

    Elections no longer have consequences. Sadly, the meager bones thrown the public may be the only difference (and in this last instance the Orange Man Bad administration was more generous). God forbid some major business have a problem, we will infect millions, over time tens of millions, to give them some relief. The witting and unwitting destruction continues unabated.

    It isn’t just public health, Between this debacle and private medical our healthcare system has pretty much been effectively destroyed under the weight of the crisis. There will still be some gated healthcare for the wealthy, but the rest of the 90+% will scramble for crumbs.

    1. LowellHighlander

      Wait; there’s more!

      My wife (a physician) and I (heterodox economist) have long believed that the cost of tuition and fees at even public universities for both undergraduate school and medical school are likely dissuading many people from entering the field of medicine as MDs. If we’re right, then American society can look forward to a bidding war for access to the physicians who can help us, individually, survive this crisis.

      Chock up another “victory” for neo-liberalism, and its neo-classical apologists.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        LoopMoney reasons aside, in ’68(?), the Supreme ruled that the ABA couldn’t control the supply of attorneys. What happened was the opening and expansion of law schools. Until the 20th century, a law school and a medical school cost the same to set up and run, so on each university would start a law school and the other a medical school. As medicine became real, start up costs ballooned, and the ABA control of the number of attorneys forced colleges looking for prestige to open medical schools as the ABA liked to keep a constant ratio.

        The US doctor population was somewhat controlled for years in a manner that mimicked government planning, and then poof, it was gone. Then women became doctors, and the hours worked by a female doctor compared to a male over the course of a life time represents a tightening of supply. The only real way out is to recognize 4 year nurses can and should wield way more authority than they do. Speed up the nurse practitioner process or increase the number of levels.

        We also have the problem of the decline in smoking. Plenty of people who would have died of emphazyma at 68 are living longer a day experiencing all kinds of old people ailments.

        Memory is that Edwards in his 2008 primary campaign was making promises to beef up the authority of nurses and double the number of medical school seats to address this. I might have the details wrong, but it was a stark contrast to the front runners and what ever they drowned on about.

        1. Pat

          I attribute much of Edwards prescience to his wife, but even with his philandering on her I will never regret my vote for him in the primary. She would still have been the voice in his ear for a few more years.

          I am still of the opinion that Edwards and Sanders could not have stopped our decline, there is still too much corporate influence not to mention MIC/war monger influence, but it would have been slowed down incredibly.

          Lost opportunities for mitigation are many, and not to be found.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner



            I don’t think people really grasp how dumb and callow politicos really are. One difference is Edwards is much smarter than Biden, but besides believing it himself, Biden is likely attached his political fortunes are attached to attitude, not policy. Mask mandates would scare people in his mind.

            1. Pat

              Should have listened to Elizabeth. :)

              Biden is not just dumb, shallow and attached to attitude, he has consistently surrounded himself with people also attached to that and to the out of office perks of “donor services”. There were and are no good angels on his shoulder for the most part.

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                There were and are no good angels on his shoulder for the most part.
                The dude hit a high and then hired Neera. Its been down hill since.

        2. Telee

          Meanwhile Biden is presiding over the privatization of Medicare with direct contracting entities proposed by LIZ FOWLER who he appointed head of CMM Innovation Center.

      2. 430MLK

        My niece is graduating high school this year with plans to head to college and work toward becoming a doctor.

        Her friend’s dad, a practicing doctor, has been trying to dissuade her. His reason: high cost of medical school will make her a slave to the work/practice choices made for her by large insurance companies and hospitals.

        1. Pat

          That is why all medical school tuition should be paid for by the government for anyone who is going into general and family medicine. There should also be extensive grants for other specialties that aren’t the big money makers, along with nurse practitioners and pharmacists.

          But as it is with so many shoulds, it will never happen.

          1. Louis Fyne

            You are 100% describing the US military medical education program.

            Great option if one is (a) willing to commit 10 years post-grad to the service, and of course (b) go wherever the resident chickenhawks in DC send you.

            1. B24S

              We discussed with both our sons the fact that the Marines are Navy, and if they became Navy Docs, there was a very good chance that they would be serving their patients on the Afghani Plains of Kiplings’ poem. They declined, despite the efforts to recruit them.

              (One sharp couple I heard of decided one would go into Ob-Gyn, thus insuring neither would be stationed in a war zone.)

              Both boys spent considerable time asking various people what they would recommend, RN, PA, MD? As did we. There are valid reasons and concerns either one, but few MDs can set up a private practice. Too much time is needed to handle the paperwork required by insurance Co.s, and the costs too high for liability on the doctor, so one ends up working for a group of some sort.

              One son is a PA (Physician Assistant, basically half-a-doc), the other on his way. There is currently no bridge for PAs to get an MD (getting credit for the approximately 2/3 of an MD they studied). The current cost for a PA is about $125K over 27 mos., plus living exp. A new GP takes twice as long, and owes twice as much, but makes about the same as a PA or NP (or even RN), and in some cases less. They therefore take on a specialty, taking more time and incurring more debt.

              But it’s particularly difficult to offshore primary care.

        2. Glen

          The real choice is which country to go to to attend college. Go to a country with free colleges. They also tend to be betters places to have a career, and better living.

  14. The Rev Kev

    This breath-takingly, short-sighted idea is already having spill-over effects overseas. So Scotty from Marketing’s government in Oz is trying to use this idea to do the same here as well. NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has said-

    “I’m very aware the CDC has reduced the period of isolation. This is a proportionate risk environment that we’re in, and having periods of isolation that impinge on the economic capacity of business and individuals is very problematic.”

    Yeah, it’s all about the economy. Please ignore the coughing of your waiter who we have just called back to work after his five days off. And this from a State where today the numbers shot past 11,200 cases in a spectacular explosion of numbers-

    1. witters

      12,266 as of a minute ago. A son works in a hotel, he’s ill and waiting for a result. Today I’m not feeling that great…

    2. Tony Wright

      Aaah, Brad Hazzard, that well named incompetent who oversaw the Ruby Princess debacle, and then channeled Donald Rumsfeld with his assertion on national tv that an unmasked, unvaccinated limo driver transporting US airline crew was an unforeseeable risk (at a time , mid 2021,when the US was being overrun with Covid and NSW was Covid free). And he still has his job.
      This NC article and the comments it has provoked reenforce my long held belief that three major areas of human endeavour should be publicly funded via taxation, and not controlled by the profit motive: health, education and defence. If that were the case the US “healthcare system”(misnomer) would not require twice the proportion of national GDP that is required by other, so-called, first world countries, and NASA would not have paid $78 each for failed O rings in the space shuttle which blew up over Florida. Oh, and a University education would not be reliant on either rich parents or a massive student debt.
      In the meantime Covid is a great example of the results of overpopulation in any species – disease, conflict (Taiwan, Ukraine anyone?) and famine.
      We are all just animals subject to the laws of nature, even if we are arrogant enough to believe we are above those laws.
      Best wishes and good luck for 2022 to all NC readers. T.

  15. Brian Westva

    I think it is safe to say that the Churchill quote no longer applies to America:
    “You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all the other possibilities.”

    The Biden administration has had several opportunities to do the right thing and they have failed. We have half measures and foolish hope that the pandemic will just go away. At this point I don’t think it is ever going to go away. It will probably get worse.

    1. MK

      We still have months/years of doing things like we are until we run out of options. Then we’ll do the right thing (which just happens to be when our national population is about 50% of what it currently is after COVID is done with us).

    2. CuriosityConcern

      I believe IM Doc commented long ago that a corona virus swept the world in the 1890s and lasted a decade(any mischaracterization is mine, apologies if I misrembember).
      My extrapolation of that is that we have many more human hosts and much shorter travel times, will it burn longer or burn out faster? We now have technology to navel gaze and analyze every little bit of our failings, but we don’t have the will or impetus(or trust?) to work together so my money is on a long burn.
      We do have filtration, UV and way more knowledge on our side so it doesn’t seem impossible to do the right thing eventually…

  16. Roger Blakely

    The powers the be have settled on the let ‘er rip strategy and the idea that COVID-19 is the same as the flu or the common cold.

    In the world of employment we had two separate programs that reimbursed employers for paying workers to stay home sick with COVID-19 (self-isolation) or in 14-day quarantine. These programs have ended. Catching COVID-19 is no longer seen as something special; it is seen as the same as catching a cold or the flu. If you catch a cold or the flu at work, it is not a workers’ compensation case. It is the workers’ tough luck. Hopefully the worker has some sick time or vacation time on the books to be able to burn while sick with COVID-19.

    Another problem is the fetishization of the nasal swab. I am convinced that there are people like me who have SARS-CoV-2 in every organ of their body but who cannot produce a positive PCR test from a nasal swab.

    I think that there are many victims of COVID-19 that are going undetected. I think that many unhealthy people are dying because undetected COVID-19 pushed them over the edge. I think that Yves’s mother may be in this category. We have people who are not healthy but who should be able to live for several more years. They died in 2021, but all things being equal, there was no reason why they couldn’t have lived for another five years or so. A nasal swab generated a negative test result, but there was enough SARS-CoV-2 throughout their body to push them over the edge.

    It’s an N95 and goggles for all indoor public spaces (anywhere that isn’t your home).

    1. Samuel Conner

      One wonders if director Walensky will start wearing “N95 and goggles” to her media availabilities with members of the Press who are coming off their 5 day isolation periods.

    2. Lee

      “I am convinced that there are people like me who have SARS-CoV-2 in every organ of their body but who cannot produce a positive PCR test from a nasal swab.”

      The difficulty in finding correlates of disease through currently available lab tests is a longstanding problem for ME/CFS patients, doctors and researchers. The tests that do seem to indicate measurable dysfunction at the cellular level, such as excess cytokine production after exertion, have produced results that so far are less than definitive. But looking on the bright side, the more of us with post-viral infection syndromes, the more money there will be for research and treatment. Ever the giddy optimist, me.

      1. Roger Blakelyr

        Since the beginning of this pandemic we have been plagued with the zombie-not-zombie model of infection. You are either a zombie, or you are not a zombie. If the zombie bit you, you will soon be a zombie. Run away.

        You are supposed to have cleared this virus after five days. What is wrong with you?

        None of the experts seems to have been talking in the media about what happens when this virus, one of the most transmissible viruses that we’ve ever seen, is present in all indoor spaces. No matter how well vaccinated people may be, their immune system has to fight off each virus that they inhale.

        What if long COVID is just what happens when immune people are inhaling SARS-CoV-2 in every indoor environment? I would expect front-facing retail workers like grocery store workers to be sick constantly.

        1. Lee

          I have an incredibly fit 75 year old friend who has worked at Trader Joe’s for some years now at a location that includes among its customers a lot of students at a local university that is Covid hotspot. I’d be shocked if he hasn’t been exposed and even infected. But the ass kickin’, motorcycle riding Vietnam Vet just keeps on truckin’. Whether this is attributable to his being vaccinated or his being innately immune, I have no idea.

        2. Medbh

          “What if long COVID is just what happens when immune people are inhaling SARS-CoV-2 in every indoor environment?”

          Alternatively, what if continuous exposure prevents disease by acting as a booster shot? I ask as a 3 shot vaccinated person who is homeschooling my kids because I don’t want them exposed to covid. I’m not anti-vaccination or in favor of letting it rip, but if vaccination can prevent someone from developing disease, could frequent “natural” exposure produce an antibody bump too?

          I thought the problem with vaccination and infection is that antibodies decline over time. If your body is constantly exposed to the virus, wouldn’t that encourage it to continue to produce antibodies to fight it off?

          I’m not trying to be a smart aleck, if anyone has a sincere answer I’d appreciate hearing it.

          1. Lee

            Detectable antibodies always wane. Long term immunity resides in other components of the immune system such as memory B and T cells. Repeated small doses of a pathogen can induce natural immunity without always producing serious illness. But unlike vaccines, the dosage cannot be controlled in the natural environment and is therefore unpredictable and more risky. So far this virus has managed to mutate in ways that circumvents immunological memory to varying degrees whether induced either by previous infection or by vaccines.

            1. Medbh

              Thank you for the response. I asked the question because I wondered if continuous high level circulation of covid could partially account for differences in severity between areas. Maybe South Africa did well with omicron because its people are always being exposed to the virus and continuously getting their antibody levels boosted.

  17. Another Scott

    Why did people think that Democrats would be better at governing through COVID than Republicans? The evidence always suggested that’s not the case. I remember the early days (January 2020), when their number one goal was to avoid being called bigots, suggested that everyone patronize Chinese restaurants, and criticized people who were wearing masks and who pulled out of events. The prominent examples of Cuomo in New York and Newsom in California showed that they weren’t doing a good job. Then the “listen to the science” evidence was more a political attack on Trump than an actual attempt to understand the science behind the virus and develop a plan to minimize its spread.

    Why does Fauci still have a job? What does the CDC still exist? People’s faith in government goes down when they see people and organizations that have failed continue to get rewarded and praised. Democrats should understand that if government is bad at its job, then people will also resist attempts to expand its role.

    1. Big River Bandido

      Democrats should understand that if government is bad at its job, then people will also resist attempts to expand its role.

      Democrats understand this perfectly, in fact they count on it. Feature, not a bug.

  18. Nikkikat

    Why do you think that the US was suddenly interested in testing and test kits. No one has done anything on that since the start of the pandemic. I was suspicious but couldn’t figure out what they were up to. It was so that they could do exactly what they are doing now. They PLANNED this move. The CDC saying that 5 days is enough is insane. Go back to work and wear a mask for a couple of days. This is Fauci. This is what he does well, POWER.
    He has driven this whole mess. Saw him on TV talking about domestic flights like he owns the place. Articles about him clarifying what he said about vaccine passports. Looks like White House lets him run things but, we are not supposed to know about it. Clearly he is in charge. Not Biden. Does anyone else now wonder if vaccine actually does work to make people less sick? Does it actually do anything other than make money? It is non sterilizing, it doesn’t cover any of the variants. All of their numbers are always wrong and the CEOs of these companies have stretched the truth from the beginning.

      1. Noone from Nowheresville

        Destroying public health is simple incompetence?

        Seems like pretty hard, highly disciplined work to me. How long that discipline can hold remains to be seen.

        1. Louis Fyne

          yes, it can be incompetence.

          1. Hollow out the nonpartisan professionals at CDC, see pre-Covid pivot of CDC to gun violence
          2. Appoint empty management suits with impeccable brand-name resumes, see Wallensky
          3. Keep a career bureaucrat who has been wrong or behind the curve on every major health issue over the past 35 years, yet manages to gaslight his record by deftly switching sound bites as the news changes, see Fauci;
          4. Have a media which holds Democrats to zero accountability until the proverbial horse is 30 miles away from the barn. …Look over there it is the ghost of Future Trump

          1. Noone from Nowheresville

            I’d agree with 1-3 but argue number 4. When was the last time any major politician was held accountable for anything media driven other than a stated sexual scandal or grifting too far even the political social clubs?

            I’d also change the look over there to: Look over there it is the tattered remains of the New Deal, Public Health, Public Education, Public Transportation, the Postal Service and the pieces of the Bill of Rights about to be buried in those pandemic needs must emergency graves. Wonder if we’ll ever be able to dig them back up and revive them someday. Maybe they’ll come back as Zombie institutions and eat all our brains.

            Yes, I tried for gallows humor. Sorry.

        2. Big River Bandido

          It takes years of hard work to build institutions and programs.

          It takes *nothing* to destroy them.

          1. Noone from Nowheresville

            I used to believe that too. Now I believe that it takes everything including the kitchen sink to destroy them. It just that when they are dismantled it can seem like nothing. If the players and their plays have been very good, it becomes nothing more than TINA.

            Think about it. Big, broad stroke outlines of goals combined with funding of intellectual justifications, purposeful incompetence, messaging campaigns, waiting for the builders, coalitions and the intellectual reasoning that built those foundation(s) to die off, be forgotten or purposefully dismantled as no longer necessary or impeding progress. The building of coalitions whose group members their own differing reasons for wanting the institution to be dismantled.

            The dismantling can go quickly like it did with Governor Walker and Wisconsin’s Act 10. It can be a slow decades grind like it is with New Deal policies and protections. Or it can happen under the guise of an “act of god” where end-goals get hidden under the blanket needs of the emergency.

            Regardless, it can take dedication, loyalty and hard work to destroy while also making it seem like an inevitable and reasonable outcome.

        3. Larry Y

          The dominant idealogy fails to grok public health, and instead sees it as “regulation” or “government power grab”… incompetence born of willful depraved ignorance?

          Remember the rules of neoliberalism:
          Rule #1: Because markets.
          Rule #2: Go die!

        4. praxis

          Incompetence, greed, fealty seem to be the criteria of those we staff in our institutions. Not going to take too much of that for things to quickly fall apart. These people don’t build things, they manage public relations while the looting goes on.

          Capital will happily cannibalize its foundation.

      2. Jason Boxman

        Well, the business of America is business. From that perspective, they’re acting principally out of interest in nurturing a healthy business climate in the midst of the largest public health crisis in a 100 years. And so far, The Market seems pleased, so it’s all working according to plan.

    1. Samuel Conner

      IIRC, back in “early pandemic time”, these models included information on hospital capacity, total and ICU beds, and IIRC ventilators.

      I haven’t looked at that site in more than a year, and now I don’t see the “capacity constraint” information. Is it still there and I can’t find it, or was it never there and I’m mis-remembering, or was it removed?

        1. Samuel Conner

          that displays “resources needed” — what I recall is also “resources available”, which would seem very relevant now. I don’t see it.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Ah, hospital and bed capacity. Stumbled across a series of tweets today which kinda is very telling about this subject. Check out the last tweet-

        ‘Matt Stoller
        Dec 28
        It is simply not true that Covid is overrunning our hospital capacity. Congress put $100 billion into hospitals with the CARES Act but it didn’t matter. What is eroding our hospital capacity is private equity and monopolization.

        Matt Stoller
        Dec 28
        “Overall, the number of hospital beds in the U.S. has fallen from 3.5 hospital beds per 1,000 people in 2000 to 2.8 in 2016.”

        the jaykal
        Replying to
        It’s even worse over the long term.

        1975: 219,081,250 people. 1,465,828 hospital beds. 6.69 per 1,000.

        2015: 320,878,312 peple. 897,961 beds. 2.8 per 1,000 people.

        Pop increases 46%, beds decrease 39%.’

        1. jefemt

          Sort of interesting- when I think of the biz of medicine, I think of Opthalmology or Dental “chain” store/ multiple locations. Those business models ADD locations, rooms and chairs.
          Hospitals are reducing beds?
          Cost/ profitability?
          Lawsuits and risk?
          Wages and staff?
          Sloughing work and care to the patient’s family and facility, leaving money on the table?
          Any accountants in the building to throw out a thought?

          Everyone I know who has had the unfortunate experience of a three-day hospital stay
          (in the western US), has an initial $50K-plus bill story to tell.
          The net bill varies based on what opaque formula and negotiation accrues to the specific incident.
          One would think at $50K for three nights it can’t be cost and profitability that is reducing bed counts.
          Our RN daughter and her cohorts are at their wits end earning $38-48/hr, while the CEO of the faith-affiliated non- profit hospital has slated himself a nice Bonus for all the hard work over the last difficult year. (at least I don’t resent that…)
          (Auto mechanic shop rate and plumber hourly rate $125 minimum, carpenter $75 round here)

          I travel for work a lot, and the newest buildings in any given County Seat town are Jails, Cop Shops, Courthouses, and Hospitals.

          Nothing adds up, my head spins.

          1. steve

            “…newest buildings in any given County Seat town are Jails, Cop Shops, Courthouses, and Hospitals. ”

            Down South you can add Churches and Banks.

            1. Polar donkey

              For real. Only new buildings are medical, fast food, and apartment complexes that got PILOTs. Oh, and an Amazon warehouse here in Memphis.

        2. bojackhorsemeat

          I’m always concerned that these high level numbers aren’t overly meaningful…

          There have been a lot of stories over the past years about rural hospitals closing. Is the decrease mostly there, where they may or may not have been appropriately staffed (and equipped) to even do anything with severe COVID patients?

          And if we go back to 1975, a lot of things are outpatient services now, since surgery is less butchery nowadays. Even giving birth would’ve resulted in a hospital stay back then, while now you’re sent home in under 24 hours if there are no complications. These beds wouldn’t have meant anything for COVID.

        3. Michael

          “Overall, the number of hospital beds in the U.S. has fallen from 3.5 hospital beds per 1,000 people in 2000 to 2.8 in 2016.”

          Need to switch the dates…3.5 in 2016 to 2.8 in 2020

  19. Samuel Conner

    One is tempted to think that this will not have significant political repercussions for those currently in power until the consequences severely degrade US military readiness to the point that US is no longer able to wage wars.

    (I almost wrote “win wars”, but then realized my mistake)

    1. Arizona Slim

      ISTR reading that such a thing happened during the final months of WWI. There were so many troops sick with the flu that the war almost ground to a halt.

      And, once again, I see nothing in the news about early treatment, which can include a drug whose name must not be mentioned.

    2. Brian

      I actually think the tipping point comes when the US debt stops being treated as currency by other countries. This ability to tax the globe to fund the carrier fleet might be the most impressive stage magic performed in plain sight …ever. Everything else depends on this. For now that is stable so I don’t relish the idea of a disorderly repudiation of US money printing. It will result in a lot of painful score settling built up since 1945.

  20. craven

    The Governor if Rhode Island just gave the hospitals in the state immunity from lawsuits during the COVID emergency. The hospitals and state department of health are now in control. They clearly keep the governor on a short leash. What a fiasco.

  21. Sawdust

    Good. I’ve long thought the final result of all our anti-covid measures will be basically the same as if we’d done nothing. Zero covid was always a delusion. And now here we are. The push to take away our civil liberties in the mean time is pernicious and seeing it go off the rails is very encouraging.

    1. Basil Pesto

      Good. I’ve long thought the final result of all our anti-covid measures will be basically the same as if we’d done nothing.

      Why’s that? Plenty of nations have outperformed plenty of other nations in key metrics and it wasn’t by doing nothing.

      Zero covid was always a delusion.

      Why’s that?

      And now here we are.

      A complete non-sequitur from the prior sentence. Neither eradication nor elimination was attempted in the USA, at any stage.

      The push to take away our civil liberties in the mean time is pernicious and seeing it go off the rails is very encouraging.

      If you don’t think life is about to get a whole lot less free and pleasant with an uncontrolled neurotropic coronavirus spreading wantonly then, unless there’s a miracle cure or attenuation into relative harmlessness, I’d politely suggest you’re delusional.

      1. Mantid

        The “delusional” part is that the virus’ (yes plural) will make life “a whole lot less free and pleasant”. The virus won’t do that. The virus is only being used by WEF, Central Blanks, gaggle, amasin, small man military, f’offbook, et al to make our lives “a whole lot less free and pleasant”. Let’s hope Sawdust is right in hoping that the people in charge will be knocked off the rails.

        1. Lambert Strether

          > The virus won’t do that. The virus is only being used

          Yes, it will. The virus — why do I have to even say this? — has first order effects on the body that are not pleasant and reduce freedom, besides having second order effects on the body politic ffs.

          The virus is only being used? “Only”? Really?

          Thumbs up on delusional!

    2. Larry Y

      So, basically, public health doesn’t exist. The virus is a real enemy that’s breaking what’s left of our health care system. Can’t separate the health of the people from the health of the economy. Compare that to the hysteria and loss of civil liberties over the War on Terror or the Red Scare.

      The public health emergency will end, along with mask mandates, and limits on large gatherings. In a sane world, masks will become normalized when someone is sick (like in Asia), and better ventilation will be institutionalized.

      “learn nothing, forget nothing”.

  22. chris-gee

    NZ’s first Omicron case in the community was in managed isolation for 7 days then 3 days of self managed isolation.
    After 3 negative tests he tested positive on day 9 though he did not get the results until either day 11 or 12. Since he was active in the community clubbing etc for 2 days it was probably day 12. Possibly he acquired it in the miq facility rather than overseas, if not it points to longer than 4 days incubation.

    1. ChrisPacific

      Early sequencing suggests it isn’t related to any of the cases that were in MIQ at the time, so likely long incubation in this case.

  23. Tom67

    Why is the White House abdicating responsibility and downplaying omicron? And why Boris Johnson as well?
    I believe because data out of Ontario, Denmark and the UK show without a doubt that Omicron specializes in the vaccinated. Nobody knows as of yet how bad Omicron will turn out to be. It´s too early. But if it is as bad as Delta there´ll be hell to pay. So best to downplay Omicron as much as possible and hope for the best. The CDC, the FDA and our very own German RKI and PEI have become nothing more than sales divisions of Pfizer and Biontech. Here in Germany though there is no Florida and therefore no national control group. So they can keep on happily vaccinating as nobody will know the difference. As I had posted on another occasion: I have an all new respect for the US and her federal and judicial system. If this madness will stop sometime in the future here in Germany it will be to no small measure thanks to the fact that the US is such a diverse place.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Joe Biden was the sitting VP who made way for Hillary who renamed a post office once. To borrow form Denny Green, he is who we thought he was. The Presidency was meant to curtail the ambitions of would be Caesars and provide a way to remove a Sulla. But would Caesar or Sulla have let Hillary take their turn. She already lost to a clod in Obama. Sorry, his speeches were awful then too. TV is just a helluva drug.

      We already know he’s a dip, but he’s been publicly emasculated by a guy who is very much like Biden in Manchin, playing up some deluded attachment to the old country despite basically naturalized citizens for parents and moderate wealth with a tough working class faux attitude.

      His foreign leadership is a joke, his polls are comically bad with young people, and the CTC is expiring. His VP is a special kind of moron. Pelosi is openly corrupt. Schumer is bouncing around because he’s terrified of a primary opponent. And the best the centrists have to offer in the next generation is their very own Smeagol Buttigieg. C’mon man isn’t going to work on these people. And progressives are openly calling Biden in Washington speak which matters to Biden a liar and coward. I think Sanders just called the end of the CTC pathetic without even naming Manchin.

      The key to his now past popularity in 2020 was the lack of negative stories about him for eight years and American ignorance. The promise of rancor going away was appealing to lazy Americans who think history started in 2016.

    2. Brian

      Good comments but finding out if there are long term negative effects of vaccines will be impossible IMO. There are way way too many reputations at stake.

      A good friend of mine who works developing vaccines for one of the big companies (name withheld) said to me he is worried that overstating the effectiveness of these products is the biggest danger to future vaccine development. The critical unproven claim that these treatments stop transmission is the original sin here, since it is the foundation of mandates and vaccine use for people with extremely low risk.

      1. Fiery Hunt

        See, that’s the kind of “gee, what does it mean for future ____” thought provocation that constantly reminds me why I read this place every day.

        Thanks be to you. Brian. Gonna chew on that little tidbit for the rest of the year.

  24. James Simpson

    Anger is growing in the working class in the United States in response to Monday’s announcement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that it was shortening its guidelines for quarantining for positive cases from 10 days to five. In remarks to the press, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky and Biden’s top COVID adviser Anthony Fauci admitted that the purpose of loosening the restrictions is to ensure the supply of labor for American businesses. This occurs while the surge of the Omicron variant is expected to infect 140 million Americans in the next three months, more than 40 percent of the country.

  25. DJG, Reality Czar

    I have to disagree with the esteemed GM: “Because those people do/should know better scientifically.”

    What I am seeing, and I will admit that I am no longer in the US of A, is the Anglo-American belief that belief matters coming from all sides. But now, rather than just culture wars, these beliefs are killing people. In the Anglo-American world, acts have not had consequences for many years–Saint Ronnie Reagan was the Prophet, and Saint Margaret Thatcher decided to kill of society. But there are still Bill and Hill, believers in their own relevance, and fantasies that hope lies in the proles.

    You want Brexit but still retain access to the European market plus chocolate cake for breakfast? Hey. If you believe it, it will happen. Salvation through faith alone.

    You don’t “believe” that Covid is a serious matter, and you want free chocolate cake for breakfast? Hey. If you believe it, it will happen. Salvation through faith alone.

    You “believe” in science, and even “believe” in the theory evolution, and you want avocado toast for breakfast? If you believe–it will happen. Salvation through faith alone.

    And we all know that we have to believe that free markets will free us.

    Covid is a symptom, and Covid may become a chronic disease. Tearing down the whole rotten edifice of what passes for deep thinking in the Anglo-American world is a tall order–but the culprits here aren’t just Biden and Fauci and Wallensky. Economics took over politics, and now the so-called leadership is mentally paralyzed, addled, besotted. They are glad, though, that their acts will have no consequences.

    All of a sudden, to this lapsed lapsed Catholic, whacky Pope Francis is making way too much sense.

    Saint Rosalie, Santuzza, ora pro nobis.

    1. Tomfoolery

      Was there a specific Pope Francis reference you had in mind? I’d like to read if so. Ok if just a reference to his themes.

      Love your comment – it all does have a very religious feel to it, especially recently.

      1. DJG, Reality Czar

        Tomfoolery: Try searching for Francis’s encyclicals or his speeches. It helps if you can search in Italian, because he gets more coverage in Italy where he lives.

        The encyclicals promote social solidarity and an environmental ethic (his choice of “Francis” is more than obvious). He’s a flaming commie! And check out his comments on poverty and exploitation of workers…

        Who knew? And after duds like instant-saint JPII and creepy Benedict Sixteen…

  26. Lee

    PBS Newshour interview with Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis, director of health at the city of St. Louis’ department of health indicates to me that the some in the PMC are with some anxiety beginning to question the wisdom of the guidelines and to criticize more longstanding policy shortcomings and the inequitable distribution of resources among different communities.

    Understanding the new CDC guidelines for those exposed to, or suffering from, COVID-19
    Top Stories
    (9 minute interview with transcript).

    1. flora

      re: inequitable distribution of resources

      Taibbi’s latest subscribers’ newsletter says he’s working on a book about the enormous wealth shifting in the bailouts and profits during the pandemic, a book in the same reporting style as his earlier book Griftopia. Lots of the “right people” have gotten very very rich, new billionaire rich during the last 2 years .

      1. jim truti

        Look no further than PPP, $1 trillion free gift to corporation for what?
        Cherry on the top, its tax free, they dont even have to pay income tax on it.

    2. Mantid

      Slight lite at the end of this tunnel? Me hopes. But, the Director of Health in St. Louis (the interviewee) states “The CDC is always who we go to as the trusted source”. She is an idiot and a pawn!

      1. Lee

        I think some of the other things she said in terms of her own local approach belie her verbal bending of the knee to the CDC. She’s on national TV and has got a job to keep after all. It would be interesting to see what in fact she does at her local level.

  27. Dr. George W Oprisko

    As mentioned previously, I manage an Infectious Disease Medical Practice.

    My MD tells me that colleagues at her hospital claim the place is overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases.

    The entire 5th floor is closed.

    Half the beds are empty.

    Go figure.


    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Are you sure this isn’t a function of staffing? It has been widely reported that the hospital capacity has been reduced considerably due to staffing, which means the number of beds is no longer the constraint. And on top of that, in some places it has been reduced even further not due to MDs and nurses retiring/quitting, but nurses leaving to make more as traveling nurses. IM Doc says his hospital is now totally overwhelmed at #s much lower than an previous Covid peaks due to staff losses.

  28. Tom Stone

    Consequences: The Medical Establishment in the USA just pissed away whatever shreds of legitimacy it still had.
    The “Health Care System” in the US is going to collapse completely, likely by March 1st.
    The idiots running things here apparently learned nothing about how complex and fragile supply chains are over the last year and change.
    Let ‘er Rip is official policy.
    We are going to see people drop dead in the street, some services will pretty much come to a halt because too many are seriously ill at once and food shortages are very likely to become a real problem by the end of 2022.
    And we are almost certainly going to have President Harris in charge soon, which will be …interesting.
    She has NO constituency other than Donors.
    She doesn’t have any faction she needs to please.
    And she is,based on her record,a sociopath with no boundaries or limits.
    Interesting times indeed.

    1. MonkeyBusiness

      If I have to guess, a real world devastating comet is probably on the way, so it probably does not matter if our health system were to collapse next year. Because I seriously can NOT think of a good reason behind this let er rip policy.

    2. Jeff

      “The “Health Care System” in the US is going to collapse completely, likely by March 1st.”

      How does panicking or making absurd guesses help?

  29. Carolinian

    I’m not going to pretend to have a useful opinion about the future of Covid and Omicron. But I do think one shouldn’t automatically assume those pushing the rosy scenario are doing so in bad faith. After all many are scientists and epidemic specialists who point to the history of past viral epidemics as their support. And there are significant social implications to letting governments take control of our lives and our behavior by exaggerating a crisis or by depending on academic studies which, given the above described bad data problem, are often theoretical at best. What I believe one can say for sure is that the belief that the past two years wouldn’t have happened if only we had been more scientific is itself dubious. Humility is science thing too.

    1. Basil Pesto

      But I do think one shouldn’t automatically assume those pushing the rosy scenario are doing so in bad faith.

      In many cases, it is not an assumption. Bad faith has been shown repeatedly in many of the prominent Covid minimisers. The line now from many of these
      people is a straight up “we’re all going to get Covid”. That may be true the way things are going, but it isn’t and wasn’t inevitable. Moreover, it’s eugenics, plain and simple, even though you and I may very well survive. Let the virus burn through the population repeatedly and kill everyone not strong enough to resist it either naturally or post-vaccine (or post-mAbs/Paxlovid, if they’re lucky enough). May the best men win. This is a political choice that has been made, and apparently sold. Very rosy.

      After all many are scientists and epidemic specialists who point to the history of past viral epidemics as their support.

      Well, Dr Mengele was a scientist too. Or to be less extreme (unless you’re a beagle), Dr Fauci. Hey, if you get to play the “Reichstag Fire” card, I get to play the Mengele card.

      Setting aside the virology nerd debate of will it/won’t it attenuate, assuming with each new wave that “this is it, this is the beginning of the end of the pandemic, this time we’ve got it” (that last one sound familiar?) and leaving it at that is no way to run public health policy in any civilised country. It’s policy on the hoof, and us civilians just have to hope that it will be right eventually. But why would I want to trust those people running policy this way? They may have credentials but they’re clearly self-interested charlatans, aren’t they?

      What I believe one can say for sure is that the belief that the past two years wouldn’t have happened if only we had been more scientific is itself dubious.

      Well, it’s hard to know what ‘more scientific’ means. If ‘we’ (human civilisation) had taken the obvious and necessary and readily achievable steps in early 2020, similar to SARS1 (if you really do want to draw on the history of past viral pandemics), to stop transmission dead in its tracks, then none of this would be happening. It would not be an issue. Of course, every month since we have prevaricated has made this task harder and harder, particularly as fatalist propaganda calcifies. That there were known ways to stop it is presumably a consequence of past exercise of the scientific method, so I guess in that sense it’s “scientific”? It is this failing, and not worries of ‘exaggerated crises’ (like, a reduction of quarantine from 10 days to 5 by the CDC? Who, exactly, is doing the exaggerating here?) should be the locus of your concern and, frankly, anger. It has been a staggering betrayal of the public and its welfare from start to wherever we are now.

      1. Carolinian

        Bad faith has been shown repeatedly in many of the prominent Covid minimisers.

        And bad faith has been shown in many of the max lockdown boosters. “Many” does not equal “all” does not equal “automatically assume.” Please read my comment carefully.

        Dr Mengele

        See preceding response.

        As to your zero covid advocacy we’ve already had that discussion and in the real world the notion that the U.S. could turn itself into New Zealand or China doesn’t meet the reality test.

        In short when it comes to straw men a field full of scarecrows.

        And as I said in my orginal comment I’m not going to pretend to have the answers but others might want to look into that recommended “humility.”

        1. Lambert Strether

          > As to your zero covid advocacy we’ve already had that discussion and in the real world

          Ah, the famous real world, the alternative timeline we never took because of decisions that those in power made.

          Slamming the door on accountability for those decisions with “we’ve already had that discussion” reminds me of Obama “looking forward and not back” on torture, which besides being immoral had horrific effects on both personnel and policy.

          1. Carolinian

            I meant that Basil and I had that discussion in a previous NC comment section. I was repeating my position then (that zero covid was “achievable, not sustainable”). Pardon for being unclear.

            As I said up top not claiming any expertise then or now–just saying “asked and answered” to the extent I have a view.

            And to your comment I’ll say the same which is that I have no idea what the truth is and I’m not so sure anybody else does either. I don’t think this is a copout or unreasonable given the ever shifting science. That’s not “slamming the door on accountability” and seems to me what has been done may have been worse than doing nothing. There’s much talk about “long covid” but “long vaccine” is still a big question mark. If the suggestion was to quarantine the entire United States just how was that supposed to work?

            1. Fiery Hunt

              Appreciate your thought process, Carolinian.

              Yeah, I vacillate between “Batsards, put on a mask and stay out of the bars/restaurants!” and the “Am I being a victim of the fear-mongering and manipulation of the moneyed rich?”

              I honestly don’t know anyone who’d been hospitalized or died from Covid. Not denying the seriousness of 800,000 dead or dismissive of the societal responsibilities…my mom’s 75yo and not healthy. But the truth is I have no idea what’s best for us/her. Getting together this last Christmas was HUGELY important to her. Should I have taken the safer route and not seen her? I truly agonized over it. Having gone, and seeing her joy, I truly understand how some people choose Living over Fearing.

              What’s the hospitalization/death rate of infected again? Here in the US, we don’t have any idea, given how bad the testing/data collection is, do we?

              Just to be clear, I have no desire to get seriously ill or die.
              But I also have no desire to follow blindly those who’s advice has been constantly wrong (looking at you, WHO, CDC, Fauci, et al).

              Yeah, I’m double vaxxed but as Carolinian points out, we really have no idea what impact on human health a vaccination has…let alone repeated vaccinations.

              So, the question remains….”What are we really doing?”

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                First, WILL YOU STOP thinking only about the death rate??? The big danger of Covid to most people is morbidity. Cancers are way up, and the most likely cause is Covid-induced T-cell derangement and exhaustion. This possibility was predicted early on by experts. SARS had serious morbidity too.

                And we have long Covid, brain inflammation, heart and kidney damage….

                Second, you know the right people. Our aide’s boyfriend (family in Atlanta, ironically once worked at the CDC and quit because he hated it, said it was totally dysfunctional) told me in person today that he has 20 people from both sides of his family who have died of Covid. And yes, they have a propensity to diabetes. He’s trim and fit and still has some insulin resistance.

                1. Fiery Hunt

                  Yves, my sincere condolences for your recent loss.

                  I asked about hospitization/:death rates…not focused on death rates by any means. My better half is a 2 time cancer survivor so I’m paying accute attention to BOTH short and long term effects.

                  We know virtually nothing about the long term impacts of either being infected or being repeatedly vaccinated.

                  How many (percentage wise or in hard numbers) suffer from Long Covid or lingering effects? What impact does the various vaccines have on, say cancer surviviors?

                  I’m not in any way questioning the accuracy of reportage on this site but am truly pointing out what we don’t, can’t know at this time.

        2. Basil Pesto

          And bad faith has been shown in many of the max lockdown boosters.

          This is laughable. You talk about ‘max lockdown boosters’ like this is actually a real category of real people. Nobody likes lockdowns. Nobody wants them. There’s no coterie of elites who awoke in 2020 going “yes… yes!! finally we can lockdown society for months at a time!”

          Lockdowns are an extreme response that can only really be justified in either reducing short term workload on healthcare workers (and even then lockdowns might not be necessary with adequate dissemination of the airborne nature of the problem and supply of adequate masking, air purifiers etc),, who are a finite resource, or pursuing elimination: that is, use a lockdown as a tool (with full economic support to the public) with a specific goal in mind, the achievement of which – assuming responsible future behaviour – ought to preclude the need for lockdowns in the future. To create this imaginary ‘max lockdowner’ category and place them as the antithesis of the ‘Let Er Rip, everything’s fine’ crowd is beyond silly.

          “Many” does not equal “all” does not equal “automatically assume.” Please read my comment carefully.

          The problem is, it is the thought leaders of the bad faith sophists, people like Balloux et al, that drive public opinion in this area. In pushing ‘There Is No Alternative’, they manipulate honest people into cohering with their belief system. This is what makes them pernicious.

          After all many are scientists and epidemic specialists who point to the history of past viral epidemics as their support.

          The point of bringing up Mengele was to point out how silly the above was as an ‘appeal to authority’ argument. We can all hope it turns out to be true, but it’s not persuasive even setting aside the bad faith nature of some of its proponents.

          There’s much talk about “long covid” but “long vaccine” is still a big question mark.

          The latter is, so far as I know, a remote theoretical possibility – although I’m not competent to rule it out completely. The former, while by no means perfectly understood, is a clearly observed medical condition. This is a false equivalence.

          Per Fiery Hunt, it is true that it is not tenable or desirable for people to live their lives cloistered and in fear. However, when a dangerous pathogen – which, contrary to your doe-eyed protestations, quite a lot is known about – is circulating freely in the community at the same time, this means that a lot of people are going to die and get very sick when trying to live their lives. This is a past feature of human life and one that we in the west had previously overcome – a problem perhaps now relegated only to ‘shithole’ countries with no infrastructure to speak of, and the quaint near-antiquity of pre-war literature. We have thrown away our ability or will to respond to this challenge in an act of astonishing collective thoughtlessness. It never had to happen with Covid, and in fact still doesn’t – the problem is a physical one that can be solved, whether you believe that’s realistic or not. To repeat: yes, people will, by necessity, live their lives and be free – but when this is done when public health is neglected and we’re told There Is No Alternative to the circulation of this pathogen, a lot of people are going to get sick and die, or lose years of their life that they otherwise wouldn’t have. It never had to be this way. This is the civilisational failure, this is the tragedy, and this is the outrage.

          and humility as a rationalisation for believing that we truly do live in the best of all possible worlds and must cultivate our own gardens, and damn everyone else, is no sort of humility at all.

      2. Skunk

        I agree, Basil. As far as we know, though, SARS1 did not produce asymptomatic infection. This did make it harder to locate the SARS-CoV-2 cases.

        1. Basil Pesto

          Fair point, we should be careful not to be too fast and loose with our comparisons; that certainly would have made the task harder. But not impossible.

    2. Tom Stone

      Carolinian,800,000 plus dead to date,plus a multiple of that experiencing long Covid.

      Before Omicron,with more variants coming and a now official policy of “Because Markets, Go die”

  30. Dave in Austin

    I’m not sure what to make of today’s Covid news.

    If the Omicron numbers are significantly lower than previously estimated per CDC, then the rest of the cases are original Covid or Delta, which we are told have more serious symptoms. But that is not being reflected in hospitalizations and deaths. A mystery without any clues. , the article cited for Yves position: “The reason for concern is that a new, reasonable size study (n>500) found that 67% of those who had mild to moderate Covid developed long Covid. There’s no reason to think Omicron will be more forgiving.” seems to me to be very weak.

    It doesn’t use the term Long Covid; it just says 67% of people with average age 44 have one or more symptoms (average 2-3) 30 and 60 days later… symptoms like “fatigue” and “anxiety”. These are very vague and could simply mean that after a bout of Covid people fell knocked out. When I had the flu three years ago by those definitons I had “Long Flu”.

    Last night I went out to a local outdoor bar in Austin, “Radio, Coffee and Beer” for bluegrass night. All the outdoor tables were filled(few masks) and the line inside for beer was long (mostly masked). I (always masked) didn’t stay. On the way home I saw about 50-75 cars waiting in line at what I think was a testing site.

    And the stock market- which usually has better info that the public- seems to be saying “No problem”. For whatever reasons the ICU numbers down in TX are low. All things considered, the new normal.

    1. grayslady

      If the Omicron numbers are significantly lower than previously estimated per CDC, then the rest of the cases are original Covid or Delta, which we are told have more serious symptoms. But that is not being reflected in hospitalizations and deaths.

      Of course most of the cases are still Delta. That was the reporting back at the beginning of December. There were only a few states in the northeast that were identified as seeing any movement in Omicron–predictably those with a lot of international travel. Here in Illinois, we had one reported case of Omicron back in early December. There is no way I was going to believe that suddenly Omicron was representing over 70% of all new cases. The only reason I recently took the Moderna booster was that the reports finally came out showing that those of us who received Pfizer shots last spring were only 33% protected against Delta, and the young people I know are pretending as though Covid is no big deal–traveling, going to bars and restaurants. Sadly, so much time is taken up these days reading numerous sources to winnow through what is real and what isn’t about the Covid spread. One thing you can be sure of though–don’t trust the CDC. My doctors have privately admitted for months that they are furious with the CDC.

      1. redleg

        I’m not a biologist, but I understand statistics and trends: The fact that longer-burning delta is still circulating, but the new rules are based on omicron, changing the isolation rules now looks like a recipe to spread both.

      2. drsteve0

        Exactly, omicron has only been spreading widely in the US of A for a couple of weeks and has just gone exponential. There is no way to know at this early date if it will be a nightmare or mild and inconsequential. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

      3. grayslady

        UPDATE: Just got off a telehealth appointment with my pulmonologist about an hour ago. He was on duty at the hospital over the Christmas weekend. He confirmed that over 80% of the Covid patients had Delta. He also said those with the vaccine fared better, but he still saw a lot of very sick people.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      No, explained by the fact that the vaccines are more effective v. Delta than Omicron, and a lot of people (particularly the vulnerable cohorts) got boosted, amusingly on the mistaken view that that would keep them safe from Omicron. Jury still very much out on the latter.


    And it could have been to the effect of “if you test positive, you are assigned to the COVID ward, but you must absolutely not step foot in the oncology department next to the chemo patients”.

    Family member works on an oncology floor in a top 50 hospital. They sent them an email yesterday saying that they were adhering to the new CDC guidance on 5 days.

  32. Screwball

    I am told by my PMC friends that Biden didn’t say “there is no Federal solution.” I am mistaken, and I should have listened to the entire clip as he was taken out of context. I did listen to the entire clip and it sure sounds like he said what he said. Another chimed in with this (as expected);

    Surprise surprise… trumpies have reading comprehension issues. If it don’t fit on a meme or bumper sticker then it’s too much info to process for their feeble brains.

    Ok, I give up.

    Then conversation then turned to the most pressing issue of the day – the vendetta against the January 6th insurrectionists – you know, the 2nd Pearl Harbor. Then of course how the media is too mean to Joe, and especially Kamala. Then onto the knuckle dragging Trumpers who are keeping the entire planet at risk by NOT getting vaccinated, and because of them this will never be over. Why those stupid red-neck hicks who can’t read, write, and too stupid to get the shot.

    This is their mindset, now and always. This will not change, and they can’t wait to go vote for Biden, Harris, or Mayo Pete cause they are going to save us all from the fascist, authoritarian republicans. But enough about these people, they are no help. Actually they are the problem.

    We should have expected this narrative change at some point. The pandemic was hyper-politicized in order to get rid of Trump, and now that that has been accomplished, the dog has caught the car. Sleepy Joe has no plan, and never did. He knows he can’t get congress to spend money for another shut down, and he also has to satisfy big money and keep the economy open – hence; the let it rip plan – there is no other choice. The hell with lives – money is all that matters.

    It started with the vax, vax, vax, then blame the non-vaxxed. If you are vaxxed, take off the mask, make the non-vaxxed the enemy they can place blame on. Now it’s up to the states. Hey your problem, our hands are clean – if it doesn’t work – it’s your fault (and the un-vaxxed). While the CDC, WHO, the NIH, Fauci and the media helps change the narrative.

    While Rome burns. How bad this will turn out is not yet clear- but it won’t be pretty.

    Good luck everyone – as stated in the article, you are on your own. That should have been our plan from the beginning.

  33. Tom Stone

    Following the 5 day guidance on oncology wards is going to free up a lot of hospital beds in a big hurry.
    I had a sharp lesson about what it means to be immunocompromised when going through Chemo, 3 days in ICU,two more on the ward and a bill in excess of $150K.

  34. Joe Well

    The gaslighting from the MSM continues.

    This from the Washington Post mocks people who take precautions. It makes no mention of Long Covid or organ damage or waning efficacy or lessened efficacy among many segments of the population or all of us who got Johnson and Johnson or Astra Zeneca or whatever else:

    For most infected people with vaccines, he said, “What they’re having is a cold.”

    People misunderstand what the vaccine is designed to do, Frenck said, adding that unvaccinated people are dying at a rate 20 times higher than people who are vaccinated and boosted.


    Wow! 20 times higher! And just last week I’d read 10 times. Or 5 times. These vaccines get better with every telling.

  35. Samuel Conner

    Perhaps it’s a bloody-minded electoral strategy? Deplete and incapacitate the ‘deplorables’ so that the vote is lower in November?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Team Blue can’t even hold a vote on the VRA at an all time high of support for the kinds of things the VRA protects. The official opposition in this case Rand Paul has said Democrats are stealing elections by legally helping blacks to vote.

      Neera Tanden and her ilk don’t have elections strategies. They can’t even hold a phony vote to embarrass Rand Paul and other Republicans. This is about getting out out the office by 4pm.

      1. Huey Long

        Team Blue can’t even hold a vote on the VRA at an all time high of support for the kinds of things the VRA protects

        Feature not a bug. Nobody in the top 10% wants more proles voting, especially minority proles.

    2. marym

      Are deplorables declaring their right to spread disease in other people’s workplaces an electoral strategy? Republican politicians obstructing mitigation measures?

      There’s a lot of abdicating of responsibility for pandemic mitigation on “both sides” of the aisle, but if the goal were to deplete electoral participation, the Republican strategy as far as election laws and the refusal of Democrats to intervene is probably the more effective route.

  36. Mason

    Welp I’m disappointed in Chris Martenson saying this is basically over. It might be ‘over’ in six months if Omicron (big if going against NC’s sources) is milder.

    He ran a blog basically. At least he didn’t lie to millions of people running the nation’s premier health agencies.

  37. Lina

    So, health”care” in the US:

    I received a bill from our pediatrician. $125 charge for the flu and strep tests. In my daughter’s 8 years, we have never been charged for those tests (and we’ve had many).

    So I called the insurance and asked what’s going on? They said, oh the pedi office coded it wrong – it needs to be coded as preventative care.

    So I call the pedi office and they said, no this is coded correctly (those tests are not preventative). What has happened (and they said it’s not just our insurance, but others as well) is that sometime around September, Insurance companies decided to not cover those tests anymore because they have to cover Covid tests. So, while our covid test was free, we are now on the hook for the costs of the other tests that up until now were paid for under insurance 100%.

    Now, the kicker. The pedi office went on to tell me that they cannot get “covid only” tests. They can only get covid tests that include flu and respiratory virus tests. So, when we test for Covid, we are all in – and on the hook for the non Covid tests. If you have children in the US school system, you will know that anytime a child is out of school, they require a negative covid test to return. We’ve had several already this year. Unless the Pedi office gets their hands on covid only tests, we are on the hook to pay for these superfluous tests.

    Tell me, a racket or what?

    I’m livid.

    1. TBellT

      Easily could be the pedi office lying imo. A dentist tried to charge me a 50$ “deductible” recently for a plan with no deductible, because it was “my first time there”. My plan has no deductible and there an in network provider so they’re obligated to accept the negotiated rate. The EOB clearly shows I only owe $10. They just thought they could scam because no one understands their insurance. I never pay any bill unless I get an EOB from insurance agreeing with what the bill says.

    2. chris

      This might be an unfortunate outcome of recent decisions. Perhaps IM DOC or others can weigh in, but here’s what we’ve been told where I live…

      The FDA EUA for the RT-PCR test for COVID-19 expires on on 12/31. Some of the tests recommended for use after that is no longer approved are multi-purpose tests. I have called my insurance company and the local urgent care locations where we get tested and I’ve been told the following:

      (1) they’re not sure about what specifically is required after 1/1/2022, but they’re going to get back to me…
      (2) they are allowed to charge for appointments and for any processing related fees for the COVID-19 tests, and that if you’re getting tested for more than one item at the same time, only the COVID-19 portion is covered.

  38. Mikeyjoe

    The news is really tragic. Lines of people in NYC standing in long lines for testing. December has been mild so far. But I fear for people standing outside when it will be 0 degrees F (-18 C.)
    Will people who have “mild” covid-19 standing in freezing temperatures then need hospitalization?

    1. Wukchumni

      @ zero degrees, the long line in the Big Apple to procure a test might just resemble a similar line in Moscow during the Cold War where rumor has it a fresh catch of canned mackerel is available, or was it spatulas?

    2. Huey Long

      I was one of them twice over the past two weeks. Stood out there 6 hours the first time and 3 hours the second. If you need a test get there at least an hour before they open unless you want to wait most of the day.

      Mikey’s 100% right. We’re having a mild winter thus far. It’s going to get real ugly if we have one of those polar vortex cold snaps where the daytime temperature stays below 20 with single digit nights for an extended period of time. We’re due, last one was back in 2018 if I recall correctly.

  39. KiranR

    On Nextdoor there is a tag line
    “Visit for more accurate vaccine info”
    which appears above any post mentioning “Covid, vaccines, veterinarians, ‘flu’, ‘cough,’ ‘sick’, or other things having to do with health.


  40. Jen

    My small liberal arts college announced new guidance for the upcoming winter term and holy [family blog].

    Campus operations will resume as planned at the beginning of January.

    All students are required to complete PCR test within 48 hours of arriving.

    All eligible students must receive a booster by 1/31.

    Due to the anticipated higher volume of positive cases, students who test positive will isolate in place in their residence [let ‘er rip!]

    Some students who have tested negative my have to isolate with their roommate who has tested positive. [If I were a parent there is no way in hell I’d let my kid back on campus]

    Students who have tested positive may leave their residences to get grab and go meals.

    Isolation guidance will be informed by the CDC’s new guidelines.

    On a positive note they recommend, but do not require N95s and KN95s.

    I do hope the faculty go in to full rebellion over this. It’s insane.

    1. petal

      Sequential thoughts upon reading it:
      1)Same as your first sentence ending.
      2)”Gotta keep the money flowing.” Literally nothing else matters to them, including lives of employees and locals. They(we) are expendable.
      3)”We’re so screwed.” Let ‘er rip and party like it’s 1999. My MD colleague told me something the other week, and it’s not good.

          1. Jen

            Which makes the college’s return plan all the more reprehensible. Hope the hospital CEO gives the college an earful.

      1. Brian Beijer

        My MD colleague told me something the other week, and it’s not good.

        What did your MD colleague say?

  41. JEHR

    Well, Canada has joined the USA. What a lapdog we are!

    This is “Just let her rip.”

    We know for sure now that the running of businesses for profit is more important than trying to protect citizens from disease. How horrendous. Citizens can take “risks” but business must go on!

  42. antidlc


    pressed Fauci tonight on new CDC guidance.

    HAYES: Is there any science backing up the idea that after 5 days… you’re not still shedding virus?

    FAUCI: This is one of those situations… that we often say, you don’t want the perfect to be the enemy of the good.

    video at the link

    “…the importance of trying to get people back functioning in society…”

    “functioning in society” ===> back to work

  43. DMK


    What specific recommendations do you and your COVID trust have for managing the pandemic? I would read with great interest a post that laid out the actions that should be taken by federal, state and local agencies. As I read through NC COVID posts, what should be done is often lost to me in the extensive commentary devoted to what is happening in the news cycle.

    Please also consider columns on what constitutes ethical behavior for individuals. Is it ethical to attend a large indoor event if one has tested negative and wears an N-95 mask, knowing that there remains some chance of contracting, then spreading COVID?

    1. Fiery Hunt

      I’m sorry, DMK but you’re on a one-way street to deciding what your own responsibility is…

      Dearest friend’s wife’s funeral, where 250 people congregate in a small poorly ventilated church?
      Well, how much do you want to be there for your friend? How much do you not want to get sick and possibly die? These are ethical vs. moral decisions.

      And no, despite what “authorities” say, no one else can decide these things for you.

      Deeply apologize if this sounds flippant…it’s really not.
      Do what you think is right, after good thought, is all the advice I’ve got.
      Or needed,

    2. GM

      From the beginning there were two options

      1. Adopt China’s policy of zero tolerance towards even a single case of community spread and methods for elimination of the virus

      2. Everyone gets infected eventually, and then reinfected again and again.

      Those remain the only two options.

      The problem is that it is now abundantly clear that a real solution to the problem has as a prerequisite the physical extermination of the ruling class, which would never agree on the downwards wealth redistribution and reorganization of society that this would require (i.e. paying people to stay home, debt cancellation, having a proper healthcare system, having public health structures that work for the common good, etc.). They would much rather see the world destroyed than something like this being even contemplated. So mass murder of millions it was instead.

      But it wasn’t just that. As I said, solving the problem literally goes through the dead bodies of the elite.

      Therefore they had to not only impose their genocidal policies but make people happy about them, so that nobody understands what monstrous crime is being carried out and nobody gets any ideas in their heads about serious resistance.

      And after two years of incessant propaganda that goal has been achieved too.

      Worse, the virus itself will be blunting resistance over time because of its neurological effects — you need mentally sharp minds that have the capacity to process the complexity of the situation and the energy to put up a fight, and there will be fewer and fewer of those with all the debilitation that is to come.

      So right now it looks very very bleak.

      1. Fiery Hunt

        Thank you GM for all the insight/information you’ve given us to clarify what’s really going on. The NC Covid brain trust has been invaluable…deep gratitude to you and IM Doc in particular.

        That said, given how far from a real public health response we’ve had in the US (and the UK?), is it not a situation where individuals have to decide what is the appropriate response/action, in any given situation?

        The ruling class has made the choices terribly awful.

        So, given that, is the only answer for individuals to choose what they or theirs can, figuratively and literally, live with? Isn’t the only answer left for individuals, “What weighs more?”

  44. anon y'mouse

    “Every man is now on his own, at least in the US.”

    you know, i have some texts in my phone that echo this nearly word for word.

    date on those: March 17, 2020.

      1. anon y'mouse

        well, yes… a general rule our society is structured that way. so it applies at nearly any time.

        my text was in reference specifically about the pandemic, to be pedantic for a second.

  45. Rodger Mitchell

    Lots of complaints about how Biden (and/or the CDC) are causing death, when the fundamental problem remains: Republicans refuse vaccination.

    All the gobble-de-gook about science, or no-science, or confusion, etc., etc., etc., don’t change that one fact. Because of Republican lies, people are dying. If everyone simply would GET VACCINATED, the problem would disappear.

    So kwitcher moaning and vax. Or would you rather moan?

  46. AlexS

    Ok, so I get it – Biden failed to slay the dragon, he is a failure, mask mandates are awesome but please please do not look at the Manhattan island Covid numbers with 90% mask compliance and record vaxx rates.

    But let’s say you get a magic wand, and you land in the pilot’s seat for the next year. What would you do? What would you implement – the only rule is that it has to have a proven track record?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Abjectly false. Manhattan prioritized reopening restaurants. In Manhattan, more people eat more meals out with other people proportionally than just about anywhere in the US. Natives live in small apartments and eating out or meeting for a drink or coffee is the way of socializing. They were also allowing those who were vaxxed to go to museums and theater without a mask. I suspect that the big building employers that had staff back (and the banks were pressing to get them in the office, particularly traders who sit cheek by jowl) and again they likely had enough staff in mask off or poor masking (cloth masks, mask below nose, pulling mask down when speaking) that the good masking other times is irrelevant.

      Local people similarly told me how it would drive them crazy that on the subways riders would pull their masks down if they were speaking to someone and there was a fair bit of masks below noses.

      Similarly, the big December spike started after holiday parties; people in the media were all Twittering OMFG I went to a party, so and so just tested positive so I might too.

  47. rps

    Biden flipped through Obama’s H1N1 pandemic playbook. In bold red letters at the top of the page, “stop all testing and virus disappears.” CDC will no longer accept test results. Monoclonal antibodies and regeneron discontinued. No covid Biden is a hero.

  48. Nothing

    Just a thank you to Yves for taking the time to write this post despite the holiday break and everything else going on. NC is one of the few places that applies a level of critical analysis to what’s being reported rather than just regurgitating a headline. And it’s just really useful to have a summary of all the information all in one place, rather than no-context snippets every couple hrs from other sites. Look forward to more posts like this in 2022.

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