Beltway A-Lister Gridiron Superspreader Omnishambles (Butchered by “Personal Risk” Brain Geniuses)

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

For Naked Capitalism readers, the claim that “Covid is Airborne” (“Ten scientific reasons in support of airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2“) is at the very least familiar, and for many (for example, me) is as true as any claim can be true[1].

In this post, I’m going to use the recent Gridiron Club superspreading event to show what our political class really thinks about airborne transmision (since the Gridiron Club is a fine sampling of the national political class. Spoiler alert: None of these people should be anywhere near policy). But first, I want to look briefly at Japan, so we can set a baseline by seeing what a society that takes airborne transmission seriously would look like (and what a political class that did its homework[2] would look like).

Japan’s Recognition of Airborne Transmission

From the British Medical Journal (March 2022), “How Japan survived covid-19“:

Among the reasons cited are a public willingness to adhere to measures, as well as Japan’s early adoption of the “3Cs” (avoiding close contact, closed spaces, and close conversations)—built on the country’s traditional approach to infectious disease control—that anticipated what scientists now understand of the airborne nature of SARS-CoV-2 transmission.

In addition, facemasks were prevalent even before the pandemic, and most experts think a culture of politeness while travelling on public transport—such as distancing and a hesitancy to talk aloud on the phone—helped limit virus transmission, even as the country’s vast train and subway systems continued to be crowded during the peak hours. Japan’s low obesity rate has also been posited as a factor.

Here is a poster showing the 3Cs:

Readers will remember caes of superspreading events in the Skagit Valley Choir, a Guangzhou restaurant, and an Oslo nightclub on Christmas Eve. In all cases, the venues were 3Cs violators.

It’s worth taking a moment to understand why only the aerosol theory of transmission can give an accont of superspreading events. From CNN:

“Everybody in a room together [i.e., in a closed space] is constantly breathing air that just came out of the lungs of other people at the Gridiron. And depending on the ventilation rate, it could be as much as 3% or 4% of the air you’re breathing just came out of the lungs of other people at the G,” [ Joseph Allen, director of the Healthy Buildings Program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health] said.

He describes this as respiratory backwash.

“Normally, that’s not a problem, right? We do this all the time. We’re always exchanging our respiratory microbiomes with each other.

As I have urged: Breathing is a social relation. Back to Allen:

But if someone’s sick and infectious … those aerosols can carry the virus. That’s a problem.”

There are two other theories of transmission: Fomites and droplet, but only aerosol transmission gives an account of superspreading events. Imagine I carry a cigarette into a crowded room. Now imagine there is Covid virus on the surface of the cigaratte (the fomite). How would I create a superspreading event? Well, by touching everyone in the room with the cigarette. Seems unlikely. Now imagine I’m transmitting Covid from my nose, and I have smoker’s cough. I cough, and droplets spray into the air but, being heavy enough, fall to the ground within a small radius around me. How would I create a superspreading event? By coughing next to a large number of people within that small radius. Again, unlikely. Now imagine I’m transmitting Covid from my nose by breathing tiny particles (aerosols) that float and linger in the air:\

Marina Jabsky, an industrial hygienist with the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, explained how to think about it.

“If you’ve ever been in the same room as somebody who’s smoking, regardless of how far apart form them you’re standing, you’re gonna smell the smoke, right? Because the air particles will expand to fill the space,” Jabsky said.

That’s why only aerosol tranmission can give an account of superspreading events like that at the Gridiron Club, to which we now turn.

The Debacle at the Gridiron Club

The Gridiron Club is “the oldest and among the most prestigious journalistic organizations…. Its 65 active members represent major newspapers, news services, news magazines, and broadcast networks. Membership is by invitation only and was historically almost exclusive to prominent newspaper men, including newspaper Washington bureau chiefs.” They hold an annual soirée, where the invited are chosen from the “A-List” of the political class, including many Administration officials. Comedic sketches about life in the political class are prepared and performed. From the Post:

The hours-long dinner, which featured lighthearted speeches and political skits performed by journalists, including one with performers dressed as the coronavirus.

The last two Gridiron shingdigs were cancelled due to the pandemic, so a return to “normalcy” this year was a big thing for them, as it indeed turned out to be: Of the approximately 630 attendees, 72 (as of this writing) caught Covid. 11%. That’s impressive.

First, we’ll look at the Gridiron Superspreading Events from the perspective of the 3Cs and aerosol transmission generally, Then, we’ll look at the question of “personal risk. Finally, we’ll ask the sort of questions a sociologist might ask.

First, the Gridiron was clearly a Closed space, a Crowded place, and a Close contact setting. In addtion, attendees were also singing, known to increase risk (as from the Skagit Valley choir). From Politico:

Eating, talking loudly and even singing indoors have proven to greatly increase the risk of viral spread during the pandemic. At the Gridiron dinner, attendees sat together in close proximity for hours, eating, drinking, talking over each other — even joining hands at the end to sing “Auld Lang Syne.”

That scenario means infected individuals were “releasing lots of virus into the air,” said Marr. “And … given that we’ve seen a lot of cases out of here, it’s likely the ventilation was not sufficient.”

Second, an interesting detail:

About half of the cases appeared to have been clustered at three tables [the Washington Renaissance Hotel] said, and the club was taking steps to notify anyone who sat next to or across from the infected guests.

This reminds me strongly of the Korean restaurant study where airflow from ceiling airconditioners blew the virus from the index case to three other cases at a 6.5 meter distance. So I would want to understand the airflow round those three tables. (It’s possibile one of the masked servers could be at fault, of course. I would want to understand how servers were shuffled between tables. And surely they were tested as well.)

Third, attendees did not mitigate 3C risks by masking. From WaPo:

The dinner was supposed to reflect a return to normalcy after being canceled the past two years because of the pandemic. Few guests wore masks or observed social distancing, according to people in attendance. Only the serving staff was consistently masked throughout the evening. While organizers asked attendees to show their vaccination cards at the door, there was no requirement to be tested.

Fourth, attendees were not required to show a negative test:

A-list guests were asked to show proof of vaccination but not negative tests.

Now let’s turn to the concept of “personal risk.” WaPo gives the current propaganda line:

Administration officials and many experts have said that, more than two years into the pandemic, individuals now have the tools they need to decide what level of risk they’re willing to tolerate — and that every social interaction, large or small, comes with a nonzero risk of covid-19 and other respiratory illnesses.

Take that as read. Let’s see how brain genius Anthony Fauci performed his personal risk calculation:

Fauci, who said he has not tested positive [was he tested?], said he abided by CDC guidelines when deciding to attend the dinner. He said he made a personal decision that the risk of attending was low for three reasons: He is vaccinated and boosted…

Neither vaccination nor boosting prevents transmission, so if the goal is to avoid a superspreading event, Fauci’s risk calculation is already worthless.

… there was a requirement for proof of vaccination to enter the dinner…

Ditto. And Fauci didn’t even ask if there was a requirement to test negative?

…and D.C. is classified as having a low burden of disease by the CDC’s metrics. That classification also means individuals can go unmasked in indoor settings.

This is idiotic (and shows how CDC’s metrics encourage people to be idiots, assuming Fauci believes this stuff). You don’t get infected in a county; you get infected in a venue. I would bet money the CO2 level in that room was high (which means that people are breathing each other’s air, hence the superspreading event). I would bet further that none of the attendees, includiing Fauci and Walensky, even know what a CO2 monitor is, or that it’s a good proxy for shared air (you exhale CO2, hopefully not with the virus, but maybe so). These people aren’t competent to judge their own risks, let alone impose their views on others.

And speaking of risks, there’s always the question of how to account for the presence of sociopaths:

Finally, let’s consider the Gridiron Superspreading Event as a sociologist might, and ask a few questions.

First, how many of the masked servers caught Covid?

Second, who was the index case?

Third, will an epidemiological study be made?

I’d guess the answers would be “We’ll never know,” “We’ll never know,” and “No” respectively. Which is remarkable, were science a consideration for our public health establishment, since the Gridiron Superspreading event would give us some good information on one-way masking, at the very least.


Since both Fauci and Walensky were present, I have to think that they both regard the Gridiron Club’s arrangements as a paradigm for “normalcy.” Vax-only is the strategy — the political class seems to believe either that vaccination prevents transmission, or that transmission is not important without hospitalization[3]– and non-pharmaceutical interventions like masks are to be ruthlessly discarded or ignored (as with Japan’s successful 3Cs model or ventilation generally). Only aerosol transmission can give an account of a superspreading event, and Fauci and Walensky have nothing to say about it. Finally, for all the chin-stroking about personal risk, Fauci’s own assessment of his personal risk is sloppy and deluded. Neither Fauci nor Walensky should be within a mile of public health policy, and yet they’re running the show. It’s passing strange. Of course, you do have to savor the schadenfreude that the Beltway’s big “Return to Normal” event was as spectacular superspreader event that infected a chunk of the national political class, and may yet infect more. Mildly, of course. I mean, it would be a damn shame if it were anything worse.


[1] Here is are two articles on why WHO and CDC took so long to use the word “airborne” (Nature; Time). Both are good but much too charitable.

[2] Assuming them not to be sociopathic and democidal, a decreasingly tenable position.

[3] An idea so sociopathic I find it hard to get my mind around it.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Basil Pesto

    Don’t forget either that these people are receiving timely doses of Paxlovid, which normals – along with testing which is needed for timeous therapy- can’t access/afford, while publicly thanking the boosters for their ‘mild’ cases without mentioning the drug. Possibly mAbs treatment too. I believe Adams is confirmed to have received a Pax course, despite not meeting the criteria designed to more judiciously ration the drug while supply is constrained. Sociopathic indeed.

  2. antidlc

    The count is now 72.

    DC’s Gridiron COVID outbreak tally hits 72 as cases tick up nationwide

    At least 72 of the over 600 people who attended the mostly maskless Gridiron Dinner—an exclusive annual event frequented by high-profile Washington, DC, elites—have since tested positive for COVID-19. The dinner took place on April 2.

    The growing tally may herald a nationwide rise in infections from the BA.2 omicron subvariant amid relaxed health measures. BA.2 is now the dominant variant circulating in the US and is more transmissible than the initial ultra-transmissible omicron subvariant, BA.1.

    And how many other people got infected by these 72 when they went home, went to work, went to other events…

    1. ChiGal

      indeed. I may share this as a case study for my friend who is a philosophy prof who has to teach critical thinking and likes to take examples from current events ;-D

  3. LadyXoc

    I printed out the Japanese 3C poster when Lambert first posted it and hung it conspicuously in our office. I figured that we could at least benefit from a competent public health authority, even if it was not our own.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        [lambert blushes modestly]

        Honestly, when I read Fauci’s personal risk assessment, I thought it was just the stupidest thing ever. Th problem is that others will copy his reasoning.

        “He is not only dull in himself, but the cause of dullness in others.”

        On a dull law lord

        Samuel Foote, James Boswell Life of Samuel Johnson (1791) 1783

        Pure agnotology!

  4. Samuel Conner

    Thanks for this.

    I think that the aphorism “we are ruled by Harkonnens” may require to be updated. The Harkonnens were vicious, but intelligent and highly self-protective. There was a bolt-hole to escape the cloud of poison Duke Leto exhaled from his implanted hollow tooth. It’s hard to imagine The Baron getting within a mile of that dinner.

    > Neither Fauci nor Walensky should be within a mile of public health policy, and yet they’re running the show. It’s passing strange.

    Maybe they already have neurological long COVID sequelae and that is impairing the function of their risk assessment circuitry. Or maybe they have toxoplasmosis. Cats are great, but there are downsides.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Maybe their secret job is to secretly spread the disease. In which case, they are exactly where the establishment wants them to be.

      ( With referrence to Fauci and Walensky shouldn’t be within a mile of public health policy. But if the real policy is public anti-health policy, they are in their best possible happy place).

    2. anon y'mouse

      these aren’t the rulers (yes, Harkonnens), these are their minions.

      there are many minions, and ours are about at their expiration date so are becoming fully expendable.

      see Biden at the gladhanding episode with Oblam & Harris ignoring him.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > There was a bolt-hole to escape the cloud of poison Duke Leto exhaled from his implanted hollow tooth. It’s hard to imagine The Baron getting within a mile of that dinner.

      Excellent point. The Baron would have sent someone to die in his place….

  5. Jeremy Grimm

    Jay’s website. This quote from Paul Jay may suggest some explanation of the Gridiron Debacle:
    “The [Big Tobacco] companies hid the research about cancer from the public, but another fact is that the executives wanted to advance their careers and so the executives themselves—knowing about the research about cancer—chose to smoke and chose to allow and encourage their own children to smoke.” — the commentary “Icebergs Ahead”,

  6. John Zelnicker

    This looks almost intentional:

    “Mildly, of course. I mean, it would be a damn if it were anything worse.”

    Yes, it would be. ;-)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > it would be a damn if

      Dang. Typo. I hope most readers remedied the omission of the noun in the Lambertian catchphrase “a damn shame” (taken from Sturgill Simpson on The Trillbillies podcast; tone, very, very dry).

  7. Michael Ismoe

    That’s OK. They fixed it. The upcoming White House Correspondents Dinner just made it a requirement that all attendees be triple vaxed. (the same rules were supposedly in effect for the Gridiron Dinner. They learned nothing.)

    If Kamala goes up and plants a wet one on Uncle Joe, you’ll know she tested positive.

    1. playon

      Ridiculous — I am triple-vaxxed, have been careful, and am sick with COVID this week. Vaccination in the face of Omicron variants seems to mean nothing after a couple of months.

    1. ChiGal

      as of today, according to the old county transmission map, Cook County (Chicago) is back up in High territory. wonder how long it will take them to make a similar move here. and how many more people have to get sick and die before they do.

  8. drumlin woodchuckles

    In this particular case, it spread to the right people. Not all the right people, but at least some of them.
    Let us hope they suffer as they deserve . . . . with decades of unrelievable long covid to make their lives the same as they want to make all our lives.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Actually, I want something completely different. I want to see them try, oh, one of the protocols recommended by the FLCCC, which can include that drug that must not ever be mentioned. Let them rocket back into recovery and recommend those protocols to everyone.

      1. Samuel Conner

        But would they recommend them? Or rather keep the secret for themselves. Limited good; conceal your treasures from the neighbors, lest they get jealous. (Peasant mentality, or so I read in an intro cultural anthropology class decades ago; funny how the rulers subscribe to this view when it comes to public-interest uses of the Treasury’s power to create money.)

        I recall reading months ago that FLCCC people were asserting that the unmentionable antihelminth medication has been in use by Congress-affiliated persons.

        1. Arizona Slim

          I recall reading the same thing, Samuel. The figure I remember was something like 100-200 members of Congress and their staff members. They had been prescribed the unmentionable drug in order to recover from you-know what.

          But you know those Gridiron people. They love to call attention to themselves.

          I wouldn’t put it past one of them to, you know, break ranks and talk about how quickly they recovered and exactly what helped them do so.

      2. kareninca

        But you’re assuming they want other people to live. I don’t know why anyone would assume that at this point.

        Also, maybe they believe that if too many people take it, that will exert pressure on the virus to mutate in a way that lessens its efficacy. If they believe that (whether or not it is true), then they surely wouldn’t recommend it to the masses.

        1. caucus99percenter

          That’s right. Exclusivity and contrived scarcity are their stock-in-trade. If they come into the possession of a key piece of info (“intel”) that is not already well-known, the profit-maximizing “manager and agent” voice in their head says, “Share that valuable property with just anyone, for free, without squeezing some added advantage out of it for you and the elite class to which you now belong? No way.”

  9. enoughisenough

    “About half of the cases appeared to have been clustered at three tables [the Washington Renaissance Hotel] said, and the club was taking steps to notify anyone who sat next to or across from the infected guests.”

    Wait. They knew they were infected, and still came anyway, without masks on???? oh my god.

  10. Whobedatguy

    I would bet further that none of the attendees, including Fauci and Walensky, even know what a CO2 monitor is, or that it’s a good proxy for shared air (you exhale CO2, hopefully not with the virus, but maybe so).

    Is this really likely in the case of scientists like Fauci or Walensky?

    If so, we are in deep, deep doodoo and the virus’ mutations will continue to dictate the extent of harm.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Is this really likely in the case of scientists like Fauci or Walensky?

      Fauci seems to have done real science in his younger days (certainly pre-AIDS). Both are better characterized today as scientific administrators, rather than scientists.

      Yes, I can believe that both Fauci and Walensky are ignorant of CO2 meters and their use as proxies for virus in the air. First, suppression of aerosol transmission (“Covid Is Airborne”) has been relentless in the upper reaches of the public health establishment, and both may be high on their own supply. (Recall that Walensky comes from the hospital environment, and the hospital infection control community has been the most hidebound and reactionary on insisting on droplet theory. If Walensky goes to her clique for advice, that is the view she will get.) Second, either they are ignorant or they are knowingly putting themselves in danger of infection. That level of personal courage — to prove a political point? — seems an unlikely thing to find in our political leadership,

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        If they know they will get the super duper monoclonal antibodies, the secret drugs we are not even being told about, etc. etc., just like any other ruling class person who gets sick, they may feel their personal risk from getting covid is not all that great because they know they will be taken better care of.

        So they may be willing to “expose themselves to danger in public view” so as to have more personal credibility for being trusted as they try leading millions of people into getting covid in furtherance of their social class betters’s agenda.

  11. Whobedatguy

    Of course, you do have to savor the schadenfreude that the Beltway’s big “Return to Normal” event also infected a chunk of the national political class, and may yet infect more.

    Indeed, these policymakers and their enablers are leading way. They and those who choose to blindly follow them are first in line to reap the consequences of their disregard for prudent action.

  12. Antagonist Muscles

    Jabsky and Lambert’s example of comparing the ability of cigarette smoke to fill a room and how that is analogous to SARS-COV-2 filling a room rings true for me. I have some extremely rare neurological disorder where my senses have apparently augmented to the point of pathology. I also have a severe intolerance for cigarettes. Thus, my sniffing superpower when combined with my cigarette intolerance is a comical disability. Imagine if Superman’s super smell could sniff out the residue of kryptonite, even after the kryptonite has left the room. Likewise, your dog can definitely smell the perfume of a woman who was in the room yesterday. Sidenote: The odor of cigarettes combined with perfume is just about the worst odor I have ever encountered.

    In the example in the article, we presume that an actively smoking person is spreading his second hand smoke and carcinogens. My sense of smell is so strong that I can smell third hand smoke from a distance. Even if a cigarette addict temporarily quits smoking for a week, I can still smell the residue because those chemicals are still oozing out of the addict’s body and clothes.

    Unfortunately, my sense of smell indicates very little about the direction and timing of cigarette smoke. If I smell smoke in a crowd – which I avoid as per Lambert’s suggestion – I can’t really deduce who is the smoker unless, of course, I can visually see a cigarette. This means I simply leave the room when the one particle per billion of cigarette smoke hits my nose and lungs. When I had a doctor appointment recently, the cigarette smoke from the previous patient penetrated my paper mask within seconds of entering the exam room. I held my breath, and I promptly requested a different room. Problem averted.

    In the next exam room without the threat of cigarette smoke debilitating me, I made some deductions. First, smoking is obviously forbidden in the exam room so the odor in the first room must have been third hand smoke: cigarette carcinogens emanating from exhaled air or clothes after the cigarette is extinguished. Second, this medical clinic standardizes on paper masks for all patients. I was not allowed entry until after replacing the N95 mask on my face with a paper mask. They certainly enforce the same rule for the smoking patient before me. Third, those paper masks perform poorly in (a) preventing third hand smoke from entering my body and (b) preventing third hand smoke from exiting the smoker’s breath. Or perhaps, the smoking patient before me simply didn’t wear his mask while waiting. Fourth, ventilation in the exam room is inadequate. Fifth, the cigarette aerosols fill the room because I got hit the moment I entered.

    Therefore, the information I found here regarding SARS-COV-2 aerosols and the scientific deductions I derived from my strong sense of smell are congruent. I had previously seen in Links a paper from perhaps PLOS using the small particle size of cigarette smoke as a model for SARS-COV-2 aerosols. What if that exam room was filled with odorless (to humans) SARS-COV-2 aerosols instead of cigarette smoke? What if an infected person was willfully negligent in preventing the transmission of disease in the same way smokers are willfully inconsiderate in preventing emission of cigarette smoke? With the relaxing of non-pharmaceutical interventions to prevent transmission and officially sanctioned propaganda minimizing the danger of Covid-19, it is almost inevitable that people will gather at the doctor’s office and increase the number of infections. I have no idea how to pray, but divine intervention might be needed here to stymie delusional beliefs about unmitigated transmission.

    1. Pat

      It isn’t just perfume. I don’t have a great sense of smell (and considering some of the things I have done in my life it’s a blessing). Yet I attribute my choice to never even try smoking to smell. As a child I was required to do the dishes, which included ashtrays. The smell of stale cigarettes mixed with the fragrance of dish soap is massively foul…and nearly impossible to get off your hands.

      And I am somewhat careless. No I do not mask in my apartment, but I do get the aroma from the pizza place downstairs and more worrying the smell of marijuana smoke from passerbys through my open window. So far I have been lucky but I may have to rethink that.

      1. Antagonist Muscles

        The chemicals used for fragrance in dish soap, laundry detergent, and perfume are in all likelihood similar. I am no chemist, but I do know intuitively that those fragrance chemicals are sticky, which is also characteristic of cigarette smoke and ash. Thus, combining fragrance chemicals with cigarette ash is akin to combining duct tape with rubber cement. Perhaps the physiological reason for this is the affinity of these chemicals to olfactory receptors.

        These chemical cleansers (e.g. dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent, carpet cleaner) must include a surfactant to separate dirt and grease from the item being cleaned. After the surfactant does its cleaning job, Chlorox or Procter and Gamble determined that your cleaned item must emanate a sheen of fragrance that is ironically difficult to remove.

        I am so hardcore that I make my own laundry detergent. However, other people spill their laundry detergent all over the dispenser on the shared washing machines. I have to clean up the mess before I start my laundry, and the nitrile gloves I wear absorb all the awful fragrances. I usually just discard the gloves, but I did try and fail to remove the scent from my gloves with a variety of soap and cleaners.

        My super smell sure makes eating a good meal that much more enjoyable, but it is not without drawbacks. The detergent and fabric softener you used for your laundry might make your clothes look and smell clean to you. To me, an aversive stink cloud of “Mountain Fresh” scent permeates your presence.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > To me, an aversive stink cloud of “Mountain Fresh” scent permeates your presence.

          I think Nature will select for this ability as the effects of fragrance chemicals becomes more and more evident.

          1. caucus99percenter

            I rather like the idea of humans in the distant future being the equal, when it comes to sense of smell, of today’s cats and dogs.

        2. Keith Newman

          Re Antagonist:
          “I am so hardcore that I make my own laundry detergent”
          Wow, that really is hardcore. I intensely dislike perfumes although I have no medical condition regarding them. Some laundry detergents have incredibly persistent perfumes. I remember once having to wash clothes I had worn traveling in Asia 5 times in very hot water with non-perfume soap to finally succeed in removing the odour.
          I am surprised you don’t use commercially available non-perfume detergent. I find them completely perfume-free as far as I can detect.

  13. Safety First

    “[3] An idea so sociopathic I find it hard to get my mind around it.”

    But that is EXACTLY what has been happening.

    Remember, initially the instinct of the socio-economic elites (here or nearly anywhere in Europe) was to ignore the epidemic entirely. Then, it turned out that people were dying, and in most places – except for, notably, Sweden – politicians got frightened for a bit.

    But then the vaccines showed up, and they cut the hospitalisation and death rate by roughly an order of magnitude (pre-delta and omicron). Suddenly, the death rate became acceptable, and just as suddenly, a bunch of countries shifted to the vaxx-vaxx-vaxx strategy. Which is really just another iteration of the ignore-the-virus notion from March 2020, and from that standpoint, the more people get infected the better, since this plus the vaccines gets you closer to the mythical “herd immunity” (which does not at all appear to be a thing – I personally know individuals who, having recovered from delta, got whacked by omicron). Long COVID? Post-COVID medical consequences? No-one cares, that’s in the long run, and in the short run there are quarterly profits to make. Deaths? No-one cares, because are currently cruising in the “no political consequences” zone.

    One might call this sociopathic, or immoral, or whatever, but really, it’s just capitalism, baby.

    1. Dwight

      Wild speculation: investors in Medicare REACH/Direct Contracting Entities will somehow gain from the damage done by COVID and vaccines, or from the model of top-down non- or mal-treatment established during this pandemic.

  14. jefemt

    I’d like to know the vax/boost status of the post-Gridiron diagnosed covid-positive, and symptomatic.

    I note that Biden took a Pass. Must have listened to Fauci and looked at a chart similar to the Japanese 3C’s?

    I wonder if Fauci has tested positive since? I wonder if he is still gobbling Zinc?
    I wonder if he prophylactically swabbed his schnozz with oil of Oregano and/or Xylitol?
    I wonder if he is a Beta tester for the new nasal meds coming from India?

    I wonder that I have not heard the media wonder what I wonder.

    Echoes of an enraged John McEnroe: You cannot be serious!!!!

    The lack of rigor is just so 2022!!!!

  15. Hayek's Heelbiter

    Not even the London Fire Brigade believes in airborne Covid transmission, despite the mountain of research I’ve thrown at them. Dead horse. Dead horse. Dead Horse.

  16. David in Santa Cruz

    An idea so sociopathic I find it hard to get my mind around it.

    If you’re triple-vaxxed and have free and unlimited access to Paxlovid, it’s What-Me-Worry? If you’re not and you don’t — it’s Because Markets!

    Just another example of the Rules of Neoliberalism in action.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      See also:

      Invariant #1: The rules of neoliberalism do not apply to those who write the rules.

      Invariant #2: The rules of neoliberalism do not apply in the world of the 0.01%.

      Now, when you start conflating the rules of neoliberalism with all rules, well, then you’ve got trouble.

  17. antidlc

    Five more House lawmakers test positive for COVID

    Five more House lawmakers have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days, adding to the growing number of Washington, D.C., figures coming down with the virus.

    Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) and Elaine Luria (D-Va.) have all announced positive COVID-19 test results since Friday.
    Rashida Tlaib latest House member to contract COVID-19

    Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) announced on Monday that she tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the latest House member to join a recent wave of cases.

    Don’t know if any of them were at the Gridiron event.

    1. curlydan

      Politicians may be the most likely people to get COVID. It’s kind of a wonder that it’s taken so long for them to get hit to this proportion. They talk and socialize all day for a living. And apparently, they hate masks unlike the wise waitstaff and others who still wear them.

  18. McWatt

    Our entire family kept safe for two years. The masks came off here 20 days ago or so. Since then we have had 5 family members test positive, inspite of always masking indoors when in public and at school.

    Thankfully my wife was eligible for Paxlovid which reduced her symptoms to a manageable level in 24 hours.
    Now my 9month old grandson has Covid.

    The government either knows nothing or knows everything.

    1. playon

      I had the exact same experience, although we have no kids. Two years of being careful, still continuing to mask up etc only to now contract it two weeks after restrictions were lifted. I assume it to be the super-contagious Omnicron variant. At the same time, the local hospital has permanently closed their COVID clinic which offered free PCR testing to the public until two weeks ago. And now the new policy of failing to collect data…be careful out there, people.

  19. SocalJimObjects

    “It’s becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated!!”

    – Famous last words from some CDC Director

  20. Tom Stone

    These politicians are clearly faking it to gain sympathy!
    Fauci himself told me I was protected from the virus once I was vaccinated, and if I can’t trust Fauci who can I trust?

  21. Jason Boxman

    As much as liberal Democrats fetishize The West Wing, they sure missed the part where policy briefs were studied. I guess it’s just the style of governing that appeals, not substance.

  22. VietnamVet

    This goes back to the turn of the century. “We are an Empire now. We create our own reality”. They truly believe the Empire’s propaganda. This is why they were at the Gridiron Dinner — mask less & impervious. They are Insiders.

    This important article clearly points out their delusions. The tragedy is that it is not only the global pandemic. WWIII is ratcheting up. Russia is about to mass attack west in Eastern Ukraine. MIT issued a primer on the risks of nuclear war that is escalating sharply, right now, but this is being ignored by the very same insiders:

    1. T_Reg

      “Russia is about to mass attack west in Eastern Ukraine.”. Since eastern Ukraine is not The West, how does that work exactly?

  23. Lambert Strether Post author

    Gridiron case count now up 80:

    And it looks like I was right on the staff. “We’ll never know”:

  24. DanB

    Another sociological type of analysis is to use concepts from the interpretive perspective of sociology, most commonly known as “the social construction of reality,” and sometimes referred to as “the definition of the situation.” ‘From this perspective, I’d want to know what those serving this [alleged] elite think about Covid’s transmissibility, their risk exposure, the overall conduct of this elite, and so forth. I’m certain this elite would not submit to interviews but if they did I’d like to know how they -as a collective- define risk, think about a theory of transmission, and so forth. I speculate that the level of solid science based knowledge is low among the elite because they serve the power of the status quo. “Back to normal” is a definition of the situation that conforms to their social construction of reality that the pandemic “is coming an end.” I summit further that they -this elite- are utterly confused that the obdurate reality of the pandemic does not bow to their social construction of reality. And I think the servers would have a better grasp of obdurate reality because they are subjected to the exploitative power of the elite and more at risk to Covid in crucial lifestyle ways. So I hypothesize that those with the most power to define social reality are those with the least grasp of obdurate empirical reality, i.e., how Covid is spread. From Bourdieu’s perspective, we want to understand the habitus of the elite vs the habitus of the servers, which they must keep hidden while interacting with the elite.

  25. Verifyfirst

    Something I have not seen mentioned–were the servers REQUIRED to wear masks? That seems most likely–the upper crust (and their event planners) will believe they can catch Covid from the rabble, but not from their peers.

    From the look of them, they were pretty decent masks too, not the blue surgical masks, though perhaps black masks was an aesthetic choice…..

  26. Verifyfirst

    How many of the attendees did wear masks? Or did those folks just stay home. The whole thing has an air of machismo about it….maybe having had Covid will become some kind of bragging currency among this set–“yah, I had it….my bad ass vaccines and immune system kept it at bay”. How else does a mask become equated with cowardice.

    For myself, I now ignore any numbers of deaths lower than our Covid numbers–cuz “we” have decided 1K deaths a day are A-ok in the USA. (official number)

    It’s a relief really–so many ills I don’t need to care about anymore. 40 pedestrian deaths in Michigan last year–who cares? We have over 80 Covid deaths/day in Michigan for two straight years and …..crickets today. Childhood cancer, drunk driving, pesticide deaths, you name it, I don’t have to be concerned anymore. Sweet!

  27. david anthony

    The more of these elite get brain fog and can’t work anymore the better off the masses will be.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If the brainfog gets widespread enough, we could start calling it ” mad cowvid disease” and people might know what we mean.

  28. Skippy

    This whole thing smacks of a Kubrick script on the level of Dr Strange Love. Would work well with an alternating time line moving past, present, and future for all the attendees.

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