Dr. Carroll is the chief health officer for Indiana University. He’s also a writer who focuses on health research and policy.
photo above: Tim Gruber for The New York Times
WN1: The consistent messaging is: If for no other reason, because of our neighbour, we should get vaccinated.
There is also this urgent plea by Travis Campbell, a 43-year-old father and husband from Bristol, Virginia, has been in the hospital for [almost three] weeks now with COVID-19.:
We read here,, by :
Campbell has not had to be intubated, and his fight continues as of the publishing of this story. In his most recent video, Travis told his audience to get vaccinated as soon as possible, pleading, “please don’t put your family through this.”
And in the U.S., in the article highlighted by Paul Krugman we find:
In any case, it’s crucial to understand that we aren’t facing a national crisis; we’re facing a red-state crisis, with nakedly political roots.
“In places that are well vaccinated, we have quite good protection and we don’t have a lot of surge. In places that are less well vaccinated, this virus is an opportunist and it has taken hold in those places in particular,” Walensky said.
Walensky added that more than 80 percent of the counties with the highest rate of disease have the least amount of vaccination.–CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, New COVID-19 infections hit six-month high
That said, 2021 isn’t 2020 redux. As Aaron Carroll pointed out Tuesday in The Times, Covid is now a crisis for the unvaccinated. Risks for vaccinated Americans aren’t zero, but they’re vastly lower than for those who haven’t gotten a vaccine.
What Carroll didn’t say, but is also true, is that Covid is now a crisis largely for red states. And it’s important to make that point both to understand where we are and as a reminder of the political roots of America’s pandemic failures.
Just to be clear, I’m not saying that only Republicans are failing to get vaccinated. It’s true that there are stark differences in attitudes toward the vaccines, with one poll showing 47 percent of Republicans saying they are unlikely to get a shot, compared with only 6 percent of Democrats. It’s also true that if we compare U.S. counties, there’s a strong negative correlation between Donald Trump’s share of the 2020 vote and the current vaccination rate.
That said, vaccination rates among Black and Hispanic Americans remain persistently lower than among the non-Hispanic white population, an indication that issues like lack of information and trust are also inhibiting our response.
But simply looking at who remains unvaccinated misses what may soon become a crucial point: The danger from Covid’s resurgence depends not just on the number of cases nationwide but also on how concentrated those cases are geographically.
…But there are regions in America where large numbers of people have refused vaccination. Those regions appear to be approaching the point we feared in the early stages of the pandemic, with hospitalizations overwhelming the health care system. And the divide between places that are in crisis and those that aren’t is starkly political. New York has five Covid patients hospitalized per 100,000 people; Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis barred businesses from requiring that their patrons show proof of vaccination, has 34.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than 1 percent of fully vaccinated Americans have had a breakthrough case that results in hospitalization or death.—Graham says he has COVID-19 ‘breakthrough’ infection
Vaccines are still the most sustainable solution for ending the pandemic: Every vaccine given improves the immune defenses of the person who receives it. The final results might vary from person to person, but all vaccinated people can expect to be better protected against the virus than they were before—they’ll likely get less sick, and transmit far less, than they otherwise would have.—The Atlantic Daily, August 2, 2021
Despite new evidence that the immunized can still spread the virus, officials say the vaccines remain highly effective, especially at preventing death and severe illness. The vast majority of those with covid-19 who die or are hospitalized are unvaccinated.
See too, by JOANNE KENEN, 08/04/2021: Don’t panic about Delta. But also, panic, a little. We read:
But, as [Ezekiel Emanuel, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania who advised the Biden transition on Covid-19] pointed out — in fact he mentioned it several times during a separate Infectious Diseases Society media briefing this week — one reason we know so little about Delta is that we just aren’t testing very much. Tests aren’t as omnipresent and accessible as they were a few months ago.
The lack of testing was the pandemic’s original sin. So many things that went wrong stemmed from the fact that, back in the early weeks and months of Covid, we didn’t have a good sense of where the virus was, where it was going, who it was hitting.
Now, it seems it could be déjà-testing-vu all over again.
But don’t panic.
Still, several lines of evidence suggest that vaccinated people can transmit Delta onward, if not to the same extent as unvaccinated people. That supports the CDC’s recent recommendation that vaccinated people should wear masks indoors, especially in areas with high community spread.—Toddlers and masks: And you thought potty training was hard, by RENUKA RAYASAM, 08/05/2021
Before the pandemic, Lyth Hishmeh—a 26-year-old living in Camberley, England—was always looking for something to keep himself busy. He was working as a software engineer and doing research into AI on the side while making plans to start a new company. He was juggling four to five textbooks at once. “I could not sit still,” he says.
All that came to a halt on March 13, 2020, when he was sent home from work with a suspected case of Covid-19.
“I’m 26—these are supposed to be my golden years. And I feel like I’m 80,” he says. “It really feels like at some point, the pandemic is going to end, and the world is going to move on. And we’re just going to be stuck here.”
See this too, August 4, 2021, by Eugene Robinson: Opinion: Too many Republicans are taking covid-19’s side in the fight against the pandemic. We see in it:
This is the GOP’s pandemic now. Cynical and irresponsible Republican politicians have created an environment that is killing Americans who shouldn’t have to die, swamping hospital systems with desperately ill patients, and generally ensuring that the pain and disruption of covid-19 are with us longer than they need be or should be. And they’ve done so in their own self-interest.Yes, the more-infectious delta variant is driving this new wave. But vaccination and mask-wearing have the power to check that spike in cases, and to prevent those new diagnoses from turning into hospitalizations and deaths.
But that’s not true. Those who make the “personal choice” not to be vaccinated or not to mask up in appropriate settings are also making a choice to put others at risk. They can spread the coronavirus not just to other unvaccinated individuals, but also to those who can’t get vaccinated; those for whom the vaccines are less effective; and vaccinated people who might themselves not get seriously ill but could potentially pass the virus to more vulnerable members of their households. . . . But Florida and Texas are now generating one-third of all new coronavirus infections in the country. The virus wants to keep replicating itself. DeSantis and Abbott are covid-19’s best allies in that fight.
Can we possibly be so stupid that we ignore all empirical evidence and insist on inflicting grievous self-harm? Ambitious Republicans are betting that the answer to that question is yes.
…[Florida Republican Governor Ron] DeSantis has taken the position that pandemic public health measures are an intolerable assault on personal freedom — a message many rank-and-file Republicans apparently welcome. Florida is now seeing as many as 20,000 new cases of covid-19 per day, more than any other state in the nation. Hospitals in cities such as Jacksonville are overwhelmed with more covid patients than they treated in the darkest days of January.
For me, it’s yet another reminder of the pandemic’s seeming endlessness. The CDC is now saying that even vaccinated people have to wear masks indoors because of the risks of the Delta variant. Lambda, another Covid variant first identified in Peru, may be resistant to vaccines.—Toddlers and masks: And you thought potty training was hard, by RENUKA RAYASAM,
DeSantis at least recommends that Floridians get vaccinated. But his attacks on public health officials and his emphasis on the idea that vaccination is a personal choice rather than a community responsibility undercut that message. Now, he is trying to claim that President Biden’s border policies, not Floridians’ choices and DeSantis’s policies, are somehow to blame for new cases.
Another ambitious Republican who won’t heed that sensible — if blunt — message is Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas2, the state second only to Florida in new covid-19 infections. Abbott vows that “in Texas there will not be any government-imposed shutdowns or mask mandates. Everyone already knows what to do. Everyone can voluntarily implement the mandates that are safest for them, their families and their businesses.”
But if “everyone already knows what to do,” why did Abbott sign a sweeping executive order that says “no government entity, including a county, city, school district and public health authority” in Texas can impose mask or vaccination mandates? His position is that “the path forward relies on personal responsibility rather than government mandates.” Etc. . . . What can one say? Idiots all! And killers to boot.
Officials cited data from Israel suggesting vaccinated people may be spreading the highly contagious delta variant. Their fears appeared to be well founded: A quarter of July infections were among fully vaccinated people.
“When you don’t know something or don’t know something well, we learned the lesson with Covid is you are better off being cautious.”–Barbara Ferrer, Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health3.
Travis Campbell called his son this week with a big request. He asked the 14-year-old to commit to giving his sister away at her wedding someday if Campbell does not make it out of the intensive care unit.
“I messed up big time, you guys — I didn’t get the vaccine,” Campbell said in a Wednesday video posted to his Facebook page. He filmed it from a Virginia hospital bed, where he has spent nearly two weeks battling covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
The 43-year-old Bristol, Va., retail worker and former police officer told The Washington Post on Thursday that he planned to get vaccinated against the coronavirus by the end of the summer — right after he fully recovered from a recent knee surgery and got through a home move.
After surviving a mild covid-19 case last year, Campbell said he thought he had the antibodies to ward off future infection. Now, he worries the decision to delay the shot will cost him his life, as he fights pneumonia and a partially collapsed lung.
Then, by Rebecca Solnit, August 7, 2021: Republicans treated Covid like a bioweapon. Then it turned against them. In it:
Covid-19 is far from the first time people have decided to profit from promoting the death of others: the fossil fuel industry plunging ahead while fully aware that climate catastrophe was the consequence of its product is the most extreme example. Manufacturers of guns and prescription opiates have done so as well. But it might be the first time that a new threat has been so dramatically increased not by direct profiteers but by those selling ideology and sowing division.
Measuring the impact of the pandemic by its death toll leaves out other impacts that matter: millions of schoolchildren isolated and undereducated, millions of parents exhausted by double duty, millions of small businesses shuttered, millions unemployed and impoverished, their dreams crushed, millions isolated and anxious, millions grieving the dead. Medical workers who were selflessly heroic the first time around are demoralized now that the hospitalised are so often people who could have been vaccinated, could have been careful, but chose not to. The poison runs through everything. Some of it was spread on purpose.
More: A Texas GOP leader railed against vaccines and masks. Then he died of covid. We read also about him here: Texas Republican who promoted mask burning dies of COVID-19:
[H. Scott] Apley’s political worldview seems to have been a typical Christian right-wing conservative one. Apley’s Twitter presence was made up of mostly Christian aphorisms and quotes from both Testaments, with some political posts scattered about. The general tenor of his politics had to do with keeping the federal government from what he perceived to be an infringement on citizens’ constitutional rights, extending to all of the standard conservative talking points, such as the need to lower taxes on corporations.
The Washington Post points out that Apley’s social media pages included not simply the anti-vaxx sentiments of the right, but also the anti-mask interpretation of freedom. In May, Apley posted an advertisement of a “Mask Burning” at a bar, writing “I wish I lived in the area!” He also posted a story about various ways in which Texas was trying to promote vaccinations by using incentives like tickets and giveaways, commenting that the efforts were “disgusting.”
Also from the above article, that cites additional examples:
Apley is one of a growing number of highly publicized cases of people getting seriously ill or dying after railing against masks, bashing vaccines, playing down the gravity of the pandemic or merely being vaccine-hesitant. . . .
Still more, August 10, 2021, by Niall Stanage: The Memo: How a GOP governor and a union leader changed their minds on COVID. We read:
[Kavita Patel, a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution and a practicing physician] also lamented the propensity to allow political imperatives to drive health policy — a trend that, she noted, also encompassed Democrats who expressed skepticism about getting the vaccine when it looked as if it might be approved during Trump’s time in office.
“Unfortunately, there is this notion of digging in your heels, and in a pandemic that is fast-moving, that is the wrong posture to have,” she said.
As for [Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R)], he noted with a dry laugh that “you don’t want to be wrong very many times.”
“You ought to be right, and work hard to get all the information at the time you make a decision. But the fact is, sometimes we do err. And we shouldn’t make everybody pay a price for a leader saying, ‘I’m not going to change my position because that would be embarrassing.’”
In that regard, the flexibility shown by figures like [the head of the liberal American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Randi Weingarten] and Hutchinson is a glimmer of light in a politically rather dark time.
Concerning kids and Covid, by Ariana Eunjung Cha, August 13, 2021: ‘This is real’: Fear and hope in an Arkansas pediatric ICU. We read:
Outside Room No. 5 on the third floor, where Caia lay with a stuffed frog in one hand and a stuffed seal in the other, a crowd of doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and other specialists buzzed around her and other sick children. The hospital had started the day with 23 covid patients, 10 in intensive care. Five of those were on ventilators and three were on heart-and-lung bypass machines of last resort. It wouldn’t be long before more sick kids were on the way.
“You always have times when you cry,” Shonda Grappe, a pediatric intensive care nurse, said a few hours into her shift. “Everyone is feeling this.”
The hyper-contagious delta variant has changed much of what we thought we knew about the coronavirus and children — that kids might get infected, but they were extremely unlikely to become seriously ill. Today, as delta infections mount, some front line doctors suggest children are being hospitalized at higher rates and with more serious illnesses because of the new variant — a still-unproven hypothesis. What is indisputable is that in a swath of low-vaccination states stretching from Florida, South Carolina and Texas, up to Indiana and Missouri, the first large wave of pediatric cases is hitting hard — overwhelming hospitals, dominating political debates over mask and vaccine mandates and throwing school reopening plans into disarray.
Linda Young, a respiratory therapist at the hospital for nearly 37years, said these latest children with covid appear to be progressing to respiratory distress much faster and in less predictable patterns: “I have never seen anything like this.” Even healthy children are being hospitalized, she said, something she had not seen in previous waves.
These stories continue to be important to post; by María Luisa Paúl, August 13, 2021. Please see: A Florida mother held her newborn one time. Ten days later, she died from covid-19. We read:
Yet [her aunt, Melissa] Syverson said she is determined to not let her niece’s memories perish: She’s sharing her story in the hope that people — especially pregnant women — take safety measures during the pandemic.
Most compelling reason to be vaccinated? Not follow the “science”; not follow the “statistics”4–FOLLOW THE NUMBERS!
Case counts are rising, some hospitals are filling up, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is again recommending universal masking in areas where cases are surging. But to suggest that Covid-19 is an escalating emergency in the United States is not quite right. The truth is that the vaccinated and the unvaccinated are experiencing two very different pandemics right now. If we don’t confront that, the nation can’t address either appropriately.The C.D.C.’s announcement will lead many to believe that the pandemic is getting worse. But if you and most of the people in your area are vaccinated, things are substantially better than they used to be. Hospitals are relatively clear of Covid-19. Few deaths are occurring. People may still be worried, and some may be masking, but much of their panic is that the stuffy nose they woke up with may be Covid-19.
Across the country, a vast majority of severe illness and deaths are among the unvaccinated. Fewer than 1,200 vaccinated people have died of Covid-19 as of July 19. Over 97 percent of people who are hospitalized for Covid-19 are unvaccinated, according to the C.D.C.
…Despite this difference, reporting on the relative percentage of Delta cases every day is causing vaccinated people to panic and sowing some doubt about the effectiveness of vaccinations. But it’s clear from the data on hospitalizations and deaths today compared with when the Alpha variant was on the rise at the beginning of the year that the United States is in a much better situation now.
If you’re vaccinated, your risk of a symptomatic breakthrough case remains very low. And if you do get COVID-19, your immune system is better prepared to handle an infection than it would have been without the vaccine.—The Atlantic Daily, August 4, 2021That’s because more people are vaccinated, including most Americans over 65.
Even healthy children are being hospitalized, she said, something she had not seen in previous waves.
Hospitalizations and deaths are rising in some areas not because someone didn’t wear a mask at the ballgame. They’re occurring because too many people are not immunized.
Please click on: Crisis for the UnvaccinatedFootnotes
- The chart accompanies this article: A cat-5 COVID hurricane is heading our way – world is almost oblivious to magnitude of sh*tstorm, with this content:
I’m not sure whether people who don’t normally work with numbers on a daily basis truly appreciate the difference between a virus where each carrier infects on average 2 other people compared to a virus that infects on average 5 others, but here’s how it plays out over a few weeks if you do the math.
Epidemiologists have now determined that COVID delta is more contagious than were childhood viruses like chickenpox in the 1950s. I was a young child in the days before chickenpox vaccines, and when the virus arrived locally it tore through communities like wildfire. If you didn’t get it in kindergarten you got it in grade 1 or maybe grade 2.
Nobody made it to grade five without getting chickenpox and its three sisters: mumps, measles and German measles. It was a rite of passage and the four of them were known, with good reason, as universal childhood diseases. (Adults were immune as a result of their own childhood encounters with these self-immunizing diseases.)
Epidemiologists are now starting to point out that delta COVID has the “transmission power” to spread like the universal childhood diseases in the 1950’s – the bug is aggressive enough that it will spread to every niche of the community, finding and infecting virtually everyone who is not vaccinated (and some that are). If that sounds far-fetched – just look at the numbers in the table above.
For additional reference: from recent infamous CDC power point.
- Please see this, August 10, 2021 “I am frightened by what is coming”: Texas hospitals could soon be overwhelmed by COVID-19 caseload, officials say.
Texas hospitals are on the brink of catastrophe, close to being completely overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, leaders of some of the state’s largest hospitals told state lawmakers Tuesday.Official after official used their strongest descriptions to get the point across to legislators: Hospitalizations are rising too fast for them to keep up with, and it may be too late to do anything about it.
The number of COVID-19 patients in Texas hospitals is accelerating faster than at any other point in the pandemic as the contagious delta variant spreads unchecked, primarily among the unvaccinated.
“While more vaccination is the only thing that can ultimately bring this pandemic to an end, we need more decisive actions now to prevent a catastrophe the likes of which we only imagined last year,” Dr. Esmaeil Porsa, CEO of Harris Health System in Houston, told the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday.[↩]
- See: Spread of delta variant ignites covid Spread of delta variant ignites covid hot spots in highly vaccinated parts of the U.S., Post analysis finds; by Fenit Nirappil, Dan Keating, Maria Aguilar, Naema Ahmed, and Aaron Steckelberg; updated Aug. 12[↩]
- “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” The saying was popularized in the United States by Mark Twain and others, who mistakenly attributed it to the British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli.–Lies, damned lies, and statistics[↩]