Covid-19 breaks records in Maine

Living with Coronavirus
Sunday November 14th, 2021
7:12 AM

My hands are non-functional today.  Painful arthritis symptoms, not caused by arthritis, filled me with stabbing pains all night and constant ache today.  I won’t be able to open jars or doors and anything requiring finesse is out today.  Every stroke on this keyboard is painful today.

Bill Maher pointed out that Covid is in deer.  “Maher noted that Republicans who voted for the recent infrastructure bill were facing death threats, and pointed out that COVID-19 has recent spread to the deer population — where it’s possible it might mutate again. “Everything’s scary,” Maher said. “Unless you’re a deer. If you’re a deer, this is a great story — ‘Remember that year when we thinned their herd?’”-Inside Hook

Unlike Mr. Maher I do not see information as scary.  Covid has been found in bats, deer, housecats, dogs, lions and probably other animals as well.  It is highly infectious and seems to jump species with ease.  So yes, Covid will hide in animals, where it may make them sick, or make them houses of mutation where the virus can travel, reproduce, mutate and jump back into humans.

Currently here in Maine we are at record levels of infection, and those cases are 85% unvaccinated people.  The state is at 70% or so fully vaccinated, but 30% is plenty of space for a virus to infect, reproduce, and eventually mutate.  This bloom corresponds to last years bloom, not only here but in many areas. 

Here in Maine, we are at or near freezing every night, and maybe 50 or so in the daytime.  It is also hunting season, so we always have an influx of tourist hunters at this time of year.  Schools have also reopened and Covid prefers indoor congregations to spread most efficiently.  Knowing these things does not invoke fear in me.  Knowing these things helps me to avoid the biggest contagion factors.

Our normal human desires to have everything “go back to normal” is not valid with Covid.  Covid is a part of our new reality and we will have to suffer through distancing and mask wearing, and continue to take vaccine boosters for any foreseeable future.  That is the new normal, and complaining it is not to our liking is like a child complaining that it is raining outside when they wanted to go bike riding.  It is reality. We do not control nature, we are a part of nature.

Americans need to wake up to the fact that Covid-19 is a part of our new reality.

“COVID-19 is increasingly a red-state phenomenon. Among the many statistical analyses that demonstrate the remarkable effectiveness of the vaccines, perhaps the starkest are those that reveal a dramatic divergence in pandemic severity between red and blue states. As David Leonhardt of the New York Times pointed out on Monday, before we had vaccines, there “simply was not a strong partisan pattern” to the spread of disease. But after vaccines became widely available — and especially as Republican voters refused to vaccinate in large numbers — “a gap in Covid’s death toll quickly emerged.” Now that difference “between red and blue America has grown faster over the past month,” Leonhardt wrote, to the point where counties where a large majority who voted for Donald Trump have a death rate “more than three times higher than the rate in heavily Biden counties.”

The vaccines proved so powerful, and the partisan attitudes toward them so different, that a gap in Covid’s death toll quickly emerged.  That gap has grown over the course of this year and is now at its widest point.  Late last month, Duke sociologist Kieran Healy broke down the county-level data even further, showing that the death rate is proportional to the strength of Republican partisanship.

“It’s tempting, both on the left and in mainstream media circles, to write off these differences as a matter of ignorance versus information. Leonhardt gently phrased this narrative in his piece as a matter of “irrational fears about vaccine” caused by disinformation “promoted by right-wing media.” Social media takes are a little more blunt, about how dumb yokels in red areas are stupidly falling for vaccine misinformation while the big brains of blue America believe in science.

But the truth is much darker than that. As one person who replied to Leonhardt on Twitter noted, it’s less about irrational fears of the shot and more that it “became a badge of honor to remain unvaccinated” and was even seen, among many Republicans, as “traitorous to cave” and get the jab.

No, the darker and harder truth is that this isn’t really about intelligence or ignorance. It’s about ideology, and specifically, about how far a good chunk of the GOP base has become radicalized toward the politics of insurrection. More than half of Trump voters claim they want to secede from the union, and nearly a third say violence is a legitimate means to impose their will on the rest of the country. Endorsement of violence rises to nearly half of Republicans if the question is abstracted to the idea that “a time will come” for such tactics.”-Salon

“For the first time in two months, COVID-19 case counts and deaths are rising again in most U.S. states, especially in the northern tier and Rocky Mountains, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data.  Does this mean a fifth wave of the pandemic is cresting?

“With a virus this new to humanity it’s impossible to say”, said Dr. Susan Kline, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Minnesota medical school.  “It is just too early to predict this right now. This is only the second year we have experienced such a fall wave,” she said. “We saw a very similar trend last year. People are moving indoors now because the weather’s getting cold,” said Kline.

In the week ending Wednesday, case counts were higher in 29 states than they were the week before. A month ago, cases were rising in just 12 states.  “It’s not going to go away,” said Dr. Timothy Brewer, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of California, Los Angeles.  Another reason for the rise could be waning immunity, as those who either got COVID-19 or were vaccinated against it see their protection diminish over time.

“People who had the vaccine last January and February, they’re now over six months out,” Kline said.  Especially for people with weaker immune systems, which includes the elderly, revaccination is important.  

“We’re in a race between getting people boosted and waning immunity, so boosting is hugely important,” said Dr. George Rutherford, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco. How long will those second and third doses last? It’s an open question with no data available yet.

“We still have much to learn,” Kline said. “We need to see how long the immunity appears to last after this year’s round of booster shots.”

For those relying on natural immunity, the immune response that comes from having had COVID-19 also appears to wane over time, though the exact timing isn’t clear.  A Danish study found that of nearly 12,000 people who tested positive during the first wave of coronavirus infections in 2020, more than 80% were protected in the second surge. But among those 65 and older, protection against repeat infection was only 47%.

“I’m less impressed with natural immunity holding the line for a long time,” Brewer said.

Vaccination is critical to making COVID-19 a disease we can live with rather than a disease that kills, experts stress.  “If our population were 100% vaccinated, we’d be having a very different conversation,” Rutherford said.  But case rates are rising both in states with low levels of vaccination, such as Wyoming (45%) and Idaho (56%) and in states with high levels, such as Vermont (72%) and Minnesota (62%).

How is that possible?

“The thing to remember is that if you have 62% or 72% of your population fully vaccinated, that means you 38% or 28% who aren’t – and that’s plenty of people to sustain transmission of the virus,” Rutherford said.   “Your chance of being hospitalized for COVID-19 is about 10 times higher if you’re unvaccinated and it’s 21 times higher to die,” Brewer said.

“In some years rates will be higher, in some lower. But we’re never going to get back to zero cases,” Brewer said. “We need to start thinking about vaccination as a long-term activity,” he said. “I suggest we’re going to get into the same situation,” he said, “with COVID vaccination, we’re going to have to do it regularly.”-USA Today

Maine hospitalizations rose to a pandemic record, according to state data released on Friday. Total hospitalizations reached 248, topping a previous record set in September. Despite being one of the most vaccinated U.S. states, Maine has been fighting an extended outbreak largely among the unvaccinated. Of the 1,501 people hospitalized since Maine residents could be fully vaccinated, all but 321 were unvaccinated. Of the 504 deaths in that time period, 130 were vaccinated, state data show.

Early signs of a Covid-19 resurgence are emerging in the U.S. Northeast, with cases increasing in seven of the region’s nine states, including in New York. The seven-day average of reported Covid-19 cases in the region has climbed 11% in the past week to 14,318 on Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Until last week, the region’s numbers had trended steadily downward for about six weeks.

“In the northern hemisphere, we’re entering the winter months: look at your situation, critically assess the situation you’re in right now and make adjustments, use the tools you have right now, “said Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead officer on Covid. “The deaths happening now are absolutely tragic because they can be prevented, because we have tools.”-Bloomberg News

“Dr. Christopher Foley, who criticized mask-wearing and spread false information about a COVID-19 vaccine, passed away from complications of Covid-19.”- Newsweek

Total Global Vaccines administered         7,240,102,077                     7,458,906,463
Gain of 218,804,386                       

Global Infected      249,657,900                   253,089,559                       
Increase             3,431,659
7-day average        490,237 infections diagnosed daily –Up

Global Dead          5,046,870                                          5,098,179
Increase             51,309
7-day average        7,329 deaths daily –Up

USA Infected         46,466,504                                       47,052,201
Increase             585,697
7-day average        83,671 infections diagnosed daily –Up

USA C-19 deaths      754,311                                         762,973
Increase             8,662
7-day average        1,237 deaths daily –Up slightly

Maine Infected       107,772                                           111,145                                                                
Increase             3,373
7day average         481 infections diagnosed daily –Down slightly

Maine deaths         1,207                                                1,230
Increase             23
7-day average        3.2857 deaths daily –Down, but still very high for Maine, the crest of the wave.

Red Americans are suffering disproportionately due to Donald Trump and friends misinforming and discouraging vaccination.  It has become a “Badge of Honor” in Red America to avoid the vaccination.  Some are even going so far as to recommend “detoxing” after the vaccination they got because work demanded it.  The reality that a vaccine cannot be “detoxed” away with borax baths and what not, seems to have no more relevance to these folks than the reality that the vaccines have been proven safe and effective.

Jan 6th court cases are moving forward.  Steve Bannon was indicted for contempt of Congress.  Subpoenas for Donald Trumps White house records are grinding through the courts with the former POTUS doing everything he can to delay their release to Congress.  These actions beg the question “What is Donald Trump trying to hide?” 

Every day there is some new news revealing Donald Trump’s antipathy toward other humans. It was revealed yesterday that when Chis Christi, a staunch Trump supporter was in the hospital as a priest gave him religious rites, the former POTUS called him.  He did not wish him well or ask how he was doing.  Rather all he wanted to know was if Christi was going to claim he caught Covid from Trump.  This is yet another instance of “The Donald” only being concerned with himself.  This act yet again shows evidence of sociopathic narcissism.

“At a three-day conference in San Antonio, Texas, for the “ReAwaken America” tour, former national security adviser and keynote speaker Michael Flynn called for Christianity to become the singular religion of the United States.

“If we are going to have one nation under God, which we must, we have to have one religion. One nation under God, and one religion under God,” said Flynn, who recently talked about his Christian faith in an effort to refute QAnon claims that he worships Satan. -Business insider

Sorry to say that there is not one Christian religion, but thousands of them.  Each believing various interpretations of the Bible so diverse they are not “One religion” at all, but rather a vast array of similar beliefs systems all called “Christianity”.  Further, openly calling for a one religion America is openly courting Theocracy, and is about as Anti-American as you can be.  Freedom of religion is not freedom of your religion, but everybody else can get fucked. 

This is Christian Nationalism and it is unamerican as all hell.  Do you suppose these evangelical protestants would be happy with a Catholic America?  Both are forms of Christianity.  How about a Mormon America?  A Christian Science America?  A Jehovah’s witness America? 

First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

As anyone who actually thinks about the issue can easily see, creating one religion for America violates the Constitution and is Anti-American. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”, trying to push for a one religion America, a Christian Theocracy, is literally creating an American Taliban and in direct conflict with our first amendment.

How long, dear reader, until such folks come for you because you are not the right type of Christian?  In Ireland that war has dragged on for centuries.  Do they want to recreate the troubles of Belfast here in America?

As I penned these words in my hilltop retreat we lost another 51,309 of my fellow humans to Covid-19, of those 8,662 were my fellow Americans, and of those 23 were my fellow Mainers.

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