Endemic Coronavirus

Living with Coronavirus
Sunday December 5th, 2021
10:33 AM

I put this off Sunday after taking down the numbers, and I have questioned myself as to why since then.  Yes, it is true my hands were an issue, but there was another unconsidered aspect as well.  I am sick of it.

Aren’t you?  Is not every single person on the planet just sick to death of Covid-19?  I am tired of all of it: masking, distancing, vaccinations and the endless stream of deaths most of all.

In January of 2019 I first heard of Covid-19 because China locked down Wuhan.  I mean locked down, not fancy, liberal, stay at home orders, but troops on the street, guns in your face, locked down!  That made me pay attention.  That is how you need to react to a deadly viral outbreak, lock everything down and test for the virus. That was what I expected then from our POTUS and our government.

We did not do that as we did with previous outbreaks of SARS1, and MERS, and every Ebola outbreak ever.  Instead, the POTUS downplayed the issue and it exploded.  Failure to react to the virus by a majority of humanity allowed that virus to go global, become a pandemic, and then entrench itself so well in both the human and animal populations worldwide that we shall never be rid of it.

In the Middle Ages humanity suffered the same thing, with bubonic plague.  It too hid in the animal populations, in that case rats, and would burn itself out by killing half a city, and then spring up in a different city or town.  Humans learned to live with that threat. I think we have entered a similar epoch of history, a Covid Epoch.

Covid has been acting in a similar fashion and I think will continue to do so.  Rates of infection will drop, people will go “back to normal” only to have a new strain emerge from somewhere to start the whole process over again, and again, and again. Endlessly creating new vaccines for new strains as the years go by. An epoch where masks will become normal, and reacting to local outbreaks will also become normal, like preparing for your local weather events be they snow or rain or hurricane. 

Case in Point is the new, “weird” Omicron strain.  This variant did not evolve from Delta, but from the original Alpha.  It has a lot of mutations, over 50 by some counts, and a lot of those are unexpected, unforeseen changes in future evolution models.  So where was it hiding?  In the deer, or cats, or dogs, or bats, or some other animal like rats?  Was it in a person, maybe someone on immunosuppressants for cancer or something?

We do not know, and like with all learning in a viral outbreak, we learn in hindsight from the corpses.

The big question remains, “Will the new strain be more lethal”? 

We will learn that from the body count, in hindsight, so the only safe response is to assume it is bad until we know it isn’t.  Take Omicron.  It is possible it got into someone who also had the common cold, a cousin of Covid-19.  It is possible that Delta shared cells in reproduction, producing Omicron, and it is more contagious, but also less lethal. That is a hopeful thought, but as unproven as any other.

It does no good to society to make that the clarion call, as if that possibility makes it the most likely possibility.  To survive an outbreak, you must posture for the worst until you know what you are dealing with. 

Trump failed to warn America properly.  By his own admission he did not want to panic people; but if your options are preventing panic by claiming there is nothing to be concerned about, or yelling fire and calling the fire department, then to choose inaction and actively downplay the situation is to condemn your own citizens to the viral flames,

So, like Neil DeGrasse said at the outset, “it is an experiment to see who will listen to science and who will not.” 

We need to embrace the suck.  Masks will be our new reality, off and on, perhaps for many years because the virus mutates so quickly.  It has multiple animal reservoirs so that we could beat it this year only to get a new strain next year.  Already the Omicron shows some adaptability to antibodies from the vaccines and those previously infected.  We do not know how deep that well is, or if it holds any water.

We learn those things in hindsight.

So, we humans need to put one foot in front of the other, carry-on day to day, with our new unwanted companion in this world, Covid-19.  We need to do this just as our ancestors did with the Plague.  What one human can do; another human can do.

Global Infected      261,485,066                   265,579,446                       
Increase             4,094,380
7-day average        584,911 infections diagnosed daily –Down

Global Dead          5,199,456                                          5,251,793
Increase             52,337
7-day average        7,476 deaths daily –Up

USA Infected         48,229,210                                      49,052,458
Increase             823,248
7-day average        117,606 infections diagnosed daily –Up

USA C-19 deaths      776,639                                         788,205
Increase             11,566
7-day average        1,652 deaths daily –Up, double from last week

Maine Infected       118,489                                           123,118                                                                
Increase             4,629
7-day average         661 infections diagnosed daily –Up, double from last week

Maine deaths         1,303                                                1,336
Increase             33
7-day average        4.7142 deaths daily –Maine is at record levels of infection, hospitalization and deaths with a slight increase this week.

The Washington Post: As omicron variant spreads, China senses vindication over ‘zero covid’ strategy-Christian Shepherd, Lyric Li

“As countries begin to reinstate border restrictions over concerns about the omicron coronavirus variant, China is celebrating its decision to stick with strict limits on international travel as part of a “zero covid” strategy.

Omicron, first identified in southern Africa, has been labeled a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization, because early test results indicate the variant is more transmissible than the delta variant. Experts urge caution, not panic, as more studies are conducted to figure out the variant’s virulence.

Before omicron’s detection, Beijing’s steadfast commitment to a policy of eliminating the coronavirus had made the country an outlier during a global shift toward gradually opening borders and mitigating the spread as vaccination rates rose.

Now, as nations reverse gear and reinstitute coronavirus border restrictions, Chinese officials are claiming, with a hint of schadenfreude, that their approach was right all along, brushing aside the idea of drastic changes to combat omicron.

Zhong Nanshan, a leading infectious-disease expert and government adviser, said in an interview with local media that China is unlikely to take significant action while it waits for more test results. An official statement on omicron released by the National Health Commission on Monday declared that China’s approach for preventing a relapse still works.

The delta variant’s arrival in China this year sparked a debate among Chinese experts about whether it was time to abandon zero covid and shift to a mitigation strategy to avoid economic and social disruption every time the virus breached the country’s defenses.  Complaints of rolling lockdowns upending daily life in hard-hit locations like the southwestern border town of Ruili fueled a sense that China would soon need to accept coexistence with the virus.

Although 76 percent of China’s population is fully vaccinated, China is likely to keep its zero-covid strategy “until officials are more confident that widespread infection wouldn’t strain health care resources or until it becomes untenable in the face of a more transmissible variant,” Mark Williams, chief East Asia economist at Capital Economics, said in a note on Monday.

A study released by China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention last week weighed strongly in favor of not changing course when it found that adopting a mitigation strategy would result in severe cases exceeding the early 2020 peak within one to two days and have “a devastating impact on the medical system of China and cause a great disaster.”

Ruby Red America continues to die from misinformation.

Televangelist Marcus Lamb Who Called Vaccine Mandate ‘Sin’ Against God Dies Of COVID

“The Arctic could become dominated by rain and experience less snowfall one or two decades earlier than expected, according to new research published in the journal Nature, which described any significant alteration in the ice climate as having “profound climatic, ecosystem and socio-economic impacts” across the world.

Researchers used an updated climate model to predict sea ice concentration, precipitation and snowfall coverage in the Arctic region to examine projections through 2100. The latest simulation “projects larger and faster increases in precipitation and an earlier transition to a rainfall-dominated Arctic in the summer and autumn.”

By the end of the century, the simulation projected a 422 percent increase in rainfall during the winter, a 261 percent bump in the spring, a 71 percent rise in the summer and a 268 percent increase in the fall. All are significantly higher than previous projections, showing that rainfall is likely to accelerate in the coming years at a much faster rate than expected.”

USA Today

“Think your area has had more rain than usual? You’re probably right.

Think your area has had less rain than usual? Again, you’re probably right.

For our climate change investigation out this week, called Downpour, USA TODAY reporters used 126 years of monthly data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to analyze average annual precipitation at 344 climate divisions. They used daily precipitation data from weather stations to measure the change in frequency of extreme rain events across the U.S. from 1951-2020.

“We were hearing a lot about extreme rainfall, stories of flooding, people with sewer backups, people flooded out of their homes, and we wanted to know, is this happening everywhere?” said Dinah Pulver, one of the project’s lead reporters. “How many people, how many places, are contending with this kind of rainfall?

We found more than half of the nation’s 344 climate divisions had their wettest periods on record since 2018. We calculated the same rolling averages for states.   “East of the Rockies, more rain is falling, and it’s coming in more intense bursts,” our report finds. “In the West, people are waiting longer to see any rain at all.  “Taken together, the reporting reveals a stunning shift in the way precipitation falls in America.”

Specifically, our reporting finds: At some point over the past three years, 27 states – all east of the Rocky Mountains – hit their highest 30-year precipitation average since record keeping began in 1895.

A dozen states, including Iowa, Ohio and Rhode Island, saw five of their 10 wettest years in history over the past two decades.

Michigan saw six of its wettest 10 years on record over the past 13 years.

In June, at least 136 daily rainfall records were set during storms across five states along the Mississippi River.

At the opposite extreme, eight states – including five in the West – had at least three record-dry years in the same time period. That’s double what would be expected based on historical patterns.

As I worked on this with my weakened hands another 52,337 of my fellow humans died from Coronavirus, of those 11,566 were my fellow Americans, and of those 33 were my fellow Mainers.

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