In the Crosshairs

Living with Coronavirus
Sunday February 6th, 2022
8:15 AM

Last week I sat in the crosshairs for the blizzard, we got 14 or so inches, all powder and drifted.  Thus, parts of my backyard are 6 ft plus, and other parts are bare ground, all thanks to the wind.  We never lost power.  The second storm has iced most of ole Kentuck like we were iced in 98.  Lots of damaged trees, downed lines and property damage; the syrup industry lost the most back then.  That storm added a foot or so to the snowpack, so our paths are 4 foot or so high almost everywhere.

Cold ass shoveling at below zero temps, took my son and his wife several hours to plow and shovel. Now we are set to have a run of 40+ degree weather, which will cause melting and flooding, and then we are to return to below zero temps. This will create two issues, hard frozen ice at the base and surface of deep drifts. Both of these issues will starve deer and moose in the wild by freezing their winter foods in a sheet of ice under the snowpack.

Meanwhile Covid kept right on trucking.  Omicron seems to have peaked, but we also discovered the “Stealth” strain, and other strains in wastewater, and from survivors with other conditions, resulting in new and varied mutations.  The stealth strain is so called because it has been infecting us right alongside Delta and Omicron, and perhaps even further back in its mutagenic history.  This strain is as catchy as Omicron but almost completely asymptomatic.

These less lethal strains make many people breathe a sigh of relief because they seem not as deadly.  Epidemiologists do not.  Such Stealthy viruses give a bug a lot of chances to mutate further.  Spreading quietly, undetected because its’ symptoms are nonexistent or mild and overlooked by humans.  Yet each infection presents the virus with thousands or even millions of chances to mutate again.  Such a stealthy virus presents the danger of a new mutation breaking out which is just as infectious but more deadly.

The watchwords for our new reality will be awareness and response.  Each of us, as individuals will need to watch for new strains, and respond to that information with personal and proper viral protocols.  New strains will pop up, now, next week, or three years from now.  New Covid outbreaks will occur, and we must be ready to respond as individuals because we have seen how our large bureaucratic systems have a lagging response.

Global Infected      372,753,313                                   393,694,501                       
Increase             20,941,188
7-day average        2,991,598 infections diagnosed daily –Down but still high

Global Dead          5,659,334                                                          5,735,852
Increase             76,518
7-day average        10,931 deaths daily –Up

USA Infected         74,236,114                                                       76,458,488 
Increase             2,222,374
7-day average        317,482 infections diagnosed daily –Down; Omicron peaked

USA C-19 deaths      883,939                                                         902,266
Increase             18,327
7-day average        2,618 deaths daily –Up

Maine Infected       174,225                                                           181010                                                                                 
Increase             6,785
7day average         969 infections diagnosed daily –down, but still high Omicron peaked

Maine deaths         1,738                                                                1,804
Increase             66
7-day average        9.4285 deaths daily –Up

“Covid-19 will never become an endemic illness and will always behave like an epidemic virus, an expert in biosecurity has warned.

Raina MacIntyre, a professor of global biosecurity at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, told CNBC that although endemic disease can occur in very large numbers, the number of cases does not change rapidly as seen with the coronavirus.

“If case numbers do change [with an endemic disease], it is slowly, typically over years,” she said via email. “Epidemic diseases, on the other hand, rise rapidly over periods of days to weeks.”

Scientists use a mathematical equation, the so-called R naught (or R0), to assess how quickly a disease is spreading. The R0 indicates how many people will catch a disease from an infected person, with experts at Imperial College London estimating omicron’s could be higher than 3. 

If a disease’s R0 is greater than 1, growth is exponential, meaning the virus is becoming more prevalent and the conditions for an epidemic are present, MacIntyre said.

“The public health goal is to keep the effective R — which is R0 modified by interventions such as vaccines, masks or other mitigations — below 1,” she told CNBC. “But if the R0 is higher than 1, we typically see recurrent epidemic waves for respiratory transmitted epidemic infections.”

MacIntyre noted that this is the pattern that was seen with smallpox for centuries and is still seen with measles and influenza. It’s also the pattern unfolding with Covid, she added, for which we have seen four major waves in the past two years.

“Covid will not magically turn into a malaria-like endemic infection where levels stay constant for long periods,” she argued. “It will keep causing epidemic waves, driven by waning vaccine immunity, new variants that escape vaccine protection, unvaccinated pockets, births and migration.”

“This is why we need an ongoing ‘vaccine-plus’ and ventilation strategy, to keep R below 1 so we can live with the virus without major disruptions to society,” MacIntyre said, adding a warning that “there will be more variants coming.”

Last week, the WHO warned that the next Covid variant will be even more contagious than omicron.

Global Biosecurity, the Twitter account representing a collective of UNSW research departments covering epidemics, pandemics and epidemiology, argued last year that Covid will continue to “display the waxing and waning pattern of epidemic diseases.”

“[Covid] will never be endemic,” the organization argued. “It is an epidemic disease and always will be. This means it will find unvaccinated or under-vaccinated people and spread rapidly in those groups.””

USA Today

“The United States stands on the brink of 900,000 coronavirus deaths amid positive data indicating the worst could be in the rearview mirror even as statistical warning lights flash on the pandemic dashboard.

The omicron variant surge that pushed daily infection numbers to new heights appears to be easing. Daily infections and hospitalizations are edging lower. The respite, however, could be short-lived.

“We are guaranteed to have another variant surge,” Melissa Nolan, an assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health, told USA TODAY. “While the current vaccines and boosters worked for omicron, they are less likely to work against future variants.”

Every time the virus infects someone, it mutates a very small amount. These tiny changes are also occurring in breakthrough infections among the vaccinated. And with millions of breakthrough infections, they are adding up, Nolan said.

Dr. Robert Lahita, author of “Immunity Strong,” says the likelihood of dying from COVID-19 is about 20 times greater if you’re unvaccinated.

But it’s not just death. The unvaccinated are more likely to get long COVID-19, which can cause mobility issues, heart damage and tachycardia, lung damage and shortness of breath, loss of taste and smell, and more. These issues can last six months or longer, and it’s possible they could be permanent, said Lahita, director of the Institute for Autoimmune and Rheumatic Disease at Saint Joseph Health in New Jersey.

Dr. Matthew Heinz, an internist in Tucson, Arizona, said he is “terrified” lax vaccination efforts are setting the world up for a variant that is highly transmissible like omicron but also has a higher death rate.

In Arizona in November, unvaccinated people were more than 30 times more likely to die from COVID infection than fully vaccinated people, Heinz said.

“We really need to make this a slogan that almost everyone knows  – like Geico has accomplished with their catchy gecko commercials,” Heinz said. “The mind-blowing number should be enough to sell everyone on getting the shots. And convincing reticent loved ones to do the same.”

Initial vaccinations have leveled off, however, with less than two-thirds of Americans fully vaccinated despite widely available access. Wyoming, Idaho, Mississippi and Alabama have vaccinations rates below 50%.

Interest in booster shots is waning, and just 42% of fully vaccinated Americans have received a booster dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The average number of booster shots dispensed per day in the U.S. declined from 1 million two months ago to less than half that more recently.

Heinz is less optimistic, saying he doesn’t expect conditions to be much different two years into the future. Human behavior will continue to have a tremendous impact, including whether or not people travel during the holidays or spring breaks and whether or not they will wear masks when directed to by public health authorities.

There will be surges throughout the world and the United States governed by regional vaccination level and willingness for the public to follow mitigation efforts imposed by local authorities, he said.

“I continue to be dumbfounded by the number of willfully unvaccinated individuals especially after we have seen so many millions of Americans receive this safe and highly effective vaccination,” Heinz said.”

“With the brutal omicron wave rapidly loosening its grip, new cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. are falling in 49 of 50 states, even as the nation’s death toll closes in on another bleak round number: 900,000.

The number of lives lost to the pandemic in the U.S. stood at over 897,000 as of midday Friday, with deaths running at an average of more than 2,400 a day, back up to where they were last winter, when the vaccine drive was still getting started.

New cases per day have tanked by almost a half-million nationwide since mid-January, the curve trending downward in every state but Maine. And the number of Americans in the hospital with COVID-19 has fallen 15% over that period to about 124,000.”

Maine CDC
“In other countries around the world that also came down from their Omicron surge. The question is how far did they go? In some countries they went back to their Delta or pre-Delta baseline. In other countries, like for example the UK, they came down but still at a level that was higher than where they were at before. And in one country, or at least two countries, Denmark and Norway, they are going the opposite direction back up. So, the question for me is “the data right now are encouraging but we need more of it to really get a sense of what the latter part of our curve will look like,” said Dr. Nirav Shah, Director of the Maine CDC.”

Meanwhile Pence finally speaks the plain truth.  “President Trump is wrong. I had no right to overturn the election.  There are those in our party who believe that, as the presiding officer over the joint session of Congress, that I possessed unilateral authority to reject Electoral College votes.  The presidency belongs to the American people, and the American people alone,” he added. “And frankly, there is no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.”

And Trump instantly claims the opposite, “In other words, I was right and everyone knows it.” 

No Donald, you were not right.  As usual you were trying to twist the constitution to support your position, and it does not.  If you were right then Kamala, and every previous vice president ever, would have had to right to simply reject anything they did not like to keep their side in power. 

In order for a VP to reject ballots the states have to reject them or send conflicting ballots.  That is why you had your stooges making and sending fraudulent ballots to the House; to create the contested ballots you needed for a VP to legitimately reject or return ballots.  To get those you need actual successful court cases indicating fraud, not 59 failed lawsuits lacking any evidence at all.

While we were snowed in and digging out another   76,518 of my fellow humans died of Covid, of those 18,327 were my fellow Americans, and of those 66 were my fellow Mainers.

One thought on “In the Crosshairs

  1. I like to say that first I got the first two shots, then I got the booster, then I got Covid 19. But I had a very mild case of Covid or Sars v 2 or whatever the real name is. The more I read about Covid 19, the more confused I get. I’ve heard some scary things about the vaccines, but I try not to live my life based on conspiracy theories. I will be 76 years old this year, hence I am in the high-risk catagory. People younger than I are dying in ICUs. I did not that to be my fate. If they come out with another booster, I’ll take that one, too.


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