Will we ever know how the CDC’s cloth mask recommendations changed the COVID-19 death statistics?

“The C.D.C. concedes that cloth masks do not protect against the virus as effectively as other masks.” (NYT, Friday):

When the C.D.C. finally recommended masks for ordinary Americans, it emphasized cloth face coverings. It took months more for the C.D.C. and the W.H.O. to concede that the coronavirus can be carried by tiny droplets called aerosols, which can linger indoors for hours.

After nearly two years we learn that a bandana is not “the best” PPE.

I’m wondering if there would be any way to tease out the effects of federal and state government mask orders and propaganda campaigns on COVID-19 deaths. (Here’s one place in Jupiter, Florida that takes CDC guidance seriously…

)

Theory 1: while cloth masks are garbage compared to a professionally fitted N95 mask used with a full set of Ebola ward precautions, including frequent hand-washing and disposing of the mask after one use, they “did something.” So COVID-19 deaths were perhaps delayed (14 days to flatten the curve) or maybe even prevented (though the mechanism for prevention is unclear).

Theory 2 (core Church of Sweden): cloth masks had almost no effect, just as other Western government efforts were doomed to fail in a “virus in charge” world.

Theory 3: Anders Tegnell, the MD/PhD at the Swedish public health helm in spring 2020, suggested that European Covidcrats consider whether cloth masks and surgical masks could actually intensify a COVID-19 epidemic due to giving people a “false sense of security.” In other words, people who would have stayed home would instead go out with a cloth mask on. People who would have kept a 6′ distance would instead forget.

A friend criticized me for heaping scorn on well-meaning public health officials in the U.S., e.g., calling them Karens and referring to “face rags” rather than “protective cloth masks.” My response:

You’re basically saying “How can you question the $10 trillion two-year anti-COVID war in which the best and brightest U.S. bureaucrats have embroiled American schoolchildren and taxpayers?” Isn’t this the same question that people who supported the Vietnam War (albeit much much cheaper, even adjusted for inflation, and much less disruptive to the average American’s life, and probably far less deadly to Americans (lockdown-induced extra opioid deaths alone will soon exceed American Vietnam War deaths)) asked of the anti-Vietnam War contrarians? For the supporters of the Vietnam War, anyone who said that it was unwinnable and/or actually immoral was unpatriotic as well as crazy/stupid/unscientific. JFK and Lyndon Johnson had assembled the smartest people in the U.S. to hang out at the White House and they’d proven with charts and statistics that the Vietnam War could be won and was being won. Added to this technocratic competence, the pro-Vietnam War folks were motivated by the purest of intentions.

My mocking the cloth masks that the experts told Americans to wear could actually have saved lives, no? By urging people to use common sense and reflect that a wet bandana was not effective PPE, the term “wet face rag” could have resulted in someone either (a) using an N95 mask that would actually provide some protection, or (b) staying home. Why not reserve your criticism for the public health officials who told people that cloth masks were effective? Isn’t it a far greater sin to have told people to nurture a bacteria colony in front of their piehole as a COVID-preventive than anything I did?

… Because of misplaced faith in masks and vaccines, Americans avoided the hard work of restructuring society to thwart respiratory viruses. Los Angeles will soon host a 200,000-person gathering (Super Bowl). Disney and Universal keep thousands of people from all over the country and the world crammed together in indoor lines every day. If not for faith in masks and vaccines, everyone would agree with me that it is crazy to allow these parks to reopen before they restructure their lines to be outdoors-only.

You can infer from the above that I am a Church of Sweden parishioner. However, as is typical for Church of Swedeners, I admit that I can’t be sure that I’m right.

Will #Science ever convincingly settle this debate? The one good study of masks as a public health intervention (as opposed to masks in a lab setting) is the Bangladesh randomized controlled trial (Nature summary). It showed a slight reduction in infections over an 8-week period with surgical masks (no statistically significant effect with cloth masks), but in a society where people have less control over their environment than in the U.S. The typical resident of Bangladesh can’t choose whether to say home and work via Zoom, whether to use a private car instead of public transport, whether to isolate in a corner of the 2,300 square-foot house shared by 3 people, etc.

Maybe Florida versus California is the best that we can do as a natural experiment within the U.S.? Both have climates that enable a lot to be done outdoors. From a Stanford Medical School heretic:

From the above data we could infer that the central Church of Sweden tenet (Theory 2) is the correct answer, i.e., that masks had no effect. But we could also infer that the (cloth) mask orders increased the death rate (Theory 3). By September 2021, when the above chart was published, California had enjoyed nearly 1.5 extra years of protection via lockdown/shutdown compared to Florida, in addition to the masks. So if we believe that the lockdown/shutdown (except for “essential” marijuana stores of course) orders reduced the COVID-19 death rate, we have to suspect that California’s mask orders pushed California COVID-19-tagged deaths up.

Speaking of risk compensation, here’s a message from a physicians’ discussion forum right at the peak of the Omicron surge:

“My twins turned 14 today and had 8 (immunized and also mostly previously infected) kids over for a party. I was told none of them are straight. They played spin the bottle, apparently, and I thought how awesome a game, when everyone feels comfortable kissing everyone! That was NOT my middle school experience. I know there’s a pandemic, but I still thought: cool.”

Maybe a COVID-19-safe version of spin the bottle could be played on Zoom? Each time a person is selected to kiss, he/she/ze/they kisses his/his/zir/their family pet. Mindy the Crippler would be a fan!

And, finally, since this post mentions Sweden:

Related:

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The 6-year-old hater

Rousseau thought that children were innately innocent, but maybe that is because he never reared any.

On the way to the Stuart Boat Show, we stopped at a favorite local restaurant for breakfast. I finished my Egg McMuffin before our 6-year-old had consumed his Big Breakfast with Hotcakes and decided to share with him some news of the world. I stumbled upon “China Bans Flights From U.S. as Covid-19 Measures Intensify” (WSJ):

The 6-year-old’s comment? “But they started Covid.”

Freed from the supervision of Senior Management, the young hater enjoyed his first caramel apple later that day. After sampling this new delicacy, he said, “You know what would be better? A caramel apple with no apple. The same size and shape, but all caramel.”

(Why don’t the Chinese postpone the 2022 Olympics until they’re willing to allow spectators? If the Japanese could kick the Olympics a year down the road, what would be wrong with a postponement to December 2022 or February 2023, for example? If we believe Science, COVID-19 won’t be a problem then. See “Fauci: US can get Covid under control by next year with more jabs” (Guardian, November 16, 2021), for example.)

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MIT: Groundbreaking research on politics and racial justice

The December issue of MIT’s alumni magazine, Technology Review, arrived. this includes a special sub-magazine that is only about things that happen on the MIT campus or that are done by MIT alumni. The cover story: “MIT’s new chancellor laid a foundation for leadership through her groundbreaking research on politics and racial justice.”

What else was in the issue? “Discrimination by the numbers”:

When Phyllis Ann Wallace reached Yale University, in the mid-1940s, she was used to facing obstacles and proceeding anyway. Women weren’t expected to go into economics, especially at the graduate level, and for Black women like herself, breaking into the field decades before schools, buses, or workplaces were legally integrated was practically unheard-of.

Her book MBAs on the Fast Track chronicled how the experiences of men and women with equal education differ, and why women work longer hours for the same compensation.

She arrived [at MIT] as a visiting scholar at the Sloan School and quickly moved up to become the school’s first female professor, in 1975. In her office overlooking the Charles River, she wrote books and papers on women in the labor force, particularly Black women, often inviting students to coauthor or co-edit. She worked to ensure that male MIT students were aware of equity issues, believing that “if you can really educate them now, hopefully they will go out and bring about the revolution wherever they are.”

(Note: Americans upset by “why women work longer hours for the same compensation” and who want to work for just one hour and earn a lot more than the average MBA can refer to “Child Support Litigation without a Marriage” and/or the $2.5 million tax-free example of Hunter Biden’s plaintiff (she didn’t waste time getting an MBA!))

Anything about Science (the new capitalized-like-God version)? A brief interior article noted that David Julius, Class of ’77, “shared the 2021 Nobel in Physiology or Medicine for discoveries about how the body senses touch and temperature.” In other Nobel-ish news, a current MIT professor won the Nobel in economics.

Speaking of elite university experts on comparative victimology, “‘Rhodes Scholar’ claimed she grew up poor and abused — then her story started to unravel” (New York Post):

In November 2020, when University of Pennsylvania graduate student Mackenzie Fierceton won the prestigious and highly competitive Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford — one of just 32 scholars selected from a pool of 2,300 applicants — she was praised by the Ivy League school’s president in a newsletter.

“Mackenzie is so deserving of this prestigious opportunity,” declared president Amy Gutmann of the 23-year-old from suburban St. Louis. “As a first-generation [to go to college] low-income student and a former foster youth, Mackenzie is passionate about championing young people [and] dedicating herself to a life of public service.”

Multiple college consultants told The Post that the college application process now features more questions about overcoming obstacles. The 2021-2022 essay prompts from Common App, the organization that oversees undergrad applications for more than 900 schools, include “Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure.”

Categorizing herself as a first-generation, low-income student with a history of horrific abuse — who also earned nearly straight A’s and was student body president in high school — Fierceton certainly fit the bill. She was admitted to Penn in 2015 to study political science, then began studying for a clinical master’s degree in social work in 2018.

When Fierceton’s Rhodes Scholarship was announced, the Philadelphia Inquirer profiled the academic star in November 2020, noting that she “grew up poor, cycling through the rocky child welfare system [and] bounced from one foster home to the next.”

As Fierceton said in that story: “I would trade [the Rhodes honor] to have been adopted and have a family.”

But after that Nov. 22, 2020, profile ran, an anonymous accuser sent an email to Penn and the Rhodes Trust, claiming Fierceton’s story was “blatantly dishonest.” The email reportedly alleged that Fierceton grew up in St. Louis, Mo., with her mother, an educated radiologist; that her family was upper-middle class; and that she had attended a fancy private high school and enjoyed such high-end hobbies as horseback riding.

According to Winkelstein’s subsequent report, Fierceton was raised in an upper-middle-class household; it also notes her mother is a radiologist and that her grandfather had graduated from college.

The Penn victimological bureaucrats criticize the young student for purportedly lying, but take no responsibility for their own incompetence. These are paid full-time victimologists and they can’t distinguish between true victims and the child of a radiologist? How are ordinary Americans supposed to accept the Ivy League say-gooders as experts on social and racial justice?

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City of Boston happy to fly rainbow and Islamic flags, but not a Christian group’s flag

Today at the Supreme Court: Shurtleff v. Boston. Officials of the Cradle of Liberty were happy to fly the rainbow (Pride) flag and the Islamic-themed flag of Turkey, but a Christian-themed flag was unacceptable (284 applications were approved over a 12-year period and this single group was denied).

“Several Juneteenth Events Planned As Massachusetts Observes Official Holiday For First Time” (CBS) and “Boston Raises Pride Flag On City Hall Plaza” (CBS) have videos of example events.

The Christian group’s petition gives the history. According to the city, everyone should feel included (sometimes the best way for a Christian to be included is for Christians to be excluded?):

In my view, the petition incorrectly characterizes Rainbow Flagism as a “cause” rather than as a religion.

Although the city itself says that this is supposed to be a “public forum”, which you might think would require allowing the Christian group to participate, so far the appeals courts have all sided with the city’s policy of excluding this one group.

Given that Boston shut down its schools for more than a year while keeping marijuana stores open, and that marijuana retailers are such big advertisers in the city (see above) and on Mass Pike billboards, I’m disappointed that the petition cannot cite an example of a flag devoted to healing cannabis (Ivermectin for Democrats, as one reader here commented). I think it would be fun to apply to fly the “Rainbow Marijuana USA Stars Flag Gay Pride Lesbian LGBT” flag:

Readers: Where do we think the Supreme Court will come down on this case?

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Book to read if you’re upset that everything is out of stock

Island of the Lost: An Extraordinary Story of Survival at the Edge of the World by Joan Druett is a timely read given for those who are upset that everything has been out of stock for two years. It covers the experience of five guys whose sailing ship wrecked in the Auckland Islands in 1864. They’d been looking for new places to kill seals or, possibly, do some silver mining (their cover story). The Auckland Islands are southwest of New Zealand, 50.7 degrees south latitude (old saying: “Below 40 degrees south there is no law; below 50 degrees south there is no God”).

The weather is miserable, the sandflies are relentless, and they were stuck there for almost as long as 15 days to flatten the curve. The resourceful crew manages to build a hut from the timber of the wrecked ship and they kill enough seals that starvation isn’t an issue. But the sailors have to do their own blacksmithing, sew their own clothes, make their own soap, tan their own hides, make their own cement (from seashells), make a forge bellows, turn wood into charcoal to fuel the forge, and create anything that they would ordinarily have purchased in a hardware store (e.g., nails).

The book will also be helpful if you’re worried about climate change destroying humanity as a species. It turns out that we can be difficult to eradicate.

Finally, the book is also encouraging to those of us who are so old that we are more likely to be killed by Omicron than by Alec Baldwin. Island of the Lost also talks about a shipwreck that happened around the same time, that of the Invercauld. A sailor on that ship sat down and started typing a vivid and useful memoir at the age of 86, six decades after the experience. This is the basis for a great-granddaughter’s book: Wake of the Invercauld.

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Martin Luther King Jr. on Freedom

I hope that everyone who works for the government, at least, is enjoying having today off.

This is a reminder to check Reinterpreting MLK’s ideas of freedom for the Age of COVID (July 4, 2021).

Cited back in July:

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself.

Should it be rewritten?

Vaccinated people cannot remain vaccinated forever. The yearning for a booster shot eventually manifests itself.

The July 2021 post noted that all of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park buildings had been closed in April 2021 (and, presumably, since the start of coronapanic in March 2020). Do visitors have the freedom to enter today?

“A right delayed is a right denied”?

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Plural versus possessive at Harvard

In Teaching Information Security there was a discussion of the fact that young people at a Florida state system university rejected the distinction between plural and possessive. A friend sent me the following:

Trying to wrap my head around my MBB offer

My first two years at Harvard, I was really focused on getting a good offer once I graduated. I think Harvard really acculturated me to the idea that one of those offers is one of the big goals of undergrad.

This summer, I got a full time offer from one of the big three consulting firms, for way more money than I thought, around $140k in total comp.

When I read the offer letter, I felt deeply ambivalent. Obviously I am stoked, and really want to work at the firm. However, it feels weird to make many times more my friends who are graduating from great non-ivy’s and more than my parents, who both make six figures.

For those of you who have received similar offers, how do you feel about salary? And for those who have already graduated, how has your thinking evolved?

(For those who are more familiar with honest labor, “MBB” is for McKinsey, BCG, and Bain. Separately, doesn’t he/she/ze/they realize that $140k will soon be the price of a Diet Coke?)

Note the highlighted section above, in which the fresh Harvard graduate struggles to write “Ivies”.

From Hussain Altamimi, a young person bright enough to work as a legislative assistant for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic Party’s primary thought-leader (Fox):

Israel is a racist European ethnostate built on stolen land from it’s indigenous population!

(Can anyone think of a country besides Israel that was built on land stolen by Europeans from an indigenous population? Are the people in the country that you’re thinking of doing anything to restore the land to the rightful indigenous owners?)

Is it time for Joe Biden to outlaw the apostrophe and save us from ourselves?

Related:

  • “California Prison Academy: Better Than a Harvard Degree” (WSJ, 2011): Harvard grads can expect to earn $49,897 fresh out of college and $124,759 after 20 years. … As a California prison guard, you can make six figures in overtime and bonuses alone. … Over 120,000 people apply every year, according to the state Legislative Analyst’s Office, but the academy only enrolls about 900. That’s an acceptance rate of less than 1%. Harvard’s is 6.2%.
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Why aren’t emails to an at-work lover copyrighted?

Academia is always great for showing those with inferior credentials (i.e., “inferiors”) how to think and behave appropriately. University of Michigan recently fired its president for having sex with someone else who works at the University of Michigan. The press release:

After an investigation, we learned that Dr. Schlissel, over a period of years, used his University email account to communicate with that subordinate in a manner inconsistent with the dignity and reputation of the University. In the interest of full public disclosure, we have released dozens of Dr. Schlissel’s communications that illustrate this inappropriate conduct …

(He’s actually a real doctor, not merely someone lacking the creativity to quit grad school before getting a Ph.D.: “Mark Schlissel, MD, PhD”)

A 118-page PDF is available as a link. Note that the sex/knish partner is “Individual 1”, implying that this guy had a Cuomo-style stable of females, but no “Individual 2” appears.

Suppose that Mark Schlissel had identified as a member of the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community and used his official email account to make reservations at some of the places featured in “San Francisco tells gay bathhouses, ‘Welcome back!'” (Bay Area Reporter, January 25, 2021, just in time to catch a few more COVID-19 waves!):

The city’s public health department has rescinded the restrictions that have kept such businesses from operating in the city since the mid-1980s. A legacy from the height of the AIDS epidemic, bathhouses in San Francisco until now could not have private rooms with locked doors and were required to monitor the sex of their patrons.

Those regulations, when put into effect, resulted in a de facto ban on gay bathhouses in San Francisco, leaving residents to have to travel to such businesses in Berkeley and in San Jose. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the lone gay bathhouse left in the Bay Area is Steamworks in the East Bay and it remains closed because of the health crisis.

While gay sex clubs without private, locked rooms continued to operate in the city, most eventually closed their doors. There is just one in operation today: Eros on upper Market Street in the city’s LGBTQ Castro district.

The venues must provide safe sex materials free of charge, such as lubricants and condoms. Those establishments with locked rooms must have such materials stocked in each room.

And all such businesses need to provide wash-up facilities for their patrons where they have access to hot and cold running water, liquid soap, hand sanitizer and paper towels.

Presumably the Board of Regents would have celebrated their president’s decision to live the university’s values. Instead of getting to know 50 new male friends at a bathhouse, however, the implication is that President Schlissel was having sex with 1 female friend from work and that they were organizing the sex around athletic events, Saudi filmmaker Safa Al Ahmad events, and articles from Harvard Business Review about how to breathe (a skill that folks who’ve paid $500,000+ in Ivy League tuition may not have mastered, apparently; one tip for easier breathing… move to Florida and then you don’t have to try to do it through a mask). Rather than enhancing campus Pride, as the bathhouse visits might have, the (cisgender?) heterosexual office romance was “inconsistent with the dignity and reputation of the University.” (But if the Board hadn’t fired Dr. Schlissel and released the emails, thus telling everyone about this exciting situation, how would the reputation of the university been affected?)

This post is not about whether the Board made the right decision, but how it is possible for them to publish 118 pages of the president’s emails from a copyright perspective. The university IT folks had the technical means to dig into the president’s account, of course, but can they publish these documents without permission? I guess they can because they did, but how?

Tougher question: What does Mark Schlissel, MD, PhD do now if he wants to continue working? Emigrate to China or France? No American university can hire him, right?

The Michigan commerce mural above is from the Guardian Building, in Detroit (Returning from EAA AirVenture (‘Oshkosh”), August 2021), and contains some job ideas if Dr. Schlissel wants to stay local.

Related:

  • “Why did University of Michigan fire Mark Schlissel? He broke a rule he introduced this summer” (MLive): At the July Board of Regents meeting, he announced an overhaul of sexual misconduct policy changes, particularly the prohibition of relationships between subordinates and supervisors. There would be zero tolerance for someone in a leadership position to “solicit a personal or romantic relationship with someone they have a supervisory authority or career influence over,” he said at the time.
  • The Wikipedia page for this guy mentions that he was criticized for not following the science in maxxing out the university’s level of coronapanic. In other words, a group of elite Americans rejected as unscientific the leadership of an MD, PhD (professor of microbiology and immunology as well as a professor of internal medicine). Paging Dr. Tegnell!
  • Real World Divorce chapter on Michigan (in case the doctor’s wife decides it is time to cash out)
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The Serbian Mushrik is cast out of the Antipodal Mecca

From “Why Are Non-Muslims Not Allowed Into The Cities Of Mecca And Madinah?” (Inside Saudi):

In Islam, the cities of Mecca and Madinah are considered as places of peace, refuge, and sanctuary for Muslims only. Non-Muslims termed Mushriks are prohibited in order to keep it that way.

For example, Hindus believe that Brahma is one and many. Also, 80% of Christians believe in the Trinity that God is three equal and eternal persons in the form of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

The very fact that the Mushrik believes and acts on the basis of polytheism makes him/her a Mushrik and in effect spiritually Narjis (unclean) in the eyes of Allah.

It is NOT the case that he/she is unclean in the physical sense but only in the spiritual sense.

From CNN:

“Rightly or wrongly” tennis star Novak Djokovic is perceived as endorsing anti-vaccination views — and his presence in Australia could influence people, said lawyer Stephen Lloyd, who is acting for the government.

Lloyd said it was “common sense and uncontroversial” to assume that people would listen to Djokovic’s views, given what we know about the power of celebrity.

According to Lloyd, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke doesn’t need to show evidence that Djokovic is influencing people’s views to cancel his visa — just that there’s a risk that he might.

He said Hawke made the decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa in accordance with the Australia’s Migration Act that enables the minister to bar someone who “may” or “might” pose a risk to public health.

From an American point of view, the Australian government’s position isn’t novel. While at least 10 million undocumented immigrants are welcome to stay in the U.S. (even after being ordered deported, as with Barack Obama’s Aunt Zeituni) and there is no requirement that those who walk across the border and avail themselves of our multi-year asylum process accept Science and the Sacrament of Vaccination, there is no realistic way for an American to express him/her/zir/theirself if he/she/ze/they endorse anti-vaccination views. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube will ban heretics. I recently met a recruiter who had 5,000 LinkedIn contacts and was subject to a “lifetime ban” in the fall of 2020. (She appealed the decision and got a response that they’d “reviewed [her] private messages” and decided to sustain the ban.) She had posted skepticism that mask orders (bandanas at the time!) and U.S.-style lockdowns were effective in long-term reduction of COVID-19 deaths.

The New York Times says that Djokovic has been cast out via a flight from Australia to comparatively free Dubai. Let’s check “the curve”. From a few days ago:

Now that Djokovic has left via Dubai, and thus the sanctity of Australia has been restored, it does look as though the curve is flattening. From the Google:

Advantage, #Science?

Samizdat currently circulating among Irish sports fans via WhatsApp:

(Facebook owns WhatsApp, but due to tech limitations, it can’t read messages that are exchanged among users and therefore it can’t easily hunt down and ban the unrighteous.)

Related:

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Trying to make sense of the Supreme Court rulings on the vaccine orders

We tried to predict what the Supreme Court would do with President Biden’s vaccine mandates on health care workers and on employees of larger companies (see Supreme Court hears arguments on forced vaccination in two parallel universes).

In the ruling on the health care industry, dependent on the twin rivers of Medicare and Medicaid cash, the Supreme Court said the following:

In many facilities, 35% or more of staff remain unvaccinated, … and those staff, the Secretary explained, pose a serious threat to the health and safety of patients. That determination was based on data showing that the COVID–19 virus can spread rapidly among healthcare workers and from them to patients, and that such spread is more likely when healthcare workers are unvaccinated.

the Secretary also found that “fear of exposure” to the virus “from unvaccinated health care staff can lead patients to themselves forgo seeking medically necessary care,” creating a further “ris[k] to patient health and safety.”

(The last one is interesting. Suppose that we find that patients are uncomfortable with white cisgender heterosexual physicians, whom they perceive as intellectually inferior due to being able to slide into medical school via privilege. Can the government order that the health care industry hire only the BIPOC and 2SLGBTQQIA+? Otherwise patients might forgo seeking medically necessary care.)

The core of the above-cited section is that a lawyer, with no technical or scientific training, has decided to disagree with a Stanford Medical School professor (see “Benefit of COVID-19 vaccination accounting for potential risk compensation” (Nature)) who found that the vaccinated might actually be more likely to get infected and spread disease if you assume (a) an imperfect vaccine, and (b) humans take more risks once they’ve been told that they’re invulnerable due to vaccination. (see also Perfect illustration of risk compensation rendering COVID-19 vaccines ineffective and Why doesn’t the raging plague in Maskachusetts cause doubt among the true believers in Faucism?)

So the Supreme Court accepts as scientific fact that vaccination and casting out the unvaccinated are critical to #StopTheSpread. This, plus potential patient discomfort with heretical providers, led to the Court approving Biden’s order.

In the ruling on generic private employers, however, COVID-19 seems to be a different, much milder, disease. Certainly COVID-19 does not present a “grave danger” to humans nor is SARS-CoV-2 “toxic or physically harmful.”

[workplace-related orders from the Pharaoh] are permissible, however, only in the narrowest of circumstances: the Secretary must show (1) “that employees are exposed to grave danger from exposure to substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful or from new hazards,” and (2) that the “emergency standard is necessary to protect employees from such danger.”

So too could OSHA regulate risks associated with working in particularly crowded or cramped environments. But the danger present in such workplaces differs in both degree and kind from the everyday risk of contracting COVID–19 that all face. OSHA’s indiscriminate approach fails to account for this crucial distinction— between occupational risk and risk more generally—and accordingly the mandate takes on the character of a general public health measure,

The last paragraph says that there is an inevitable risk of COVID-19 exposure based on inhabiting the biosphere for workers, but, based on the previous ruling, this is apparently untrue for patients visiting Medicare- and Medicaid-funded health care facilities.

Let’s see who among us got this right…

  • I was at 50% (correct about health care order being approved, a 95 percent prediction and incorrect on my “less confident” prediction that the workplace order would be approved)
  • Craig said “I’m predicting the court will find the federal vaccine mandate to be an overreach simply because the narrative is already shifting towards Omicron <= flu and we must learn to live with it (like you predicted). There is no federal mandate for flu vaccinations, although I believe some federal agencies like VA hospitals can require staff to have flu immunizations.” (he didn’t separate out the two issues before the Court, but I think we might have to give him 100% since he mentioned “federal agencies” (and any enterprise on the Medicare/Medicaid dole is essentially a federal agency)
  • Jack was at 50%: “My guess is the Court will rule against the Biden administration — seems that a substantial number of Americans are opposed to the vaccine mandate & therefore any mandate will be widely ignored. Affects the Court’s legitimacy to uphold law that will be ignored & will encourage civil disobedience. Also, as a matter of numbers, the statist justices are in the minority.”
  • JT was at 50%: “Predict struck down and that it’s a blessing for Biden. It’s obvious it doesn’t stop the spread so all a mandate could possibly do is create onerous bureaucracy people hate.”

Can these rulings be considered logically consistent? There are sicker/older people who go to hospitals than to work. But on the other hand, hospital staff are highly competent at using the masks that the government says stop COVID-19 transmission. Also, the ruling is based on the vaccines being highly effective and sicker/older people are generally vaccinated. And if they can catch COVID-19 nonetheless, they will eventually catch COVID-19 indirectly from people who get COVID-19 in the unsafe workplaces. Ivan pointed out that “Sotomayor claimed that the federal government has ‘a police power to protect workers'”. If we combine these two orders do we find that the federal government has a police power to protect those visiting health care facilities, but as soon as the visit is over the police power evaporates?

Color me confused! The Supreme Court accepts that vaccination leads to reduced COVID-19 infection and transmission, and that the peasantry believe this as well, and therefore the government can order doctors and nurses to be vaccinated. Yet the government cannot order this vital protection for workers outside of health care? And, though this issue wasn’t before the Court, it sounds as though, unless prohibited by state law (as in Florida!), a mayor can order the peasants within a city to be vaccinated if they want to leave their hovels (see Washington, D.C. vaccine papers and Photo ID checks start tomorrow for example).

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