Folks who refuse to follow Dr. Biden’s vaccine orders are weakly hesitating (not boldly “Resisting”)

During four years of tyranny, anyone who posted a criticism of Donald Trump on Facebook or Twitter was boldly #Resisting. Example from my late friend Mike Hawley (the below was liked and loved 119 times by the righteous):

Successful alimony and child support plaintiffs relaxing in our old Maskachusetts neighborhood displayed lawn signs kind of like the below (“A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance”).

Before we moved to Florida, it was common to see cars with “RESIST” bumper stickers amidst the overall forest of social justice and political bumper stickers.

By contrast, how do we characterize those who refuse to follow orders from Dr. Joe Biden, M.D., and state governors to get vaccinated against COVID-19? In addition to being Deplorable (obviously), are these people bold examples of resistance? After all, those who merely disagreed with Donald Trump’s words were bravely resisting. Actually…. no. It seems that refusing to do what the government tells you to do is an example of weak hesitation. Google returns 152,000 results for “vaccine hesistant” within News and only 23,500 for “vaccine resistant” (most of which relate to the muscular SARS-CoV-2 virus itself, not to any humans).

Examples:

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Do the unvaccinated collect unemployment after being placed on “unpaid leave”?

“Thousands of Unvaccinated New York City School Employees Placed on Unpaid Leave” (Wall Street Journal, 10/4/2021) describes those who #Resist, but not in a good way:

Thousands of New York City school staff were barred from returning to work Monday for failing to comply with a vaccination mandate that took effect Friday afternoon.

Under the terms of the mandate, all school employees needed to show proof by Friday afternoon that they received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine to avoid being placed on unpaid leave.

(It’s a “mandate,” not an “order”)

These employees aren’t fired, but are only on “unpaid leave.” Does that mean they’re unable to collect unemployment insurance? Is this a brilliant Catch-22 strategy by the city government? People can’t collect unemployment unless they’re fired. The infidels #Resisting the Church of Shutdown haven’t been fired. But on the other hand, there is no way for them to get a paycheck unless they accept Saint Fauci as their personal savior.

Have we created a society where a lifetime of government assistance (means-tested public housing, Medicaid, SNAP/EBT, and Obamaphone) is available to folks who say “I need to spend 24/7 drinking, smoking dope, and consuming opioids” but nothing is available to those who say “I’m a healthy 25-year-old, already had COVID-19, and don’t think the risk-reward of a COVID-19 vaccine makes sense for me”?

Separately, given that NYC, if it were its own country, would be right near the top of countries ranked by COVID-19 death rate, shouldn’t we expect that most of the unvaccinated have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and therefore have at least as good immunity as the vaccinated? (Nearly all of my friends in NYC eventually got either a positive COVID test result, some symptoms, or both.)

Related:

  • “Won’t Get The Covid Vaccine? If You’re Fired, You May Not Get Unemployment Benefits” (Forbes): … there’s one big, new exception that could block your eligibility to get unemployment benefits: You get fired because you’re not vaccinated for Covid-19. … In short, probably not. If an employer terminates you because you don’t follow its policies, it has “cause” to fire you. And if you’re fired “for cause,” you may be ineligible to claim unemployment benefits. … Some states have made it clear that people terminated for not adhering to vaccination policies are likely precluded from receiving benefits. Oregon is one example of a state that has mandated health care, education, and government workers to get vaccinated. The head of the state Employment Department has said eligibility will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, but those terminated by public or private employers for refusing to get vaccinated probably won’t be eligible.
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The one-month anniversary of Dr. Joe Biden, M.D.’s vaccination order for Head Start workers

From the US Department of HHS:

Vaccination of Head Start staff is essential as we work together to build back out of the COVID-19 pandemic and move toward fully in-person services. On September 9, 2021, President Biden announced a plan requiring all Head Start program staff and certain contractors to be vaccinated. This action will help more programs and early childhood centers safely remain open and provide comfort to the many parents and guardians that rely on them every day to keep their children safe.

Beginning January 2022, all Head Start teachers and program staff will be required to be vaccinated to help ensure the health and safety of children, families, and their communities.

COVID-19 is an emergency requiring unprecedented suspensions of what had been considered Americans’ rights. At the same time, it is not such a serious emergency that people need to be vaccinated sooner than four months after the President/Physician-in-Chief’s order.

Related:

  • “Head Start: A Tragic Waste of Money” (CATO, 2010): Created in 1965, the comprehensive preschool program for 3- and 4‐​year olds and their parents is meant to narrow the education gap between low‐​income students and their middle‐ and upper‐​income peers. Forty‐​five years and $166 billion later, it has been proven a failure. The bad news came in the [Obama administration] study released this month: It found that, by the end of the first grade, children who attended Head Start are essentially indistinguishable from a control group of students who didn’t. … In fact, not a single one of the 114 tests administered to first graders — of academics, socio‐​emotional development, health care/​health status and parenting practice — showed a reliable, statistically significant effect from participating in Head Start.
  • “The Head Start CARES Demonstration: Another Failed Federal Early Childhood Education Program” (Heritage, 2015): The two small-scale studies—of the High/Scope Perry Preschool Project begun in 1962 and the Carolina Abecedarian Project begun in 1972—that were used to demonstrate the effectiveness of such interventions are now outdated. Their results have never been replicated.
  • coming to the opposite conclusion (i.e., give them more money) … “The Never-Ending Struggle to Improve Head Start” (Atlantic, 2016): The federal government has invested billions in preschool, but there’s still lots of room to grow. No rigorous research project followed the children Johnson was talking about to determine whether now, in their mid-50s, the 1965 Head Start graduates are living the productive and rewarding lives predicted for them. Critics charge that Head Start is a big federal program spending billions of tax dollars on a pipe dream: that the effects of being born into poverty can be averted for a lifetime with a few hours a day spent in a classroom at age 4. On the other hand, its champions argue that everything Johnson predicted is still possible, if only the country gives the program the resources it needs to succeed. … Despite its evidently strong program, there is scant empirical evidence supporting Portland’s success at improving the academic futures of its graduates beyond that first year of kindergarten entry. The same is true of Head Start as a whole.
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Facebook reminds me to get with the program

I haven’t been using Facebook since my father died (see Should one stay off Facebook, Instagram, et al. following the death of a parent?), but I checked in on my birthday last month. Here’s part of the page showing my timeline:

Note the lower left section in which I am exhorted to be virtuous:

Add a COVID-19 vaccine frame to your profile picture
We can all play a part in ending the pandemic. Add a frame to your profile picture. Your new picture will be shown to your friends to inspire them to get their vaccines as soon as they can.

You might think that the robots at Facebook would have figured out that 95 percent of my friends are Democrats (most are in academic, pharma, or medical jobs where a bigger government means they’ll enjoy a higher income, or they’re in Silicon Valley where expressing skepticism regarding Joe Biden would mean ostracism) and that the majority are already vaccinated (they’ve posted pictures of themselves getting shots, added their own vaccine frame, etc.). What is the rationale for asking me to celebrate my now-stale vaccination with a frame? That Facebook friends who’ve resisted 10 months of intensive propaganda from the government, the media, and Facebook itself will suddenly be convinced? Remember that most of the unvaccinated folks I know live in Massachusetts and are exposed to demands that they comply (“play a part in ending the pandemic”) every few miles while driving, every few minutes when walking in an urban area, etc. A vaccine frame from me would increase their exposure to pro-vaccine propaganda by less than 0.1%.

How long do we keep up the vaccination virtue signals?

[Separately, my father’s experience is not the best advertisement for COVID-19 vaccine safety. He went into a steep decline and died one week after receiving his second injection of Pfizer.]

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Hospitals are full; doctors and nurses have quit; hospitals advertise for new patients

Aristotle is the most relevant ancient philosopher for our age (see Coronascientists are the modern Aristotles?) and, as it happens, is credited with documenting the syllogism.

Here’s the Coronasyllogism of the Day:

  1. American hospitals are packed. People are literally dying for want of a hospital bed. (“Americans are dying because no hospital will take them” (Vox, September 14, 2021): The country’s pandemic failures have sometimes led to deadly health care rationing. … America, the richest country in the world, is not supposed to be a place where patients are left at the door to die. Yet that is exactly what’s happening now — 18 months into the pandemic.; “American Hospitals Buckle Under Delta, With I.C.U.s Filling Up” (NYT, August 17, 2021): “Outside some hospitals, officials are erecting large tents to house everyone.”
  2. Doctors and nurses have quit because it is exhausting to work in a hospital overflowing with patients. (“Covid has made it harder to be a health-care worker. Now, many are thinking of quitting” (CNBC, May 30, 2021): According to recent studies, between 20% and 30% of frontline U.S. health-care workers say they are now considering leaving the profession.)
  3. Therefore, it is critical for hospitals to invest heavily in every possible form of advertising for new patients.

If you weren’t familiar with the wisdom of the ancients, you might naively wonder “How is it that hospitals are so anxious for our business if their rooms are packed while their staff has figured out that the U.S. is a work-optional society?”

Do airports and FBOs in South Florida advertise seeking hangar tenants? No. Why not? They’re actually full. If there is a waiting list of 190 people for 300 hangars (F45, truly in the middle of nowhere), why waste money trying to get a 191st aircraft owner to sign up?

One could argue that the billboards and ad spots were purchased prior to COVID-19, but we’re approaching the second anniversary of the disease. Surely that is enough time for hospitals to turn over their ad space to “essential” (in Massachusetts) marijuana and liquor stores and other businesses for which the media hasn’t informed us of any difficulty with worker retention.

Related:

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Power of suggestion and wishful thinking (shutdowns and masks preventing the common cold)

Friends and neighbors in Massachusetts who were Shutdown and Mask Karens (i.e., nearly all of my friends and neighbors who weren’t pilots, doctors, or medical school professors!) reported that, in their personal experience, the shutdowns and masks had beaten the common cold. A full year of school closure (Boston Public) and more than a year of mask orders from the energetic governor had shown the rhinovirus who was boss. Yes, adults were still meeting at bars, on Tinder, and in marijuana and liquor stores (“essential”), but a cold is no match for a full glass of vodka combined with healing marijuana smoke.

Let’s check in with #Science… “Kids’ Colds Didn’t Take a Break During the Pandemic” (MedPage Today, October 1, 2021):

As cases of influenza and other respiratory viruses plummeted during the COVID-19 pandemic for kids and adults alike, rhinovirus and enterovirus continued to infect children at typical rates, a multicenter study suggested.

In a surveillance analysis involving more than 35,000 children who presented to emergency departments or were hospitalized for acute respiratory illness, 29.6% tested positive for enterovirus or rhinovirus in the March 2020 to January 2021 season, similar to rates for two prior seasons (30.4% for 2019-2020 and 29.0% for 2017-2018), reported Danielle Rankin, MPH, CIC, of Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

And the combined positivity rate of influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and other respiratory viruses (39.5%) was significantly lower in 2020-2021 compared to each of the prior three seasons (P<0.001):

  • 2019-2020: 75.4%
  • 2018-2019: 71.3%
  • 2017-2018: 69.4%

“It has been previously shown that mitigation measures, like mask wearing or social distancing, which were introduced to limit the spread of SARS-CoV-2, also limited the spread of influenza, RSV, and some other respiratory viruses,” Rankin said in a press release. “This study showed rhinovirus/enterovirus slightly decreased in March 2020, but shortly after resumed and persisted.”


Could the confidence of my friends in Maskachusetts that the common cold had been vanquished be an example of wishful thinking/confirmation bias? Or do we think this research result is another example of “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False”? I personally have a tough time believing that shutting schools and chaining children to their TVs and computers indoors for a year didn’t reduce transmission of the common cold. One can argue whether it makes sense to deny children an education in order to protect them from a virus that kills 82-year-olds, but I would have been confident in predicting that denying children an education would reduce their likelihood of catching a cold. (On the third hand, we could argue that my shutdown- and mask-advocating friends and neighbors in MA were a non-representative sample. Nearly all were able to work from home, for example, and nearly all lived in spacious suburban houses (see The social justice of coronashutdowns for the shutdown/mask views of a guy who lives in 8,000 square feet).)

Photos from the tiny strip mall at the heart of our former suburb, August 2021, reminding folks that COVID-19 is deadly, but so are leaf blowers (“toxic tornados” [sic]):

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Coronapanic orders from governors meet the American people

From California, one of the world centers of optimism regarding the power of government, via shutdown and mask orders, to reduce, not merely delay, coronavirus infections: “The number of babies infected with syphilis was already surging. Then came the pandemic” (Los Angeles Times). If Californians did what Gavin Newsom told them to do, you’d expect a pandemic to reduce sexually transmitted diseases, including syphilis. It is tough to catch syphilis while staying home and watching Netflix/playing Xbox for 18+ months. But, with the same logic we use for COVID-19 is sure to kill you, but life insurance rates haven’t changed and Wave of death among the elderly bankrupts Social Security, we can actually blame coronashutdowns for an increase in sexually transmitted diseases. From the LA Times:

More and more babies in L.A. County have been infected with syphilis in the womb, which can lead to stillbirth, neurological problems, blindness, bone abnormalities and other complications. Nine years ago, only six cases were reported across L.A. County, according to a Department of Public Health report. Last year, that number reached 113.

The numbers were already surging before the arrival of COVID-19, but public health officials fear the pandemic exacerbated the problem, closing clinics that screen people for syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections and putting new efforts to battle the disease on ice.

At the time, she said, she feared that going to a clinic could lead to her being jailed for using meth. “You think, ‘I’m going to get in trouble because I’m high,’” she said.

The surge in congenital syphilis has been especially frustrating to experts because the illness can be thwarted if pregnant people are tested and treated in time.

Men who have sex with men have been especially vulnerable, but the accelerating numbers among women and babies have spurred particular alarm for health officials because of the potentially devastating consequences.

Note the use of CDC-approved vocabulary, e.g., “pregnant people” and “men who have sex with men”. But then things break down a bit as the article wears on…

In L.A. County jails, eight cases of syphilis had been confirmed among 170 pregnant patients seen as of late August, said Dr. Noah Nattell, who oversees women’s health for the county‘s Correctional Health Services agency.

The sentence starts with “pregnant patients”, but falls back to the old term “women” towards the end. The inconsistency continues lower down:

Researchers have found that nationally, not all pregnant people are screened for syphilis despite the urgings by health officials. Even when they are diagnosed, nearly a third of pregnant women with syphilis did not get the care they needed, according to an analysis by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The sentence that immediately follows one in which “pregnant people” is used falls back to the discredited term “pregnant women.” There is only one author for this article. Why can’t Emily Alpert Reyes pick one term and stick with it?

One of the key problems is that, unlike marijuana, methamphetamine hasn’t yet been recognized for its medicinal value and therefore remains illegal.

The woman who lost her baby said she started using meth at an overwhelming point in her life, facing the demands of a stressful job, school and a relationship that had grown strained after her earlier struggle to get pregnant.

At the time, the drug felt like “a ticket to freedom.” She quit her unrewarding job. Her boyfriend moved out. Meth made her feel brave, “like I could take a deep breath finally.”

She started seeing a man who told her he didn’t need to use a condom with her, a decision she now sees as naive. After they broke up, she got into a relationship with a friend who would become the father of her baby.

When the waves of pain began to roll over her in a hotel room where she was spending time with her boyfriend, another man and his girlfriend, the girlfriend quickly realized she was in labor and urged them to call 911, she said. But the men bristled at the idea, she recalled, because there were drugs there and they didn’t want attention from the police.

Soo… the population that was supposed to be refraining from gathering and using the governor-ordered face masks consistently and correctly is, in fact, spreading sexually transmitted diseases at a higher-than-previous rate, partying in hotel rooms with a miscellaneous collection of potentially infectious humans, etc. Is it fair to say that America’s leading public health experts have never met the American public?

(Separately, how effective have California’s measures been? In the COVID Olympics, California has a higher COVID-19-tagged death rate than do-almost-nothing Sweden. California initially appears to have had some success, if we’re measuring a society’s success by this one number, compared to Florida. Adjusted for population over 65, however, California has actually had a higher death rate than Florida, where adults have enjoyed near-total freedom. Could a failure to consider what Americans are actually like be part of the reason that California’s aggressive lockdowns and mask orders have had no apparent effect?

(And let’s see how the masks and lockdowns worked in California compared to the #Science-denials of the Florida Free State… from a Stanford Med School prof:

Compared to Florida, California may have a lower cumulative death rate tagged to COVID-19, but that is only because the population is younger (free and/or subsidized housing available only to those with children apparently encourages “pregnant people” to have babies and become “lactating people”!). For a given person of a given age, the risk of dying from COVID-19 was actually lower in Florida.)

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Correlation versus Causation (COVID-19 is now killing Republicans)

Today’s New York Times carries an article saying that COVID-19 is now almost exclusively a disease of Republicans: “Red Covid; Covid’s partisan pattern is growing more extreme.” The article is festooned with scientific-looking charts.

(Note that the above chart is just a recent snapshot and does not show total COVID-19 deaths.)

If we are to believe the New York Times,

  1. support for Republican political candidates leads almost directly to death via COVID-19
  2. Democrat-controlled media and Democrat-controlled government are deeply concerned about deaths of Republican voters

(Proposition #2 confuses me the most. Back in the summer of 2020, our former neighbors in Massachusetts were positively gleeful at the prospect of conservative Floridians dying en masse due to their governor’s failure to order masks and shutdowns. Despite a year of open schools versus a year of closed schools, FL never did catch up to MA)

Here’s the explanation of how science-denial leads to death:

What distinguishes the U.S. is a conservative party — the Republican Party — that has grown hostile to science and empirical evidence in recent decades. A conservative media complex, including Fox News, Sinclair Broadcast Group and various online outlets, echoes and amplifies this hostility. Trump took the conspiratorial thinking to a new level, but he did not create it.

When they break up the stats by county, the differences are even larger and the correlation becomes more impressive.

But what else is correlated by county? There is a huge rural-urban divide in the U.S. in terms of party affiliation. Government tends to do its great works, and therefore its great spending, in cities. See What will rural American taxpayers get in return for spending on infrastructure?

Big Government spends nearly all of its money in cities so a bigger government accelerates the process of looting from rural Americans to enrich those who live in cities, e.g., with free public housing, improved transportation systems, fancier hospitals, etc.

It makes sense that people who live in more spread-out areas aren’t going to vote for Democrats promising huge spending in cities that they seldom visit.

Why does this matter? If coronavirus is simply taking its time to reach out-of-the-way places, the purported “Republican wave of death” is actually just the virus finally reaching people who couldn’t be reached in the spring of 2020.

Let’s look at South Dakota, where 62 percent of voters failed to vote for the Party of #Science. Is COVID killing the never-masked never-shutdown infidels right now? The NYT says “no”:

Why not? Maybe everyone in South Dakota is vaccinated? Actually, SD is below Florida and has almost the same rate as Texas (ranking; note that California is protected because its vaccination rate is 58.76 percent while Florida is doomed because its vaccination rate is only 56.89 percent), states that the NYT highlights as full of wicked and evil people who are being killed by a Just and Benevolent CoronaGod. If voting Republican leads to death via COVID-19, as the NYT suggests, and salvation lies in having a high vaccination rate, not-very-vaccinated South Dakota should be getting hammered right now. If, on the other hand, the current “Republican wave of death” is merely “the virus getting around to places it didn’t already saturate” then South Dakota is spared current misery due to the virus having killed everyone who could be easily killed by COVID back in November 2020.

Readers: Do you think that the current large differences in COVID-19 daily death rates among states are actually caused by party affiliation? If there is some other cause that we can be confident in, what is it?

What if we hear from an MD/PhD professor at the Stanford medical school?

(Note that I disagree with the Stanford prof’s interpretation of these data. Yes, it is true that a Florida Free State resident of a given age actually had a lower risk of death from COVID-19 than did a locked-down Californian (California has a somewhat lower aggregate death rate due to having a younger population than the U.S. average and than Florida’s). But it is not true that California has made policy mistakes. As demonstrated by the recent governor recall vote, Californians want to be locked down.)

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Will Kathy Hochul be Florida health care worker Recruiter of the Year?

Folks in the South Florida real estate industry dubbed Andrew Cuomo the “Florida Realtor of the Year” in gratitude for all of the money that they made selling houses to people fleeing New York’s lockdowns, school closures, and mask orders. (This was before Mr. Cuomo became famous for his efforts in other areas.)

I wonder if Kathy Hochul, the current governor of New York, will be remembered for solving every Florida health care enterprise’s HR problems. The nursing shortage in FL could be over by the end of next week, according to the NYT:

Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York is considering calling in the National Guard and recruiting medical professionals from other states to cover looming staff shortages at hospitals and other facilities as the likelihood grows that tens of thousands of health care workers will not meet the state’s deadlines for mandated vaccinations.

New York State is one of the first major testing grounds for stronger vaccination edicts rolling in across the country in the health care sector. California and Maine have also set deadlines for health care workers to be vaccinated. President Biden has said his administration will issue a national vaccination mandate expected to ultimately affect some 17 million health care workers at hospitals and other institutions that accept Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.

Hospital and nursing home employees in New York are required to receive a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by 11:59 p.m. on Monday night, while workers working in home care, hospices and other adult care facilities must do so by Oct. 7, according to state regulations and a mandate issued on Aug. 16 by former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

For health care workers seeking freedom, Florida may not be a complete solution (since President Biden and, if necessary, the U.S. military could step in to deprive Floridians of the freedoms that Governor DeSantis has tried to arrange), but moving to Florida certainly will ensure as much freedom as is possible to obtain as an employed American (folks on welfare, of course, are completely free from requirements to wear masks, get vaccines, etc., since they are not going to work).

It doesn’t usually take a huge nudge to move someone from New York to Florida. A high percentage of the above-mentioned workers probably had planned to move to Florida after retirement. For those doctors and nurses who don’t want their pharmaceutical intake to be determined by two lawyers (Andrew Cuomo and Kathy Hochul), could this be the final nudge that sends them down I-95?

Separately, how much do we love it when people with no technical or scientific training say that MDs and RNs are rejecting science and have fallen prey to “misinformation” about the vaccines whose long-term disease-prevention capabilities and side effects are apparently best-known to politicians and journalists? (from state-sponsored NPR: “In The Fight Against COVID, Health Workers Aren’t Immune To Vaccine Misinformation”)

Also, as a vaccinated person I do appreciate the “blame-the-unvaccinated-for-all-of-our-woes” strategy being pursued by our leaders. But I wonder how long we can keep it going. If someone is a front-line health care worker and feeling young/healthy enough to be out and about without a vaccine shot, isn’t it likely that he/she/ze/they has already had a SARS-CoV-2 infection and therefore has at least as good immunity as someone who is vaccinated?

Last night, from the Juno Beach Pier:

Related:

  • “These Health Care Workers Would Rather Get Fired Than Get Vaccinated” (NYT, 9/26): a selection of those who might be easily recruited
  • “Mount Sinai hospital leaders holed up in Florida vacation homes during coronavirus crisis” (New York Post, March 28, 2020): While heroic staffers beg for protective equipment and don garbage bags to treat coronavirus patients at a Mount Sinai hospital, two of the system’s top executives are waiting out the public health catastrophe in the comfort of their Florida vacation homes, The Post has learned. Dr. Kenneth Davis, 72, the CEO of the Mount Sinai Health System who pulled down nearly $6 million in compensation in 2018, is ensconced in his waterfront mansion near Palm Beach. Davis has been in the Sunshine State for weeks and is joined by Dr. Arthur Klein, 72, president of the Mount Sinai Health Network, who owns an oceanfront condo in Palm Beach.
  • No exceptions for “people who are pregnant, lactating, or planning to become pregnant” from the New York Department of Health: … all pregnant individuals be vaccinated … Vaccination of pregnant people against COVID-19 also serves to build antibodies which may protect their baby from COVID-19 infection. … pregnant people with COVID-19 might be at increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth, compared with pregnant women without COVID-19… If pregnant people have questions about getting vaccinated… If someone is pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, healthcare providers should discuss the risk to the pregnant person … Vaccinations for Lactating People … A lactating person may choose to be vaccinated… . Pregnancy alone is not a valid “health condition” upon which to base a medical exemption.
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Masketology down the East Coast

What happens when a society that is so organized and detail-oriented that it needs to buy all of its integrated circuits from Taiwan, China, Japan, and Korea (and stop making cars when those countries can’t meet demand) tries to use facemasks to stop a deadly respiratory virus? Here’s a report on a trip by small plane from Maine to Florida at the end of August 2021.

(Note that cloth facemasks worn by the general public completely failed in a randomized controlled trial and surgical mask usage achieved only an 11-percent reduction in coronaplague levels (hailed as a huge success by #Science!).)

The trip began with a JetBlue flight from PBI to BOS. For maximum COVID-19 safety, every seat was occupied. The atmosphere was similar to a Hollywood portrayal of a prison galley, with flight attendants constantly hassling passengers regarding (1) where they stood while waiting for the bathroom, and (2) the extent to which they were wearing a mask. All masks came off at roughly the same time, naturally, when the same flight attendants served drinks and snacks to everyone at the same time.

Maskachusetts towns and cities were just in the process of reimposing mask orders (“In Fauci and vaccines we trust, but not enough to de-mask.”)

Despite the sign, mask usage was about 50 percent among customers and staff at a tire shop where I was trying to nurse our 2007 Infiniti far enough to be sold. In a tightly packed diner, none of the customers wore masks #BecauseEatingAndDrinking

In addition to masks, the USPS in Watertown was relying on the Plexi barriers that #Science now says are worthless:

While waiting in line, I observed that most customers and postal workers would lean around the partition in order to communicate clearly.

To avoid the remains of Hurricane Ida and general areas of thunderstorms down the coast, I started south by heading north, to Bar Harbor, Maine. Hancock County is now under an indoor mask order, but the local businesses are not necessarily complying. One shop door says “Your mask, your decision.” (fighting words to a California voter!) Other shops had out of date signs, e.g., one regarding a May 24, 2021 mask order rescission.

Acadia National Park told people to wash hands with soap and water, but despite the $6 trillion annual federal budget, there are no bathrooms available (sometimes outhouses) where these instructions could be followed. (Florida, by contrast, seems to have government-run usually-clean bathrooms everywhere that tourists might visit.) I like the primary focus on government employee welfare: “Help keep rangers and other visitors healthy.” Visitor health is important, but ranger health is #1. Except for a few Asians, I didn’t see anyone on the (crowded) trails wearing masks.

Eventually a high pressure system moved in and it was time to depart from my friend’s oceanfront quarantine facility. President Biden has ordered that all airports enforce mask usage. At least the national FBO chains have interpreted this to include facilities for private aircraft. I don’t want to rat out specific FBOs for fear that the Federal Virtue Enforcement Agency will come after them, but at small airports the effect of this order is nil. At the biggest airports, the corporate overlords’ influence is stronger, especially on the behind-the-desk customer service reps. There are expensively-printed banners reminding everyone to follow Biden’s orders. Here’s a picture cropped to hide the FBO chain’s name:

The “line guys” (almost always it is people identifying as “men” who wish to work outdoors in temps ranging from -10 F to +105 F and winds up to 50 knots) don’t bother with masks indoors or out. If you’re driving a truck filled with 2,000 gallons of jet fuel, maybe you don’t spend a lot of time worrying about a virus?

What actually happens, though, when the corporate overlords follow Dr. Joe Biden, M.D. and impose a mask requirement? At the biggest FBO where I stopped (name withheld to protect the guilty from the U.S. Marshalls), all of the non-line employees sported masks… under the chin or under the nose. To be fair, there was one employee, perhaps age 40 and looking slender/healthy, who wore a mask properly over her nose and mouth. She was training a new hire at a distance of about 1.5′ (feet, not meters). Every time that she spoke, in order to make sure that the new hire understood, she would pull the mask away from her face.

How about at Great Falls, Virginia? Population growth via immigration plus the growth of government spending pushing the D.C.-area population higher has resulted in 30-minute lines to get into the parking lot (except when the park is entirely closed due to the parking lot being full). Out of an abundance of caution, the taxpayer-funded visitor center has been closed for 1.5 years. People will need to get their COVID-19 at the retail stores that are open all around the park, rather than in the park itself.

How about President Biden’s order that masks be worn whenever people are outdoors in federal parks, but not well-spaced? Is there more respect for this than what we found in the Everglades back in April? At Great Falls, the order was ignored by roughly 90 percent of visitors (who numbered 1000+). See below for some of the Mask Righteous. One is unmasked, but has put a mask on his toddler (see Wright Brothers on the science of COVID-19 for a discussion of how it can make sense for one household member to wear a mask when on an excursion, but not everyone). The slender young person has ventured beyond the fence to the edge of the gorge, swollen to near-historic levels by Hurricane Ida. He/she/ze/they will be coronavirus-free before joining the dozens who have drowned in the past 20 years at Great Falls:

At a coffee shop in North Carolina, only about 1 in 25 customers were masked. My friend has been a righteous Facebook denouncer of Trump and a supporter of Biden, masks, and lockdowns, but he did not voluntarily wear a mask inside the crowded counter service shop.

At an FBO in Georgia, still fighting the transmission-via-surfaces war (#SalvationViaLysol):

This is walking distance to Southern Soul Barbeque, where I defended against COVID-19 in the traditional American manner, i.e., consuming plenty of fried okra and hush puppies. Why bother to lose weight when confronted with a virus that kills the obese when instead one can rely on government orders to don cloth face coverings?

Here’s the Shuttle Landing Facility to prove that I made it to Florida:

Biden mask order compliance was actually higher in Florida than in the other states, with one indoor FBO employee wearing a mask at my destination (“1 out of 20 ain’t bad”!). Mask usage outside the airport, e.g., at supermarkets, was much higher than in other states, despite not being required. Of course, this could be partly due to the fact that Florida was just getting over a COVID-19 hospitalization surge:

The peak was towards the end of August. Now that I look at this chart, one thing that is interesting is how easy it is to convince Americans to panic. Florida was portrayed as a disaster area by the media and I was cautioned by multiple friends and family members not to go near this Land of Death in which they were running out of places to stack the dead bodies. At the very height of the recent plague, roughly 17,000 people were in the hospital in Florida with a COVID-19 positive PCR test. The state is home to nearly 22 million people, however. So a person who had 150 friends still had a 90 percent probability of not knowing anyone who was in the hospital for/with COVID-19. (Take the probability that a friend is not in the hospital and then multiply that by itself 150 times):

type “(1-17000/22e6)^150” into Wolfram Alpha if you want to check.)

A country that spends 20 percent of GDP on health care, in other words, purportedly can’t cope with 1 in 1,300 people needing hospital care for a respiratory virus (actually perhaps closer to 1 in 2,000 since “COVID-19 hospitalizations” in the U.S. include people who are there for some other reason and test positive for an asymptomatic coronavirus infection). Maybe this is true, in which case we might want to ask what we’re getting for our $4 trillion per year (Bloomberg does). But more likely it is false, especially in light of the fact that hospital care for COVID-19 is probably not any better than home care (nytimes).

I stopped in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Virginia (Dulles and Roanoke), North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. In not a single place did I see a group of Americans wearing masks consistently and correctly, despite, at least at the airports, presidential orders that they do so and, in many cases, local orders that masks be worn.

(How about the flying, you might ask? An instrument approach was required to get into BHB (Maine). I needed to climb to 11,500′ to get over some bumpy clouds in Florida. Steering around heavy rain cells was required to make the final approach into SUA (Stuart, Florida). Otherwise, it was good VFR weather and a student pilot could easily have made the trip. Lesson: If you’re willing to be flexible on timing, a Cirrus can be a useful mode of transportation, but flexibility needs to be measured in days, not hours!)

Why write all of the above, you might ask? I’m thinking this will be a useful data point for historians 50 or 100 years from now who want to know what Americans actually did in 2021. They’ll have ready access to the rulers’ orders, but won’t know how these were implemented by the subjects.

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