#Science says masks are the best thing that ever happened to children

Parking a warm saliva-soaked mask in front of a child’s mouth all day isn’t the most obvious way to protect children from exposure to bacteria and viruses. And “Experimental Assessment of Carbon Dioxide Content in Inhaled Air With or Without Face Masks in Healthy Children” (JAMA Pediatrics, June) heretically suggested that children might be better off with an unobstructed airway.

All is right with the world once more, however. The paper has been retracted by the editors. The only question is why humanity didn’t discover the healing power of full-time mask-wearing centuries ago.

Loosely related:

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If masks are optional, why are there under-nose masks?

I was in the Tysons Corner, Virginia shopping mall last week. Masks are no longer required in Virginia. Governor Blackface (he’s sorry about his past racism, but not sorry enough to resign and let a Black person take the governor job?) rescinded his mask order in May (see “Virginia drops mask mandates, but not everyone is quick to give them up” )(NBC)).

Some folks wandering the mall were, nonetheless, wearing masks. This didn’t surprise me, but I was surprised by the fact that quite a few of those who were masked were wearing their masks under their noses. If you’re part of the Talented Tenth who believe in masks forever, wouldn’t you also be careful to wear a mask correctly? (i.e., make sure all of the aerosol virus goes out the sides!)

The photo below, taken July 13, 2021, shows the chin diaper and under-nose styles in front of a store owned by my favorite American growth company (#StocksForTheLongRun!).

Over in the U.K., 40 percent want masks forever… (I wonder how many support under-nose masks forever…)

Meanwhile, Facebook tells me (July 15) that even the smallest person can be a pandemic-ending hero by adding a frame to his/her/zir/their profile picture:

Despite this energetic effort, the propaganda ministers in Washington, D.C. are not satisfied. NYT:

President Biden’s surgeon general on Thursday used his first formal advisory to the United States to deliver a broadside against tech and social media companies, which he accused of not doing enough to stop the spread of dangerous health misinformation — especially about Covid-19.

The official, Dr. Vivek Murthy, declared health misinformation “an urgent threat to public health.”

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube said that they had taken steps to crack down on misleading health information, in line with their coronavirus misinformation policies. All three said they had introduced features to point people to authoritative health sources on their platforms.

YouTube said in a statement that it welcomed many takeaways of the surgeon general’s report. Twitter said it agreed with the surgeon general’s society-wide approach and welcomed his partnership. A person with knowledge of the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity said officials with the company met with the surgeon general’s office on Monday.

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Did lockdowns turn richer Americans into dragons hoarding gold?

Americans who were at least moderately rich, e.g., incomes above $100,000 per year, prospered financially through a year of lockdown. They got paid the same or more. They didn’t have to spend money or time commuting. Their stock market and real estate holdings zoomed (so to speak) up. Since they couldn’t buy restaurant meals or travel, their earnings piled up. (See “During Covid-19, Most Americans Got Richer—Especially the Rich” (WSJ): “U.S. households gained $13.5 trillion in wealth in 2020. … More than 70% of the increase in household wealth went to the top 20% of income earners. About a third went to the top 1%.”)

Where have we previously seen someone who stays in one place for a year or more while surrounded by valuable items? Beowulf! At the end of the poem (more than 1,000 years old), our hero confronts a dragon whose lived experience for 300 years has been #StayHomeSaveLives while his/her/zir/their golden treasure appreciates. Mx. Dragon is almost as stuffed with cash as a Seattle divorce plaintiff, but never spends any of it.

Related:

  • “Dragonomics: Smaug and Climate Change” (Richard Fahey, a grad student in English at University of Notre Dame): “I would suggest that Smaug may be productively read as a representation of climate change, in the sense that the dragon is a force of smoke and heat which destroys ecosystems and disrupts the environment in much deeper and more long-lasting ways. … At the center of our modern struggles with dragonomics, I would argue, the problem of avarice endures. It is greed, especially from the fossil fuel lobby and the major energy companies (many linked to nations themselves), which have stalled and prevented developments in renewable energies in order to reduce our carbon footprint. … Dragonomics is not simply about making money, it is about plundering it and more importantly hoarding it.”
  • source of image above

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Could discrepancy between vaccine effectiveness in the U.K. versus the U.S. be caused by incompetence with medical records?

George’s comment on Coronavirus kills the vaccinated in the UK, but not in the U.S., which quotes Mx. Fauci saying “If you look at the number of deaths, about 99.2 percent of them are unvaccinated.”:

Got to love the 99.2% number, specially the .2 added to 99.

By highlighting the absurd precision, I wonder if George has explained the root cause of the discrepancy between U.S. data and U.K. data, in which roughly half of the people dying from COVID-19 were previously blessed with the sacrament of two vaccine shots.

The U.K. is competent at keeping medical records. The U.S. is not. The U.K. has a central database to go with its National Health Service. With the exception of the VA hospitals, the U.S. has hundreds of $billions wasted on mutually incompatible databases, each one a silo for an individual hospital or hospital group.

Why couldn’t Saint Fauci find more than 0.8% vaccinated among the deceased? The better question is how he/she/ze/they was able to find even one vaccinated person given that there is no central database of the vaccinated, that to ask the “Are you vaccinated?” question violates HIPAA, and that hospitals have no incentive (and maybe no mechanism) to report the death of a vaccinated person.

Readers: What do you think? Unless an American dies with his/her/zir/their vaccine card stapled to his/her/zir/their forehead, how is anyone supposed to know whether he/she/ze/they was vaccinated?

Related:

  • “EHR Use, High Administrative Burden Driving Healthcare Spending” (August 2018): “Since 2011, the federal government has spent $38 billion requiring doctors and hospitals to install electronic health records systems through the Meaningful Use program in Medicare and Medicaid,” noted Alexander. … Persistent problems with health data exchange and interoperability further diminish the value of EHR technology. Health data exchange and interoperability solutions are available to streamline health data exchange and eliminate the need for paper health records, but this additional technology costs money.
  • Sweden may be recording COVID-19 deaths differently than other countries (the Swedes have one big database and use it to tag COVID-19 deaths within 30 days of a positive test; Norway relies on subjective evaluation by a physician and the physician taking the initiative to report)
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“The virus is evolving quickly and efficiently” but we can beat it with vaccines

“We’ve Come So Far With Vaccines, America. Now Keep Going.” (New York Times, July 3):

Seven months after the first shots were authorized for emergency use, 66 percent of adults — more than 100 million people — have received at least one dose. That’s not the 70 percent President Biden was aiming to reach by July 4, but it’s close, and it’s an impressive figure.

It is comforting to be reminded that Joe Biden was the president primarily responsible for the rapid development and purchasing of these vaccines. Uncle Joe takes care of us all!

But it’s too soon to declare total victory. The world is still locked in a desperate race between the coronavirus’s ability to evolve and society’s ability to vaccinate, and America’s lead in that race is precarious. The virus is evolving quickly and efficiently. Given enough time and enough susceptible hosts, it could still mutate its way around the human immune response and beyond the ability of existing vaccines to help. If that happens, the United States, and any other nations that have made such progress, will be forced backward.

If the vaccine evolves quickly and efficiently, what is the point of a vaccination project? If everyone in the U.S. were vaccinated tomorrow against all of the version of SARS-CoV-2 that exist in the U.S., wouldn’t a new variant arrive through the fully open southern border on Monday? From “Biden administration reverses Trump-era asylum policies” (Politico):

The Biden administration is reversing a series of Trump-era immigration rulings that narrowed asylum standards by denying protection to victims of domestic violence and those who said they were threatened by gangs in their home country.

In other words, anyone who can utter the words “my spouse hit me” or “a gang wants to kill me” is entitled to live in the U.S. for at least several years until a judge evaluates the truth of the statement (absent psychic powers, how is a judge supposed to figure this out?). Several years is certainly long enough to spread mutated SARS-CoV-2.

(The border is perhaps not “fully open” given that Kamala Harris tells migrants not to come to our party with some strong words.)

We don’t believe that if we gave 100 percent of humanity a flu shot we would eliminate influenza, right? Why do we believe that we can beat a “virus [that] is evolving quickly and efficiently” with our fairly sluggish vaccine system?

The scientists at Facebook told me, on April 30, that we can “end the pandemic” by adding a vaccine profile frame (Facebook previously granted FDA approval to vaccines):

What about Facebook today?

I would so love to meet the folks who believe the things that Facebook says aren’t true! Separately, one thing that is interesting about Facebook’s scientific information campaign is that it isn’t signed. Plainly Facebook has a deep bench of medical expertise, but who are the physicians and public health PhDs who authored the material that Facebook puts out? A typical newspaper article is signed by a journalist or two and approved by an editor whose name can be looked up. Quotes and opinions in the article will generally be attributed to a person whose professional background can be researched.

Circling back to the original topic… How is it possible to simultaneously believe that the virus is evolving rapidly and efficiently AND that vaccinations against a particular genotype (or set of genotypes) will prevent the virus from thriving?

Related:

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A masked family walks into a crowded unmasked restaurant

I had breakfast at Red’s Kitchen and Tavern in Peabody, Massachusetts today. Occupancy was at least 80 percent. None of the customers were masked (partly due to the fact that they were eating!). None of the cooks or servers were masked. The hostess was not masked. In walks a family of four, the parents perhaps 40 years old. Both parents and their middle school-aged children were wearing cloth/paper masks of the kind that #Science says provide almost no protection to the wearer (but, as demonstrated in Peru and the Czech Republic, when ordered for the general public and enforced by the police and military, can protect a whole population!). They kept their masks on until their food was served.

Our governor’s 69 emergency orders are no longer in effect so they didn’t have to wear masks by law/regulation/dictate. This is the North Shore, not Cambridge or Boston, so there was no apparent social pressure to wear a mask. There was no immediate social pressure to wear a mask from anyone else in the restaurant. Why would they wear a mask? #AbundanceOfCaution is the seemingly obvious answer. Except if that were the explanation, they would have simply stayed home and prepared groceries previously delivered by an army of Latinx essential workers. Why go into a crowded restaurant and rely on 3-cent paper surgical masks as PPE? Or, if slightly less cautious, wouldn’t they have gone to a drive-through and eaten in the COVID-19-free environment of their automobile? Or, if God had told them that they had to eat in that very restaurant that very morning, they could have worn N95 masks that would have had some chance of filtering out incoming Delta variant.

I don’t begrudge them their moderate level of coronapanic. One of the great things about Florida is that each resident is free to choose his/her/zir/their own level of coronapanic. I’m just wondering what moderately coronapanicked people are doing in a crowded restaurant in which nobody else is masked!

On a mostly unrelated note… here’s a $5 item from the Whole Paycheck in Bedford, MA:

I’m wondering why this is effective marketing. For the righteous who wish to purchase based on victimhood status, wouldn’t it work just as well to put a photo of the owners, maybe with traditionally female names attached and dressed as what we used to call “women”? The “Women Owned” legend risks, I would think, discouraging haters from buying. The Neanderthals who refuse to sort vendors by victimhood category may yet be happy to buy from “Judy and Kate” (just as they were happy to buy from Home Depot when Marvin Ellison was a top executive there and they’re happy to buy from Lowe’s now that Mr. Ellison is CEO, but they might not want to buy from Lowe’s if it put a big “Black-Managed” sign on the front).

[Disclaimer: I went into the Whole Paycheck to return an Amazon purchase (the Army of the Essential picked the wrong item off the shelf), not because I would ordinarily be pretentious enough to shop there. I did buy a watermelon on the way out, which turned out to be terrible. A replacement watermelon from Shaw’s (a regular supermarket for regular people) was vastly superior.]

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Coronavirus kills the vaccinated in the UK, but not in the U.S.

U.S., July 5:

Anthony Fauci on Sunday said more than 99 percent of the people who died from COVID-19 in June were not vaccinated, calling the loss of life “avoidable and preventable.”

“If you look at the number of deaths, about 99.2 percent of them are unvaccinated. About 0.8 percent are vaccinated. No vaccine is perfect. But when you talk about the avoidability of hospitalization and death, Chuck, it’s really sad and tragic that most all of these are avoidable and preventable,” Fauci told host Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

(Mx. Fauci does not merit the “Dr.” title to join Dr. Jill Biden?)

Situation across the pond, July 2 (WSJ):

Data from Public Health England show that there were 117 deaths among 92,000 Delta cases logged through June 21. Fifty of those—46%—had received two shots of vaccine.

So… 46 percent of the deaths from the Delta variant (soon to be the only form of coronavirus that anyone has, at least until the “Delta Delta Delta” variant is available) are among the fully vaccinated in the U.K. The corresponding number in the U.S.? Around 1 percent.

You might say “Of course this makes sense. The U.K. has a higher vaccination rate than the U.S. If 100 percent of people in the U.K. were vaccinated, 100 percent of COVID-19 deaths would be among the vaccinated.” Yet the vaccination rates are not that different….

(Since we just celebrated July 4th, consider that if we hadn’t traitorously rebelled, we would still be part of the U.K. and would therefore be enjoying a far superior COVID-19 prevention strategy (more lockdowns (exceptions for the elite), more vaccines!). We would also have been spared four years of Donald Trump’s maladministration, racism, anti-LGBTQIA+ policies, etc.)

How do we explain the fact that the vaccines work so much better at preventing death in the U.S. compared to in the U.K.? These are more or less the same vaccines that are authorized for emergency use (not “approved”) here. The U.K. has our three plus Oxford/AstraZeneca (NHS).

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Lockdown advocates now object to restrictions on open-water swimming

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has decided to protect residents against the dangers of open-water swimming. “Swimmers Frustrated By New Ban On ‘Open Water Swimming’ At Walden Pond” (from state-sponsored NPR-affiliate WBUR):

The state’s decision to ban open water swimming at Concord’s iconic Walden Pond is eliciting a quick and irate response from swimmers.

The Department of Conservation and Recreation announced Friday that swimming outside of designated areas at Walden would be prohibited “indefinitely.” In a statement, the agency said the decision was made “in order to simplify and standardize education and enforcement” across all state-regulated bodies of water and to “protect public safety.”

The legislation follows a series of drownings in Massachusetts, including a 19-year-old who drowned Thursday swimming off South Boston’s Castle Island.

An open letter to the state purporting to represent “the open water swimming community of greater Boston” had collected more than 400 names before it was converted to an online petition, where it gathered thousands more. The letter claims the Walden ban “infringes on our reasonable right to access the natural assets of our state,” and proposes instead that open water swimmers should be allowed as long as swimmers use safety devices known as swim buoys.

11,058 of the Massachusetts righteous have signed a petition at change.org seeking relief from this latest governor’s order.

What’s interesting about this? The folks whom I know who signed the petition were enthusiastic lockdown advocates. They cheered when Governor Baker closed the schools “to keep kids safe” from a disease that had never killed a child in Maskachusetts (0 deaths among under-20s in MA through August 11, after which the state withheld deaths-by-age data from the public). Now, however, the Lockdown Karens object to Governor Baker using #Science and his newly unlimited powers to deal with a very real danger (Dr. Jill Biden’s colleagues at the CDC say that roughly 4,000 Americans drown annually.)

An October 2008 aerial photo of Walden Pond. The sandy beach at left is where Governor Baker orders you to swim. The area near the railroad tracks on the right (which went quite close to Thoreau’s cabin back in the old days) is where the open water swimmers used to risk death.

On a separate note, and it may be too soon to wonder this, but why are Americans so interested in the Champlain Towers South collapse, in which roughly 140 lives were lost? We are informed that 600,000 Americans were cut down in their prime by COVID-19. These folks, who had their best years ahead of them, went from the tennis court and soccer pitch to a ventilator in the ICU to the morgue. On June 24, 2021, when the Florida condo collapsed, we are informed that 355 young healthy Americans fell to COVID-19. If COVID-19 kills unpredictably and indiscriminately, like a building collapse does, why would we have time and energy to mourn building collapse victims who are so greatly outnumbered, even on the day of the collapse, by COVID-19 victims?

A January 2021 photo of Normandy Isles and North Beach with Surfside just beyond. The collapsed building, from this perspective, is just behind the first tower to the north of the park (green area along the beach).

(For the record, I personally am sad about the victims of the Champlain Towers South collapse partly because I do not believe that COVID-19 has killed hundreds of thousands of healthy Americans who had a lot of great years to look forward to, whereas I do think that the collapse killed healthy people who could have lived enjoyable active lives for years or decades to come.)

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Reinterpreting MLK’s ideas of freedom for the Age of COVID

Today we celebrate our traitorous rebellion from the legitimate rule of Great Britain, carried out in the name of “freedom.” The rebellion enabled us to continue chattel slavery and stealing land from Native Americans west of the Proclamation Line. Let’s consider our current state of “freedom” as we all take a break from cashing our unemployment checks on this holiday of July 4th.

From Martin Luther King, Jr., whose first book was titled Stride Toward Freedom:

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.

All we say to America is, ‘Be true to what you said on paper.’ If I lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges, because they hadn’t committed themselves to that over there. But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. …

MLK, Jr. was one of our greatest thinkers, but even his mind could not stretch to the idea that people in Massachusetts, California, and New York would actually welcome being locked down for more than a year:

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

(When exactly?)

Reasonable people, of course, would point out that healthy young people in these states were denied what had formerly been considered their rights for only 16 months or so. And maybe this coming fall or winter too, depending on what the public health technocrats recommend.

A right delayed is a right denied.

Let’s see how the ideas of our greatest thinker on the subject of freedom have been reinterpreted during the ongoing coronapanic…. some photos from an April 2021 trip to Atlanta and the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park. The “Freedom Hall” was closed “out of an abundance of caution regarding the COVID-19 virus”:

How about the Freedom Walkway? That’s now a “Restricted Area”:

Even before coronapanic, the architect’s original vision for the reflecting pool had been disfigured with plastic barriers, which I was told were essentially permanent fixtures, to keep the public away:

Compare to my photo from the summer of 1994:

What words were important enough to be on MLK, Jr.’s grave?

“Free at last! Free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

At least as of June 16, according to the web site, all of the park buildings remained closed.

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