Disability advocates: Don’t drop COVID-19 safety measures

With the lethal threat of COVID-19 on the decline, many colleges are relaxing policies to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Disability advocates fear that high-risk individuals will suffer. “Universities aren’t necessarily listening to disabled students,” said Eiryn Griest Schwartzman, who co-founded COVID Safe Campus, an advocacy organization for students and employees with disabilities. “That push to return to normal has persisted. It gets demoralizing, and it gets harder to…

Perspective | Whoops of selfish delight

The whoops echoed through airplanes as flight attendants and pilots announced midair that a judge in Florida had tossed out the federal mask mandate that has been in effect since January 2021. On a Southwest flight from Nashville to Charlotte, passengers hooted and hollered and twirled their freshly ditched masks in the air with giddy delight. They reveled in the knowledge that while they might be required to buckle their…

Mask-wearing cuts Covid incidence by 53%, says global study

Globally, Covid cases exceeded 250 million this month. The virus is still infecting 50 million people worldwide every 90 days due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, with thousands dying each day. Now a systematic review and meta analysis of non-pharmaceutical interventions has found for the first time that mask wearing, social distancing and handwashing are all effective measures at curbing cases – with mask wearing the most effective.  —Guardian

The battle against airborne COVID has shifted. Why your mask is the last layer of defence

There has been a paradigm shift in the thinking behind mask use, to the current emphasis on protecting oneself as opposed to the initial consideration of keeping others safe from what we might be exhaling, said Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist at the University of Toronto. “The game has changed,” he said. “We’re not masking to protect others from our own droplets now, we’re masking to protect ourselves from…

Axios journalism style delivers traditional news content in scannable format

In addition to the fact that it’s good news that a federal judge is responding rationally to science, logic, and our basic human obligation to care for the most vulnerable members of our society, I’m also interested in the way Axios labels each paragraph of this news story and supplies details with bullet points. It’s an interesting blend of journalism and writing scannable text for busy online readers. Copying and…

Election ‘distracted’ Trump team from pandemic response, Birx tells Congress

More than 130,000 American lives could have been saved with swifter action and better coordinated public health messages after the virus’ first wave, Birx told lawmakers. “I believe if we had fully implemented the mask mandates, the reduction in indoor dining, the getting friends and family to understand the risk of gathering in private homes, and we had increased testing, that we probably could have decreased fatalities into the 30-percent…

See How Vaccines Can Make the Difference in Delta Variant’s Impact

Here’s a great NYT “interactive” story that points out, if there’s an outbreak of the virus in a community where most of the people are vaccinated, most of the people who catch the disease will be vaccinated, simply because most of the people have been vaccinated. (I remind my students that if there are more shark attacks on hot days, it’s not the heat that causes the sharks to attack;…

The YouTubers who blew the whistle on an anti-vax plot

While rational minds worry about the impact of biased cable TV channels, and as the Delta mutation spreads globally, a mysterious marketing agency is offering to pay social media influencers to post anti-vax disinformation. Mirko normally ignores offers from brands asking him to advertise their products to his more than 1.5 million subscribers. But the sponsorship offer he received in May this year was unlike any other. An influencer marketing…

‘I’m sorry, but it’s too late’: Alabama doctor tells unvaccinated, dying COVID patients

Donald Trump is vaccinated. Mitch McConnell is vaccinated. Fox personalities Hannity and Doocy and FOX owner Rupert Murdock are all vaccinated. “They cry. And they tell me they didn’t know. They thought it was a hoax. They thought it was political. They thought because they had a certain blood type or a certain skin color they wouldn’t get as sick. They thought it was ‘just the flu’. But they were…

Vaccine hesitancy morphs into hostility, as opposition to shots hardens

What began as “vaccine hesitancy” has morphed into outright vaccine hostility, as conservatives increasingly attack the White House’s coronavirus message, mischaracterize its vaccination campaign and, more and more, vow to skip the shots altogether. The notion that the vaccine drive is pointless or harmful — or perhaps even a government plot — is increasingly an article of faith among supporters of former president Donald Trump, on a par with assertions…

Take a moment to appreciate these good COVID-19 statistics

May 1, my state had the third-highest per-capita C-19 infection rate. A little over a month later, Pennsylvania now has the fifth-lowest rate. I am privileged that I have access to good healthcare and that my income hasn’t been affected by the lockdown, and that my school has taken the initiative to require this fall’s students to show evidence of vaccination (or to apply for accommodations). The pandemic is not…

Seton Hill discontinues mask requirement for vaccinated individuals

The pandemic is not over. It’s a blessing to live in a country with the resources to acquire and distribute vaccines, and a privilege to work for an employer that respects science and cares for the public good. The email arrived while I was at home relaxing with the family. Seton Hill is no longer requiring masks for vaccinated adults, and students will be asked to show proof of vaccination…

Fact check: You can safely ignore that “HOW TO FIGHT COVID AT HOME” meme

I noticed this meme a few days ago. I recognized the “friend of a friend who has insider knowledge” formula that makes people want to share a memes. I know better than to trust anonymous online sources that claim to have special knowledge, so I just re-read what the CDC says and moved on. Here are links to what the CDC says: Symptoms of coronavirus How to protect yourself How…

Swiss cheese metaphor for fighting the pandemic: “Multiple Layers Improve Success”

The anti-maskers are right when they say masks aren’t 100% effective. The pro-face-touchers are right when they say not touching your face isn’t enough. The bar-hoppers and close-talkers and eaters-in-crowded-diners are right when they say social distancing alone won’t stop the spread of a pandemic. The “98.2% survival rate” crowd is right that most people who get COVID-19 don’t die. But the more steps each of us takes (staying home;…

I’m glad President Trump was right about the coronavirus vaccine

In May, NBC published a “Fact Check” challenging President Trump’s prediction that there would be a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year.   NBC was factually reporting the answers they got when they asked experts. Those experts didn’t say there would be no vaccine, they said it would be extremely unlikely. The fact that an unlikely thing happened is not evidence of a media conspiracy against the 45th…

We Had the Vaccine the Whole Time

You may be surprised to learn that of the trio of long-awaited coronavirus vaccines, the most promising, Moderna’s mRNA-1273, which reported a 94.5 percent efficacy rate on November 16, had been designed by January 13. This was just two days after the genetic sequence had been made public in an act of scientific and humanitarian generosity that resulted in China’s Yong-Zhen Zhang’s being temporarily forced out of his lab. In Massachusetts,…