The US has now passed 11 million cases — a million in a week. Daily infections are now routinely over 100,000.
The excitement around Moderna’s apparent vaccine success — it may be easier to administer than Pfizer’s and has a 94.5% effectiveness rate, according to the company — is offset by the qualification that it hasn’t quite been approved yet and most Americans still won’t be getting a dose for months after it is.
Meanwhile, US infections have eclipsed their springtime highs. Some 70,000 Americans are hospitalized. While there have been undeniable gains in treating Covid, the sheer number of infections means more and more people will die.
Jodi Doering is a South Dakota nurse who tweets in exasperation about Covid-denying Covid patients refusing to believe they have a virus that President Donald Trump says is fading away.
It is the opposite of fading away.
“I think the hardest thing to watch is that people are still looking for something else and they want a magic answer and they don’t want to believe that Covid is real,” said Doering, appearing on CNN’s “New Day” on Monday. “And the reason I tweeted what I did is that it wasn’t one particular patient, it’s just a culmination of so many people. And their last dying words are, this can’t be happening. It’s not real. And when they should be spending time FaceTiming their families, they’re filled with anger and hatred, and it just made me really sad the other night and I just can’t believe those are going to be their last thoughts and words.”
The Dakota situation. The Dakotas are ground zero for Covid in the US in terms of infections. While both states have fewer than 100,000 infections each, their small populations mean it has still penetrated deep into their communities. North Dakota is approaching 9,000 infections per 100,000 people. South Dakota is approaching 7,500 infections per 100,000 people. No other state is above 6,000.
Mask Dakota, anti-mask Dakota. North Dakota Republican Gov. Doug Burgum issued a new mask mandate Friday at 10 p.m. South Dakota, where Gov. Kristi Noem has proudly talked about her residents’ freedom, has not.
In fact, she issued a statement Friday that gave the complete opposite message.
“It’s a good day for freedom,” her office said in a statement. Neither Joe Biden nor Noem has authority to issue a mask mandate for South Dakotans, according to Noem. So, her office bragged, “she has provided her citizens with the full scope of the science and trusted them to make the best decisions for themselves and their loved-ones.”
Live free and people die. Noem’s protection of people’s freedom to infect other people is in line with Scott Atlas, the controversial figure on the Covid task force who on Sunday told Michiganders to “rise up” against restrictions.
We used to ask soldiers on the field of battle to die for American freedom. Now it’s apparently the old and people with underlying conditions.
Laissez-faire vs. human nature. Supporters call it the hands-off or light-touch approach. The problem is it assumes your friends, neighbors and everyone else in your community does their part.
Now read this report from Maine’s CDC about a super-spreader wedding in August that resulted in more than 100 infections and multiple deaths. The wedding infection infected a nursing home. It infected a jail. People were out in the community, going to the gym while they were displaying symptoms.
If you apply the light-touch public policy to the human nature displayed in Maine, the suggestion is we all have to be Boo Radleys as opposed to wearing masks and gently opening up. The human nature element of spreading Covid is what has doctors so freaked out about Thanksgiving.
Numerically, the sparsely populated Dakotas have far fewer infections than other states, like Texas, which has also dealt with a surge, but which does require masks. As a portion of their populations, there are many more infections in the Dakotas.
Related: The report that they’ve drafted inmates to work in the El Paso mobile morgues is surreal. And so are these pictures of thousands of cars lined up for food banks.
Mixed messages from voters on masks. The election both made a mask-mandate supporter president and validated Republican governors and state legislators who have made opposing masks one of their main messages.
The Washington Post published a fascinating story about how well Covid denial did down ballot even in states Biden won, like Wisconsin, and in states where he didn’t even come close, like Iowa and Montana.
What’s your responsibility? We’ve been having this debate about health care and responsibility for a long time in this country. It’s hard to separate the backlash to the Affordable Care Act in 2009 from the backlash to Covid restrictions in 2020.
And recall the Supreme Court is yet again looking at that requirement for Americans to buy health insurance. But there is a level of remove between someone who refuses to buy or can’t afford health insurance and so is a drain on the public when they get sick and the people who don’t wear masks or go out in public with symptoms and so are infecting people who will die of Covid.