Is the pandemic over? OVER over?

another booster?

Mark Evanier wrote a post two weeks ago, his Question of the Day. Here it is in its entirety. “Was President Biden right to say The Pandemic is over? Well, it depends.”

The link is to a FactCheck.org article describing the debate. The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah, though, hit the nail on the head. Once some people have had COVID, they’re thinking that COVID is over for them and everyone.

From WebMD: “Biden’s comment has split experts in medicine and public health. Some adamantly disagree that the pandemic is over, pointing out that COVID-19 remains a public health emergency in the United States, the World Health Organization still considers it a global pandemic, and most significantly, the virus is still killing over 400 people a day in the U.S.

“Others point out that most of the country is protected by vaccination, infection, or a combination, at least for now. They say the time is right to declare the pandemic’s end and recognize what much of society has already decided.” Mass transit has dropped mask mandates in New York State and elsewhere.

Local spike?

Non-medical places that still require mask wearing are making people grumpy, I’ve noticed. Albany County and adjacent Rensselaer County have remained stubbornly in the yellow (medium) zone for the past six months, even as nearby counties fluctuate.

Then this past week, they bumped up to the red zone, even though the hospitalizations have remained steady.  A statistician friend of mine wondered if the CDC got the numbers wrong.

Instead, “in recent months, New York health officials and those in other states have started using cases per 100,000 residents, and not the more traditional percentage of positive results of those who have been tested, as a more accurate way of measuring infection rates.”

This may explain how nine of the 55 counties north of New York City are in red, but only 109 of more than 3000 counties in the country. 

A fifth shot?

The CDC recommends that “getting a COVID-19 vaccine after you recover from COVID-19 infection provides added protection against COVID-19.” However, I saw my primary care physician for my annual checkup in late September. They believe that I won’t need an Omicron-specific booster because having had the disease, probably BA.4 or BA.5, has given me sufficient immunity. I’m feeling conflicted, but I’m not even eligible until December, so I’ll ponder it further.

Meanwhile, my baby sister got COVID in the latter part of September, even though she was fully vaxxed and boosted. She’s a thousand miles away, so she didn’t get it from me.

There are people, particularly those with long COVID, for which the disease is clearly NOT over. Some desperate patients are turning to unproven alternative therapies.

The Census Bureau notes that 2.9% of adults ages 55-70 employed in January 2020 said they retired early or planned to retire early due to the pandemic, while 2.3% said they either delayed or planned to delay retirement for the same reason.

Not incidentally, my doctor’s office DID give me a flu shot. All indications from the Southern Hemisphere are that it will be a nasty season. I’ve been getting this shot annually for about a decade and a half after having influenza, which kept me out of work for a week.

September rambling: perfect Yiddish word

Rebecca Jade interview, Middle Earth debate

Rebecca Jade.Dallas
Rebecca Jade.Dallas

An Ode to Oy — the Perfect Yiddish Word

And speaking of which: Rings of Power Cast Slams Racist Threats Against Performers: “Middle-Earth Is Not All White.” This hurts my head. Someone wrote, and I’ve misplaced the attribution, I’m afraid: “When did we stop being able to just sit down and enjoy something that’s been created? Just take all shows and movies as fan fiction of any book that they take it from and enjoy the creators’ stories.”

Sah Quah: More than twenty years after the American Civil War, an enslaved Alaskan walked into a Sitka courtroom and sued for his freedom

The Church Left on the Curb:  A chance trash-day encounter reveals a 170-year institutional history

Bernard Shaw, CNN’s First Chief News Anchor, Dies at 82

Anne Garrels, the longtime foreign correspondent for NPR, dies at 71

Culcha

In Memorium Video from this year’s Emmys and going about a decade back

Jazz Pianist & NEA Jazz Master Ramsey Lewis Dies at His Chicago Home, September 12, at the age of 87

“Weird Al” Yankovic on the Long, Hard Road to Bring His Mock Biopic to the Big Screen

Ken Levine ends his blog, but his podcast will continue

At 100, Norman Lear Looks Back (And Ahead)

Whiz! Bang! Boom! Energetic Ads Hold Viewers’ Attention

Real Money, Fake Musicians: Inside a Million-Dollar Instagram Verification Scheme

Quentin Tarantino, Miramax Settle ‘Pulp Fiction’ NFT Legal Battle

Flin Flon: One Book’s Unlikely Survival

Has a computer ever passed the Turing test?

The Twisted Life of Clippy, Microsoft’s annoying paperclip. Its developers never imagined the virtual assistant would become a cultural icon.

Some good advice from John Green

Of Elbows and Tables

Best State Capitals to Live In – 2022 Edition. Albany, NY, is #9.

The Small Town In New York With More Historic Buildings Than Any Other

Can Something Be “Very Unique”? Modifying Absolute Adjectives

Now I Know: What About Bob (dot com)? and The Wisdom of Crowds of Sports Fans? and  The Almost-War Over a Bear’s Missing Privates

Polly ticks

President and Mrs. Obama Become a Part of White House History with Reveal of Official Portraits, and Barack Obama just won the Emmy

How deranged anti-Obama conspiracy theories led America to Donald Trump

Fascist is a description, not an insult, and  “Semi-Fascism”: The Shoe Fits

Judge Cannon’s Incredibly Flawed Trump Special Master Ruling

The faulty premise of the ‘2,000 mules’ trailer about voting by mail in the 2020 election

How Many Of ‘Her Emails’ Were Classified? Actually, Zero

Thomas, Barrett will further delegitimize SCOTUS when they fail to recuse on key cases

The Battle for Voters’ Imaginations over Abortion. Pete Buttigieg was correct.

When We Rose to Fight COVID, We Were Deliberately Turned Against Each Other

The Return of the Bitter Politics of Envy

UN Report Highlights Ongoing Racism in the US

Nebraska HS newspaper and journalism program shut down over student-written commentary on LGBTQ+ issues. The shutdown of the prize-winning student newspaper after 54 years occurred because an edition in June contained student-written commentary on LGBTQ+ issues, the origins of Pride Month, and the history of homophobia, material members of the local school board considered inappropriate.

Demographics

U.S. life expectancy drops sharply, the second consecutive decline

Most and Least Ethnically Diverse Cities in the U.S.

Demographic divide – the key differences in media and entertainment that continue to evolve between younger and older Americans.

New Data Reveal Inequality in Retirement Account Ownership

When and How Often People Marry Changes by Birth Cohort

MUSIC

Behind the Beats article about Rebecca Jade by the Smooth Jazz Network!

The In Crowd – the Ramsey Lewis Trio

The Comedians – Dmitry Kabalevsky. The second section, The Galop, is EXTREMELY familiar to me.

Wade In The Water – Ramsey Lewis

Jonchaies by Iannis Xenakis

Coverville 1412: The Clash Cover Story III and 1413: The Squeeze Cover Story III

Conductor Seiji Ozawa leads the Vienna Philharmonic in Strauss’s overture to Die Fledermaus

Hang On Sloopy – Ramsey Lewis Trio. I still have the Hang On Ramsey album on vinyl

If You Could Read My Mind – Gordon Lightfoot 

The family that COVIDs together…

Also, four hours in the hospital

What IS that old saying? “The family that COVIDS together…” I’m not remembering the rest of it.

As noted, my daughter developed COVID c. Wednesday, August 24, just as we were about to head off to college.

Friday, August 26, we were all going to get more substantial COVID tests at the urgent care place. But my wife opted out, deciding she had no symptoms. I chose to get one because I had a bit of a sore throat. Truth is, I often have a bit of irritation from allergies or whatever. My daughter was still positive, but I was negative.

My doc asked a bunch of questions, such as if I had chest pain. I had more pain in my right shoulder than in my chest, but she ordered an EKG. She discovered a variation from what she was expecting. Now, I was born with heart arrhythmia. My primary care physician calls it a regular irregularity.

A change in plans

The urgent care doc suggested that I go to an emergency room to get further tests. I called my wife to pick me up – taking the bus after I’d taken a COVID test didn’t seem sage – and got some lunch. Then she drove me to Memorial Hospital because it would likely be less crowded than Albany Med or St. Peter’s.

Everyone was very nice, a couple of doctors, a physician’s assistant, and the nurse. The nurse was great, actually, and I was distressed to discover that one of her other patients had tried to assault her while I was there. The hospital ran a bunch of tests and found me A-OK. My calcium was low, and some other minor things were discovered.

By Monday, August 29, I was feeling achy, and I was coughing, sometimes uncontrollably. More rapid tests. I was positive for COVID, and my wife was likewise, even though we were fully vaxxed and doubly boosted.

I can say that I have felt worse, such as when I had the flu a dozen or more years ago. But it is difficult to focus on much of anything. (This blog post of 420 words I had to do in two shifts.) I feel addled. I bollocked my Wordle on Tuesday – I got it in six – because I couldn’t focus. The word, coincidentally, was ONSET, some cosmic joke. My wife, from her activity level, seems to be feeling better than I am.

My daughter won’t get to college until Sunday, three days after classes begin. Whatcha gonna do?

Lydster: Collegium interrupit

so much for orientation

Collegium interrupit.COVIDMy Latin may be imprecise, but the household has experienced collegium interrupit. The villain of the piece is COVID.

The plan was for the family to drive from Albany, NY, to western Massachusetts and stay at a hotel on Wednesday night. Then on Thursday morning, we would go the five or ten miles to the campus to be there by 9 a.m. A coterie of students would take my daughter’s belongings to her dorm room.

There would be an orientation for her on the first few days and, separately, for her parents as well. The parents would leave the area on Friday, and the college experience would begin.

Instead

On Tuesday, my daughter spent hours sitting on our front porch hanging out with two of her best friends before they too headed for college. They finished off the pizza and ice cream.

Wednesday, my daughter loaded the car on her own. We were 15 minutes from leaving when she got a call from one of her friends saying that the friend tested positive for COVID. Then she tested herself twice, and she likewise was infected.

She was largely asymptomatic initially, with a stuffy head that could have been brought on by her cleaning her room. Soon, though, she developed chills and a fever. BTW, she has had three COVID shots, proving this latest variant is inscrutable.

The college dean wrote that my daughter should complete the quarantine process at home. “We will notify residence life, health services, and any other staff who need to know that she will be coming to campus later. They will maintain confidentiality and will only let specific individuals know so they can relay information about [the late arrival]. A staff member from health and counseling services will be in touch, and we will have someone in Residence Life make contact through email with specific instructions for move-in.”

Quarantine for three

Meanwhile, the health services at the college recommended that both my wife and I should stay home for five days as well. We will, except when we go to the urgent care place for a more precise COVID test; they don’t let you in the building until it’s time for the test. If our daughter has negative tests on Monday AND Tuesday, then we can take her to school. But if either is positive, we have to wait ANOTHER five days, by which time classes will have started.

BTW, per the instructions from the Albany County Health Department, we reported the positive findings to them.

ARRRGH!

Still COVID-free, knock wood

reinfections

Several people I know IRL have gotten COVID in recent weeks. They are mostly the cautious, mask-wearing, vaccine-taking types. Also, Biden, Harris, and Fauci got it.

I’m still COVID-free, knock wood.

We have been going to the theater. All venues still require masks, and some, vax cards, and I am pleased. CDTA buses still require masks and have dispensers for those without, but about 30% of the riders are either maskless or wearing them on their chins. Frankly, I have run out of mojo to give them the evil eye.

A headline in the Los Angeles Times last week read: “‘I’m over it.’ Many in L.A. shrug off COVID-19 wave despite super-infectious subvariants.” I’m not sure I’d go anywhere in California. Look at the map from last week.

For instance, I’d be terrified to go to ComicCon in San Diego, even though participants are getting their vax status confirmed. Mark Evanier went to the first 50 of these notes and says he “can’t explain my assorted feelings about going this time. I know I’m happy that Comic-Con exists again as I’ve always had a good time at them. I’m just hoping everyone rises to the occasion and respects everyone else’s concerns about too much close contact. Comic-Con has never been the place you go to get away from crowds. Quite the opposite.”

Reversal

Something that fillyjonk said I totally understand. “One thing I think the pandemic has done to my mental health that’s a bad thing is, I’ve gotten in this mindset where ‘what is now, will be forever.’ So if things are bad, if I’m anxious, if I hurt – that’s forever now.  ‘This is where I live now, I guess.'” I guess I was hoping for “THAT’S IT; COVID is gone.”

An article in the Boston Globe was scary. ‘Oh my god, not again’: COVID variant making reinfections more common. “Officials reassured people that if they get a booster now, they will still be able to get the updated booster that’s expected to be available in the fall.” But I got my second booster in April, so now what?

The CDC says “potentially more infections to come before that fall booster is available, which is why we really want to make sure people have as much protection as they can right now.”

I AM comforted somewhat by the fact that most of upstate New York is green or yellow, even as NYC, the three counties to its north, and Long Island are red. This is a reversal from three months ago when upstate was redder, and downstate was greener.

Still, I’ll be happy when I get my BA.4/BA.5 specific shot.

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