Here is the short cut to the COVID report for Tuesday.

The light continues to shine at the end of the tunnel. At the moment, the world’s vaccination efforts seem to be outrunning the spread of the virus. Yay, us! (Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the new, faster-spreading strains don’t reverse this trend.)

Here is the “new cases” trend for the last eight days:

USA World
Last Tuesday versus the previous Tuesday -2% -3%
Wednesday versus last Wednesday -9% -6%
Thursday versus last Thursday -16% -9%
Friday versus last Friday -18% -9%
Saturday versus last Saturday -19% -16%
Sunday versus last Sunday -17% -18%
Monday versus last Monday -34% -19%
Tuesday versus last Tuesday -23% -13%


In addition,

  • US COVID hospitalizations declined for the seventh straight day.
  • US COVID patients in ICU declined for the fifth straight day.
  • The number of COVID patients on ventilators declined for the second straight day.
  • The percentage of positive tests in the USA stayed out of the red zone.

402 thoughts on “COVID update

  1. Roger: What JorJor Wells misses is that “chance” is opportunity, not merely unpredictable. What’s at stake in equality of opportunity vs. outcome isn’t only “innate capacity”. Moreover, the 2 kinds of inequality overlap. Yes, everyone benefits from public utilities & stable, free & fair markets. All will so admit. Except for the rich.

    That’s in that inch they won’t give. They lifted themselves up by their own smarts & sweat. Conditions of the civilization around them had nothing to do with it. Must be. Otherwise, it might make some sense to give something back in the form of taxes. They cannot, must not, ever give 1in on that.

    That’s the essence of Ayn Rand libertarianism. Most mainstream libertarians, people who join the party so-named, are more naive. Conservatives weaponize their naivete. They’re their useful idiots.

    There are what I call “reform libertarians” who have somehow acquired a modicum of understanding of how the real world works. I could be said to be one of those.

    I’m a centrist as I keep a notion of how much common good is too far left. World history, even if we limit to recent attempts, tells us that too much of a heavy hand in either taxes or paternalism drowns the baby. Floods the engine. Stifles prosperity. We need freedom & sometimes a helping hand. Both. Life’s complicated. As is human nature. Ideologues haven’t come to grips with that.

    1. MikeP, I would suggest that your definition of chance is not broad enough, because chance can intervene in a person’s life in many way, such as chance meetings. It is often said “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, or who your parent are.

      Why do you call George Orwell “JorJor”? Yes, he is misused by many people, especially on the right, but that is not his fault. His novels are not great, but his essays are.

      Except for those nitpicks, I agree with everything you say, especially your second paragraph and your final paragraph.

      1. You’re aware “George Orwell” was a pen name? I revere no one. Chris Hitchens was a marxist. He was for US intervention, including Iraq. Orwell had his own lens. No one is above reproach.

        Opportunity: a favorable combination of circumstances, time, and place. Seems plenty broad to me. (Also see happenstance, serendipity.)

        Whoever’s narrowminded here, it isn’t me. It’s clear to me that “who you know” & “who your parents are” aren’t the sort of things people I know mean when they talk about happenstance or serendipity. That kind of opportunity isn’t random, it’s systemic. And the only way to figure out that it’s going on is by looking at the statistics of outcomes. There remains no theory known to us that can figure out what’s the best way to write our code from first principles. No high-priced gunslinger who finds all our bugs. We test the hell out of our software. Even then, we can’t get out all the kinks without slow-rollout stages we call Alpha & Beta.

        This is why extremists are always wrong. They don’t see. Because they won’t look.

        1. I did not claim anyone was above reproach, And I know George Orwell was a pen name. What I asked is why you called him JorJor.

          Generally, giving someone a juvenile nickname has a purpose, usually denigration. (See debates featuring Donald Trump for examples.) But I guess it’s just your irrepressible irreverence or sense of humor. It doesn’t really matter.

          Nor should I have encouraged hairsplitting about the meaning of “chance”, I suppose. The definition of such a word in more or less in the eye of the beholder, and arguments about it are not going to reach any conclusion.

          I am a bit baffled by your detour into computer programming (I think that is what coding used to be called). I had no idea it was so subject to anything that could be called chance. But I know next to nothing about it, so that is hardly surprising. It is an interesting application of the idea of chance, to say the least.

          1. Arose by an udder name would smell like itself, not whatever else our name for it may make us think of.

            Freedom absolutists claim among many absurdities that American ideals promise equality of opportunity, not equality of outcomes. I was saying to look at results of policy or political theory is necessary feedback toward improvement. That’s as much as we can & therefore should expect. Reality has to overrule dogma. Just as when facts & scientific theory conflict, facts win. Computers are complicated. Many effects are unforeseen. If we had an effective theoretical approach that’d let us predict all of them, they wouldn’t be unforeseen. When what we have as our theory is less powerful than that, basically the only scientific recourse we have left is to add “random variables”, also called “parameters”, AKA knobs. That gives us unwieldy models which are also unreliable. What remains to us is testing. We try to run new software thru a gauntlet & try to catch the major malfunctions. This is a basic lesson reality teaches us. Ideas don’t stand because they “make sense”. They stand if & only if they actually work.

            You can’t test a political theory without experiments. And yes, looking at “outcomes” & applying statistical techniques will be among our most essential tools. This is nothing more nor less than common sense. Which said ideologues lack in spades.

  2. I chuckled at “Canada’s response has been less than perfect”. The metric in Canada is always to compare ourselves to the U.S. and just try to be better than them, not best in the world, just less mediocre. Our healthcare really isn’t all the great compared to other industrialize nations.

    As an example, it’s really hard to get a decent, competent family doctor, as in one who tries to find underlying causes, then refer you to a specialist, instead for every doctor you get rushed through, prescribed some crap, out in five minutes or less, then given a followup appointment for the same thing next time.

    A lot of this is the fault of the governments, federal and provincial. Because of all the limitations, rules, and regulations, dues, and taxes, it basically isn’t possible to make a living doing competent family medicine in Canada. But there’s no way to fix it, the funding is federal, but the programs are provincial, so it’s like who do you talk to? Sixty seconds in, it’s “that’s not our responsibility, talk to federal (or provincial)”.

    This confusion is intentional, because it ensures the medical profession is not an organized entity. So for example, federally they could cut fees by half across the board for a discipline like chronic pain management, let the provinces administer, then when doctors are weakened by a year or two on “half rations”, take steps to remove all funding. This is for real happening right now in chronic pain management, word is next in line is cardiology.

    What was the medical associations’ responses to defunding chronic pain management? After hemming and hawing a while, they decided to “enter a dialog” with the federal and provincial governments. That’s politics-speak for wasting time. I was seeing this and thinking: FFS, you don’t “dialog”, instead, you influence byelections, get longstanding incumbents out of office, or at least make them promise the right things for their seats. Hit the governments where they notice.

    It’s a long rant, just angry right now that some provinces are looking to cut costs by administering only a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine to the elderly. SMH.

    1. I don’t know that what you say isn’t also correct, but the problem with chronic pain management in Canada is the same as that in the United States (and maybe in other countries): the demonization of opioids based on their illicit status outside of pain management.

      Opioid based pain-killers are now greatly restricted in both Canada and the United States. A specialist can lose their license, face financial penalties or be sued for ‘overprescribing’ prescription pain medication.

      This is more than ironic since this is occurring at the same time assisted death became legal in Canada after those arguing against this for years claiming that better palliative care, including more/better use of pain killers was all that was needed, not assisted death.

      1. Back in 2012, I was rear-ended by a garbage truck while stopped at a red light. It totaled my car and really screwed up my back. The first orthopedist I saw offered me painkillers, but I declined. I was very concerned about getting addicted. But after a year of trying everything short of surgery, I finally started taking Oxycodone. It has been the only thing that worked. I did end up having surgery but it didn’t help. My primary care doctor writes the prescriptions. Fortunately, he doesn’t prescribe opioids for many patients so I don’t think he will be pressured to stop prescribing them for me. I have been taking them for almost 8 years and I have accepted that I will probably be taking them for the rest of my life. What I strive to do is to take as few each day as I can so as to postpone needing to increase my dose due to tolerance.

        A few years ago, I tried medical marijuana as a way to take less Oxycodone. I had made it through high school, college, and law school and never used pot. I didn’t really like the way it made me hungry (gaining weight is not good for my back) but I discovered if I took a “balance” pill (50/50 CBD/THC) 2 hours before bed, I would sleep really well without having to take Oxycodone. In NY State only certain doctors are authorized to certify you for medical marijuana. I had certified via a web cam appointment with a service that just certified people. But went I went to recertify a year later, I was told I never should have been approved because of the opioid. If you take an opioid you can only be certified by a doctor providing ongoing treatment. But my doctor isn’t authorized to certify and because the organization he works for receives federal funding, technically he isn’t even allowed to talk to me about medical marijuana. So I could take less of an opioid if I was allowed to use medical marijuana, but that’s not allowed. But because pain I tolerate during the day can keep me up at night I often end up taking more at night than I do during the day. At least I save money. The Oxycodone copay is less than $5, but the balance pills are 30 for $120. It’s almost enough to make a guy want to legalize marijuana completely. Forget the almost. Honestly, if I were Biden I would call on Congress to repeal the laws making marijuana illegal and leave it up to the states. If Congress refused I would threaten to start enforcing the laws in the states that had legalized it. That would probably get enough recalcitrant Republicans to go along.

        1. It’s miserable that you have chronic pain, Michael McChesney. I’m glad there is something that helps. We agree about marijuana; I send a little money to the Drug Police Alliance every month or so.

        2. Sorry to hear of your troubles. Was wondering if you had ever tried kratom? It is legal in most places in the U.S. don’t know about elsewhere. But it can be effective for pain and energy but people tout it as a miracle drug with no downsides and that is simply not true. It is also physically and mentally addictive…but if you have already accepted you will be on opiates the rest of your life…it could be helpful to alternate between the two help prevent a tolerance increase. Best of luck.

          1. I had never heard of it but I googled it. The 2 things that concern me about are is the psychotropic effects and how difficult it might be to find a reliable supplier. But I will raise it with my doctor the next time I see him. Thank you for the suggestion.

  3. Potentially bad news…

    Reuters
    Scientists are not fully confident that COVID-19 vaccines will work on a new variant of the coronavirus found in South Africa, ITV’s political editor said on Monday, citing an unidentified scientific adviser to the British government.

    1. I will paste URLs & suffer the human intervention.

      Some facts here: gisaid.org

      You can click thru In Focus slideshow (see dots at bottom).

      2 in particular:
      http://gisaid.org/references/gisaid-in-the-news/comment-on-recent-spike-protein-changes
      http://gisaid.org/references/gisaid-in-the-news/uk-reports-new-variant-termed-vui-20201201

      These comments pre-date variants from Brazil & now US. None of these mutations increase severity. Probably because severity is connected to vigorous immune response more than underlying virus replication. These are all spike (S) protein mutations. It’s established the UK one apparently doesn’t affect vaccine efficacy.

      There are 2 preprints on medRxiv reporting anecdotally (negligible case count) on convalescent plasma from covid survivors. SA variant resists those antibodies. Brazil & US new variants are more similar to SA than UK. Our miracle 95% effective mRNA vaccines are toast.

      Not that they’re useless. But they’ll simply hasten transition to prevalence of more infectious cousins. It’s just what happens when we just let a virus run wild. That’s why we’re supposed to take massive steps early to nip the epidemic in the bud. Not just pols, but elites, doctors & scientists alike, let the perfect stand in the way of stopping the spread.

      We don’t have N-protein tests that can be done conveniently in the home, cheap enough for asymptomatic citizens to check daily. We’re living in a capitalist purgatory where the private sector won’t develop such things because our elites already signaled they’re unwanted. There’s no funding for masspro.

      If you never heard of PittCoVacc, it would’ve been cheap to make, easy to masspro & it’s a patch, not a shot, no vials, no freezer, no need for syringe training. Our vaunted Warp Speed notwithstanding, only the shiny hi-tech of mRNA got greenlit. Competitors were snuffed out. Slow walked by FDA simply never approving trials.

      Ordinary people, ie lowlifes, can’t be relied on to do the tests right. They can’t be trusted to report themselves. I say, it takes a certain mentality–to begin with, belief–to bother with home testing. If I’m +, I’ll quarantine. The test tells me I’m infectious–right now. A negative definitely tells me I’m not infectious today. There are false positives. I stay home & take the test again tomorrow. If you won’t go all-out to stop an epidemic cuz you’re so high&mighty you can’t trust me just that far–you’re going to hell. FUCK YOU.

  4. As coronavirus death toll surpasses 350,000, Trump calls U.S. count ‘far exaggerated.’

    Hell of a leader you got there….

    1. It’s difficult to see how he can reach such a conclusion. The number of excess deaths in 2020 was MORE than the number officially attributed to COVID, so if anything the coronavirus number is probably an undercount. (And we know of a couple of states that got caught hiding coronavirus fatalities back around early summer.)

      Of course the excess deaths could be indirectly caused by COVID disruptions to the medical care chain.

      Or they could be unrelated.

      In no case does it appear that the corona numbers are exaggerated.

      1. It goes without saying that the things Trump says are not based on fact or reason, but are what he wants to be true and what he wants other people to think are true. I said it anyway, though, because I enjoy saying it, pretty much like Tanner enjoys reminding us how awful Trump is. As if we didn’t know.

  5. We have hospitals turning people away, meanwhile Trump is going on his greatest hits tour once again. You know, blackmail, sedition, the usual. I was ready to move on and get this era of total hell out of mind, but fuck it, I hope the piece of shit gets thrown into federal prison. Two weeks left and the orange fucktard is still committing crimes. I’m assuming he’ll attempt a self pardon, but fuck it up somehow.

    1. It’s on tape…. ‘I just want to find 11,780 votes’: In extraordinary hour-long call, Trump pressures Georgia secretary of state to recalculate the vote in his favor. Face it…you live in Bananistan.

      1. There’s no spinning the intent of the audio either. Listening to it does it justice, he sounds a D-tier wanna be mob boss. After being mostly able to be ignored since November, I guess the POS just needs to give everyone one last reminded of how terrible him and his cult are.

        Apparently, he can be impeached once out of office to be prevented from running ever again. I’m not sure the point of going through all of that if there’s not the votes, but maybe the Republicans will want to purge him from their party to end it all and help their own potential 2024 prospects …

        Nah he’ll still hang over them like the spineless cowards they are.

  6. “Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.”

  7. Meanwhile, the GOP House is less than concerned about the pandemic. Apparently 140 members that are going to challenge the electoral votes – not that it matters – but it shows what a fucked up system we live in.

    It’s not a democracy, because as it turns out, you can just overturn the Presidential results if you own the House and Senate apparently. Which is what would have happened had the Democrats had not taken the house two years ago.

    The country is indefinitely fucked because of the brainwashed waste of life cult that exists here.

  8. “Wisconsin health-care worker ‘intentionally’ ruined more than 500 coronavirus vaccine doses, hospital says.” Home of the crazies?

    1. The guy who did it (he confessed) is a 46 year old pharmacist. A pharmacist, for pete’s sake.

      Grafton is a somewhat upper crust exurb of Milwaukee. Lots of people who have been Republican for generations. Maybe he only listened to the “right” news, or maybe he’s a nut. He must have figured he was saving peoples’ lives. Or maybe their IMMORTAL SOULS. Who knows? He believes lies, and he may have killed people. That’s where 40 years of Fox News and their ilk have gotten us.

  9. Don’t worry, the minuscule amount given to keep people afloat will make up for 340,000 dead. If there’s a Hell, Mitch McConnell and everyone who supports him will have a VIP seat there. And I don’t expect the brain dead rural morons in Georgia will be the ones to give anyone a fighting chance to turn this around.

    1. Sure, the BDRMs (or “bedrooms” as they like to be called) are a factor. But if they were able to swing to Biden, there’s hope. C’mon black folks! Get out there, vote, & knock Mitch’s block off!

  10. Texas posted a record 26,990 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, shattering the previous all-time high established less than a week ago.

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