The full COVID update for Tuesday is here.

In the USA, cases are up 61% in the past two weeks, and there are now more states in the “new cases” red zone than out, 29 to 21. And the official numbers are probably low because more and more people are testing at home rather than heading out to a lab or clinic. Positive home tests have a way of staying out of the official stats.

The official testing percentages are creeping steadily upward. No states have re-entered the red zone yet, but a handful are getting close.

There is also some good news. COVID total hospitalizations and ICU cases remain steady, and fatalities are still declining. Only five states are in the fatality red zone.

Only one state (Kentucky) is in the red zone for both new cases and fatalities.

By far the strangest story out of Ukraine so far is this: “Louis CK to Perform in Ukraine Amid Russian Invasion

Good luck with that, Louis. Yakov Smirnoff covered this situation already, with the quote in the headline, and this one: “In America, you assassinate president. In Russia, president assassinate you!”

“Griffin allegedly paid more than $3,000 to the woman to fly her and the 9-year-old girl to Boston in July, where prosecutors say he picked them up from the airport and brought them to the ski house ‘where the child was directed to engage in and did engage in illegal sexual activity,’ the indictment said.”

I hope they also brought charges against the mother who orchestrated this encounter.

The incident happened last Thursday at the Welcome to Rockville festival in Daytona Beach. She was performing as the lead singer for Brass Against, a group that performs brass + sax versions of heavy metal songs. Yeah, that’s right: trombones, trumpets, even a sousaphone. To get the idea, imagine Black Sabbath played by a high school marching band.

Many people have called Sophia’s act disgusting, but I just see it as a continuation of a venerable musical tradition. I can remember when Steve and Edie would both piss on the same audience member as their grand finale, and who can forget when Tony Bennett stood on stage and left more than his heart in San Francisco. And of course, in their Vegas days, Sinatra frequently took a shit on Joey Bishop on the main stage at Caesar’s Palace.

Here’s a non-disgusting screen grab of her after the pee, before pulling her pants up.

image host

“Proponents also say rewilding the Arctic with lab-grown woolly mammoths could slow global warming by slowing the melting of the permafrost, where methane is currently trapped.”

And the proponents absolutely promise that nothing could possibly go wrong with this idea.

I wrote on September 12, 2001

There’s nothing for us to say about the events. You’ve seen it on TV, and you realize how people are reacting. If the professional wordsmiths and mouthpieces can’t find the words, neither will we. There are no precedents to help comprehend the events, nor words to summarize the grief and shock. It doesn’t seem real now. Perhaps it never will.

As any history professor will tell you, people don’t much care for the minutiae of dates. Yesterday morning, most Americans could identify only three by heart.

Now there will be four.

July 4, 1776

December 7, 1941

November 22, 1963

September 11, 2001

“More and more Mississippians are using a horse de-wormer medication as an at-home treatment for COVID-19, and it’s causing a spike in calls to poison control.”

Mind you, this poisoning is sending more people toward the hospitals that are already at capacity in that state!

Yeah, they’re afraid of the vaccine, but they’re totally OK with filling their bodies with horse de-wormer, so they just pop down to the feed store and pick some up. Talk about thinning the herd!

I also read somewhere that Trump is now saying he was right about hydroxychloroquine, even though there are now controlled clinical trials showing that the drug not only failed to improve patient care, but actually made matters slightly worse! (One cannot fairly say that it hurt because the slightly worse rates of death, intubation and hospitalization were not statistically significant. A fair conclusion is that it did not help.)



1. This horse dewormer business started before the vaccines were available. See this report from Nevada. “Feed stores are having trouble keeping the medication in stock.”

2. There is some vague logic to the use of this dewormer (ivermectin). Ivermectin has been tested to inhibit the spread of the virus in vitro, but at a dosage many times that prescribed for humans for parasitic infections. Some studies show that ivermectin may also be effective in vivo, and there is a chance that it may someday be approved for treating viral diseases, although the evidence is still insufficient. Researchers have predicted a low likelihood of success against COVID at the current prescribed level for humans, but some evidence at least suggests that higher doses might have some value. But the effective dose may be so large that it might produce dangerous side effects.

The NIH says:

“Pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies suggest that achieving the plasma concentrations necessary for the antiviral efficacy detected in vitro would require administration of doses up to 100-fold higher than those approved for use in humans”

Trials are still needed to test both the safety and efficacy of various doses. It should go without saying that you should not be stocking up on it from your feed store and taking a horse-strength dosage on your own authority.

Their methodology is quite complex, and takes into account the excess death rate and several modifying factors.

In terms of accurate reporting, the USA actually looks better than many other countries. While the analysts estimate that American deaths are probably about 1.5 times as many as the officially reported total, the excess death rates elsewhere during the COVID era indicate that many countries are underreported by vast multiples. For example, Russia has reported 109,000 fatalities, but the analysts estimate that the actual total is 591,000; Mexico has reported 217,000 fatalities, but the analysts estimate that the correct total is 653,000.

Here is the short cut to the full COVID report for Friday.

Well, it seems that the “fourth wave” has begun. Versus the same day of last week, US new cases were up 21%, US hospital admissions for COVID were up 9%, global new cases were up 20% and global fatalities were up 26%.

India again shattered its previous record for the most new cases in a single day.

Michigan continued to top every state and every country in the rate of new cases per capita.

For these medical professionals, it is difficult to hold back tears:

“From a nurse in South Dakota who spoke on CNN today, the brainwashed are literally dying and fighting with the nurse that it’s a hoax and must be something else:”

“I have a night off from the hospital. As I’m on my couch with my dog I can’t help but think of the Covid patients the last few days. The ones that stick out are those who still don’t believe the virus is real. The ones who scream at you for a magic medicine and that Joe Biden is going to ruin the USA. All while gasping for breath on 100% Vapotherm.

They tell you there must be another reason they are sick. They call you names and ask why you have to wear all that “stuff” because they don’t have COViD because it’s not real. Yes. This really happens. And I can’t stop thinking about it. These people really think this isn’t going to happen to them. And then they stop yelling at you when they get intubated. It’s like a fucking horror movie that never ends. There’s no credits that roll. You just go back and do it all over again.”

Only the best people.

Scott Atlas is a radiologist. He has no training in virology, epidemiology, public health management, statistical analysis, or any other field that would be relevant to the COVID crisis. It appears that he knows far less about viral diseases than laymen who have been cramming on the subject. You would be better off listening to a witch doctor. They always wear masks. And at least garlic poultices and incantations can’t do any harm. It is also believed that Atlas is nudging President Trump in the reckless direction of using a herd immunity strategy with no vaccine on the horizon.

As the director of the CDC pointed out bluntly, “Everything he (Scott Atlas) says is false.”

To repeat the math on herd immunity: scientists estimate that successful herd immunity would require about 2/3 of a population to carry antibodies. In the USA that is about 220 million people. At least 1.4% of Americans who contract the virus are expected to die from it (currently about 700 dead per day, and 50,000 infections per day), so the death toll would be three million.

And that’s if it works.

It probably won’t work because the immunity seems to be short-lived, which means that, lacking a vaccine, a population might never get to a point where 2/3 of the people have antibodies, because by the time the last people are infected, the immunity might be wearing off in those infected early. Let’s suppose that the antibodies last only four months. In that case, the only way to achieve herd immunity is to get antibodies into 220 million people almost instantly, and the only realistic way to do that is with a vaccine. Infecting 220 million people through community spread in three months may not even be possible, but if it were, the health care system could not possibly handle the number of hospital patients that would emerge from the strategy.

At this point I don’t know the actual average duration of immunity, nor does anyone else. Top researchers throughout the world are still learning about COVID-19. But if it is truly as short-lived as four months, we will have a decidedly difficult time with the logistics of fighting it – even with a vaccine, let alone by community spread.

Investigators probe ‘possible ecological catastrophe’ in Russia’s Kamchatka region

“Russian investigators said Saturday they were looking into “a possible ecological catastrophe” in the eastern Kamchatka region, after scores of dead sea creatures washed up in one of it bays and surfers reported burns to their eyes and throats.”

What more can go wrong this year?

It’s difficult to imagine anyone in the future looking back at 2020 with nostalgia.

This sounds kind of silly, but …

Africans and East Asians don’t have any to this gene to speak of. Europeans have a lot, as do the people of the Indian subcontinent.

This is not good news for me. Here’s what it says on the top of my “23 and Me” page: “Hey Greg! You have more Neanderthal DNA than 75% of other customers.”

I did not make that up. It’s an exact quote.