A Winter Of Discontent

Over the past few days, I have become convinced that the pandemic is with us through at least the coming winter. By “us” I mean America. It didn’t have to be this way, but it is. My biggest political fear is that the wrong person, Joe Biden, will be blamed.

My regular readers know that I religiously monitor the 14 day running average of new COVID infections. More than just the trend, two days that I would normally discount to a degree reinforced my conclusion.

The rate of new infections was falling from September 21st through November 6th. The best day was September 27th at a 33% decline and many days sported percentage declines in the 20s. Over the last few days the percentage has increased, not decreased. Reports from colder weather states – and the virus thrives in colder weather – were even worse. Based on history and science I can only conclude that this is a trend. The weather will only get colder further south as the calendar progresses through the next few months. Generally speaking, the southern states have a lower vaccination rate. We know the fully vaccinated are much, much less likely to become infected and in the somewhat rare cases of a breakthrough infection are 40 times less likely to die.

I have to mention the two days I referred to above. The first is November 11th, Veterans’ Day. The average was up 2% despite the fact that several states didn’t report that day due to the holiday. The other was Saturday November 13th. I normally take Saturday and Sunday numbers with a grain of salt because they tend to be underreported due to the weekend. (Pandemics don’t take holidays or weekends off.) That day we hit 80,000 new cases for the first time since October 18th and the rate increased by double digits (11%) for the first time since September 3rd.

The United States is far from vaccinated at a sufficient rate to avoid another wave. This is another case where the masses will have to suffer because of the low end of the Bell Curve. (I’m sorry, at this point I have to question the common sense, let alone intelligence, of the unvaccinated.) In America we are fortunate to have an effective array of vaccines readily available at no point of service cost yet a sizeable, misinformed minority refuse to do the common sense thing and get vaccinated thereby exposing all of us to an unnecessary risk. Talk about lack of personal responsibility!

Add to that the fact that we have the holidays upon us and with them more traveling and gatherings. I’m fortunate to be in a liberal family where everyone is as fully vaccinated as possible (the five-year-old is the only one not fully vaccinated for the obvious reason). Not everyone is a fortunate as me. What about Thanksgiving dinner with the crazy right wing uncle who refused vaccination and thinks Trump is still president? Those gatherings, holiday shopping and other instances where we are letting our guards down will turn into spreader and in some cases super spreader events. (Hint: wear your mask and limit your larger turnout events.)

Now for my feared political ramification. We cannot experience another wave without suffering some economic hardships. Who will suffer the blame? My guess is that a large portion of the population, fueled by the right wing media misinformation machine, will blame Joe Biden.

Let’s get this straight. Under Biden we acquired a sufficient supply of vaccine and assembled a distribution system making it readily available to basically every American at no point of service cost. Under the former guy we had an inadequate supply, didn’t even have contracts in place for to acquire an adequate supply and had basically no distribution system. (Note: the Pfizer vaccine – one of the three US vaccines – was developed completely outside of Operation Warp Speed.) Yet, in the minds of the right wing Trump was great and Biden is incompetent. I just can’t square that circle.

Celebrate the holidays but in a prudent manner and be prepared; it will get worse before it gets better.

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