Today in Awful Covid Headlines

Part of the ongoing, slow-motion tragedy.

I am not trying to be maudlin, nor even to over-dwell on this topic, but it is profoundly disturbing to awaken to, daily, to headlines like these:

From the last story above:

“If those people had been vaccinated, they would not be dead,” [State Health Officer Dr.] Dobbs told around 300 members of the Gulf Coast Business Council and chambers of commerce. “Let me be very clear, they would be alive … this is the unavoidable truth of what we’re looking at.”

This is the bottom line and why these stories are so acutely tragic. They were preventable.

By the way, I realize that 98% of people in the US who had been confirmed to have Covid-19 survived. I know, therefore, that the stories above are, from a probabilistic point of view, the rarities. I also know that cases like a neighbor who may have permanent kidney damage from their bout with the disease are also a rarity.

I would even go so far as to say that it is important to remember, for everyone’s collective sanity, that many who are infected are asymptomatic (which is a major reason it is so hard to contain), that many have truly mild cases, and that most do not require hospitalization.

By the same token, that run-down is hardly solace to the newly orphaned nor to a parent whose sick child cannot get a needed ICU bed.

Indeed, those who point to the fact that “most people are fine” seem oblivious to the strain all of this is putting on hospitals. Pity any of us who need hospital care in Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, or Florida.

For example, from the story out of the Dallas area (the CNN link above):

“That means if your child’s in a car wreck, if your child has a congenital heart defect or something and needs an ICU bed, or more likely if they have Covid and need an ICU bed, we don’t have one. Your child will wait for another child to die,” Jenkins said. “Your child will just not get on the ventilator, your child will be CareFlighted to Temple or Oklahoma City or wherever we can find them a bed, but they won’t be getting one here unless one clears.”

There is also the pesky fact that the numbers show that the vaccinated are radically better off if infected compared to the unvaccinated (from the NYT: See the Data on Breakthrough Covid Hospitalizations and Deaths by State ):

Serious coronavirus infections among vaccinated people have been relatively rare since the start of the vaccination campaign, a New York Times analysis of data from 40 states and Washington, D.C., shows. Fully vaccinated people have made up as few as 0.1 percent of and as many as 5 percent of those hospitalized with the virus in those states, and as few as 0.2 percent and as many as 6 percent of those who have died.

The bottom line remains that there are public health actions that could make all of this radically better. Fundamentally that means vaccinations.

I know that the regular commenters here would agree with all of those. I just hope that maybe someone who is vaccine-hesitant might read this and would rethink their position.

FILED UNDER: COVID-19, Health, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. gVOR08 says:

    There’s been some discussion here of Kevin Drum’s thesis that our angry partisanship is largely the fault of FOX “News”. I’ve also recently seen commentary on how much better Canada is doing with COVID and that it’s due to universal healthcare and the absence of Rupert Murdoch. Digby quotes a paywalled piece from the Tampa Bay Times on the symbiotic relationship between my DeSantis and FOX, with Digby concluding,

    DeSantis is counting on the pandemic being in the rearview mirror and, with the help of Fox, being seen as the guy who didn’t succumb to all that pansy-assed “mitigation” instead hanging tough and showing those pointy-headed doctors who’s boss.

    Looking at your headlines, FOX News did that.

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  2. Jen says:

    One of the things that has been so dang perplexing about this disease is its variability. You just don’t know if you will fall into the category of asymptomatic cases, survive with no issues or survive with a disability running from brain fog to heart & lung problems, or die.

    The very randomness of this aspect was why I could not WAIT to get vaccinated. I’m still baffled by the reluctance to do so.

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  3. CSK says:

    @gVOR08:
    Not to defend Fox, but they might be less responsible for promoting the anti-vax propaganda than are Newsmax and OANN, at least according to fivethirtyeight.com, Yahoo News, and businessinsider.com. And I know from checking right-wing websites such as Lucianne.com. that the hardcore MAGAs have abandoned Fox long since, on the grounds that Fox is too left-wing.

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  4. CSK says:

    @Jen:
    The vax may turn you into a human magnet. Or it may alter your DNA. Or it may implant a tracking chip in you. Or it may cause pregnant women to miscarry.

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  5. JDM says:

    In my deepest and darkest thoughts, I imagined developing a virus that would only infect stupid people. But I never could think of a way of engineering a virus that could distinguish stupid from not-so-stupid people.

    The American experience with Covid-19, has shown me that my mistake was to think the solution was genetic engineering when really the answer was social engineering.

    I’m guessing anyone with a strong background in marketing, advertising or religion, already knew that was the answer.

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  6. Gustopher says:

    “That means if your child’s in a car wreck, if your child has a congenital heart defect or something and needs an ICU bed, or more likely if they have Covid and need an ICU bed, we don’t have one. Your child will wait for another child to die,” Jenkins said.

    This strikes me as both too optimistic and pessimistic at the same time.

    On the one hand, there’s a good chance the child isn’t going to wait for an ICU bed. Seems pretty optimistic. Like, really optimistic.

    On the other hand, surely some kids get better and get discharged from the hospital in something other than a body bag…

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  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher: “That means if your child’s in a car wreck, if your child has a congenital heart defect or something and needs an ICU bed,”

    I think it’s safe to say he’s speaking of children who need an ICU bed, the vast majority of whom will die without one, seeing as that is what he said.

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  8. Gustopher says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: yes, I think it’s really optimistic to assume an ICU bed will open up in time. The covid kids aren’t dying fast enough for that.

    Covid Kids would be the worst acapella group ever.

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  9. CSK says:

    @Jen:
    One finding that hasn’t changed, nor been revised, is that the vaccine will protect you from serious illness and death.

    And the number of breakthrough cases here in Mass. is one fifth of one percent, so that’s also encouraging.

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  10. grumpy realist says:

    I just came out of the hospital for something totally unrelated. Wing (which only carries non-COVID cases) was half-empty, and AFAIK we’re not having problems keeping up with the COVID cases, either. Interesting how the relatively minor differences in levels of vaccination per state is resulting in such a difference in stress upon the medical system.

    (I wonder at what point doctors and nurses are going to get fed up with the exhausting workload due to the idiocy of others and say “look, if you’re not vaccinated, we’re not going to waste our efforts on you. You didn’t even do the bare minimum necessary. Assumption of the risk.”)

    You do stupid things, you die. Welcome to reality.

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  11. CSK says:

    This is interesting. A study by Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh indicates that those Americans least likely to get the vaccine are those with Ph.D.s (23%). They’re even less likely to get vaxxed than those with a high school diplomas or less (20%).

    Only 8.3% of those with master’s degrees are, however reluctant/resistant to getting vaxxed.

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  12. Teve says:

    @CSK: what’s weird about that is, every PhD I know is vaxxed.

    Virtually all of them are PhDs in biology, public health, and physics. Although 2 are in English Lit, and both are vaxxed.

    I’m just going to assume the Crazification Factor applies.

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  13. grumpy realist says:

    @Teve: You can add me to your collection of STEM-PhDs-having-been-vaxxed….

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  14. Argon says:

    @grumpy realist: “Interesting how the relatively minor differences in levels of vaccination per state is resulting in such a difference in stress upon the medical system.”

    Not quite the whole story but definitely correlated. Those who get vaccinated are also more likely to maintain other safe practices to reduce the spread. There’s a lot of self selection going on. Tourism is also involved. Of course, given the nature of exponential growth, litte differences can have significant effects.

    Don’t expect well vaccinated areas to escape unscathed. They still have large numbers of unvaccinated and the Delta variant is quite capable of spreading among the vaccinated population. Infections are likely to spike everywhere before things burn out. The saving grace is that the more vaccinated people you have, the less strain hospitals may face.

    Personally, I think it’s remarkably stupid to reopen elementary schools when vaccine approval for 12 year olds and younger may go through soon.

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  15. Sleeping Dog says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Vaccination rate, plus the willingness/preference for social distance. When you live in a part of the country where the unofficial motto is good fences make good neighbors. Having the excuse not to be near people is a god send.

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  16. Argon says:

    @Teve: “what’s weird about that is, every PhD I know is vaxxed.”

    That’s what I see too, at least among the chemists and biologists at my work. That we’re involved in health research no doubt has an influence.

    It’s largely the same with many physicians. The odd thing is that so many nurses aren’t on board. I can sort of attribute that to the actual science backgrounds or training programs.(Aside, not all nurses!)

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  17. CSK says:

    @Teve: @grumpy realist:
    Yes, I have a Ph.D. (English Literature) as well, and I got vaxxed as soon as I was eligible. I remember joking with my cardiologist that I was going to be first in line, and he replied, “You’ll have to shove me out of the way.”

    I gather that the Ph.D. refusiks wouldn’t reveal why they refused. Apparently this study also showed that a much lower percentage of J.D.s and Ll.Ds (12%) were unwilling to be vaxxed.

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  18. CSK says:

    I should point out that our genial (and long-suffering) hosts, Professor Joyner and Dean Taylor, are fully vaxxed as well, and so are all eligible members of their families.

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  19. Gustopher says:

    @Argon:

    Don’t expect well vaccinated areas to escape unscathed. They still have large numbers of unvaccinated and the Delta variant is quite capable of spreading among the vaccinated population. Infections are likely to spike everywhere before things burn out.

    King County, home of Seattle, has 70% vaccination levels or so (I stopped looking at that number, so I might be a little off), and our case count is racing up and will soon surpass our biggest peak from this past winter.

    Not awesome.

    At this point, I just hope it burns through the unvaccinated quickly enough that my immune-compromised friend can hole up without going too crazy or slacking off his prevention.

    Also, I’d like to be free to have a heart attack or something and have a bed in the ICU. That would be nice. Not planning on it, but it would be nice to have that option.

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  20. Teve says:

    A health care worker in Kentucky:

    @anet2111

    We have officially been asked to change from scrubs when exiting the hospital tonight, and to be escorted by security…same upon return. The lunacy escalates.

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  21. CSK says:

    @Teve:
    People are attacking hospital workers???? What the hell????

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  22. @CSK: Indeed we are.

    I suppose on one level the 23% number does not entirely surprise me, given that Ph.D.s can be, shall we say, a bit eccentric.

    I have no way of knowing what the population of vaxed v. unvaxed in terms of the faculty at work. It would not shock me if at least 23% were not for various reasons. Of the small number about which I am aware the reasons range from concern about the vaccine to having had Covid to medical reasons to politics.

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  23. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @CSK:
    Oh c’mon… You know you always shoot the messenger who brings bad news.

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  24. Gustopher says:

    Sometimes, when I am feeling a dark humor, I search Google for information about the CORVID-19 pandemic — which would be a massive assault of crows.

    Not sure why I find this so funny, but I do. The world is turning rapidly to shit, and everything is falling apart, and someone made a typo. Ha!

    Prayers for all the victims of CORVID-19, etc.

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  25. JDM says:

    @Gustopher: I have to admit when I first heard the term “Covid”, I thought what could the virus possibly have in common with crows. And I’m a bird watcher and physician.

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  26. Jax says:

    I was soooo looking forward to my trip to Tennessee in October….but I have a sneaking suspicion I’m not gonna go. Too many variables.

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  27. steve says:

    My first thought about the PhD people was that since only about 1% of people in the country have a PhD this was probably a sampling/study error. As I recall this was an online survey and they have known problems with sampling. If you really wanted an accurate survey on vaccination rates among PhDs you would need to specifically study that group.

    What gets missed is that the study shows that minorities are now less hesitant than the white Trump supporters.

    Steve

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  28. CSK says:
  29. CSK says:

    @CSK:
    There should be a dot rather than a dash after “hesitancy” in the above link.

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  30. de stijl says:

    Viruses do not care.

    Dont’t care who you voted for. Your sub-allegiances. Don’t care about your thoughts on anything. Viruses need a host.

    Unvaccinated host is best. Replication is the means.

    My state government politicized methods to reduce replication as a wedge issue. In the first instance to echo and promote Trump and in the second as obstinacy.

    The politicization of public health is a very dangerous sign.

    Viruses do not care.

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  31. DrDaveT says:

    @grumpy realist:

    You can add me to your collection of STEM-PhDs-having-been-vaxxed….

    Me too.

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  32. Argon says:

    @CSK: Thanks.

    It looks like a self reporting survey conducted with Facebook support. No breakdown of Ph.D. degrees by discipline. Interesting that the ‘Outside the Beltway’ self-reporting stats indicate 0% hesitancy with Ph.Ds. Maybe James should write a paper about that…

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  33. @Argon: To add to the massive OTB N, I know that three other PhDs who have contributed to the site are also vaxed.

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  34. CSK says:

    @Argon:
    Yes, I find it befuddling as well. I too wish there had been some identification of the ages and scholarly fields of these Ph.D.s As Dean Taylor points out, we have an eclectic mix of Ph.D.s right here at OTB–STEM, humanities, and social sciences as well as J.D.s–and to a person, they’re all vaxxed.

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