Pandemic miscellanea

Violet's pandemic roundup this week is particularly horrifying. Go read.

Among the things that I find incomprehensible about this incomprehensible, interminable shitshow are:

  • We all know that the Republicans enthusiastically embrace any number of immoral electoral strategies (gerrymandering, voter suppression, the filibuster, the electoral college, etc.) and would certainly straight-up murder people to hold on to power. But what is the strategy in murdering their own voters? How does that play out? Does it mean that they've already completely given up on the idea of needing elections to stay in office?

    Most in hospitals and on morgue slabs are unvaccinated. So what are we in for? Dr. Jonathan Reiner extrapolates from a new NBC poll: "Only 50% of Trump voters are vaccinated. There were 74 million votes for Trump, so 37 million Trump voters are unvaccinated."

  • I know that cries of, "But if it saves just one child, won't it have been worth it?" have always been disingenuous bullshit in service of all manner of repression, but it still seems just so very off brand for parents, local governments, and school boards to double down on trying to murder their children just as quickly as possible.

    I get that Zoom sucks, and missing school is not great. But you know what else has lifelong consequences on learning? Your kid choking to death on their own phlegm.

    If you're choosing to pack your unvaccinated children together in person instead of just waiting 4 months until they can be vaccinated, you must really, really hate them. Put a checkmark in the "NOT DEAD" column and take the win.

    But most people seem to think that if the choice is between "no school for 4 months" and "dead kids", their hands are super tied, and, aw shucks, dead kids it is. Nothing to be done.

  • Allowing any exceptions to "proof of vaccination", particularly negative tests, is, has been, and remains insane. Delta is infectious many days before becoming symptomatic, so the fact that you had a negative test 3 days ago means exactly fuck-all.

    Any time a policy says "vax required, OR..." what they are saying is, "everyone must behave responsibly, unless it mildly inconveniences them in some way".

    As for the tiny percentage of people who have real medical reasons that they can't be vaccinated -- guess what pal, you don't get to be a front-line worker or eat out at restaurants! You should not be allowed around patients, or students, or customers. Yeah, sucks for you. The rest of us already had to stay inside for 18 months, and for you, it's longer. The virus does not care about your pre-existing condition, or your inconvenience, or about making the pandemic more "inclusive" for you. It is a machine, and it will reprogram your cells to murder your family.

    But the religious exemption is so obviously koo-koo krazypants that where do you even start? I, for one, would really like to hear about what qualifies as a religious exemption, how it is verified, and how many are being granted:

    A data breach of records from California State University, Chico were dropped on a message board revealing an assortment of selfish jerks who filed requests for religious exemption from the school's vaccine requirement. It also revealed instructions on how to lie. "Students who stated they believed in healing through prayer were approved for exemption, and many referred to their bodies as a temple."

  • Finally, nature is healing:

    Covid has killed more US police officers in 2020 and 2021 than all other causes combined. "By the end of this pandemic, it is very likely covid will surpass 9/11 as the single largest incident cause of death for law enforcement officers," said Chris Cosgriff / ODMP. This week police in Chicago, New York, San Jose, and other locations around the US have vowed to fight against vaccine mandates. Fire them all and enjoy a payroll reset.

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21 Responses:

  1. Dude says:

    As I write this, I just finished watching the elementary school across the street let out. All of the kids were masked, no matter how small - only the odd parent showed up un-masked to do a pick-up. Christ, I hope those kids'll be okay.

    After re-watching Al-Jazeera's four-part documentary about The Crusades - detailing how The Church gladly sent the serfs off to die because "blah-blah Jeebus gives us personal freedoms 'n shit" - it can be astounding to see how Republicans looked at that and said "Hold my beer..."

    For the past two decades, we've all been (jokingly?) referring to them as "a cult", but that's the part they've embraced: they're willing to die for their blind, misguided allegiance, and they'll take out as many others as they can. (Another recent Patreon update by Violet drew direct comparisons to Jonestown and why joking about "drinking the Kool-Aid" isn't funny.)

    What also pisses me off is the lack of pushback against those fuckin' morons; as if a cult could be reasoned with. True, I'm voting "No" on the recall, but that doesn't change the fact that vax and mask mandates should be as sacrosanct car mandates: you don't get a fuckin' choice about getting car insurance; wearing a seat belt; or obeying traffic signals, so you don't get the option to get vaxxed and wear a mask.

  2. George Dorn says:

    Have we reached a point where hospitals should be factoring vaccination status into decisions about who to spend resources on?

    There are practical, legal and logistical obstacles to actually doing it, but every right wing 'individual freedoms' bullshit artist spouting off about how vaccination is a personal choice (because, they claim, vaccines don't stop transmission and that's the only way this choice would hurt others) should be at the bottom of the list for a ventilator.

    • phuzz says:

      Rather than making the decision at the hospital level, (as you note, there's ethical problems with that), surely it should be the insurers saying "if you're not vaccinated then your premiums are now double (or more)".
      I'm sort of surprised that they haven't already, if someone has had the vaccine, they're less likely to end up in hospital in the first place, and even if they do, they'll probably require less expensive treatment.

      • tfb says:

        That should only be if you can be vaccinated. If you have a real health reason not to be you shouldn't be penalised for that in terms of healthcare I think. If your reason is 'god told me not to get vaccinated' then that's quite different.

        • phuzz says:

          I'm guessing that if you have a valid medical reason not to get vaccinated, your insurance premiums are probably through the roof already. But hey, if you are in that situation some anti-vaccer will probably spit in your face just for wearing a mask, so soon those hospital bills will be your relatives' problem!

          (I'm lucky. I live a country that has a healthcare system rather than an orphan crushing machine)

          • Jonny says:

            For what it's worth, one of the absolute best things about the ACA (ObamaCare) is that it eliminated "pre-existing conditions". People with totally fucked health conditions do not now automatically get ruined by medical expenses the second they are forced to change insurance while sick. Granted, the ACA hardly "fixed" the medical system; you can still totally get ruined by medical bills in America, but at least you are not automatically thrown into the orphan crushing machine the second you get sick and have to change jobs. Baby steps.

      • Dave says:

        I once had a tree on the back of my property fall on the neighbors car. Insurance guy took one look and said that tree is obviously dead, you should have cut it down long ago. Insurance is for accidents, not negligence. Seems to me the same thing applies to health insurance at least for something as obvious as not getting vaccinated in a pandemic.

  3. Krinn DNZ says:

    The religious exemption thing intersects interestingly with Oregon v. Smith (easily the worst-decided religious freedom case in my lifetime and possibly in all of American history). Smith basically decided that a law only counts as religious discrimination if it names and intends to discriminate against a particular religion (or religions) — or in other words, that discrimination against minority religious faiths is totally fine as long as it's dressed up as a "law of general applicability," and you have to do something fairly stupid while passing such a law (such as the city of Hialeah did in passing an anti-Santeria law) for it to fail the Smith test.

    What's funny here, though, is that legislation requiring vaccines passes the Smith test easily. Super, super, super easily. Someone claiming that the vaccination requirement unduly burdens them should get laughed out of court as soon as a lawyer or judge remembers that Oregon v. Smith exists. If we were still working by the previous standards, set by the Sherbert case, they might or might not win, but either way they'd have a case to argue. Instead, the heinously shitty Smith decision (with a majority opinion written by Antonin Scalia, blatantly privileging various flavors of Christianity) means that people who want to use the First Amendment as a shield for their shitty anti-vax beliefs shouldn't be able to find any relief through the courts.

    This on top of how people's self-interest very often leads them to the incredibly wrong claim that non-government entities are in general bound by the First Amendment.

  4. Rob says:

    I don't think republicans are giving up on winning elections, we should give them more credit then that. Even at 650k deaths, that is less than a quarter of one percent of the US population. I'm sure they've just done the math and figured that keeping the base outraged about "MUH FREEDOMS" will more then make up for the tiny percentage of voters that will be ineligible to vote from the grave.

    • S C says:

      As it turns out, the 'anti-vaxxer' part of the Venn should include 'always pooping', since apparently Invermectin (the deworming drug) causes individuals who consume more than about a single pill to shit themselves almost to death.

      Almost. Too bad.

  5. David Hoover says:

    I get that Zoom sucks, and missing school is not great. But you know what else has lifelong consequences on learning? Your kid choking to death on their own phlegm.

    God, Zoom school suuuuuuuuucks. And having to be there constantly instead of letting them do their dumb kid stuff with other dumb kids is a nightmare. I remember being amused watching the preschoolers have a group conversation where each of them very seriously repeated the same egg-sucking knowledge about Paw Patrol while the others nodded along sagely. Now I'm stuck on the receiving end of that 24/7 (Oh yes, it being 5 am doesn't mean they don't have very important things to tell you about Roblox)

    But we've stuck with remote schooling because, yup, really really don't want them to catch this.

    It borders on sunk-cost fallacy, but it'd be EXTRA shitty to have gone through a year and a half of suffering to keep everyone safe to only decide we're tired of it, fuck it, let's just completely give up now.

    Especially with vaccine approval for their age group visible on the horizon. I'm reminded of earlier this year when vaccines became readily available for teachers, so they scrambled to reopen the schools before waiting the couple weeks to get their shots.

  6. PDP10 says:

    But what is the strategy in murdering their own voters? How does that play out? Does it mean that they've already completely given up on the idea of needing elections to stay in office?

    Exact same strategy as impoverishing their own voters. Make people unhappy, desperate, and afraid. Blame minorities, immigrants, and liberals for everything. Angry people vote. Scared people believe what you tell them.

    Just wait, Deathsantis is gonna run in 2024, and he will put people who claim that forced vaccinations made them sick or killed their relatives on stage behind him. And it was all Biden's fault!

    • I think it's two things. One, they believe that Black people will die more than Whites. They may even be right about this, vaccine uptake among Blacks is also pretty low. And two: the good old profit motive. They and their friends are invested in Regeneron, who make the monoclonal antibody treatment. The more people get COVID, the more antibodies they sell. The $$$ roll in.

      • Joe Luser says:

        long-term, poorly-treated diabetes is the single flagship co-morbidity behind the "with/of" debate (i mean "debate"). long-term, poorly-treated diabetes is endemic in one particular demographic. so big yup to your thing one.

  7. Nate says:

    As a parent who sent their kids to school this year, I think you're a bit off-base. We tried Zoom school, and it's just not a thing for <5 years old. After 2 minutes, they're licking the camera or shouting over each other constantly. So we started a pod school in our backyard. After a year of that, we're done.

    We live in the Bay Area. There's universal masking in schools and testing, though optional. Even through last year, the private schools that were open did not see outbreaks. We personally don't dine indoors (never have) and wear masks on playgrounds.

    That being said, I'm watching November like a hawk. Cases will probably come down a bit through October, but we are still going to be spending the holidays mostly on our own. That sucks, and you can blame the unvaccinated for this.

    If we didn't put our kids in school at the start of the year, we couldn't get in later, after they were vaccinated. So it was either pod school for yet another full year or get the best masks we can and hope we dodge a bullet for the first 4 months.

    I think you're being too harsh in your assessment that we hate our kids. We made an assessment that the Bay Area's high vaccination rate and general compliance with masks and other distancing measures would be sufficient to return to school. I don't have an abundance of faith here and there's still risk, but I have just a tiny bit of hope that we'll make it through.

    • Dave says:

      Good Luck. Things aren't so good in FL. 2 Weeks in and my daughters school has already had 5.6% of the kids test positive. She can't get the classes she needs virtually so don't have a choice unless she wants to change her career plan.

      The quarantine is a joke. Got a call that she's on quarantine for 7 days but she was in contact 4 days ago so the quarantine is for 3 days. You don't have to be a doctor to figure out why that's not working.

      I can't really pull her, but I think she's going to be calling in sick a lot. The only good news is herd immunity should be here by thanksgiving.

  8. tfb says:

    The whole 'caring about murdering your own children' thing is mostly myth. People who aren't doing anything about climate change are murdering their own children to avoid a little personal inconvenience. And that is I guess all Trump voters and, statistically, most of the rest of us as well unfortunately.

    (And now someone will say, 'but probably we're only murdering our own grandchildren' as if that makes it better. That's probably right if you look at IPCC scenarios, say. But those are absurdly optimistic because they assume that, apart from the dying-in-large-numbers thing, life will just go on. I won't: a little tiny financial crisis which was mostly avoided (if you think it was bad, start thinking about what it would have been like if the retail banks had failed, which they nearly did) led to Trump, Orban, the johnsonites and the other clown fascists and what looks terrifyingly like the end of liberal democracy. So what is going to happen when a billion people start needing to find their way out if regions which are becoming uninhabitable? when countries with nuclear weapons are in some of those regions? When the countries in the still-habitable parts of the world are dealing with the loss of their coastal cities and needing to rehouse millions of people, with the failure of harvests, with ... What's going to happen is not managed decline with a few billion dying: it's war between nuclear-armed states run by autocrats with nothing to lose.)

  9. I lied and got my youngest kid vaccinated early and feel great about it. I read this week that over 200,000 children under the age of 12 have been vaccinated by falsifying their child's birthdate. The "yeah, we're not offering virtual school anymore and masks are optional" slow-motion train wreck was pretty obvious. My kids wear N95 masks indoors even though they are fully vaccinated. I'm also picking my kids up for lunch and they eat in my van, not in the cafeteria.

    Not exactly sure why the volcano gods are demanding another sacrifice, but I checked "tastes bad when mixed with lava" on their health forms so I think we're good.

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