Welcome to your third plague year. (12/52)
The traditional second-anniversary gift is cotton, so maybe a modern interpretation would be KN95 masks?
We’re now entering year three of Covid-19, and as much as everyone wants to behave as though the pandemic is over, guess what: It’s not. If the local metrics are even a little accurate (and they may not be, considering that most home testing isn’t included in the public health counts), BA.2, the even more contagious omicron cousin, is probably already ushering in another wave here in Houston. We went from 4.5 cases per 100,000 people last week to 32.4 cases per 100,000 this week. Goody goody gumdrops, here we go again.
So, basically, things aren’t like they used to be, and they’re not going to be like they used to be. If you’re disabled or have a compromised immune system, I’d like to apologize on behalf of everyone else for pushing you into this particular nightmare of soft eugenicism. And don’t misunderstand me: I mean what I say here. Waving your hands and declaring that we’re just jettisoning all pandemic precautions because we’re tired of them is a political decision, not a public health decision. It’s a blatant choice to leave the most vulnerable behind. Maybe the people making these decisions don’t mean they overtly want the vulnerable to die, but they’ve made it clear that they value eating in restaurants more than literal human lives. So be it. I never said we didn’t live in a cruel society.
But, you argue, “We couldn’t get half of the population to follow the rules even during the first year, so you know they’re not going to bother now. Are we supposed to stay locked in our homes forever and ever?” Well, no one really tried to enforce much of anything in most places (in the US), even in the early days, and there were never penalties with any teeth. Even if public health measures hadn’t been perceived as political, yes, some people would have flouted them anyway. And no, I’m not saying to stay locked in your home indefinitely a la April 2020. I’m saying that we all need to continue wearing masks (preferably good medical-grade masks) in crowded indoor settings whether we’re specifically mandated to do so or not. Masking works. We also need to begin seriously focusing on indoor air filtration to further mitigate spread. (Bee tee dubs, Japan’s focus on masking and air filtration may explain why it has fared comparatively well.)
I mean, I get that the ‘rona is never going away now. But Americans are currently dying to the tune of 1000 or so souls a day -- during a lull period, mind you. At this pace, we may have approximately 365,000 deaths this year, which would be more than 100 times worse than the average annual death toll from the flu. (About 34,000 died on average between the 2010 and 2019 flu seasons, with the lowest year representing 12,000 deaths and the harshest year 52,000 deaths. Incidentally, the worst flu season in that decade was 2017-2018, when I almost ended up hospitalized with the flu myself.) So, setting aside the fact that influenza is also a deadly communicable disease that we don’t seem to care about, is over a quarter of a million deaths each year something to shrug about and call “the cost of doing business”? Really?
We don’t even know how many will struggle with complications like long COVID (estimates range from 10 to 30% of all infected) or how many will have related medical concerns in the future, such as type 2 diabetes. (Diabetes isn’t only a risk factor for more severe illness, but COVID-19 appears to cause it in some people.)
I would worry less if efficacious anti-viral treatment was widespread, easy to obtain, and available regardless of income. But that hasn’t happened and knowing the US, it probably never will.
Look, I know you’re exhausted. I know some of you live in places that never took the ‘rona seriously and nothing much changed in your lives aside from supply chain issues. I’m sure that worries about inflation have pushed even the residual concern you once had about coronavirus directly out of your minds. I get it. But your emotional fatigue will literally be a death sentence for people undergoing cancer treatment and organ recipients and schizophrenics and elderly people and poor people.
As we enter this awful, soul-sucking third plague year, I want you to care about that.
I wrote about using self-reflection to combat reactiveness for A Little Better this week.
Thumper from Fivefold Law wrote about terminal uniqueness and personal exceptionalism, and I think both are concepts that need broader discussion. You’ll recognize them everywhere once you put a name on them!
This Steward Copeland piece Lennox sent me the other day was one of the most entertaining musician interviews I’ve read in a really long time.
…and that interview meant I had to listen to “Murder by Numbers” a few times.
The dude in this Philadelphia-based tweet thread is lucky Gritty didn’t show up and shoot him in the face with a t-shirt cannon. Definitely a peak Philly “fuck around and find out” moment in time.
Here’s a wild dividing line between the youths and the elders: Kids these days don’t understand computer-based file management in terms of files and folders (like filing cabinets) but as searchable piles (like laundry baskets). This particularly affects students in STEM programs, and as weird as it sounds, this piece about the phenomenon is worth reading.
One last pandemic note: This March 2020 meme feels a little too prescient in retrospect. Yikes.
Anyway, sorry for the vitriol, but someone had to say it. It’s possible that omicron burned through so many bodies that BA.2 won’t have a large impact. There’s no way to tell yet. So try to have a good week, friends. Stay as safe as you can!