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Needs More Cowbell!

Needs More Cowbell!

Albert Einstein is reputed to have said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

People quibble over whether or not he actually said that, and if it’s true. I don’t know if it’s the definition of insanity, but it sure is the definition of stupidity.

I bring this up because we are now at the third, or is it fourth, round of useless attempts to control Covid-19. Now, we’re supposed to be afraid of the “Delta” variant which we are told is super easy to catch and super fatal.

The first is based on assumptions since testing for variants of viruses is neither cheap nor simple. Nor is it necessary as as with the other variants aggressive treatment early results in a pretty quick resolution.

That’s if you’re vaccinated. If you are not, it’s a far more serious disease, but the truth is if you’re not vaccinated the original and other variants can be pretty serious.

I’m not telling anyone to get vaccinated. That is a decision that every adult should make on their own. People should just be aware that the vaccine may not prevent infection with Covid, but at the least it will make the illness less severe in most cases.

A few weeks back I attended EMS rounds put on by one of the nearby hospitals. Of course it was on line only, because hospitals are trying to limit how many people come into the building.

The doctor presenting rounds gave a quick Covid update.

He said that based on what has been seen around the country, the vaccine is 88% effective against the Delta variant. Also, the number of hospitalizations is not up by much. The number of deaths is not measurably higher than all other causes. Even people who do get the disease and are in “high risk” groups aren’t getting as sick as expected.

At least his hospital, and I expect other hospitals, are taking an aggressive approach earlier than they did last year. Waiting doesn’t help, and in fact hurts.

As to pediatrics, the are seeing more kids who have Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), which is the name for the “Common Cold” than anything else.

The CDC is urging government and private entities to revert to the failed preventative strategies that started about March of 2020. Cloths masks, social distancing, and of course plexiglass shields.

Here is what the CDC says about cloth masks.

If you don’t want to read the who study, here is the abstract,

Cloth masks have been used in healthcare and community settings to protect the wearer from respiratory infections. The use of cloth masks during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is under debate. The filtration effectiveness of cloth masks is generally lower than that of medical masks and respirators; however, cloth masks may provide some protection if well designed and used correctly. Multilayer cloth masks, designed to fit around the face and made of water-resistant fabric with a high number of threads and finer weave, may provide reasonable protection. Until a cloth mask design is proven to be equally effective as a medical or N95 mask, wearing cloth masks should not be mandated for healthcare workers. In community settings, however, cloth masks may be used to prevent community spread of infections by sick or asymptomatically infected persons, and the public should be educated about their correct use.

That’s a lot of equivocation in one paragraph. They may work, if made well. If you’ve seen the masks most people are wearing, you know that they are NOT made well.

Even if someone has a “well made” mask, chances are they are not wearing it correctly. It’s not unusual to see people wearing flimsy masks that cover their mouths, but not their noses. The effectiveness of those is about 0%.

Even if work correctly, the effectiveness of those dollar store masks is only a bit above 0%.

Then we have the “mask all kids in school” crowd. Both the CDC and the American Association of Pediatrics are recommending masking all kids age 2 and older. Good luck getting a two year old kid to wear a mask.

The problem is that there are no peer reviewed studies showing that masking kids in school prevents Covid in either kids or adults. What does work is vaccinating adults. Sadly, some teacher unions are against vaccine mandates while insisting on remote learning or making the kids wear masks.

Again, I don’t care if teachers get vaccinated or not. However, if they refuse vaccination and refuse to teach in person, a case can be made that they have abandoned their jobs.

Here is a pretty well balanced article on the subject.

The Science of Masking Kids at School Remains Uncertain

Several doctors I spoke with pointed out that the best way to shield children from COVID-19 exposure is through adult vaccination. “Our most effective way of protecting everyone, students and school staff alike, is by vaccinating the adults around them,” said Westyn Branch-Elliman, an infectious-diseases specialist at Harvard Medical School. Ashish Jha, the dean of Brown University School of Public Health, posted a thread on Twitter explaining that the vaccination rate among children under 12 is the same across the country, which is zero, of course. Yet pediatric infection rates right now vary wildly, correlating with how many adults in their area are vaccinated. And evidence suggests that staff-to-staff transmission is more common than transmission from students to staff, staff to student, or student to student.

COVID, of course, is also a disease that tends to have much milder effects on children. “We know that the risk to kids from COVID is vanishingly low. Yes, we’re seeing it, but it’s rare,” said Schecter-Perkins, the emergency-medicine infectious-diseases expert. Out of more than 600,000 American deaths attributed to COVID-19, 361 were for kids and adolescents under age 18. In the much-shorter 2018-2019 flu season, there were 477 pediatric deaths. “We didn’t have mask mandates then,” Schecter-Perkins noted. And “now we’re in a post-vaxx world where adults have had the opportunity to protect themselves, and vaccines prevent severe COVID.

I encourage you to read the entire article.

I’m only familiar with what is going on in my area, but here there are essentially two types of people wearing masks all the time. By all the time I include people sitting in their cars alone, people walking alone on streets, and even a few people outside exercising, again by themselves.

Those groups are the elderly, who are very likely to be vaccinated, and blacks, who were effectively scared out of being vaccinated last year during the Presidential campaign.

Other than that, few people are wearing masks voluntarily. The Governor of my state has refused to issue any mask mandates, leaving it up to each city or town to make their own decision.

Personally, I think it should be up to each individual to weigh the risks and benefits of getting vaccinated, wearing masks, hiding in their basement, or doing anything else they think will work.

I don’t care what people do as long as they don’t tell me what I should do.

We can speculate endlessly what the end game of the people hyping this disease and urging us to adopt the previous failed “preventative” strategies is, but what’s the point?

Do you own research, draw your own conclusions, and then make your decision as to what is best for you.

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After a long career as a field EMS provider, I'm now doing all that back office stuff I used to laugh at. Life is full of ironies, isn't it? I still live in the Northeast corner of the United States, although I hope to change that to another part of the country more in tune with my values and beliefs. I still write about EMS, but I'm adding more and more non EMS subject matter. Thanks for visiting.