Celebrating Thanksgiving in the Midst of COVID19 – EOH 11/25/20

In spite of admonishments from politicians and bureaucrats, millions of Americans plan to travel home to celebrate Thanksgiving this year.  

In other news:

  • A third of parents surveyed in a new poll say it is important that they see their families in person during the Thanksgiving holiday this year.
  • A third major Covid-19 vaccine, co-developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, posted promising results from late-stage trials. A half-dose of the vaccine followed by a full dose at least one month later was 90% effective. Another approach, giving patients two full doses one month apart, was 62% effective.
  • Dr. Vinay Prasad reminds us that science will never be sufficient to guide choices and trade-offs nor can science make value judgments nor should science alone determine public policy.
  • Japan’s National Police Agency reported more Japanese lives were lost to suicide in October than 10 months of COVID19.

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COVID News

Millions stick to Thanksgiving travel plans despite warnings

https://apnews.com/article/us-news-travel-public-health-coronavirus-pandemic-thanksgiving-89bae1bb65636af83dc2229a2c11ae80

About 1 million Americans a day packed airports and planes over the weekend even as coronavirus deaths surged across the U.S. and public health experts begged people to stay home and avoid big Thanksgiving gatherings.

And the crowds are only expected to grow. Next Sunday is likely to be the busiest day of the holiday period.

To be sure, the number of people flying for Thanksgiving is down by more than half from last year because of the rapidly worsening outbreak. However, the 3 million who went through U.S. airport checkpoints from Friday through Sunday marked the biggest crowds since mid-March, when the COVID-19 crisis took hold in the United States.

Many travelers are unwilling to miss out on seeing family and are convinced they can do it safely. Also, many colleges have ended their in-person classes, propelling students to return home.

One-third of parents in new poll say holiday gatherings worth COVID-19 risk

https://thehill.com/homenews/527126-one-third-of-parents-say-holiday-gatherings-worth-covid-19-risk

A third of parents surveyed in a new poll say it is important that they see their families in person during the Thanksgiving holiday this year, despite warnings from public health officials to forgo festivities due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

About one-third of parents polled indicated the benefits of gathering with family at Thanksgiving are worth the risk of spreading or getting COVID-19, according to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health. 

More than half of respondents said the pandemic has resulted in “a substantial decrease in the time their children spend with extended family members,” and 61 percent of parents whose children typically see extended family for the holiday said they plan to gather in-person with such family.

3rd major COVID-19 vaccine shown to be effective and cheaper

https://apnews.com/article/astrazeneca-vaccine-third-cheaper-oxford-c99d26eb2946f6fde45a1edc002ff028

LONDON (AP) — Drugmaker AstraZeneca said Monday that late-stage trials showed its COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective, buoying the prospects of a relatively cheap, easy-to-store product that may become the vaccine of choice for the developing world.

The results are based on an interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of a vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca. No hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 were reported in those receiving the vaccine.

AstraZeneca is the third major drug company to report late-stage data for a potential COVID-19 vaccine as the world waits for scientific breakthroughs that will end a pandemic that has pummeled the world economy and led to 1.4 million deaths. But unlike the others, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine doesn’t have to be stored at freezer temperatures, making it potentially easier to distribute, especially in developing countries.

Commentary/Analysis

How to Celebrate Thanksgiving in the Midst of Toxic Politics and COVID-19 Lockdowns

https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/how_to_celebrate_thanksgiving_in_the_midst_of_toxic_politics_and_covid_19_lockdowns

Yes, America, there is life beyond politics and it can be wonderful if you just give it a chance.

Here’s what I suggest: this Thanksgiving, do yourselves a favor and turn off the talking heads, tune out the politicians, and take a deep breath. Then try this exercise in gratitude: find something to be thankful for about the things and people in your community for which you might have the least tolerance or appreciation. Instead of just rattling off a list of things you’re thankful for that sound good, dig a little deeper and acknowledge the good in those you may have underappreciated or feared.

When it comes time to giving thanks for your good fortune, put your gratitude into action: pay your blessings forward with deeds that spread a little kindness, lighten someone’s burden, and brighten some dark corner.

Engage in acts of kindness. Smile more. Fight less. Build bridges. Refuse to let toxic politics define your relationships. Focus on the things that unite instead of that which divides.

Do your part to push back against the meanness of our culture with conscious compassion and humanity. Moods are contagious, the good and the bad. They can be passed from person to person. So can the actions associated with those moods, the good and the bad.

Even with COVID-19 restrictions in place throughout the country, there is still so much good that can be done to help those in need.

What Does ‘Follow the Science’ Mean, Anyway?

https://www.medpagetoday.com/blogs/vinay-prasad/89856

When it comes to navigating the pandemic, many proudly proclaim: “Follow The Science.” It’s a popular and feel-good message. To me, #FollowTheScience means that science is essential to making good and rational decisions and implies that science makes policy decisions clear. The first half of that sentence is right. The second half is dangerously wrong. I think we must address what science is and is not.

Of course, science is necessary to navigate the pandemic. Science — in the form of randomized trials — allows us to separate therapies that work (dexamethasone) from those that do not (hydroxychloroquine). Science has allowed us to develop two mRNA vaccines, which may yet free us from this plague. The rapid development of a vaccine on this timespan is a great success of science, or as the The Onion reports, “Nation Can’t Believe They Spent So Long Overlooking Obvious Solution Of mRNA Instructions For Spike Protein Encapsulated In Lipid Nanoparticle.”

At the same time, science will never be sufficient to guide choices and trade-offs. Science cannot make value judgments. Science does not determine policy.

Scientific American Unintentionally Argues Against Lockdowns

“How New Mexico Controlled the Spread of COVID-19” was a blushing review of a state making all the right moves in the face of the COVID pandemic. New Mexico Governor Lujan Grisham was the heroic leader, state modelers were the brilliant strategists, and science was their lodestone.  It was September 15 when the love letter to New Mexico’s science-driven success was published by Scientific American.

It was also September 15 when everything started to go wrong for New Mexico.

For months, New Mexico was under the spell of the illusion of control. Governor Grisham locked down New Mexico in March, mandated masks in May, quarantined visitors, and even set up road blocks to limit movement.  After a long initial lockdown, New Mexico opened up slowly, cautiously, and only partially. It was the end of August before New Mexico allowed indoor dining at restaurants, but only up to 25% normal occupancy. All the while, the department of health was issuing a constant stream of public health orders advising New Mexicans to “stay at home and undertake only those outings absolutely necessary for their health, safety, or welfare.” 

But control was all an illusion.

Research

Suicide Mortality and Coronavirus Disease 2019—A Perfect Storm?

http://jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?doi=10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2020.1060

Suicide rates have been rising in the US over the last 2 decades. The latest data available (2018) show the highest age-adjusted suicide rate in the US since 1941.1 It is within this context that coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) struck the US. Concerning disease models have led to historic and unprecedented public health actions to curb the spread of the virus. Remarkable social distancing interventions have been implemented to fundamentally reduce human contact. While these steps are expected to reduce the rate of new infections, the potential for adverse outcomes on suicide risk is high. Actions could be taken to mitigate potential unintended consequences on suicide prevention efforts, which also represent a national public health priority.

Charts and Graphics

New Deaths Attributed to COVID19 in New York and Florida


It has now been two months since the State of Florida rescinded all covid19 restrictions. There has been no surge in covid19 deaths.

Arizona Counties Comparison – Mask Mandates

Here are four Arizona counties that are all similar in population, and low density. Two have mask mandates, one never has, and one had all major cities rescind masks ending on 10/21/20. Since that time, Yuma has had the worst case growth despite masks & Coconino has remained high.

Sweden Mortality 1900-2020 YTD November, Stacked by Month

Can you spot the current pandemic?

Sweden – All Causes of Mortality Per Week

Colorado – All COVID19 Outbreaks

In Colorado, the data shows it’s highly concentrated, confined (ie “locked down”) communities that are main sources of COVID19 outbreaks. Deaths on the other hand were with the very old/elderly and those with severe comorbidities.

International News

Suicide Claimed More Lives in October Than 10 Months of COVID-19 in Japan, Report Shows

https://fee.org/articles/suicide-claimed-more-lives-in-october-than-10-months-of-covid-19-in-japan-report-shows/

Early in the coronavirus pandemic, scientists warned that economic lockdowns could cause serious mental health repercussions.

“Secondary consequences of social distancing may increase the risk of suicide,” researchers noted in an April 10 paper published by the American Medical Association. “It is important to consider changes in a variety of economic, psycho-social, and health-associated risk factors.”

Essentially, researchers warned, forced isolation could prove to be “a perfect storm” for suicide.

Seven months later, new evidence is emerging to suggest these researchers were right.

“Far more Japanese people are dying of suicide, likely exacerbated by the economic and social repercussions of the pandemic, than of the COVID-19 disease itself,” CBS News reports. “While Japan has managed its coronavirus epidemic far better than many nations, keeping deaths below 2,000 nationwide, provisional statistics from the National Police Agency show suicides surged to 2,153 in October alone, marking the fourth straight month of increase.”