The Editors in
Even with vaccines widely available and better data available about COVID-19, there are still some...
While more and more states lift mask mandates and social distancing guidelines, Oregon and Michigan have gone the opposite direction with a “permanent” rule, leading to massive pushback from its citizens.
Meanwhile, eight states have moved to limit the emergency powers of their governors, including Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Utah.
Overseas, Britain’s Institute of Cancer Research announced cancer research could be delayed by two years as a result of COVID lockdown restrictions.
In other news:
Want to support our work? Visit our Substack page and leave us a tip.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — As states around the country lift COVID-19 restrictions, Oregon is poised to go the opposite direction — and many residents are fuming about it.
A top health official is considering indefinitely extending rules requiring masks and social distancing in all businesses in the state.
The proposal would keep the rules in place until they are “no longer necessary to address the effects of the pandemic in the workplace.”
Michael Wood, administrator of the state’s department of Occupational Safety and Health, said the move is necessary to address a technicality in state law that requires a “permanent” rule to keep current restrictions from expiring.
“We are not out of the woods yet,” he said.
But the idea has prompted a flood of angry responses, with everyone from parents to teachers to business owners and employees crying government overreach.
Almost every state instituted emergency rules to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. This included statewide mask mandates, limits on gatherings, school shutdowns, and more. Michigan has had and continues to have some of the most severe restrictions across the country.
But what makes the Great Lakes State truly unique now is that it wants to make its emergency rules for businesses permanent.
State bureaucrats are moving to impose permanent regulations that would mandate the following and more on all Michigan businesses: mask wearing whenever employees are within six feet of someone else, daily health screenings, extensive record keeping, and keeping a “COVID-19 safety coordinator” on-site. Retail stores, personal care services, and other businesses open to the public would have to become the mask police: They would be required to make all customers wear masks, vaccinated or not.
Many of these rules are based on mandates put in place last spring by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. As such, many are based on outdated scientific knowledge about how COVID-19 spreads. For instance, employers must “increase facility cleaning and disinfection” and “prohibit workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices or other work tools and equipment.” These rules were dreamed up when public health experts thought the virus could easily spread via surface contact. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently said there’s a one in 10,000 chance of getting infected from touching a contaminated surface.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, governors and state agencies in all 50 states relied on emergency power authority to enact stay-at-home orders, mask mandates, and other restrictions on businesses and individuals. Since March 2020, 10 bills in eight states have been signed into law that are aimed at increasing legislative oversight of governors’ emergency powers. These laws were enacted in Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Utah.
Additionally, voters in Pennsylvania will have a chance on May 18, 2021, to approve a measure the Pennsylvania State Legislature certified for the ballot that would limit the governor’s emergency powers.
Laws limiting the governor’s emergency powers have been enacted in five states where one party controls the governorship and both branches of the state legislature – Arkansas (Republican trifecta), Colorado (Democratic trifecta), New York (Democratic trifecta), Ohio (Republican trifecta), and Utah (Republican trifecta). Laws limiting the governor’s authority have been enacted in three states with divided governments. In Kansas, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania, the governorship is controlled by a Democrat, while Republicans hold majorities in the state legislature’s chambers.
Cancer patients could end up waiting two years to benefit from new research discoveries, it has been warned.
The Institute of Cancer Research London said tightened restrictions in response to new coronavirus variants have limited laboratory research time, and slowed the race to find new cancer treatments.
It said at the start of the latest lockdown that the number of researchers able to access labs had fallen by almost 30% on top of restrictions that already existed before Christmas.
Scientists estimated advances in research for cancer patients would be put back by an average of 17 months following the first lockdown, but the ICR now fears the delay could be as much as two years.
Here’s the latest sign of the great U.S. gasoline comeback: For the first time since the pandemic started, driving on the nation’s highways is higher than at the same time in 2019.
Vehicle miles traveled on interstates rose to roughly 16.7 billion in the week ended April 11 — 1% higher than in 2019, U.S. government data showed. The last time there was an increase versus 2019 was in early March of last year, before the World Health Organization had declared a pandemic.
Breaking down the figures, the increase comes mostly from a boost in trucking, which rose 7% compared to the same week two years ago. Truck miles have been steadily higher in the past few months.
But what’s really interesting is that passenger vehicle miles, while still down from 2019, have recovered a lot. The figure in the week ended April 11 was just 1% lower versus the same period of 2019. That compares with declines of 20% or even 50% in prior weeks during the pandemic.
Last week, the CDC acknowledged what many of us have been saying for almost nine months about cleaning surfaces to prevent transmission by touch of the coronavirus: It’s pure hygiene theater.
“Based on available epidemiological data and studies of environmental transmission factors,” the CDC concluded, “surface transmission is not the main route by which SARS-CoV-2 spreads, and the risk is considered to be low.” In other words: You can put away the bleach, cancel your recurring Amazon subscription for disinfectant wipes, and stop punishing every square inch of classroom floor, restaurant table, and train seat with high-tech antimicrobial blasts. COVID-19 is airborne: It spreads through tiny aerosolized droplets that linger in the air in unventilated spaces. Touching stuff just doesn’t carry much risk, and more people should say so, very loudly.
What are the lessons of Covid-19? It depends who you ask. Some believe politicization of the pandemic response cost lives. Others believe a stronger U.S. public-health system would have reduced Covid-19 deaths significantly. Still others say lockdowns should have been longer and more stringent, or that they were ineffective. But one lesson that should transcend ideological differences: Don’t put one illness above all other problems in society, a condition known as “Covid mania.”
The novel coronavirus has caused suffering and heartbreak, particularly for older adults and their loved ones. But it also has a low mortality rate among most people and especially the young—estimated at 0.01% for people under 40—and therefore never posed a serious threat to social and economic institutions. Compassion and realism need not be enemies. But Covid mania crowded out reasoned and wise policy making.
Americans groaned when leaders first called for “two weeks to slow the spread” in March 2020. Months later, many of these same Americans hardly blinked when leaders declared that lockdowns should continue indefinitely. For months Covid had been elevated above all other problems in society. Over time new rules were written and new norms accepted.
Liberty has played a special role in U.S. history, fueling advances from independence to emancipation to the fight for equal rights for women and racial minorities. Unfortunately, Covid mania led many policy makers to treat liberty as a nuisance rather than a core American principle.
A month and a half ago, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) lifted all statewide COVID-19 restrictions, prompting widespread panic from many Democrats—including President Joe Biden—as well as unofficial members of Team Blue within the mainstream media and public health establishment. Liberals confidently predicted that the masks were coming off way too soon, and COVID-19 would swiftly make a comeback in the Lone Star State.
Well, nope: COVID-19 deaths and cases continue to fall in Texas, even without a mask mandate or capacity restrictions on businesses. The same is broadly true of Florida, which relaxed its restrictions all the way back in September and has managed to weather the pandemic more successfully than super locked down states like New York and California.
This is good news! It’s more evidence that warmer weather does make it harder to spread COVID-19—in large part because the heat and sunshine allow people to socialize outdoors, where there is a significantly lower risk of transmission. It also shows that the vaccines are working. Fully vaccinated people are essentially immune from serious disease or death, and according to the latest data, they are very unlikely to carry or transmit COVID-19 at all. The message to the unvaccinated should be: Go get vaccinated. The message to the vaccinated should be: Rejoice! You can go back to normal life.
For over a year well-to-do Americans have quite literally been “quarantining” packages shipped to them, and that were dropped off at their residences by “science-denying” untouchables who lacked the means to similarly “shelter-in-place.” The package-terrified have usually waited 48 hours before handling said box and contents.
What about the Clorox wipes that were never in stock thanks to frantic science believers clearing the shelves of them? Some never left their homes.
Of course, when the corona-fearful actually ventured outside, they wore gloves while still not touching anything. They jumped out in the street when passing another human since, well, you know, the very humans who’ve driven all progress for millennia were suddenly a lethal menace to one another. But the main thing is that if they had to risk their lives by being in public, the science reverent more than masked up: they wiped down everything they came near.
CONCLUSIONS: In this updated interim analysis, inhaled budesonide reduced time to recovery by a median of 3 days in people with COVID-19 with risk factors for adverse outcomes. Once 28 day follow up is complete for all participants randomized to budesonide, final analyses of time to recovery and hospitalization/death will be published.
LONDON – Much of Europe has been forced back into lockdown amid a deadly third wave of the coronavirus. In Britain however, pubs, shops and services reopened Monday as the government hailed its vaccination program for cutting infections.
In Rome, around 200 restaurant and business owners staged a protest Monday outside parliament, demanding that the Italian government allows them to reopen.
France, Germany and several other states have extended lockdowns, and German doctors warn that more young people are being hospitalized with the virus.