Happy Texas Independence Day!

On Tuesday March 2nd, Texas Independence Day, Governor Greg Abbott ended the state’s mask mandate and declared all businesses can open at full capacity starting next week.

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves also followed suit and lifted his state’s mask mandate.

Over the weekend, the FDA granted emergency use approval for Johnson and Johnson’s COVID vaccine, which immediately began shipping on Monday morning.

But as vaccine rollouts gain momentum, governments across the world are looking at ways for people to prove they are inoculated against COVID, raising logistical and ethical concerns about whether others will be excluded from daily life.

In other news:

  • Florida is leading in protecting our vulnerable residents, saving the economy and safeguarding the freedom of our people. While so many states have been locking people down, we are lifting people up, says Governor Ron DeSantis.
  • The media was wrong to accept lockdown effectiveness as the basis of all COCID coverage, says Mediaite senior columnist John Ziegler.
  • Sweden did not lock down, becoming the one of the most alluring control experiments the world has ever seen. And it did not suffer 100,000 excess deaths. Not even close, says PANDA’s Nick Hudson. 
  • A new Lancet study shows seasonal coronavirus antibodies correlate with lower COVID severity
  • New Zealand’s largest city Auckland goes back into lockdown after a single COVID case—this is its fourth lockdown.

Want to support our work? Visit our Substack page and leave us a tip.

On Rational Ground for our premium members, our data analyses will always be available to you. Interested in becoming a COVID expert? Become a premium member.

COVID News

Texas Governor Greg Abbott Ends Statewide Mask Mandate, Opens State 100%

LUBBOCK, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Texas Governor Greg Abbott made the “statewide announcement” Tuesday afternoon that it’s time to open Texas 100% and he ended the mask mandate.

“Under no circumstance can someone be punished for not wearing a mask,” said Gov. Abbott.

By next Wednesday, March 2 all business of any time can open at 100% and ending statewide mask mandate.

He made the announcement from Lubbock on the same day Texas reported a new one day record for the number of people receiving vaccines—more than 216,000.

“Within a few months, experts say every Texan who wants a vaccine, will be able to get a shot,” said Abbott.

He said it’s safe to open Texas 100% because there are vaccines against COVID-19, medicines to treat those who get the virus, and there’s an abundance of COVID tests and PPE.

“Today’s announcement ensures Texans can tap into their own self-reliance to seize the opportunities our state has to offer,” said Abbott as he ended his press conference. “God bless the State of Texas.”

Mississippi governor lifts state mask mandate

https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/541282-mississippi-governor-lifts-state-mask-mandate

Mississippi on Tuesday became the latest state to lift its mask mandate and other coronavirus restrictions, Gov. Tate Reeves (R) announced.

Effective tomorrow, Reeves said the state’s current public health executive orders will be replaced by recommendations.

“Today, I signed what I expect will be one of my last executive orders regarding COVID-19. Our hospitalizations have plummeted, and our case numbers have fallen dramatically as well. In fact, our case numbers have fallen to the point where no county meets the original criteria for a mask mandate,” Reeves said during a press conference.

The announcement in Mississippi came at the same time Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) lifted his state’s mask mandate and capacity restrictions. 

The Biden administration has been urging states not to lift restrictions yet but has so far declined to call out governors by name. 

Reeves said businesses will be allowed to make their own policies but that “the governor’s office is getting out of the business of telling people what they can and can’t do.”

4 million J&J Covid vaccines ship out, Americans expected to receive shots within 2 days

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/4-million-j-j-covid-vaccines-ship-out-americans-expected-n1259119

Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine began shipping out Monday morning, and Americans should begin getting the single-dose shot within the next day or two, the company’s CEO said.

The vaccine is “on trucks as we’re talking,” Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky said Monday on NBC’s “TODAY” show.

“We’re shipping 4 million literally as we speak,” Gorsky said. “Within the next 24 to 48 hours, Americans should start receiving shots in arms.”

He added that 100 million shots should be distributed by June and a billion by the end of the year. And a billion doses means a billion vaccinated people since the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is given as a single dose. The other available vaccines, from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, are given as two doses each, three to four weeks apart.

The J&J vaccine, which the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization on Saturday, is also the easiest to store, as it can be kept in a refrigerator rather than a freezer.

Covid-19 Vaccine ‘Passports’ Raise Ethics Concerns, Logistical Hurdles

https://www.wsj.com/articles/covid-19-vaccine-passports-raise-ethics-concerns-logistical-hurdles-11614335403

As vaccine rollouts gain momentum, governments world-wide are looking at ways for people to prove they are inoculated against the coronavirus, raising logistical and ethical concerns about whether others will be excluded from daily life.

The U.K. government recently announced it will consider whether Britons will need proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test to visit bars, return to the office or attend theaters and sporting events.

In Israel, a vaccine passport was launched last week allowing those who are inoculated to go to hotels and gyms. Saudi Arabia now issues an app-based health passport for those inoculated, while Iceland’s government is doling out vaccine passports to facilitate foreign travel. Last month, President Biden issued executive orders asking government agencies to assess the feasibility of creating digital Covid-19 vaccination certificates.

Proponents of the plans say they will enable battered economies to reopen, even as vaccines are still being rolled out, allowing people to enjoy leisure activities and go to work safe in the knowledge they aren’t harming others or at risk themselves. It could also act as an incentive for people to get the shot.

UPDATE: Supreme Court Orders Santa Clara County To Allow Indoor Church Services

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday has ordered Santa Clara County to allow indoor church services to resume pending an appeal.

A federal appeals court had earlier this month allowed the county to ban indoor services while the issue makes its way through the courts.

Early Friday evening, the high court decided that those services should be allowed to happen until the case is resolved. The Supreme Court voted 6-3 to permit the South Bay church to hold services Sunday morning despite local public health orders.

Santa Clara County had argued that its ban remained valid because it was part of a broader prohibition on indoor gatherings at both religious and secular establishments.

Justices Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor were the dissenting votes in the decision.

The new decision follows a Feb. 6 order that let indoor worship services resume in most of California at 25% capacity.

“The Ninth Circuit’s failure to grant relief was erroneous. This outcome is clearly dictated by this Court’s decision,” the court’s brief order said, referring to the Feb. 6 order.

Santa Clara County’s current health order allows facilities operate at 20% capacity for purposes other than gatherings.

Commentary/Analysis

Florida got it right, and the lockdown states got it wrong

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2021/feb/26/florida-got-it-right-and-lockdown-states-got-it-wr/

“Welcome to the oasis of freedom!” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared at the opening of his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday. “Florida got it right, and the lockdown states got it wrong!”

Indeed, it did.

Florida has lower per-capita COVID-19 mortality than the national average and lower than 27 other states, including tightly lockdown California, despite having more senior citizens. Its unemployment rate is lower than the national average. Florida offers more in-person education than any other state, and it leads the nation in vaccinating those older than 65 years old. And its budget remains in good shape, with Mr. DeSantis declaring he hasn’t had to use a penny in Florida’s rainy-day fund to cover for pandemic-related expenses.

The Case that the Media Was Wrong to Accept Lockdown Effectiveness as the Basis of All Covid Coverage

https://www.mediaite.com/opinion/the-case-that-the-media-was-wrong-to-accept-lockdown-effectiveness-as-the-basis-of-all-covid-coverage/

The most dangerous mistake you can make at the start of a search for the truth, especially in a situation that is unprecedented, is to buy into a false premise, which then creates a defective prism through which all other evidence is then perceived. The poisonous impact of this development can then be greatly exaggerated once such mistaken conclusions create enormous damage, and those who came to such flawed assumptions are therefore deeply invested in not having been wrong.

The massive winter surge in Covid cases/hospitalizations/deaths in the United States, and around most of the world, followed by a dramatic and unpredicted fall in those data points, should cause everyone to revisit the presumptions upon which our reaction to the pandemic has been based. If the news media still viewed its primary purpose as finding and telling the truth, regardless of the impact on them or their political allies which may result, this is all that we would be hearing about right now. The fate of America itself may literally hang in the balance of how this sequence of events is ultimately interpreted.

The foundational supposition of news media coverage of the pandemic has been that lockdowns work and that governmental restrictions on human activities have direct control over the spread of the virus. There has been some (in my opinion, not nearly enough) openness to questioning whether or not the collateral damage done by such measures is outweighed by these supposed benefits, but there has been absolutely zero doubt that there is a significant positive result from taking away basic freedoms, even in a country formerly grounded in liberty.

Lockdowns don’t save lives and Sweden is all the proof you need

When Sweden strayed from the herd of nations hellbent on lockdown, it suffered intense vilification. The modellers who agitated for lockdown as a profoundly necessary step opined that veering from the mainstream playbook would see Sweden suffer some 100,000 excess deaths, double its normal annual death toll. Daily articles, notably in The Guardian, berated the country or the murder that would surely ensue if it didn’t rejoin the herd.

A lot was riding on this. In taking up the lockdown baton from China, the world was conducting a dangerous experiment. That experiment involved tearing up the public health policy guidelines for respiratory virus epidemics of the World Health Organisation (WHO), the US’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and many others.

These guidelines were the results of a century of evidence and deliberation that was summarily ignored when the virus arrived. Detailed statements of principle governed the evidential processes required to revise them. These too were ignored.

The basis for all of this was the assurance of the WHO’s Bruce Aylward that China’s lockdown had contained its epidemic. This in turn was based on speculation that everyone was susceptible to Covid-19 and that, without lockdown, exponential growth of disease and death was inevitable. This was a curious assumption. Since February 2020, it had been known that the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19 in susceptible individuals, was very closely related to other coronaviruses, some widely circulating. The likelihood that immune systems would find it completely novel was low.

But Sweden did not lock down, becoming the one of the most alluring control experiments the world has ever seen. And it did not suffer 100,000 excess deaths. Not even close. Instead, this is what happened:

Research

Less severe course of COVID-19 is associated with elevated levels of antibodies against seasonal human coronaviruses OC43 and HKU1 (HCoV OC43, HCoV HKU1)

https://www.ijidonline.com/article/S1201-9712(21)00171-5/fulltext

Abstract:

The clinical course of COVID-19 is very heterogeneous: Most infected individuals can be managed in an outpatient setting, but a substantial proportion of patients requires intensive care, resulting in a high rate of fatalities. We performed a biomarker study to assess the impact of prior infections with seasonal coronaviruses on COVID-19 severity. 60 patients with confirmed COVID-19 infections were included (age 30 – 82 years; 52 males, 8 females): 19 inpatients with critical disease, 16 inpatients with severe or moderate disease and 25 outpatients. Patients with critical disease had significantly lower levels of anti-HCoV OC43-NP (p = 0.016) and HCoV HKU1-NP (p = 0.023) antibodies at the first encounter compared to other COVID-19 patients. Our results indicate that prior infections with seasonal coronaviruses might protect against a severe course of disease.

Calling for benefit–risk evaluations of COVID-19 control measures

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(21)00193-8/fulltext

We think government lockdowns cause substantial collateral health damage. For example, hospital admissions in the USA for emergency treatment of acute ischaemic strokes have been substantially lower in February–March, 2020, than in February–March, 2019, resulting in delayed treatment. Compared with a historical baseline, UK nursing homes and hospices saw an increase in the number of deaths between February and June, 2020, associated with acute coronary syndrome (a 41% increase), stroke (a 39% increase), and heart failure (a 25% increase). The situation is similar for patients with cancer. In German hospitals, cancer cases decreased during the first national lockdown between March 12 and April 19, 2020: by 13·9% for breast cancer, 16·5% for bladder cancer, 18·4% for gastric cancer, 19·8% for lung cancer, 22·3% for colon cancer, and 23·1% for prostate cancer, suggesting that cancers might have been undetected and untreated during this period. In England, hospital admissions for chemotherapy appointments have fallen by 60%, and urgent referrals for early diagnosis of suspected cancers have decreased by 76% compared with pre-COVID-19 levels, which could contribute to 6270 additional deaths within 1 year. Delayed diagnosis and treatment are expected to increase the numbers of deaths up to year 5 after diagnosis by 7·9–9·6% for breast cancer, 15·3–16·6% for colorectal cancer, 4·8–5·3% for lung cancer, and 5·8–6·0% for oesophageal cancer.

Charts and Graphics

Pandemic Causes Spike in Anxiety & Depression

US Daily Cases – 7-day Average

Sweden: Deaths per 10,000 (age and gender-adjusted)

Daily New Deaths – Japan

International News

New Zealand’s largest city Auckland back to lockdown after COVID-19 case

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/coronavirus-cases-falling-globally-big-question/

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Saturday that the country’s biggest city, Auckland, will go into a seven-day lockdown from early morning on Sunday after a new local case of the coronavirus of unknown origin emerged.

This comes two weeks after Auckland’s nearly 2 million residents were plunged into a snap three-day lockdown when a family of three were diagnosed with the more transmissible UK variant of the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Health officials, who could not immediately confirm how the person got infected, said genome sequencing of the new infection was under way.

The patient developed symptoms on Tuesday and is regarded as having been potentially infectious since Sunday, officials said. The person has visited several public venues during that period.

RELATED ARTICLES on RATIONAL GROUND

in
06/22/2021

Burgeoning Evidence of Myopericarditis After COVID-19 Vaccination in Young People: A Call For Acknowledgment, Pause, and Serious Study

BY ANDREW BOSTOM, M.D. The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System [VAERS] (1) is a passive...

in
06/18/2021

What's on Your Mask at the End of a Day?

In news quickly gone viral, Florida parents had the masks their kids wore all day...

in
06/16/2021

Opening... or Four More Weeks of Variant

Preliminary research shows that vaccination is effective against the Delta variant. Other news this week...

Load more articles