By Megan Mansell Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been assured that community...
COVID hysterics want to hide the consequences of their policy, but the truth eventually comes out. You can only hide from reality for so long. A part of living in hysteria is ignoring consequences and blindly marching forward. Take the tragic example of restaurants in Nashville. Restaurants were ordered by fiat to reduce occupancy, yet the data collected by the city of Nashville showed that restaurants were much safer than staying home. Instead of sharing this positive news with the public, the Nashville city government hid the truth and decided to double down on lowering occupancy and pushing restaurants in bankruptcy. It took a news story to reverse the city’s decision. You won’t see a public apology as it wasn’t about the data to begin with.
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For our premium members, we added a new analysis on Florida and for general consumption, a new report on Governor DeSantis’s recent COVID-19 roundtable.
A heartbreaking consequence of COVID lockdowns.
Military suicides have increased by as much as 20% this year compared with the same period in 2019, and some incidents of violent behavior have spiked as service members struggle under COVID-19, war-zone deployments, national disasters and civil unrest. Although the data are incomplete and causes of suicide are complex, Army and Air Force officials say they believe the pandemic is adding stress to an already strained force. And senior Army leaders — who say they’ve seen about a 30% jump in active duty suicides so far this year — told the Associated Press that they are looking at shortening combat deployments. Such a move would be part of a broader effort to make the well-being of soldiers and their families the Army’s top priority, overtaking combat readiness and weapons modernization. The Pentagon refused to provide 2020 data or discuss the issue, but Army officials said discussions in Defense Department briefings indicate there has been up to a 20% jump in overall military suicides this year. The numbers vary by service. The active Army’s 30% spike — from 88 last year to 114 this year — pushes the total up because it’s the largest service. The Army Guard is up about 10%, going from 78 last year to 86 this year. The Navy total is believed to be lower this year. Army leaders say they can’t directly pin the increase on the virus, but the timing coincides. “I can’t say scientifically, but what I can say is — I can read a chart and a graph, and the numbers have gone up in behavioral health related issues,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said in an AP interview. Pointing to increases in Army suicides, murders and other violent behavior, he added, “We cannot say definitively it is because of COVID. But there is a direct correlation from when COVID started, the numbers actually went up.” Preliminary data for the first three months of 2020 show an overall dip in military suicides across the active duty and reserves, compared with the same time last year. Those early numbers, fueled by declines in Navy and Air Force deaths, gave hope to military leaders who have long struggled to cut suicide rates. But in the spring, the numbers ticked up.
An unfortunate and self-inflicted consequence of our response to COVID-19.
Researchers are finding growing evidence that the Covid-19 pandemic’s deadly reach is stretching far beyond people who died from coronavirus infections. From Alzheimer’s disease deaths to fatal heart attacks, federal data show deaths in 2020 have exceeded those of previous years in numerous categories. Doctors and health researchers say the fatalities reflect the ways the pandemic has amplified stress and financial strain while causing many people to avoid hospitals for fear of infections. “For a long period of time there was a pretty dramatic drop-off in ER visits, elective-surgery screenings, things that Americans do all the time to keep themselves healthy,” said Tom Inglesby, who directs the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University. The effects are piling up. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tracked thousands of deaths this year beyond expected levels for conditions that also include hypertension, strokes and diabetes. Physicians say the surge was especially notable in the spring, when the pandemic hit New York and other parts of the Northeast hard. Some of these additional deaths were probably caused by Covid-19 but not recorded as such on death certificates, but others likely represent indirect fallout from the pandemic, said Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality-statistics branch at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. “We had no experience with this sort of thing, really,” Mr. Anderson said, regarding the pandemic. “The more we can learn about how things played out here and how the virus impacted mortality—not just directly, but indirectly—can help us God forbid we have another one of these.” The CDC estimates there were somewhere between about 202,000 and 263,000 excess deaths in the U.S. this year through late August, measured against deaths from 2017 through 2019. The U.S. by that point had about 188,000 known Covid-19 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins. In New York City, the citywide death count surged by 35,000 in the most recent fiscal year, far exceeding the 19,142 confirmed and 4,625 probable virus-related deaths, authorities said Thursday.
Remote learning is a rolling disaster.
Shemar, a twelve-year-old from East Baltimore, is good at math, and Karen Ngosso, his fourth-grade math teacher, at Abbottston Elementary School, is one reason why. “I would try to pump him up and tell him, ‘You’re a good student,’ ” she said. But she knew that he didn’t get enough sleep, and he was often absent. His home situation, like those of many of her students, was unstable: his mother suffered from drug addiction, and they moved frequently. Ngosso kept an eye on Shemar even after he started fifth grade, which is when I met him, in late 2018, at First & Franklin Presbyterian Church, a few blocks from the transitional housing where he and his mother were living. I volunteered to tutor Shemar, and once a week I picked him up from school and we’d do homework at a coffee shop. Shemar has a remarkably good sense of direction, which came in handy when he had to catch multiple buses and the light rail to get to school from wherever home happened to be. He has a knack for impish one-liners, often prefaced by “Can I just say something?” He is the only kid I’ve tutored who will, without fail, stop mid-text to ask about a word he doesn’t recognize. “Personification?” he’ll ask. “What’s that?” His own vocabulary is charmingly esoteric—once, he said that an older sister had “bamboozled” him into going to the store; another time, he asked me to tighten his swim goggles “just a smidgen.” His mother takes Suboxone every day at a clinic, but stability is elusive. She and Shemar often stay up late watching TV, and when Shemar made it to school he was often drowsy in class. But being around teachers and other kids revived him. I continued to see him when he entered sixth grade, and on days when I picked him up he was typically tearing around the jungle gym with friends, with an unself-consciousness that, together with his slight frame, made him seem younger than twelve. Sometimes he’d help his social-studies teacher, a young woman in her first year on the job, straighten up her classroom.
You can only outrun reality for so long..
City emails obtained by FOX 17 news reveal that just days before restaurants were rolled back from 75 percent occupancy to 50 percent occupancy, the Metro Health Department had traced only three coronavirus cases to restaurants. Here’s Dennis Ferrier with reaction from Nashville’s restaurant community. On July 2nd when Mayor John Cooper closed bars and restricted restaurants to 50 percent occupancy, the city’s own data showed that only 3 out of 10,743 COVID cases had been traced back to restaurants. “We were building back up before the July 4th weekend,” Cary Bringle, who owns Peg Leg Porker, said. “I think it was a terrible decision,” Bringle said. “How do you justify three cases shutting down an entire industry in Nashville that’s worth millions? Not only for the owners and their employees but to the city in sales tax.” Bringle’s large and previously busy downtown bar-b-que restaurant is carefully marked to limit capacity to 50 percent. But Bringle says please understand this: 50 percent capacity in a restaurant will bankrupt you. “Fifty-percent in a restaurant is a failure number,” Bringle said. “That number if you are at 50 percent, you’re going to fail eventually, whether you fail today or fail six months from now.” Restaurants have now been rolled back to 50 percent for almost 90 days. Mayor John Cooper announced they could go back to 75 percent on October 1. He made that announcement the day after we reported on low case numbers at bars and restaurants. So how many cases of COVID have been traced back to restaurants since those three cases reported on June 30? We don’t know because the city hasn’t released the numbers. We have made several email attempts to find out. After all, the mayor claims he wants to be transparent. “Of course we are happy to share all information but we want the right interpretation behind all of this,” Mayor Cooper said in a previous press conference. Alphonso Anderson of Big Al’s Deli says don’t make this a political issue. Give restaurants this number now. “It’s a transparency issue, just be honest, we are doing everything we are required to do by the city, we’re doing,” Anderson said. “Just be transparent with us, be honest. Don’t treat us like a two-year-old child.”
A useful guide to understanding how and when a COVID-19 vaccine will arrive.
A clinical trial is typically sponsored by a company making a vaccine candidate or an academic institution, or a partnership of both. But it is actually monitored by what is known as a data and safety monitoring board, or DSMB, a group of independent experts hired to make sure volunteers in the study are safe. In many studies, the DSMB has the ability to recommend stopping a study not only if a treatment is unsafe, but also if it is so clearly effective that continuing just wouldn’t be ethical. In the case of the vaccine trials, the studies being run by Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson with the National Institutes of Health share a common DSMB. The study being run by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech has its own. The DSMBs will conduct what’s called an interim analysis after a certain number of people have been infected with Covid-19 and shown symptoms. Each of these cases is considered an “event,” and each vaccine maker has set a different number of events as a threshold to conduct an interim analysis as part of their trial protocols. The study being run by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech, frontrunners in the race for a vaccine, is conducting its first interim analysis after 32 events, and would consider the vaccine effective if 26 people in the placebo group and six in its vaccine group had Covid. A study of Moderna’s vaccine, another frontrunner, is waiting until there are 53 cases of Covid. In the case of Pfizer and BioNTech, an interim analysis could happen in October. Should a vaccine be approved, potentially for millions of people, after its efficacy has been shown based on 32 cases of Covid-19? Some experts say no. Eric Topol, the director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, has been fervently saying that all the trials should continue beyond even their designed ends — when there are about 150 cases of Covid — saying that even the 150 number “may make statistical sense, but it defies common sense.” This could be particularly true if efficacy is limited, given that all the vaccines frequently cause side effects like fever.
Despite how hysterical elites rant about COVID-19 at colleges, there are almost zero hospitalizations.
Virus is going virus.
Lockdowns have lethal consequences.
Whoops! Turns out forcing people not to work has unintended consequences.
The “Case-demic” finally ends in Spain as they updated their testing guidance
COVID-19 didn’t close the schools; the self-imposed shutdown did.
Every morning in front of the Devaraj Urs public housing apartment blocks on the outskirts of the city of Tumakuru, a swarm of children pours into the street. They are not going to school. Instead of backpacks or books, each child carries a filthy plastic sack. These children, from 6 to 14 years old, have been sent by their parents to rummage through garbage dumps littered with broken glass and concrete shards in search of recyclable plastic. They earn a few cents per hour and most wear no gloves or masks. Many cannot afford shoes and make their rounds barefoot, with bleeding feet. “I hate it,” said Rahul, an 11-year-old boy praised by his teacher as bright. But in March, India closed its schools because of the coronavirus pandemic, and Rahul had to go to work. In many parts of the developing world, school closures put children on the streets. Families are desperate for money. Children are an easy source of cheap labor. While the United States and other developed countries debate the effectiveness of online schooling, hundreds of millions of children in poorer countries lack computers or the internet and have no schooling at all. United Nations officials estimate that at least 24 million children will drop out and that millions could be sucked into work. Ten-year-olds are now mining sand in Kenya. Children the same age are chopping weeds on cocoa plantations in West Africa. In Indonesia, boys and girls as young as 8 are painted silver and pressed into service as living statues who beg for money. The surge in child labor could erode the progress achieved in recent years in school enrollment, literacy, social mobility and children’s health. “All the gains that have been made, all this work we have been doing, will be rolled back, especially in places like India,” said Cornelius Williams, a high-ranking UNICEF official.
Fear is the most powerful of emotions and, as emotions are stronger than thoughts, fear can overpower the clearest of minds. We shouldn’t feel bad about being frightened. From an evolutionary perspective, it is key to our survival, it protects us from danger. And that is precisely what makes fear one of the most powerful tools in behavioural psychology. Britain has been a world leader in behavioural insights since David Cameron set up the “nudge unit”. We now export behavioural psychology to governments and corporations around the world. The Government has used behavioural psychology to influence behaviour and encourage compliance during the Covid-19 epidemic. But has the nudge become a shove? When the SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) minutes were published, people were startled by the admission that the UK Government intended to deliberately frighten people to make them follow the lockdown rules. But governments have long-used use fear to control populations and influence behaviour, from the benign intentions of health campaigns such as the 1980s hard-hitting “Don’t die of ignorance” HIV campaign, to the more concerning end of the scale, such as the USA’s MK-ULTRA. Can using fear be justified in a disaster? SPI-B (Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group) clearly think so. And many people might think that a little bit of fear is an acceptable trade off if it is for the greater good. Once it became clear that herd immunity was unpalatable to the British media and public, the government changed tack and imposed lockdown. Not expecting compliance, the behavioural scientists of SPI-B recommended that the government use “hard-hitting emotional messaging”, enact legislation, use the media to increase the sense of threat and instigate social disapproval to ensure people followed the guidance. The British public have been subjected to a 24/7 onslaught of fear from the daily death tolls, to the (mis)use of statistics, tone of messaging and, in a particularly low note, public health messages imploring the young, “Don’t kill granny.”
COVID didn’t cancel Christmas.
“Cheer up, Vicar, it’s Christmas!” Boozed-up party goers often roll up to me mid festive season and say that sort of thing. It’s because the run-up to Christmas always brings a number of deaths in the parish and so I have to bounce between funeral and carol service. My mood doesn’t always snap back to revelry in the immediate aftermath of the more mournful occasion. So I often want to reply, tartly: “Apologies for not being very Christmassy, but I have just buried a lovely old lady and comforted her grieving family.” As some B-listerer turns on the lights on Oxford Street, and the television offers up another excruciating visit to Mrs Brown’s Boys, I generally have prophet Isaiah running on a loop in my head. “The people who have walked in darkness will see a great light.” My job is to point to that light, to hold it up and offer it as hope to those living in darkness. But it can get lost amid all the twinkling light pollution of the season and I worry that my role as the local master of ceremonies for Christmas cheer is too complicit with the spirit of bacchanalian bonhomie that obscures the simple story of God coming into the world as a child. This year it may be different. Christmas is under threat, they say. “Without real leadership from the feeble @churchofengland Christmas simply won’t [sic] be Christmas,” the political journalist Isabel Oakeshott tweeted out this week. To which the Archbishop of Canterbury — I imagine properly cheesed off — was driven to reply, sarcastically: “Thanks Isabel, we’re all very pro-Christmas in the @churchofengland.” This is one exchange among many. The lights won’t be on this year. The fireworks have been cancelled. The pubs will close early. The journalist Rachel Johnson even suggested a return to prohibition, banning the sale of booze. Students, we now hear, might not be released home for the holidays. There will certainly be no large family gatherings. So a pall of winter misery is about to envelop us. Christmas is being cancelled. There have always been two Christmases, of course — the Christian one and the secular one — and they exist in an uneasy yet symbiotic relationship. The Church grumbles that Christmas has become too commercialised and ever so slightly resents the appearance of drunken strangers sniggering at the back of a midnight mass.
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