Coffe & Covid 2/14/2022
Good morning, and Happy Tuesday! I hope everyone had a nice Valentine’s Day, got a restaurant reservation somewhere, and didn’t eat too much candy. Today’s roundup includes: Trudeau drops the “emergency” hammer on truckers; the Times explains how vulnerable people can protect themselves instead of waiting for the government to do it; Scott Gottlieb says we’re shifting from a shared sense of sacrifice to something else; Eric Adams fires almost 1,500 unjabbed city workers; big corporations start hauling employees back to the office; DC drops its jab passport; the Omicron looks to be ending right on time; an= CSIS article takes some remarkable things for granted; and a newly-published study takes the wind out of whiny parents’ objections to dropping school mask mandates.
🗞COVID NEWS AND COMMENTARY 🗞
🚛 Apparently everything is an emergency now whenever executives can’t do what they want. Yesterday, in what Politico called the “biggest risk of his political life,” Castro lookalike Justin Trudeau invoked Canada’s Emergencies Act — here we go again! — to deal with the truckers clogging up the capital. Even with Covid, this is the first time in Canada’s history that the Act was used. In other words, the truckers are scarier than the virus, or something.
The Enabling Act, I mean Emergencies Act, gives the Canadian government nearly unlimited powers to quell the protests, shut down crowdfunding and freeze the individual bank accounts of anyone who might be helping the demonstrators. I’m not making that up; it’s for SAFETY. “We cannot and will not allow illegal and dangerous activities to continue,” Trudeau said. Dangerous activities like a parked truck. “The blockades are harming our economy and endangering public safety.” Endangering people by honking.
The Act’s use generated a lot of angry commentary; not everyone is super happy about it. New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh told reporters “The reason why we got to this point is because the prime minister let the siege in Ottawa go on for weeks and weeks without actually doing anything about it.” The Canadian Civil Liberties Association tweeted “it threatens our democracy and our civil liberties.”
“The prime minister had an opportunity to talk and to listen to people who he disagreed with, and he refused to do so,” Interim Conservative Leader Candice Bergen said. She warned invoking the Emergencies Act was a “ham-fisted approach” that will likely have the opposite effect, and argued Trudeau was escalating and inflaming the situation by using labels to minimize people’s concerns and pandemic anxieties.
Canadian conservatives have called for Trudeau to reconsider the mandates. “The solution is staring him in the face,” Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre said. “All he has to do is listen to the experts, do what other countries are doing — and that is to eliminate these mandates and restrictions — to let the protesters including the truckers go back to their jobs and their lives.”
“I’m proud of the truckers and I stand with them,” Poilievre said in a podcast last week. “If Canadians are being inconvenienced, or in any way suffering from these protests, it is because Justin Trudeau made these protests happen.”
There are some small signs the truckers might be making progress. Trudeau announced the emergency response one hour after Canadian conservatives tried to pass a bill requiring the government to present a plan for ending vaccine mandates by the end of this month; it was narrowly defeated 185-151. The Public Health Agency of Canada issued a statement Monday saying the country is entering a “transition phase” of the pandemic, and saying people should expect new Covid waves and outbreaks as restrictions ease. That seems promising.
The Prime Minister was noncommittal, but left room to make changes to Covid policy. “There will be time later to reflect on all the lessons that can be learned from this situation,” Trudeau told reporters yesterday afternoon.
🔥 Get ready to laugh. Yesterday, the New York Times ran a story headlined, “Protecting the Vulnerable.” No, it’s not advocating for “let ‘er rip.” In this article, the “pivot” away from mandates and restrictions is referred to just as a “shift,” and the article offers five ways for “vulnerable “ people to protect themselves while the rest of the country shifts back to normal. Spoiler: none of the suggestions includes making other people do stuff.
The first suggestion, of course, is jabs, lots of them. The second is masks — HIGH QUALITY ones. Here we see the term “one-way masking” pop up again, along with a helpful link to an article in The Atlantic headlined “One-Way Masking Works.”* Keep your eye on that term, I bet we see a lot more of it. The third suggestion is to take Evusheld, a new AstraZeneca Covid drug. The fourth is to stock up on rapid tests for visitors to use. The fifth suggestion is to take Paxlovid, Pfizer’s Covid drug. See? It’s a “do it yourself” approach.
(* by the way, it’s fun to use this link as a response to people complaining online about lifting mask mandates.)
🔥 “Do it yourself” appears to be a theme. Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who appears to be one of the generals leading the Biden’s Narrative 2.0 charge, told Face the Nation Sunday that mask mandates lifting was “a trend across the country,” and observed there is now a shift from a “shared sense of sacrifice” to “shifting the burden to individuals,” and called for policy-makers to give parents more tools to protect their kids.
Reports about Gottlieb’s remarks used that word again. Shift. I guess “pivot” was polling badly. Or maybe we mocked it too hard.
Well. It’s shifty, all right.
Now we can see the outlines of the new program. They are going to call on “individuals to protect themselves,” using government-supplied tools, like one-way masks, home tests, jabs and Covid drugs. That will give the Covid crazy people some new OCDs to cling to, and create lots of new opportunities for graft and government largesse.
🔥 The New York Post reported yesterday that Mayor Eric Adams fired 1,430 city workers who refused to get jabbed. The terminated employees included “36 NYPD personnel, 25 Fire Department workers and 914 Department of Education staffers.” That’s a lot of educators who wouldn’t get the shot.
I wish those folks the best; they are better off now. It’s a terrific job market for people who want to work and it will be a momentary inconvenience while they find a better job.
🔥 Microsoft announced that starting February 28 — one day before the you-know-what — employees will have 30 days to begin returning to full-time work in the office. Many other large employers have also announced plans for workers to return to corporate campuses soon. Walmart told its corporate employees last month that it expects them to begin working from the company’s offices “the majority of time” as of February 28 (there it is again). Facebook said it will fully reopen its U.S. campuses at the end of March.
It’s going to be hard to get work-from-home types out of their comfy little nests. So far, most of them have stubbornly stuck to working from the couch. According to the Wall Street Journal, a firm that tracks how many people swipe into high-end office buildings says that as of early February, offices in 10 major cities were on average only 33% occupied.
Good luck with that.
🔥 Yesterday, Washington DC announced the end of its mandatory vaccine passport — effective TODAY. Businesses are no longer required to verify patron’s vaxx status. That was fast. I was just in DC a few weeks ago for the rally, and we all had to stay in Arlington, which wasn’t too inconvenient at all. Cheaper, too.
Anyway, the DC Covid Dashboard, where the new policy was announced, doesn’t really explain WHY it’s changed just two weeks before you-know-who give the you-know-what. It wouldn’t be a good look for DC to have the passports going during the announcement, would it? It would kind of make people feel like the pandemic wasn’t over yet.
🔥 Things are shaping up nicely for the SOTU. According to the New York Times’ Covid dashboard, national coronavirus cases have fallen about 75 percent from a mid-January peak. Cases are declining almost everywhere in the country. Hospitalizations nationwide are down more than 30 percent in the last two weeks, and ICU patients are also waning. Should be right at the trough on March 1.
🔥 The Center for Strategic & International Studies published a highbrow article a few days ago headlined, “China May Move beyond Zero-Covid. That Could Benefit Us All.” I found this one sentence most remarkable: “China will inevitably move beyond Zero-Covid, a patently unsustainable approach that makes less and less sense as effective treatments arrive and immune protections from vaccines and infection rise elsewhere in the world.“
I don’t know which is more interesting, the characterization of “Covid zero” as “patently unsustainable,” the acknowledgment that “effective treatments” exist, or the uncontroversial, off-handed recognition of natural immunity. It’s a trifecta of previously forbidden wrongthink. I think it is enormously significant that these three ideas can now, apparently, be discussed without rancor or cancellation, as though these notions were just common-sense, obvious truths. I mean, duh.
🔬 A new study quietly published in January’s Journal of Infection, headlined “Immunocompromised Children and Young People are at No Increased Risk of Severe COVID-19.” You read that right. NO risk. The researchers studied immunocompromised pediatric Covid patients for a year between March 2020 and March 2021. They compared those kids’ outcomes with non-immunocompromised kids, concluding that the “study shows SARS-CoV-2 infections have occurred in immunocompromised children and young people with no increased risk of severe disease. No children died.”
How about that? This study effective rebuts the chief argument pro-maskers are making these days to keep masks on school kids. They’ve been whining, “but what about immune compromised kids???” I guess we don’t need to worry about it.
It’s fascinating that the study period ended in March 2021. Yet the study — which is huge and welcome news for some frantic parents — didn’t publish until almost a year later. Almost a year later right when it was needed most to quell parental anxiety about lifting mask mandates in schools. Another Covid coincidence! I searched twitter and found even the study linked by former-pro-lockdown “experts” like epidemiologist Jennifer Nuzzo, who cited the study and called it “interesting.”
Twitter avatar for @JenniferNuzzoJennifer Nuzzo, DrPH @JenniferNuzzo
Interesting data. Immunocompromised children and young people are at no increased risk of severe COVID-19 – ScienceDirect h/t @apsmunro
It’s interesting that pro-mask experts like Nuzzo are now citing article proving masks are necessary. That’s interesting.