The terms and conditions of the biomedical security state continue to shift under our feet. In a November 30 press conference, CDC director Rochelle Walensky assured the public that “we are not changing the definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ right now,” with the asterisk that “as that science evolves, we will look at whether we need to update our definition.” It’s not clear what part of “the science” has evolved since then, but less than two months later, Walensky told CBS that the CDC was introducing the term “up to date”: “Right now we’re pivoting our language. If you are eligible for a booster and you haven’t gotten it, you’re not ‘up to date,’ and you need to get your booster in order to be up to date.”
These public-health proclamations, with their carefully ambiguous language, seem designed to wave off criticisms as wild-eyed conspiracy theories. Until, of course, they aren’t. In early November, Ron DeSantis was “fact-checked” by the Independent for “falsely claim[ing] vaccinated citizens without boosters could be declared unvaccinated and lose their jobs.” Today, the British paper’s assurances that “the director of the CDC says the Biden administration has no plans to reclassify vaccinated people as unvaccinated if they don’t get boosters” seem a little less sure-footed.
The pandemic mission creep doesn’t stop there. My home state of Oregon has opted to extend its mask mandate indefinitely. And recent months have seen the masking regime expand beyond Covid, as public-health officials, including Walensky herself, begin to suggest masks as a response to the flu. Citing numerous experts, Yale Medicine informed its readers last week that “COVID-19 is not the only reason to reconsider your mask. After a 2020–21 flu season that has been described as one of the mildest ones in memory, some experts were concerned about this flu season.” The article explains that a Yale Medicine emergency specialist also urges adults to consider wearing masks during flu season if they are at risk for or interact with people who are vulnerable to complications from the flu. “Because the flu hits you all of a sudden — you may feel fine even though you are potentially contagious,” the doctor said, “then all of a sudden you have a fever of 102.”
Gone is the sunny talk of a post-Covid America. On July 4, Biden declared “independence” from the virus before a crowd of more than a thousand attendees on the White House’s South Lawn. But as I pointed out earlier this month, “universities across the country are pushing forward with draconian restrictions, locking down campuses and quarantining students — all of whom are fully vaccinated and boosted, in compliance with the universities’ own requirements — in their rooms.” We’re not done with virtual school yet. We’re not done with mask mandates.
On top of that, vaccine passports aredebuting in cities across the country. Instead of “independence” from Covid, we are now facing perpetual subjugation.
New York Tough? New York traumatized is more like it.
Far from showing post-9/11 resiliency, Big Apple residents have curled up fetal-style to protect themselves from nearly nonexistent COVID-19. Not the foolish unvaccinated, mind you, but my fully, triple-vaxxed friends, neighbors and everyone else.
New cases, hospitalizations and deaths have been in free fall for weeks, according to the city’s Department of Health. The seven-day average of cases, for example, plummeted from more than 43,000 on Jan. 3 to under 7,000 this week.
For the fully vaccinated, the death risk is near-zero: currently it is 1.54 deaths per 100,000 people, or .00154%. You’ll more likely be carried off by Q: The Winged Serpent of 1980s New York schlock-movie lore.
No lectures, please about how easily the Omicron variant spreads. We’ve only read about it since early December. Although my wife and I have somehow dodged it so far, it’s infected my brother, my cousin, and seemingly every other person I know on earth. But none was truly sick beyond a day or two of fatigue and head colds. At least half who tested positive never had symptoms.
But lots of liberal-leaning New Yorkers take their guidance from politicians, lockdown-nostalgic media such as The New York Times and “experts” who have not once been right. These mostly Democratic believers in big government have embraced office- and crowd- avoidance — make that life-avoidance — like a security blanket.
For them, nothing beats sitting home with Netflix and munchies, packing on pounds and waiting for the next high school friend’s Instagram shots of kids and cats to provide a mirage of normal human connection.
The “sheltering in place” spirit seems to take deeper hold every week.
“Covid theater” includes such idiocy as requiring restaurant-goers to mask up during the ten seconds it takes to walk from an entrance to a table. And the even worse rule that makes staff, but not customers, wear the damn things all the time. Is anyone surprised that help’s so hard to find when employees are treated like lepers?
But now, as Omicron gently settles there, Ardern’s New Zealand has lost any remaining halo of Covid superiority. It looks neither ‘compassionate’, nor even ‘tough’ or ‘hardline’ but completely pathological. Mad. Bonkers. Pitiable. And not without a whiff of totalitarianism.
You might think that a lefty as vocally committed to social justice and human rights as Ardern would shy away from draconian curbs based on a chimaera (zero covid). In the absence of a credible threat, it is a strategy whose main effect would be to destroy people’s livelihoods and will to live.
In fact, those who purport, like [Jacinda] Ardern, to be the most virtuous and “inclusive”, the keenest on helping the marginalised, are often all too comfortable playing fast and loose with the little people’s lives: and the keenest on controlling everyone. They love power – so long as it’s in their hands – and Covid has provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for grabbing it.
But the most chilling aspect of Ardern’s monomaniacal leadership is the complete lack of respect for borders – not their inviolability (she has shown that aspect of them to be firmly intact) but their prison-like oppressiveness.
Previously, it was possible to enter New Zealand, by winning a coveted slot in a quarantine hotel, where you would be watched over by military personnel throughout. But since the Omicron Nine, the country has now closed itself to all travellers. Tourism was once New Zealand’s biggest export, but too bad: the Dear Leader’s obsession with total control comes first.
Speaking of the once-free country of New Zealand, consider this news: “A pregnant New Zealand journalist says she has had to turn to the Taliban for help after being prevented from returning to her home country due to quarantine rules.” (HT Matthew Saywell). Here’s more:
In a column published in the New Zealand Herald on Saturday, Charlotte Bellis said it was “brutally ironic” that she had once questioned the Taliban about their treatment of women and she was now asking the same questions of her own government.
“When the Taliban offers you – a pregnant, unmarried woman – safe haven, you know your situation is messed up,” Bellis wrote in her column.
New Zealand’s Covid-19 response minister, Chris Hipkins, told the Herald his office had asked officials to check whether they had followed the proper procedures in Bellis’s case, “which appeared at first sight to warrant further explanation”.
New Zealand has managed to keep the spread of the virus to a minimum during the pandemic and has reported just 52 virus deaths among its population of 5 million.
But the country’s requirement that even returning citizens spend 10 days isolating in quarantine hotels run by the military has led to a backlog of thousands of people wanting to return home vying for spots.
Stories of citizens stranded abroad in dire circumstances have caused embarrassment for prime minister Jacinda Ardern and her government.
el gato malo plausibly predicts that “one day, those brainwashed by the branch covidians are going to realize what they have actually done here. and they will never be able to look in the mirror again.”
Truckers understand public health better than some public health officials.
For more on the truckers’ protest in Ottawa, see this report in the Daily Mail: “Justin Trudeau and his family flee Canadian capital Ottawa as up to 50,000 ‘Freedom Convoy’ anti-vaccine mandate truckers arrive at his office – days after he dismissed them as a ‘small fringe minority’.” A slice:
The movement received an endorsement Thursday from Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who tweeted, ‘Canadian truckers rule’ and the movement has become a cause celebre for many on the right of politics in the United States.
Flying the Canadian flag, waving banners demanding “Freedom” and chanting slogans against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the truckers were joined by thousands of other protesters angered not only by Covid-19 restrictions but by broader discontent with the government.
There was an enormous clamor as hundreds of big trucks, their engines rumbling, sounded their air horns non-stop. Estimates of the number of truckers range from 10-20,000.
Closer to Parliament, families calmly marched on a bitterly cold day, while young people chanted and older people in the crowd banged pots and pans in protest under Trudeau’s office windows.
Margery Smelkinson, Leslie Bienen, and Jeanne Noble make the case, in the Atlantic, against masks in schools. (HT my intrepid Mercatus Center colleague Veronique de Rugy) Two slices:
Therefore, the overall takeaway from these studies—that schools with mask mandates have lower COVID-19 transmission rates than schools without mask mandates—is not justified by the data that have been gathered. In two of these studies, this conclusion is undercut by the fact that background vaccination rates, both of staff and of the surrounding community, were not controlled for or taken into consideration. At the time these studies were conducted, when breakthrough infections were much less common, this was a hugely important confounding variable undermining the CDC’s conclusions that masks in schools provide a concrete benefit in controlling COVID-19 spread: Communities with higher vaccination rates had less COVID-19 transmission everywhere, including in schools, and those same communities were more likely to have mask mandates.
Over the past 21 months, slowly and with much resistance, the layers of mythology around COVID-19 mitigation in schools have been peeled away, each time without producing the much-ballyhooed increases in COVID-19. Schools did not become hot spots when they reopened, nor when they reduced physical distancing, nor when they eliminated deep-cleaning protocols. These layers were peeled away because the evidence supporting them was weak, and they all had substantial downsides for children’s education and health.
Fauci continues to prove that he is a political monster, wedded in no way to any real science. (DBx: If humanity regains its good senses, Fauci will be remembered by history as the quintessential arrogant, myopic, power-lusting, and socially destructive bureaucrat. Fauci alone is a powerful argument against the administrative state.)