Opinion: Action, not weasel words

By George Smith  — July 31, 2021

Joe Biden inherited a mess; Pandemic, divided America, immigration SNAFU, revenue shortfall, rising national deficit and debt, GOP misinformation campaign…and the list goes on and on.

Biden’s efforts to add calmness, empathy and reason to the national dialogue has been exemplary; his appointment of certain “program czars” have simply not worked.

VP Kanaka Harris was handed the chore of fixing the immigration problems on our southern border and, from research, reading and and analyzing stories, she is doing a lousy job. New problems seem to pop up every day, from accepting immigrants without COVID checks to sending thousands of immigrants by charter plane all over the country.

The program to create an immigration path to the U.S. for Afghan workers (and their families) who aided our troops, according to one in-depth article, is a “disaster”.

We OWE these brave workers; their safety are our responsibility.

I simply cannot see why the administration could not turn the entire process over to military logistics and material transportation officers. These trained officers regularly move huge amounts of people and material all over the world. Give the order to get it done…and back off and let them work their magic.

It is difficult to multi-task, and no job in the world requires more multi-tasking than that of a country’s leader.

Biden needs to “Cowboy up!” and jump-start his game in delegating difficult chores to people who know processes, programs snd protocol … and leave them to do the job. If no progress is made in a certain area within a reasonable timeframe, cut them loose and give somebody else the chance to be a hero.

Action, not weasel words. Results, not excuses.

Do it and do it now.


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(NOTE: This information might not make the local newspapers in a timely fashion; let your friends and family know to be more careful — for the next several weeks. J. Harris, MD)


Outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 Infections, Including COVID-19 Vaccine Breakthrough Infections, Associated with Large Public Gatherings — Barnstable County, Massachusetts, July 2021

”…Among the 469 cases in Massachusetts residents, 346 (74%) occurred in persons who were fully vaccinated; of these, 301 (87%) were male, with a median age of 42 years. Vaccine products received by persons experiencing breakthrough infections were Pfizer-BioNTech (159; 46%), Moderna (131; 38%), and Janssen (56; 16%); among fully vaccinated persons in the Massachusetts general population, 56% had received Pfizer-BioNTech, 38% had received Moderna, and 7% had received Janssen vaccine products. Among persons with breakthrough infection, 274 (79%) reported signs or symptoms, with the most common being cough, headache, sore throat, myalgia, and fever. Among fully vaccinated symptomatic persons, the median interval from completion of ≥14 days after the final vaccine dose to symptom onset was 86 days (range = 6–178 days). Among persons with breakthrough infection, four (1.2%) were hospitalized, and no deaths were reported. Real-time RT-PCR Ct values in specimens from 127 fully vaccinated patients (median = 22.77) were similar to those among 84 patients who were unvaccinated, not fully vaccinated, or whose vaccination status was unknown (median = 21.54) (Figure 2).

”…Event organizers and local health jurisdictions should continually assess the need for additional measures, including limiting capacity at gatherings or event postponement, based on current rates of COVID-19 transmission, population vaccination coverage, and other factors.§§§ On July 27, CDC released recommendations that all persons, including those who are fully vaccinated, should wear masks in indoor public settings in areas where COVID-19 transmission is high or substantial. ..Findings from this investigation suggest that even jurisdictions without substantial or high COVID-19 transmission might consider expanding prevention strategies, including masking in indoor public settings regardless of vaccination status, given the potential risk of infection during attendance at large public gatherings that include travelers from many areas with differing levels of transmission….”


1. ‘The War has Changed’: Internal CDC Document Urges New Messaging, Warns Delta Infections Likely More Severe (Washington Post) The delta variant of the coronavirus appears to cause more severe illness than earlier variants and spreads as easily as chickenpox, according to an internal federal health document that argues officials must “acknowledge the war has changed.” The document is an internal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention slide presentation, shared within the CDC and obtained by The Washington Post. The document strikes an urgent note, revealing the agency knows it must revamp its public messaging to emphasize vaccination as the best defense against a variant so contagious that it acts almost like a different novel virus, leaping from target to target more swiftly than Ebola or the common cold.

2. WHO Doesn’t Recommend Covid Booster Doses Right Now, Citing Lack of Data (CNBC) The World Health Organization doesn’t recommend Covid-19 booster shots …the group’s top vaccine doctor said Wednesday, citing a lack of data on their effectiveness. Dr. Kate O’Brien, the WHO’s director of immunization, vaccines and biologicals, said the organization is still researching whether a booster shot is needed to increase protection against highly contagious mutations of the coronavirus.

(J. Harris: This could be another case where the WHO is mistaken? I plan to take a booster as soon as it is offered, despite the fact that ‘I’m barely over 65 and thin as a rail.’ I also avoid crowds and unvaccinated people, especially in crowds.)

‘I Would Go Tomorrow to Get the Third Shot’

“…Look, it is more contagious than early strains. And so think [about] how contagious that was. It’s at least twice as contagious, maybe three or four times as contagious. Six feet from an unvaccinated person is not protection anymore. I would wear masks. It is [as] contagious as chicken pox, which is highly contagious. It’s less contagious than measles, which is highly, highly contagious. It’s hard to quantitate….”


From the Charlie Brown Comic Strip —

Although COVID-19 spreads mostly via the mouth and nose, scientists now conclude that the greatest risk comes from assholes.


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Opinion: Why So Mean?

By George Smith  — July 29, 2021

Why are elected public officials who identify as Republican so darn mean-spirited?

I feel sure they love their families, revere their friends and spoil their dogs and cats. But when it comes to other humans — mainly those different from themselves, the poor, oppressed, scared, those seeking a better life — they turn into a combination of Scrooge and Darth Vader.

“Luke…I am your father. I will kill you now!”

Whatever happen to “compassionate conservatism”? You remember, because I sure do, when the GOP was not all about partisanship and retribution but looked at the ills of the country and, sometimes, worked with Democrats on societal issues that benefited about 30 percent of those citizens in the lower socioeconomic rungs of the Almighty Dollar Ladder.

Today, with only token opposition, the Republican Party is focused on three items: 1. Whatever Donald Trump wants is fine with the rank-and-file; 2. Whatever President Biden is trying to do will be opposed with the vigor of a rabid wolverine; and, 3. Their main job (both parties guilty here) is to get re-elected without primary opposition.

Oh, I guess there is a No. 4: Regardless of how out-of-touch some GOP lawmakers are with common sense and reality, no matter how many lies they perpetuate or how far up Trump’s accommodating posterior they insert their heads, as long as they vote the “right way”, they are part and parcel of the GOP cult.

How could any knowledgeable American not see that the GOP’s  reticent on working to assist in curtailing the COVID pandemic is killing people, a majority of whom are the GOP faithful, the people who would vote for them if they were only alive?

The Republican Party is on the wrong side of history on tax reform

Issues (making the rich richer is not a winning political branding issue); pushing vaccination to slow the pandemic; reverting to policies and laws aimed at re-Jim Crowing the voting rights of minorities; threatening to kill a massive infrastructure bill because of a refusal to acknowledge that “infrastructure” is more than concrete snd steel; and, malignantly ignoring the plight of Americans living in poverty.

History will not treat the era of Donald Trump kindly. The would-be Emperor Trump was not only without clothes and abusing himself for the whole world to see, he actively encouraged his followers to follow his example and  perform sadomasochistic rituals on their fellow countrymen and women.

And because Trump “tells it like it is” and is “not a typical politician”, they bow down to his crazed whims like the cult members they have become.

Most of his faithful are not yet ready to accept their political pied piper is a fraud and grifter and is not a Republican or Christian by any definition. He is a liar, an admitted abuser of women, a self-ordained “Christian” who does not attend church or know the Bible (remember “Two Corinthians”?)

His administration has had more scandals with more aides, staffers and campaign workers charged, convicted and jailed than ANY administration in history, including that of Richard Nixon.

One day, maybe, they will wake up amd see there”savior” for what he is: A fake prophet and narcissist. For those millions of faithful followers of Emperor Trump, that will a rude, crude, devastating awakening.

And, hopefully, they will learn from the experience and vow not to be bamboozled by politicians spouting BS ever again.


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1. C.D.C. Internal Report Calls Delta Variant as Contagious as Chickenpox

2. Why Vaccinated People Are Getting ‘Breakthrough’ Infections

More than 97 percent of people hospitalized for Covid-19 are unvaccinated…if you’re vaccinated, you are protected….You are not going to end up with severe disease, hospitalization or death.”

3. Covid is more mysterious than we often admit.

(J. Harris: Read this short article; it will cheer you up.)

But much of the ebb and flow of a pandemic cannot be explained by changes in human behavior. That was true with influenza a century ago, and it is true with Covid now. An outbreak often fizzles mysteriously, like a forest fire that fails to jump from one patch of trees to another….A more plausible explanation appears to be that Delta spreads very quickly at first and, for some unknown set of reasons, peters out long before a society has reached herd immunity..That’s not guaranteed to happen everywhere, and there probably will be more variants after Delta. Remember: Covid behaves in mysterious ways. But Americans should not assume that Delta is destined to cause months of rising caseloads. Nor should they assume that a sudden decline, if one starts this summer, fits a tidy narrative that attributes the turnaround to rising vaccination and mask wearing.


 Überantibodies From Recovered COVID-19 Patients Could Spur New Therapeutics and Vaccines

“…Knowing which spike protein regions are highly conserved across variants could potentially enable the design of a universal SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. The available shots are based on the original spike configuration, and researchers are studying boosters that use variant spikes. This arms race between virus and vaccine could continue indefinitely. But instead of perpetually staying 1 (or more) steps behind the virus, third-generation vaccines could be designed to induce or deliver only the spike epitopes that at least so far have remained stable….The experiments suggested that combining B1-182.1, the most potent of the candidates, with either of 2 other strong neutralizers stopped antibody-resistant mutations from emerging. “Two of the antibodies working together appear to be better at mitigating escapes than just a single antibody alone…

(J. Harris: This complicated article provides the hope that the use of combinations of certain antibodies originally produced naturally by Covid infected patients can be identified, manufactured, tested, and used to treat Covid patients. It can probably be constantly updated to treat the new variants as they appear. 


Here ARE our county vaccination rates 

County: Harrison

Public Health Region: 4/5N

Percentage of Population 12+ Vaccinated with At Least One Dose: 36.28%

Percentage of Population 12+ Fully Vaccinated: 31.44%

Percentage of Population 65+ Vaccinated with At Least One Dose: 63.36%

Percentage of Population 65+ Fully Vaccinated: 57.65%

Our [COUNTY HEALTH] office has worked diligently to educate and vaccinate our community. Our vaccine rate is low and we need to get the message to our community. Our office coordinated numerous Community COVID 19 vaccine clinics January – April 2021. We have the COVID 19 vaccine available now in our office on a walk-in basis. The following COVID 19 Vaccines clinics have been scheduled as well:

07/21/2021 The Crosby Group Employee COVID 19 Vaccine Clinic

07/26/2021 DSHS Community COVID 19 Vaccine Clinic

07/27/2021 Harrison County Jail – COVID 19 Vaccines

07/28/2021 MISD Back to School Vaccine Clinic

07/29/2021 Wiley College COVID 19 Vaccine Clinic

07/31/2021 NRG Back to School Event COVID 19 Vaccine Clinic at City Park

08/03/2021 Wiley College COVID 19 Vaccine Clinic

08/04/2021 TSTC COVID 19 Vaccine Clinic

08/09/2021 Dirt Cheap – Employee COVID 19 Vaccine Clinic

08/11/2021 The Crosby Group Employee COVID 19 Vaccine Clinic

08/24/2021 Wiley College COVID 19 Vaccine Clinic

08/25/2021 TSTC COVID 19 Vaccine Clinic

08/30/2021 Dirt Cheap – Employee COVID 19 Vaccine Clinic

*Highlighted ones are open to the public


 Dawn Dillard: A shot in the heart … or the arm

“On a crash course”: Texas hospitals brace for another COVID-19 surge as delta variant burns through unvaccinated communities

National cases up 439% from June & 5 other COVID-19 trends to know

(CITED BY Gabrielle Masson)

J. Harris: Several quick summaries that are relevant


1.  New US Mask Guidance Prompted by Evidence Vaccinated can Spread Delta (The Guardian) The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Protection spoke on Wednesday about evidence that vaccinated people can spread the Covid-19 Delta variant to others, after the nation’s top health agency expanded on its new guidance that fully vaccinated Americans wear masks indoors in certain places. Rochelle Walensky said “new science” observed in recent days demonstrated that new variants of the coronavirus were transmissible by people who have been fully vaccinated in some cases.

2. Safety, Tolerability, and Immunogenicity of an Aerosolised Adenovirus Type-5 Vector-based COVID-19 Vaccine (Ad5-nCoV) in adults: preliminary report of an open-label and randomised phase 1 clinical trial (Lancet) Aerosolised Ad5-nCoV is well tolerated, and two doses of aerosolised Ad5-nCoV elicited neutralising antibody responses, similar to one dose of intramuscular injection. An aerosolised booster vaccination at 28 days after first intramuscular injection induced strong IgG and neutralising antibody responses. The efficacy and cost-effectiveness of aerosol vaccination should be evaluated in future studies. 

3. ‘There Is A Real Cost’: As Covid Shows, Barring Bedside Visitors From ICU Deprives Patients of the Best Care (STAT) A growing body of evidence supports the theory that bedside visitors offer not only comfort, but true clinical value. As experts on their loved ones, they can provide important details that may be missing from health records, and can clock subtle changes in behavior that may precede adverse medical complications. Visitors can calm agitated patients with a touch of the hand and reassure them with a word. They fluff pillows, fetch ice, clip fingernails, brush hair, and bring in favorite foods that might convince someone to eat for the first time in a long time.


Well, Why Did I Get Vaccinated Then?’ Screams Burning Woman After Realizing She Can Still Catch Fire:


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Covid-19 Breakthrough Infections in Vaccinated Health Care Workers (good article to read)


Among 11,453 fully vaccinated health care workers, 1497 (13.1%) underwent RT-PCR testing during the study period. Of the tested workers, 39 breakthrough cases were detected. More than 38 persons were tested for every positive case that was detected, for a test positivity of 2.6%. Thus, this percentage was much lower than the test positivity rate in Israel at the time, since the ratio between positive results and the extensive number of tests that were administered in our study was much smaller than that in the national population.


“…Among 1497 fully vaccinated health care workers for whom RT-PCR data were available, 39 SARS-CoV-2 breakthrough infections were documented….Of the 39 cases of infection, 27 occurred in workers who were tested solely because of exposure to a person with known SARS-CoV-2 infection. Of all the workers with breakthrough infection, 26 (67%) had mild symptoms at some stage, and none required hospitalization. The remaining 13 workers (33% of all cases) were asymptomatic during the duration of infection;  Neutralizing antibody titers in case patients during the peri-infection period were lower than those in matched uninfected controls …Higher peri-infection neutralizing antibody titers were associated with lower infectivity (higher Ct values). Most breakthrough cases were mild or asymptomatic, although 19% had persistent symptoms (>6 weeks). The B.1.1.7 (alpha) variant was found in 85% of samples tested. A total of 74% of case patients had a high viral load (Ct value, <30) at some point during their infection; however, of these patients, only 17 (59%) had a positive result on concurrent Ag-RDT. No secondary infections were documented.


Among fully vaccinated health care workers, the occurrence of breakthrough infections with SARS-CoV-2 was correlated with neutralizing antibody titers during the peri-infection period. Most breakthrough infections were mild or asymptomatic, although persistent symptoms did occur [19%]….


“The study goal was to identify every breakthrough infection, including asymptomatic infections, that occurred during the study period among the health care workers at the center. …Of the 39 breakthrough case patients, 18 (46%) were nursing staff members, 10 (26%) were administration or maintenance workers, 6 (15%) were allied health professionals, and 5 (13%) were physicians. The average age of the 39 infected workers was 42 years, and the majority were women (64%). …In all 37 case patients for whom data were available regarding the source of infection, the suspected source was an unvaccinated person; in 21 patients (57%), this person was a household member…..At 6 weeks after their diagnosis, 19% reported having “long Covid-19” symptoms, which included a prolonged loss of smell, persistent cough, fatigue, weakness, dyspnea [breathlessness], or myalgia. Nine workers (23%) took a leave of absence from work beyond the 10 days of required quarantine; of these workers, 4 returned to work within 2 weeks. One worker had not yet returned after 6 weeks..These workers included some who had been asymptomatic and thus who had infections that would not have been detected without the rigorous screening that followed any minor known exposure. This factor suggests that at least in some cases, the vaccine protected against symptomatic disease but not against infection. However, no secondary infections were traced back to any of the breakthrough cases, which supports the inference that these workers were less contagious than unvaccinated persons,…”

(J. Harris: This readable article from Israel, discusses breakthrough cases in vaccinated health care workers, mostly with ALPHA VARIANT.  In this study, about 3 % of previously vaccinated healthcare workers were found to be infected. Most of them had no or mild symptoms. 19% of the infected developed Long Covid…….When future  DELTA COVID studies are available,  likely, the Long Covid group will be at least if not more prevalent [than 19%] — and, if 3% of all health care workers who presumably were shielded and cautious were infected with ALPHA, how many civilians and health care workers will be infected with DELTA VARIANT?  DELTA  is considerably more infectious with much higher virus counts and can generate profuse viral shedding from asymptomatic non hospitalized carriers including children and family members. AND SCHOOL DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN. The way out of this pandemic is with VACCINATIONS. I agree with the current CDC recommendation to mask school children for a while. In addition, I plan to mask during the infrequent occasions that I am around crowds of unvaccinated people. Parents of school children are in a bind at present, and parents especially need to be vaccinated. It won’t be long before the vaccines are approved for the under 16 children.)


Last but not least:



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1. US HOSPITALIZATIONS The number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations is beginning to rise in most US states, following increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases driven by the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant. Nationally, hospitalization rates remain low overall, nowhere near the previous pandemic peaks. But the increases in hospitalizations are high and rising in parts of the country that have low vaccination rates, including Florida, Nevada, Arkansas, and Missouri. Some Florida hospitals are seeing the highest number of COVID-19 patients since the beginning of the pandemic, and the pace of this surge is accelerating rapidly. One hospital in Missouri said its increase in patients occurred nearly 5 times as fast as last fall’s surge. An estimated 97% of hospitalized patients are unvaccinated. Patients also are skewing younger, with 69% under the age of 65, according to CDC data as of July 17. Some hospitals are scrambling to find space for intensive care patients, trying to address personnel shortages, and attempting to maintain adequate supplies of medical equipment such as ventilators. 

2. According to new projections released last week by the COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub—a consortium of researchers working with the US CDC to track the pandemic—the current US surge will continue throughout the summer and into the fall. In the most likely of 4 scenarios, there would be around 60,000 new cases and about 850 deaths per day, with 70% of eligible Americans vaccinated. Currently, the US is averaging around 42,000 new cases per day and about 250 deaths per day. Nationwide, 57.5% of eligible people are fully vaccinated. The researchers encouraged state and local leaders to take note of the projections, urging them to reimplement mask mandates and physical distancing requirements that could help lessen the surge’s impact.

‘Now they want the vaccine’: Houston ER docs speak from front line of latest COVID surge

In Harris County (HOUSTON), the number of active coronavirus cases has nearly tripled — from 3,076 to 8,431 — since the beginning of July, as the hypercontagious delta variant spreads rapidly among young, and primarily unvaccinated, Texans.


“Our vulnerability isn’t small, even among those eligible for vaccines. About 34 percent of Americans over the age of 12 and about 44 percent of the entire U.S. population haven’t been vaccinated at all. Some of those may have had Covid, so they have some level of protection, but that is not as good as being fully vaccinated, especially against Delta…Already, we are seeing rises in hospitalizations and deaths, almost entirely among the unvaccinated, and the Delta surge has just begun. Based on what we’ve seen elsewhere, we can expect it to rapidly accelerate and wash over the country fairly quickly…A staggering 40 percent of workers at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities remain unvaccinated. This is terrible, considering that the elderly, even if vaccinated, would be expected to have more breakthrough infections…Almost 90 percent of Americans 65 or older have received a vaccine…Meanwhile, schools will open in the coming weeks, and yet so much remains unclear and confusing about protecting younger children until they can get vaccinated. Even if they seem to be largely spared from severe outcomes of Covid-19, they are not invulnerable. Plus, they can bring the infection home…A sensible school policy would be to mandate masks for all elementary school children, at least until a vaccine becomes available to them, and tie it to local infection and vaccination rates for those 12 and over. Parents who can vaccinate their kids are less at the mercy of everyone else’s choices, making mandates less crucial…”

Gamma Variant Much More Prominent in Illinois

“…According to the most recent data from the Illinois Department of Health, there are six times as many Gamma variant as Delta…The Gamma variant was first identified in Brazil, and it has been shown in numerous studies — just like the other variants — to be less susceptible to either natural or vaccine-induced immunity…does this change anything for me? Not really. COVID still is a terrible disease that can kill you. The vaccines we have are incredibly safe and incredibly effective, even against the variants, and the benefits of getting vaccinated far, far outweigh any possible risks from them. The overwhelming majority of the people [being seen]… in the ICU with COVID are unvaccinated. And now, with COVID vaccines widely and freely available, any and every death from COVID is even more senseless than before. Bottom line: we will never be free — truly free — from this virus unless a great majority of us are fully vaccinated.…;]



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Opinion: Oh-hell-no headline of the day

 Opinion: Oh-hell-no headline of the day:

By George Smith  — July 25, 2021

“GOP eyes plan to kick Cheney, Kinzinger out of the party”

Voicing different ideas to help solve problems is always the best way to work toward the best solution.

Wanting everybody to think the same, walk in lockstep to a regulated beat and mindset is not the workings of a democracy.

The current Republican Party has lost its way, its vision, its push for compassionate conservatism. Following the Trump mantra and model of self-delusion, the party is destroying itself from the inside.

This country needs two (or more) strong parties. But all parties need to have certain elements in order for this nation to remain a world leader: Humility, empathy, the ability to listen to other ideas and to be able to admit when you are wrong.

In the present political climate, few of our elected officials possess these qualities. In 2021, however, the Republican Party is determined to self-destruct in the name of…what, exactly?

They are using pages from the not-so-distant past to suppress votes, hush detractors in their own ranks, using scare tactics in areas of healthcare, gun rights, LGBTQ issues, immigration, education and federal vs. states rights to keep this country divided.

Both parties, without realizing it,  spotlight their fringe players, those on the outer edges of liberalism and conservatism; that hurts both parties with clear-thinking voters.

It’s time to push those publicity-hungry politicians out of both parties and return to the system of conversation, conviviality and compromise.

You know…when real programs and policies to push America and ALL citizens forward was the goal of the executive and legislative branches of government.


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The C.D.C. will recommend that some vaccinated people wear masks indoors again.

Reversing a decision made just two months ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to recommend on Tuesday that people vaccinated for the coronavirus resume wearing masks indoors in certain areas of the country.

The change follows reports of rising breakthrough infections with the Delta variant of the virus in people who were fully immunized. But the new guidance would mark a sharp turnabout from the agency’s position since May that vaccinated people do not need to wear masks in most indoor spaces.

Advice about thinking through breakthrough infections.

(J. Harris: Excellent NYT summary article regarding “Breakthrough Covid.” I’d have to advise wearing a mask in a crowd in areas where most of the population is unvaccinated.)



1. Changes in Influenza and Other Respiratory Virus Activity During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, 2020–2021 (CDC MMWR) Influenza viruses and human metapneumovirus circulated at historic lows through May 2021. In April 2021, respiratory syncytial virus activity increased. Common human coronaviruses, parainfluenza viruses, and respiratory adenoviruses have been increasing since January or February 2021. Rhinoviruses and enteroviruses began to increase in June 2020. Clinicians should be aware of increased circulation, sometimes off season, of some respiratory viruses and consider multipathogen testing. In addition to recommended preventive actions, fall influenza vaccination campaigns are important as schools and workplaces resume in-person activities with relaxed COVID-19 mitigation practices.

2. Government Affairs & National Security:

Democrats Want To Hold Social Media Companies Responsible For Health Misinformation (NPR) Democratic senators introduced a bill on Thursday that would hold Facebook, YouTube and other social media companies responsible for the proliferation of falsehoods about vaccines, fake cures and other harmful health-related claims on their sites. Co-sponsored by Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, the Health Misinformation Act targets a provision in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects platforms from being held liable for what their users post in most cases.

3. VACCINE MANDATES As SARS-CoV-2 vaccines become more widely available, some organizations, schools, and businesses are considering making them mandatory. This week, a US federal judge ruled to uphold a mandatory vaccination policy implemented by Indiana University, which would require SARS-CoV-2 vaccination for students, faculty, and staff before returning to campus this fall. The ruling acknowledges that the university has the authority under the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution to pursue reasonable measures to protect the “public health for its students, faculty, and staff.” The students who filed the original suit are reportedly appealing the judge’s ruling.

On July 22, the American Hospital Association, the country’s largest association of hospitals and health systems, issued a statement in support of mandatory SARS-CoV-2 vaccination for healthcare workers. The statement argues that the vaccines have been demonstrated to be both safe and effective, and they play a critical role in protecting the health of both healthcare workers and their patients, many of whom are at elevated risk of severe COVID-19 disease. There have been several notable examples of hospitals firing employees who refused the vaccine, and the issue will certainly receive ongoing attention, especially until the vaccines receive full FDA approval.

New York City and California will require workers to be vaccinated or face testing.


1. The Threat of an Unvaccinated South

“…Unvaccinated individuals are efficient fuel [just] like dry wood for the fire of future outbreaks. Vaccinated individuals are like soaked wood—while it can’t easily catch fire, [but] if it’s surrounded by dry wood, the chances are much higher.” In other words, low vaccination rates in the South make this moment less safe for everyone there, and over time could jeopardize the country’s hope of ever getting the novel coronavirus more under control.

2. Vaccinated America Has Had Enough

”….Experts list many reasons for the vaccine slump, but one big reason stands out: vaccine resistance among conservative, evangelical, and rural Americans. Pro-Trump America has decided that vaccine refusal is a statement of identity and a test of loyalty.

…many in the vaccinated majority must be thinking: Yes, I’m very sorry that so many of the unvaccinated are suffering the consequences of their bad decisions. I’m also very sorry that the responsible rest of us are suffering the consequences of their bad decisions…More than a dozen conservative states have legislated drug testing for people who seek cash welfare. It is bizarre that Florida and other states would put such an onus on the poorest people in society—while allowing other people to impose a much more intimate and immediate harm on everybody else…Compassion should always be the first reaction to vaccine hesitation.[?] Maybe some unvaccinated people have trouble getting time off work to deal with side effects, maybe they are disorganized, maybe they are just irrationally anxious. But there’s no getting around the truth that some considerable number of the unvaccinated are also behaving willfully and spitefully. Yes, they have been deceived and manipulated by garbage TV, toxic Facebook content, and craven or crazy politicians. But these are the same people who keep talking about “personal responsibility.” In the end, the unvaccinated person himself or herself has decided to inflict a preventable and unjustifiable harm upon family, friends, neighbors, community, country, and planet…Will Blue America ever decide it’s had enough of being put medically at risk by people and places whose bills it pays? Check yourself: Have you?”


1. Thousands Of People Protest Coronavirus Lockdowns In Australia (NPR) Thousands of people took to the streets of Sydney and other Australian cities on Saturday to protest lockdown restrictions amid another surge in cases, and police made several arrests after crowds broke through barriers and threw plastic bottles and plants. The unmasked participants marched from Sydney’s Victoria Park to Town Hall in the central business district, carrying signs calling for “freedom” and “the truth.”

2. France Passes Law That Makes A Coronavirus Health Pass Required For Dining And Travel (NPR) France’s parliament approved a law early Monday requiring special virus passes for all restaurants and domestic travel and mandating vaccinations for all health workers. Both measures have prompted protests and political tensions. President Emmanuel Macron and his government say they are needed to protect vulnerable populations and hospitals as infections rebound and to avoid new lockdowns. The law requires all workers in the health care sector to start getting vaccinated by Sept. 15, or risk suspension. It also requires a “health pass” to enter all restaurants, trains, planes and some other public venues. It initially applies to all adults, but will apply to everyone 12 and older starting Sept. 30.

As virus cases rise, another contagion spreads among the vaccinated: anger.

“…As coronavirus cases surge again across the United States, many inoculated people are losing patience with vaccine holdouts who they say are neglecting a civic duty or clinging to misinformation even as new patients arrive in emergency rooms and the nation renews mask advisories…The mounting anger is contributing to political support for more coercive measures. Scientists, business leaders and government officials are calling for vaccine mandates — if not by the federal government, then by local jurisdictions, schools, employers and businesses…And frustration is straining relations even within closely knit families…”





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American Academy of Pediatrics recommends masks in schools for everyone over 2, regardless of vaccinations

“The American Academy of Pediatrics released new Covid-19 guidance for schools on Monday that supports in-person learning and recommends universal masking in school of everyone over the age of 2, regardless of vaccination status — a stricter position than that taken this month by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The AAP believes that, at this point in the pandemic, given what we know about low rates of in-school transmission when proper prevention measures are used, together with the availability of effective vaccines for those age 12 years and up, that the benefits of in-person school outweigh the risks in all circumstances,” …

One of the main interventions put forward by the AAP is that all students over the age of 2 and all school staff should wear masks at school unless they have a medical or developmental condition that prohibits this.”’

(J. Harris: I agree with this Mask use in schools until the Delta wave dissipates. There is a lot of pressure being levied onto school board members in apposition to masks — mostly by folks who’ve never watched people die even when on a respirator.)


1. BEST SIGNS TO IDENTIFY  COVID: LOSS OF SMELL AND TASTE—Anosmia, Ageusia, and Other COVID-19-like Symptoms in Association with a Positive SARS-CoV-2 Test, Across Six National Digital Surveillance Platforms: an Observational Study (Lancet Digital Health) Between April 1 and July 31, 2020, 514 459 tests from over 10 million respondents were recorded in the six surveillance platform datasets. Anosmia–ageusia was the strongest, most consistent symptom associated with a positive COVID-19 test (robust aggregated rank one, meta-analysed random effects OR 16·96, 95% CI 13·13–21·92). Fever (rank two, 6·45, 4·25–9·81), shortness of breath (rank three, 4·69, 3·14–7·01), and cough (rank four, 4·29, 3·13–5·88) were also highly associated with test positivity. The strong association of anosmia–ageusia with self-reported positive SARS-CoV-2 test was consistently observed, supporting its validity as a reliable COVID-19 signal, regardless of the participatory surveillance platform, country, phase of illness, or testing policy. These findings show that associations between COVID-19 symptoms and test positivity ranked similarly in a wide range of scenarios.

2. The Lambda Variant: What You Should Know And Why Experts Say Not To Panic (NPR) The lambda variant, first identified in Peru, is also making headlines as it has started to be identified in several states. Houston Methodist Hospital reported its first case of the variant this week. Scientists at the Medical University of South Carolina recently announced they had found the variant in a virus sample taken in April. According to a database for scientists tracking coronavirus variants, fewer than 700 cases of the lambda variant have been sequenced in the U.S. so far out of more than 34 million coronavirus cases reported to date. But the U.S. has sequenced only a tiny fraction of its cases, so that number does not reflect the actual number of lambda cases in the country. Fewer than 1% of U.S. cases in the last four weeks have been identified as the lambda variant, according to GISAID, a repository for genome data. 

3. EXPIRING VACCINES With demand for SARS-CoV-2 vaccination largely leveling off in the US over the past 3 weeks, millions of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses are set to expire in the next few months. Several states and some global health experts are calling for the excess doses to be redistributed to other countries, but so far the US government has rejected those requests, citing legal and logistical challenges. However, states are now able to request a specific number of vaccine doses instead of having doses distributed to them based on their population. Delayed reporting, everyday wastage, and waning demand, including those who did not go back for second doses, are among the sources for a pile up of inventory. The FDA previously extended the shelf-life of the Pfizer-BioNTech and J&J-Janssen vaccines, and some hope an additional extension for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be approved. Meanwhile, the federal stockpile of vaccine doses continues to grow, with approximately 390 million of the 1.41 billion doses purchased by the US having been delivered, and another 562 million doses from Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, and J&J-Janssen expected to be delivered by the end of 2021. The White House has pledged to donate 80 million doses of its vaccine supply, and will purchase an additional 500 million doses for low- and lower-middle-income countries. But some experts note the doses currently sitting in states are ready to be administered, not waiting to be manufactured, and those doses could have a positive impact in other countries if states were permitted to redistribute them.  


Dr. Peter Hotez: Delta variant ‘like nothing we’ve seen before — expect rise in hospitalizations

(J. Harris: An interview with audio which considers pertinent, current questions and answers from a Texas expert who is a real pro. This is worth the read.)

“…The problem is, it’s twice as transmissible as the original lineage. This is like nothing we’ve ever seen before. It’s not quite as transmissible as something like measles, but it’s getting up there in terms of its reproductive number….Maybe a third immunization is not such a bad idea. Because that third immunization for the mRNA vaccines, or a second for Johnson & Johnson, will really jack up your virus-neutralizing antibodies. And in the arms race between antibody and virus, enough antibodies will be put into your mucous membranes that they will potentially cause shedding to stop…What do we know about what’s going on with delta and kids? Does it affect them differently than the original?…I get asked that a lot. I don’t think delta is specifically targeting children, and I don’t think children are more predisposed to delta than any other unvaccinated population. I think what’s happening is, delta is so aggressive that everyone’s getting infected and kids are getting swept up along in that.


David M. Shribman: History is full of Americans hating each other


The following card was sent to me by a Baptist Decon’s wife, so I feel like it is OK to send it out. (Well, she did grow up a Catholic.)


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3 states responsible for 40% of COVID-19 cases

“…Florida, Texas and Missouri accounted for 40 percent of new COVID-19 cases reported nationwide this week, Jeff Zients, the White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator, said July 22…”The data is clear: The case increases are concentrated in communities with low vaccination rates,” Mr. Zients said during a news briefing, pointing to the three states. 

(J. Harris: Here we go again.)


1. Vaccine Effectiveness Studies in the Field

(J. Harris: English studies showing that with two jabs, vaccines work almost as well against Delta Variant as the original Alpha Covid-19 virus.)


1. Public Health Officials Have Tools to Beat Back Covid Again. Does Anyone Want to Use Them? (STAT News) Before Covid-19 vaccines, public health officials fought off the pandemic with the only tools they had: mask-wearing, social distancing, school closures, and limits on the size of gatherings. Now, with cases surging again in much of the United States due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, those tools could still make a measurable difference at a critical moment — but not if the public is unwilling to use them. A year and a half after Covid restrictions were first implemented, people have had it with the pandemic. Other than highly effective vaccines, which haven’t been accepted by enough people to quash spread of the new SARS-CoV-2 variant, there are no new tools in the public health toolbox, and people have absolutely no interest in reusing the ones that it does contain.

2. France Forced to Soften Rules After Coronavirus Green Pass Backlash (Politico)

The French government, which last week introduced some of Europe’s toughest measures against COVID-19, has been forced to row back on some restrictions following a pushback from industries and street protests. Among the new rules, French President Emmanuel Macron sought to turbo-drive vaccinations by making proof of vaccination or immunity mandatory to enter cafés, restaurants and a range of other venues this summer. The scheme, which goes further than other big EU countries, was introduced to help break a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections in France, driven by the more contagious Delta variant.

3. Southern California Cities Rebel Against New Mask Mandate, Hinting at Delta Variant Drama to Come (Washington Post) Barely a month after state officials lifted nearly all pandemic restrictions — and even as the White House continues to insist that vaccinated people need not wear masks — the nation’s largest county clamped back down this past weekend, announcing a new requirement for everyone to wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.The backlash was immediate.

Comparison of Neutralizing Antibody Titers Elicited by mRNA and Adenoviral Vector Vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 Variants (SENT OUT EARLIER)

Abstract: The increasing prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 variants has raised concerns regarding possible decreases in vaccine efficacy. Here, neutralizing antibody titers elicited by mRNA-based and an adenoviral vector-based vaccine against variant pseudotyped viruses were compared. BNT162b2 [PFIZER] and mRNA-1273 [MODERNA]-elicited antibodies showed modest neutralization resistance against Beta, Delta, Delta plus and Lambda variants whereas Ad26.COV2.S [JOHNSON &JOHNSON]-elicited antibodies from a significant fraction of vaccinated individuals were of low neutralizing titer (IC50 <50). The data underscore the importance of surveillance for breakthrough infections that result in severe COVID-19 and suggest the benefit of a second immunization following Ad26.COV2.S to increase protection against the variants.(J. Harris: What is poorly said above is that J &J Vaccine does not work as well as do the other vaccines to protect against Delta and other variants tested.)


SARS-CoV-2 Superspread in Fitness Center, Hong Kong, China, March 2021

(J. Harris: Markedly enhanced ventillation helped prevent super spreading in a Gym.)


1. How the Delta Variant Spreads So Quickly

“…The combination of a high number of viruses and a short incubation period makes sense as an explanation for Delta’s heightened transmissibility…And the short incubation makes contact tracing more difficult…”

2.˚People with COVID Often Infect Their PetsPeople with COVID Often Infect Their Pets

“… pet owners transmitting the virus to their furry friends is more common than originally thought. That result makes sense,… given the closeness of person-pet relationships. “Often we’re snuggling and even sleeping in the same beds with them,…S..Beyond the pathogen posing a risk to our pets’ health, researchers worry that it will multiply in the animals and possibly mutate, jumping back into humans at some point. “The main concern is … the potential risk that pets could act as a reservoir of the virus and reintroduce it into the human population… Denmark and the Netherlands culled their mink stocks, killing almost 20 million of the furry animals in total to stop the virus from spreading further..So far…. there is no evidence of such retransmission from dogs and cats back into humans. But … the current studies simply are not set up to answer that exact question…“If you have COVID-19, my advice is to keep your distance from your pet and don’t let them into your bedroom,” Bienzle says. Hamer reiterates that the recommendations are the same as with any other humans in your household: if you’re infected, stay as far away as possible….

Several studies have shown that pigs, cows, ducks and chickens seem to be largely resistant to the virus.

(J. Harris: Of course, most people don’t sleep with pigs, cows, ducks, and chickens — do they?)

OPINION PIECE: Forget Mask Mandates. Vaccines Are the Only Answer for Fighting Covid-19.

(J. Harris: But, masks are often utilized by the Vaccine Hesitant and, in my opinion, should again be worn, mandated or not, when the Virsus is at the door — like now in East Texas.)




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