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Meanwhile, in Crazytown

Friday, Dec 3, 2021

* Axios

President Biden on Thursday announced new testing protocols for international travelers and extended masking requirements through March as the U.S. prepares to fight the Omicron variant this winter.

* Gov. Pritzker was asked yesterday if he favored that extension

We have an indoor mask requirement in the state of Illinois and so we’re not lifting that now. Especially not now. I’ve said all along that when I want it lifted is when we start seeing hospitalizations really plunge. We’re not seeing that, it’s going up, in fact, every day.

* Fox 32

In light of the Omicron variant and increasing COVID-19 numbers, Governor JB Pritzker says Illinois’ mask mandate is staying in place for now.

“We have an indoor mask requirement in the state of Illinois and we’re not lifting that, especially not now,” Pritzker said.

As of Thursday, COVID metrics continued to surge across Illinois with over 11,500 cases reported in the last 24 hours. That’s an increase from just over 6,000 the day before.

According to a Chicago Tribune analysis, the surge is predominantly being felt by the unvaccinated.

Because of the vaccine, cases aren’t as important as hospitalizations, which are soaring among the unvaxxed, but that’s beside the point of this particular post.

* Check this out

The office of Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) asked the state health department on Nov. 1 to study how mask mandates affected COVID-19 numbers in the state, and the health department responded Nov. 3 that its analysis found they saved lives and reduced the spread of the coronavirus. But that analysis wasn’t made public until nonprofit news organizations obtained it through a public records request, The New York Times reports.

The Missouri Independent reported Wednesday that the health department’s analysis found lower infection and death rates in the four areas of Missouri with mask mandates — St. Louis, St. Louis County, Kansas City, and Jackson County — from the end of April until the end of October, the peak of the state’s Delta wave.

There are a number of variables that affect infection and death numbers, but “I think we can say with great confidence reviewing the public health literature and then looking at the results in your study that communities where masks were required had a lower positivity rate per 100,000 and experienced lower death rates,” state Health Department director Donald Kauerauf told Parson in a Nov. 3 email obtained by the Independent.

The Independent’s analysis found that the “masked” areas had 15.8 new COVID-19 cases a day for every 100,000 residents, versus 21.7 cases per 100,000 residents in the areas with no mask mandates, and less frequent deaths.

* From the NYT story

The study looked at the period from April to October, when the Delta variant was driving an increase in coronavirus infections worldwide.

During that time frame, there were 15.8 cases per day for every 100,000 residents, on average, in the areas that required masks, compared with 21.7 cases per 100,000 residents in unmasked communities, according to The Missouri Independent’s analysis of the data. Regions without mask requirements recorded one death per 100,000 residents every 3.5 days, compared with one death per 100,000 residents every five days where masks were required, The Missouri Independent said.

Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, has said he supports wearing masks to slow the spread of Covid-19, but he has repeatedly spoken out against mask requirements. In July, he said on Twitter that issuing mask mandates while a vaccine is available eroded public trust. “The vaccine is how we rid ourselves of COVID-19, not mask mandates that ignore common sense,” Mr. Parson wrote.

In a statement posted on Twitter on Thursday, Mr. Parson reiterated his opposition to mask mandates and said the requirements “infringe on our personal liberties.”

* Missouri Independent

Attorney General Eric Schmitt has gone a step further, suing St. Louis, St. Louis County, Kansas City and Jackson County to block enforcement of their mask mandates.

“Jackson County has imposed an unlawful, arbitrary, and capricious mask mandate that is not supported by the data or the science,” the opening sentence to Schmitt’s lawsuit against Jackson County states.

Schmitt has also sued Columbia Public Schools for instituting mask mandates.

The state’s analysis backs up St. Louis’ push to keep its mask mandate, said Nick Dunne, spokesman for St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones.

“More than anything it confirms for us what our public health experts have been saying, that masks are an effective tool for reducing community transmission,” Dunne said.

Not supported by data or the science?

* Check out the Missouri death rate comparison between mask-mandated areas (in blue) and no mandate (in orange)

* From last month

The BMJ, a global health care publisher, released a massive review Thursday that analyzed 72 studies from around the world to evaluate how non-pharmaceutical health measures reduced cases of COVID-19. Researchers found measures like hand-washing, wearing masks and physical distancing significantly reduced incidences of COVID-19. […]

But public health prevention strategies have also been shown to be beneficial in fighting respiratory infections. Researchers found that wearing a mask could reduce COVID-19 incidence by 53 percent.

One experiment across 200 countries showed 45.7 percent fewer COVID-19 related deaths in countries where mask wearing was mandatory, according to the study. In the U.S., one study reported a 29 percent reduction in COVID-19 transmission in states where mask wearing was required.

More here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

37 Comments
  1. - ILLannoyed - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 9:41 am:

    Governor HeeHaw gonna HeeHaw. Anytime Illinois politics gets goofy I just look to the west.


  2. - Just Me 2 - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 9:45 am:

    The problem is so many Republicans think it is inherently wrong for the government to tell private citizens what they can and can’t do, and if they want to endanger their own lives that is their decision.

    However, what that philosophy ignores is the damage caused by unmasked and unvaccinated people running around endangering others. But even the most conservative zealots will still argue those people with weak immune systems should show personal responsibility and cut themselves off from society for basically the rest of their lives.

    I have a friend with a kidney transplant. He and his wife haven’t left their home since March 2020 as the infection rates in his part of the State are still high. That isn’t right.


  3. - Amalia - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 9:48 am:

    I’m sure it has been said before, but just change the state name Missouri to Misery.


  4. - Steve Rogers - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 9:50 am:

    =mask mandates and said the requirements “infringe on our personal liberties.”=

    I’ve heard this argument over and over and over, and I still don’t understand it. Do I have a personal liberty not to wear clothes? Do I have a personal liberty not to wear seat belts? Do I have a personal liberty to drive whatever speed I want? Do I have a personal liberty to build a strip club next to an elementary school?

    Seriously, the end result of this argument is anarchy.


  5. - Steve Rogers - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 9:52 am:

    Oh, and a woman’s personal liberty for access to an abortion is about to be severely limited.

    Good job party of “personal liberties.” Hypocrites.


  6. - Minnow - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 10:01 am:

    …and this is only MO. My county borders IA - another ‘no mask mandate’ state. Our county’s positivity and hospitalization rates are constantly higher than the state or regional averages because of bordering Iowa


  7. - Stig - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 10:02 am:

    No disputing that masks do help prevent transmission when worn properly and consistently. I’ve worn mine since the beginning and continue to do so.

    Since it wasn’t mentioned in any of the articles, (unless I missed it) I’m curious if they controlled for the difference in vaccination rates between the communities.

    The chart shows a dramatic shift around the end of May. Lots of folks were finishing up their 2nd shots around that time.


  8. - Norseman - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 10:03 am:

    Yes, science and data are frowned upon in MO. The health director former IDPH and IEMA employee started out poorly by pandering to Parson’s pandemic approach. He’s since taken a lot of “public health” stands that have angered the Covid enabling GOP. This study will hurt him as will the news that he wanted to appeal a court ruling against mask mandates. A twitter post from a county Dem account is speculating on his tenure.

    I miss the old 203-year-old Illinois.


  9. - Candy Dogood - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 10:08 am:

    ===We have an indoor mask requirement in the state of Illinois and so we’re not lifting that now. Especially not now.===

    In much of the state this requirement does not appear to be well understood.

    === Check out the Missouri death rate comparison===

    Let’s take a moment to acknowledge that this data could be sharply influenced by the fact that failing to have a mask mandate is also a strong indication that the majority of the people living in those areas are also too stupid to get vaccinated because there’s probably two causes to those death rates being so high.


  10. - Cheryl44 - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 10:10 am:

    You’d think they’d notice they’re not really owning the liberals by making themselves ill.


  11. - Norseman - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 10:14 am:

    Meanwhile, the MO legislative GOP is going crazy with a plethora of anti-public health bills.

    https://e-edition.stltoday.com/article/281797107278828


  12. - Dance Band on the Titanic - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 10:15 am:

    - Cheryl44 - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 10:10 am:
    You’d think they’d notice they’re not really owning the liberals by making themselves ill.

    That requires critical thinking ability, which is not really in their wheelhouse.


  13. - illinifan - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 10:25 am:

    The logic train left the Missouri station with quite a few absent passengers. When they don’t get the answer they want they deflect to another topic. The data is clear, get vaccinated and wear a mask.


  14. - Jocko - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 10:34 am:

    ==“infringe on our personal liberties.”==

    Come to think of it, why should I have to cough/sneeze in my elbow? In fact, they should bring back spitoons so I can expectorate when I want.


  15. - Tommydanger - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 10:35 am:

    With this continuing denial of science/common sense, I am just amazed that mandatory seat belt legislation was ever passed.


  16. - SAP - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 10:37 am:

    Cheryl44: I think it would be safe to say that they are dying to own the libs.


  17. - Streator Curmudgeon - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 10:39 am:

    Wouldn’t it be swell to Make America Great Again, like it was during WWII, when everybody sacrificed together to defeat our common enemy?


  18. - bkhartbnjo - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 10:43 am:

    –they should bring back spitoons–

    I object to being limited to where I spit. A guy’s just gotta spit.


  19. - Macoupin Manny - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 10:46 am:

    It’s sad, StL has some amazing science institutions. In St Louis alone you have Washington university that in 2021 had the 9th most NIH grants awarded in the country. ($623 million).
    SLU does a lot of bioterrosm science as well as basic research. There’s all the incubators in Midtown now, not to mention the science at the Botanical Gardens, Bayer, Pfizer, ect.

    Point being, parts of Missouri are anchors for the US science community so it’s maddening to see the MO state government behave the way it is.

    Also, if you haven’t already seen, Parsons took to Twitter to attack the journalist instead of own up to suppressing science data.


  20. - Anon221 - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 11:02 am:

    MO vaccination rate maps if you want more for comparison to the areas mentioned- https://slu-opengis.github.io/covid_daily_viz/vaccinations.html


  21. - Seaver41 - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 11:03 am:

    Illinois Depart of Public Health hospital stats as of December 1, 2021…29,628 beds, 2,537 occupied with COVID patients and 5,703 open beds. 10.6% of occupi3ed beds are with COVID or, 8.56% of all hospital beds are occupied with COVID patients.


  22. - Leslie K - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 11:09 am:

    ===parts of Missouri are anchors for the US science community so it’s maddening to see the MO state government behave the way it is.===

    Having grown up in Missouri, I completely agree. It’s always been interesting to me how much St. Louis and Kansas City (primarily) are outliers and don’t have much influence on state policy. Interesting and sad.


  23. - Pundent - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 11:09 am:

    With the passage of time, science will only make clearer which elected officials willingly chose to risk the lives of their constituents by ignoring public health advice. None of this will age well. It should haunt Parsons and anyone else who was put in a position of trust and leadership.


  24. - Nearly Normal - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 11:11 am:

    St. Louis has a history of responding to pandemics and saving lives. The health department saw the Flu Pandemic of 1918 coming and planned accordingly shutting down the city and requiring masks be worn. People said he was overreacting at first until they realized that of the 10 most populous cities in the US, St. Louis had the lowest number of deaths.

    Good for those governments of Missouri that mandated masks. They are doing what they can to save lives.

    Try to save lives and you get sued by the government!


  25. - thechampaignlife - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 11:19 am:

    ===I’m curious if they controlled for the difference in vaccination rates between the communities===

    There are many confounding factors at play. Education level, income level, political affiliation, population density, ethnicity, vaccination rate, masking rate, and more are all overlapping circles that influence the transmission rate, and they often correlate strongly with the other factors. Proving causation is always a challenge, but there is strong evidence to support the effectiveness of masking.


  26. - Proud Sucker - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 11:23 am:

    “Do I have a personal liberty not to wear clothes? Do I have a personal liberty not to wear seat belts? Do I have a personal liberty to drive whatever speed I want? Do I have a personal liberty to build a strip club next to an elementary school?”

    With my farther right colleagues I answer these first three as: yes, but on you own property. In fact, you can drive your General Lee buck naked at 110 nary a seat belt worn if you have enough land to make that happen. However, the minute you cross into the public right-of-way there are consequences to all of those actions.

    I’m hoping no one would even attempt the fourth one but, in areas with weak zoning laws and/or enforcement I wouldn’t be surprised.


  27. - thechampaignlife - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 11:26 am:

    ===It should haunt Parsons===

    Narrator: It won’t.

    Society is far too fickle to care beyond a few years, and it will take years for the scientific post-mortem of this pandemic (as it should) despite all we can plainly see in front of us today. I seem to remember a certain disgraced governor shaking down childrens hospitals who has had some success playing the victim.


  28. - JS Mill - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 11:44 am:

    =The problem is so many Republicans think it is inherently wrong for the government to tell private citizens what they can and can’t do,=

    Except when it comes to a woman’s body or smoking pot or anything they do not like.

    Steve Rogers nails it.

    =In much of the state this requirement does not appear to be well understood.=

    The other evening I was supervising and event at one of our schools. Two County Sheriff’s Deputies stopped in to walk around. I had to make them wear a mask. If I had lit up a doobie they would have been all over me.

    My point is, where would we be if the masking was actually enforced?


  29. - H-W - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 11:58 am:

    Such actions make a mockery of the political constructs, “public safety,” and “to serve and protect.” Not enforcing laws that save lives is antithetical to the concept of governance. Governors who do not govern can in such circumstances be defined as white-collar or corporate criminals.


  30. - SWSider - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 12:13 pm:

    Seriously, has anyone asked JB why an indoor vaccine mandate isn’t even being discussed? It’s kinda inexcusable at this point.


  31. - NonAFSCMEStateEmployeeFromChatham - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 12:34 pm:

    ==Seriously, has anyone asked JB why an indoor vaccine mandate isn’t even being discussed? ==

    That, or also rolling back Phase 5 in hard-hit IDPH regions? Region 1 is now at 9.8% positivity; Regions 2, 4, 6, 7, and 9 are all at least 7%. Go back to Phase 4 for the holidays at least in those areas (but more could follow).


  32. - Rich Miller - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 12:45 pm:

    === Go back to Phase 4 for the holidays ===

    Not gonna happen. We have an effective vaccine and a mask mandate. And there’s also no new federal money to support businesses and employees if anything is shut down.

    Make do with what you got and stop wishing for things that will not happen unless the feds take action.


  33. - Nicky - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 12:58 pm:

    SWsider

    It’s not a good look politically to to cause businesses to lose business


  34. - Roadrager - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 1:44 pm:

    ==With the passage of time, science will only make clearer which elected officials willingly chose to risk the lives of their constituents by ignoring public health advice. None of this will age well. It should haunt Parsons and anyone else who was put in a position of trust and leadership.==

    The winners write the history books, and the GOP is finding new and exciting ways to stack wins that successfully bypass things like “popularity” or “the electorate” every day. Those who correctly remember Parsons, Reynolds, DeSantis et al for what they are will be easily dismissed as sore losers.


  35. - Cool Papa Bell - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 1:55 pm:

    Parsons also recently cancelled an overseas economic trip. The blame got placed on other countries COVID restrictions. I was wondering what he was willing to do or not do - be seen wearing a mask on a plane? Wear one when meeting with others?


  36. - Homebody - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 1:58 pm:

    ===I’m hoping no one would even attempt the fourth one but, in areas with weak zoning laws and/or enforcement I wouldn’t be surprised. ===

    Strip club next to an elementary school is far less damaging to public health and less likely to affect community level resources (such as fire/rescue, hospital usage, etc) than the seatbelt or vax/mask issues.


  37. - Saluki with a Job - Friday, Dec 3, 21 @ 4:13 pm:

    Seeing the “welcome to Missouri” sign in my rearview mirror as I moved back to Illinois a few months ago was the best thing I’d seen in a long time. Parsons has it out for reporters, even disparaging the reporter at the basis for this story. He’s got a lot more to be worried about than just masks, though.


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