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COVID-19 roundup

Wednesday, Jan 12, 2022

* Daily hospitalizations dropped from 7,353 reported yesterday to 7,219 reported today. That reduces the 7-day rolling average increase to 0.24 percent from 1.1 percent yesterday. It was 5.1 percent during the last week of December. The 14-day rolling average increase is currently 1.9 percent. It was 3.7 percent during the last two weeks of December.

Still, try not to get your hopes too high

“I know that the data is maybe giving you a sense of some potential relief. I am feeling that, but I can’t say for sure that we are flattening or past a peak,” [Dr. Arwady] said. “But what I can say is there is real good news in terms of some of (our) response.”

The governor is holding a covid press conference today at 1:30, so I’ll either do a separate post or update this one, depending.

* Tribune

As Illinois schools struggle to staff classrooms pummeled by the latest COVID-19 surge, state officials said Tuesday they halved the recommended quarantine time for students and teachers from 10 to five days.

Officials with the Illinois Department of Public Health and the state’s board of education said earlier this month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recently updated isolation and quarantine guidance, which was slashed from 10 to five days, would only apply to the general public, and would not yet impact schools.

But on Tuesday, officials with the Illinois State Board of Education said effective immediately, the state will follow the CDC’s guidance on shortening isolation and quarantine periods. The guidance applies to all public and nonpublic schools that serve students in prekindergarten through 12th grade.

The guidance says students and school employees who test positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, must “stay home for a minimum of five days and a maximum of 10 days after the first day of symptoms,” or the date from a positive viral test for those who are asymptomatic, according to the ISBE website. […]

“But this new guidance looks extremely difficult to maintain, because there are so many permutations. … It assumes that every mask is good, and that all schools have the ability to maintain 6 feet of distance,” [Dan Montgomery, president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers] said, referring to a slate of directives that accompanies the CDC’s shorter quarantine recommendation.

The guidance is here.

* Marni Pyke

The patient surge comes as experts pin hopes on spiraling cases peaking this month. However, hospitalizations trail infection rates, which could mean “two to three weeks before we see a decline,” Edward Hospital Dr. Jonathan Pinsky suggested Tuesday.

Edward, like other hospitals, has been hitting admission highs caused by the highly contagious omicron variant of COVID-19. Staff members “are so exhausted and so tired of this,” said Pinsky, medical director of infection control and prevention.

* Let’s circle back to the very dumb “with” or “for” hospitalization argument

Some COVID-positive patients are unquestionably hospitalized for COVID: They are mostly unvaccinated, have classic respiratory problems, and require supplemental oxygen. Omicron might be less severe than Delta, but that doesn’t make it mild. “If a virus that causes less severe lung disease affects an extraordinarily large proportion of the population, you’ll still get a lot of them in the hospital with severe lung disease,” Sara Murray, a hospitalist at UC San Francisco, told me. The proportion of such patients varies around the country: In areas where Omicron has taken off, it’s lower than in previous surges, but it remains high in communities that still have a lot of Delta infections or low vaccination rates, as The Washington Post has reported. At the University of Nebraska Medical Center, “the vast majority of our COVID-positive cases are at the hospital for reasons related to their COVID infection,” James Lawler, an infectious-disease physician, told me. […]

These patients whose problems were exacerbated by COVID are often misleadingly bundled together with the smaller group whose medical problems are truly unrelated to COVID. In fairness, there’s no easy way to tell, for example, whether a COVID-positive person’s heart attack was triggered by their infection or whether it would have happened anyway. But health problems don’t line up to afflict patients one at a time. They intersect, overlap, and feed off one another. The entire for-COVID-or-with-COVID debate hinges on a false binary. “The health-care system is in crisis and on the verge of collapse,” Spencer said. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s with or for. It’s a pure deluge of numbers.”

Even the truly incidental cases increase the strain. COVID-positive people must be kept apart from other patients, which complicates hospitals’ ability to use the beds they have. These patients need to be monitored in case their infection progresses into something more severe. If they start dying for unrelated reasons, their family won’t be allowed into their room. The health-care workers who treat them need to wear full personal protective equipment. If they need follow-up care, they can’t be discharged to a nursing home or similar facility. They’re taking up space and attention when hospitals are short on both. “If you’re 90 percent full and you suddenly have 10 percent more patients, I don’t care if it’s half COVID, all COVID, incidental COVID—it just matters that you’re full,” Faust said.

It’s kinda like debating whether a massive ongoing forest fire was lit by matches or a Bic. It’s both and the flames are spreading while y’all suck your thumbs. Do something to help or get the heck out of the way.

* On to national Politico

A senior [Biden] administration official argued an effort to send N95 or KN95 masks to Americans would make little difference because “half the country won’t wear any mask.”

“It may be popular in certain corners of Twitter, but for masking to work as a public health tool, people need to actually wear them,” the official said. “To prevent spread, the focus should be maximizing the number of people simply wearing a mask in the first place, not shifting the goal posts to urge everyone to go above and beyond to use high filtration masks to make it less likely they themselves will inhale particles.”

Duncan Black replies

Plenty of people wear masks, plenty of people are willing to wear masks, all of those people would happily wear *better masks.* Polls show lots of support for wearing masks, and even if there are corners of the country where this is not the majority view, it’s still a substantial minority view and every little bit helps.

Another reason to do it, like many other things, is to signal that it’s important, to model behavior by putting resources behind it. And, sure, you probably aren’t going to convince the MAGAs to wear them, but making them available for the people *who will wear them* helps! Every little bit helps!

Encouraging (not even requiring) mask wearing is the lowest cost intervention there is, even if it involves mailing out millions of the fancy ones!

I love the swipe at *twitter,* which always come from the people whose brains are absolutely the most poisoned by social media, but who are convinced it’s everybody else with that problem.

And, hey, maybe masks are dumb, but you guys are in charge and you better figure something out, aside from yelling at people to go to work sick.

Agreed.

* More…

* How to avoid getting scammed while seeking a COVID-19 test in Illinois

* Where vaccine rates lag, some Chicago restaurants feel mandate pinch; others see sales rise with comfort levels

* Biden announces millions of COVID tests for schools to help them stay open

* How do I get a free, at-home COVID-19 test? Illinois insurers and pharmacies are still working out details.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

14 Comments »
  1. - lake county democrat - Wednesday, Jan 12, 22 @ 12:32 pm:

    By the logic of the Bailey crowd, if you had a cancer diagnosis and were given two years to live, it’s no big deal if COVID cuts that to six months.


  2. - Roadrager - Wednesday, Jan 12, 22 @ 12:44 pm:

    The “Twitter is not real life” mantra is just shorthand for people who believe that any idea or opinion that doesn’t come through their preferred channels is unworthy of consideration.


  3. - Anotheretiree - Wednesday, Jan 12, 22 @ 12:53 pm:

    =LKD= Agree. U.S. Life expectancy has declined. That only happens when people die before their avg time. And last year we lost a lot of people who were past their avg lifetimes but might have had more time left…WW2 and Korean War veterans. On masks, I recall posting back around March 2020 that N95’s for everyone as the best defense. Government is still there yet !


  4. - thoughts matter - Wednesday, Jan 12, 22 @ 12:58 pm:

    == if you had a cancer diagnosis and were given two years to live, it’s no big deal if COVID cuts that to six months==

    Many of them put all covid deaths under the ‘it was their pre ordained time to go’ theory’. Yet they want treated for every other life threatening condition. Me, I think science is a gift and we should use it as long as treatment is ethical.


  5. - RWC - Wednesday, Jan 12, 22 @ 1:14 pm:

    >whether a massive ongoing forest fire was lit by matches or a Bic

    Large numbers of doctors and epidemiologists are pointing out that the “with/for” issue reflects a major difference between omicron and past waves. And I don’t mean weirdo ivermectin profiteers. Normal doctors seeing what’s happening in their hospitals.

    It’s likely the biggest factor is vaccinations. After all, United - 3,000 cases, 0 hospitalizations.

    It’s almost always counterproductive to try to wave away the truth. The with/for debate is an important part of understanding what’s going on.


  6. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jan 12, 22 @ 1:36 pm:

    === The with/for debate is an important part of understanding what’s going on===

    Many hospitals say otherwise. It’s being used to bolster the “belief” that this is somehow all a hoax.


  7. - Downstate Dad - Wednesday, Jan 12, 22 @ 1:56 pm:

    With/for matters if you’re talking about patient acuity, but doesn’t impact the number of beds available.


  8. - cermak_rd - Wednesday, Jan 12, 22 @ 2:00 pm:

    The advantage of the N95 is that it works with one way masking. We know, as a society, that the population writ large is not going to protect one another so giving people the ability to wear a mask that can protect them would be ideal. Whether that’s done with a voucher or making them available for free in boxes outside the library or giving them to food banks etc I don’t care but get good masks in the hands of those who will wear them. I can afford N95 masks (plus work provides when I am going in the office). But others who want/need to protect themselves cannot.


  9. - Pundent - Wednesday, Jan 12, 22 @ 2:02 pm:

    =the very dumb “with” or “for” hospitalization argument…=

    Do we have people making dumb arguments or dumb people making arguments? I think it’s the latter.


  10. - JoanP - Wednesday, Jan 12, 22 @ 2:10 pm:

    Chicago aldermen are distributing KN95s, free. Each ward office has 20,000, and, at least in my ward, you get a box of 25. I’m picking mine up tomorrow.


  11. - Amalia - Wednesday, Jan 12, 22 @ 2:29 pm:

    I’m imagining the irony of Chicago residents picking up KN95s from one of the Aldermen who are fighting the City on workers being required to be vaccinated. I guess free stuff trumps science.


  12. - thechampaignlife - Wednesday, Jan 12, 22 @ 2:34 pm:

    ===It’s kinda like debating whether a massive ongoing forest fire was lit by matches or a Bic. It’s both and the flames are spreading while y’all suck your thumbs. Do something to help or get the heck out of the way.===

    It’s kinda like debating whether the blood loss is due to the gunshot wound or the car accident. Never mind that the accident likely occurred because of the shooting (or perhaps the other way in road rage). Or that the combined effects are worse their either alone.

    ===With/for matters if you’re talking about patient acuity===

    Does it? They can be immensely sick both with and for COVID, and they can be minimally sick both with and for COVID. With or for, it does not matter. The only thing that matters is that they are sick enough to consume medical services in a time of scarcity.

    ===The with/for debate is an important part of understanding what’s going on.===

    I am all for collecting data to make informed decisions, but we need to be realistic about how useful this data is likely to be. How does this understanding relieve the pressure on our healthcare infrastructure? If we are at capacity and 100% are only ‘with’ COVID, how does that change our response compared to 100% are ‘for’ COVID?


  13. - GoBulls - Wednesday, Jan 12, 22 @ 2:38 pm:

    =I’m imagining the irony of Chicago residents picking up KN95s from one of the Aldermen who are fighting the City on workers being required to be vaccinated. I guess free stuff trumps science.=

    It’s not inconsistent or anti-science to choose to wear a mask to protect yourself from COVID while also not wanting to mandate what others are required to do.

    Interesting survey from a few days ago:

    https://www.suffolk.edu/-/media/suffolk/documents/academics/research-at-suffolk/suprc/polls/national/2022/01_10_2022_complete_marginals.pdf

    65% support public social distancing, 54% support mask requirements, 42% support vaccine passport, and 30% support remote schooling. 75% of the survey respondents are vaccinated.

    33% also said the pandemic will “never” end so I hope they are wrong!


  14. - Anon221 - Wednesday, Jan 12, 22 @ 2:44 pm:

    Bloomington schools are only doing this through Jan.21, hoping to return to full schedules on the 24th. Not a bad idea… students are still getting to all their classes in-person, albeit on a shortened schedule, and they are still getting lunch (grab and go).

    https://pantagraph.com/news/local/education/covid-change-lunch-periods-cut-at-bloomington-junior-high-schools/article_056297d0-5e2a-5951-9802-21154a37fd92.html


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