[Part 1 – from the midst of the “fourth wave” of COVID-19 in April 2021]
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
You’ll wish that summer could always be here
Unless, of course, you happen to, um, have been a mussel or a clam on the beaches of the North American Pacific Northwest during the heat wave last week [first week of July 2021].
Or you’re one of those who has to swab the nostrils of all those people who charged out to the bar, or the ball game, last week, thrilled that “COVID is over!”, and now have to get tested while the television in the waiting room broadcasts this week’s 63% increase in USA COVID cases. (Next week, the waiting room will close – again – and those needing tests will be going back to waiting in line in their cars.)
Certain elements of the “news” media have been obsessing over vaccination rates in the US, and shame on those [mostly red] states and their idiot [mostly Republican] citizens that have been lagging, and of course that’s where all the new COVID cases are. Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba happens to agree that there are few legitimate excuses for not getting vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, even if this does play into the grubby war-profiteering little hands of the
lifestyle drug recreational drug vaccine makers. But after discovering, a few months ago, that politics made little difference in how COVID cases were actually distributed in the USA, he was prepared to examine the vaccination-rate claims a bit more closely.
On the map (click/tap on it to biggie), states claiming 60+ percent fully vaccinated citizens are shown in green. Between 50 and 60 percent, yellow; 40-50%, orange; 30-40%, red. Numbers for each state show the increase in COVID cases between 15 June and 15 July 2021, with 0 = no increase, 1x = twice as many cases in July as in June (onefold increase), 2x = twofold increase, and so forth.
Yes, states with lower vaccination percentages are more likely to have rising COVID-19 cases at this point in time than states with higher vaccination percentages. But the picture is by no means uniform. Several low-vaccination states have not (yet) seen a rise in COVID cases, whereas a few high-vaccination states, including the poster-child states of Washington (lowest ratio of COVID cases to total population), California (highly restrictive COVID regulations) and Vermont (lowest total COVID cases), have seen increases.
UPDATE 30 July 2021:
A few states have moved into the 40% vaccination bracket – but none has moved into either the 50% or the 60% bracket, and none has achieved 70%.
All states have seen at least a near-doubling of daily new COVID cases, 29 July vs 15 July. Mississippi has the distinction of having 40x more new COVID cases per day. Ten states have seen increases of 10x or greater, all but two (Alaska and Massachusetts) in the southeastern USA, and all but one (conspicuously, Massachusetts) among low-vaccination states. Moreover, there are several low-vaccination states that have relatively low increases in daily new COVID cases.
In fact, take away those ten states, and there is no significant difference in the number of daily new COVID cases that can be attributed to vaccination percentage. The graph shows the vaccination percentage (%FV) plotted against the COVID increase factor (Factor).
Since the previous analysis suggested that differences in population density do not explain the distribution of COVID across these Untied States, it could be that human behavior in the regions experiencing spikes in new COVID cases explains what is happening. Or, as at least one news source this date (30 July) actually acknowledged, it may that SARS-CoV-2, like all other organisms and near-organisms on this planet, is conforming to the Harvard Law, and there is no tidy explanation of the events of the day.
2ND UPDATE 7 August 2021:
One week later (data from 6 August 2021), no states have changed vaccination ranking. On average, a state had 0.5% more peeps vaccinated on 6 August than on 30 July. (On the previous map, Alabama had been erroneously advanced into the 40% vaccinated rank.)
All states had higher daily new COVID cases on 6 August than they had had on 15 June. Most states had higher (some, like Hawai‘i, much higher) daily new COVID cases on 6 August than on 30 July, though five states (numbers in green) had lower. Some of these states claimed high vaccination rates, some lower. In fact, even when South Carolina and Mississippi are included in the analysis, there is NO correlation between vaccination percentage and the daily new case load. Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island (60% vaccination) have higher case loads than Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, and Wyoming (30% vaccination).
But, but, but … High vaccination rates should mean lower COVID numbers, shouldn’t it? Shouldn’t it?!?
Consider YFNA’s home state, Hawai‘i. Let us show aloha by accepting the state’s published figure of 58.9% fully vaccinated (60.1% on 6 August), instead of the Mayo Clinic’s 52.7% [the Mayo Clinic number was 53.4% on 29 July, 53.7% on 6 August], and defer to another time any discussion of the factors that could induce Hawai‘i Nei to inflate its statistics. Especially since 58.9% is close enough to 60% to allow rounding to that number and still have some chance of the result passing the smell test.
So, 60% of Hawai‘i 1,400,000-and-change citizens have been vaccinated. That’s about 850,000 vaccinated people.
And 550,000 (one-half million) unvaccinated people.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Hawai‘i as of 15 July 2021?
38,819 (29 July, 40,000 and change, with ‘a reporting glitch’ affecting the number).
Open the economies of the several US states, as practically everybody has been clamoring to do (“I’m getting bored here!!”), and let SARS-CoV-2 loose among those half-million unvaccinated Hawaiians, and the COVID statistics likely (see “Harvard Law”, supra) will blast through the roof. Vaccine or no vaccine.
Which is exactly what is happening in Hawai‘i on 6 August. And that can happen in any state of the USA at current vaccination percentages, and arguably is happening in most of them.
Ask The Netherlands.
On 26 June, as vaccination rates increased and COVID statistics dropped, the Netherlands government lifted all restrictions. The Dutch welcomed the return of night life en masse. On 14 July, the government put all the restrictions back in place, after COVID infections jumped overnight to levels comparable to those seen during the Christmas 2020 spike, the pandemic’s worst in that nation.
Vaccination rate in The Netherlands on 26 June? 51%. Not far removed from the current vaccination rate for Hawai‘i, and in the upper half of vaccination rates in these Untied States.
Speaking of vaccinations. One news report from The Netherlands mentioned, in passing, that, of the 52,000 new cases recorded over the seven days prior to the report, 7,000 of the victims (13%) claimed to have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. Subsequently, it has become apparent that “a few percent” of vaccinated people still get infected by SARS-CoV-2 – including persons within YFNA’s vocational and avocational orbits. This estimate doesn’t include cases brought on by the acute and chronic lying about vaccination status that is currently widespread on these islands. (Yes, it exists. YFNA knows for sure. It’s personal, and it’s left him pretty thoroughly disgusted with humanity in general and tourists in particular.) Controversial, and potentially self-serving, reports have asserted that the effectiveness of current vaccines decays over time, necessitating booster shots to assure protection. Which induces YFNA to wonder, “where is the Truman Committee when we need it?”
Bottom line? COVID ain’t over, COVID restrictions ain’t over, and they ain’t going to be over until we recognize that the Chinese are the only ones with a clue, and act accordingly. Anything else is wishful thinking.
Almost as wishful as thinking that technological Wunderwaffe will somehow stop Planet Greenhouse Earth from hosting clambakes.
On a planetary scale.