Monthly Archives: September 2021

Death Panels Spotted

© 2011 TUBS, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Remember all that fuss about how Obamacare was going the cause the government to set up “death panels” to ration care? Remember what happened? (Hint: no government death panels although insurance plans continued pre-existing systems to decide what stuff they would not cover, which works out to something quite similar but without accountability; I guess that’s capitalism, and wealthy folks get other choices, so it’s ok.)

But now, thanks to a combination of low vaccination rates and low incidence of mask-wearing, both aided and abetted the state government, Idaho is having such a big COVID spike that hospitals are flooded. So Idaho’s Department of Health and Welfare is starting to ration hospital care. Looks like ‘death panels’ to me:

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare on Monday activated its “crisis standards of care” in 10 northern hospitals hard-hit by staff shortages, hospital bed shortages, and a “massive increase in patients with COVID-19 who require hospitalization,” the department announced Tuesday.

The crisis standards mean that the quality of care in those hospitals will be reduced for all patients. Resources will be rationed, and patients with the best chances of survival may be prioritized.

In practice, that could mean that: emergency medical services may prioritize which 9-1-1 calls they respond to; some people who would normally be admitted to the hospital will instead be turned away; some admitted patients may be sent home earlier than typical or may find their hospital bed in a repurposed area of the hospital, like a conference room; and, in the worst cases, hospital staff might not be able to provide an intensive care unit bed or a ventilator to a patient that has a relatively low chance of survival.

“Crisis standards of care is a last resort. It means we have exhausted our resources to the point that our healthcare systems are unable to provide the treatment and care we expect,” Dave Jeppesen, director of Idaho’s Department of Health and Welfare, said in a statement. “This is a decision I was fervently hoping to avoid. The best tools we have to turn this around is for more people to get vaccinated and to wear masks indoors and in outdoor crowded public places. Please choose to get vaccinated as soon as possible—it is your very best protection against being hospitalized from COVID-19.”

Posted in COVID-19, Politics: US: Healthcare | 1 Comment

Worth a Look

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Masks, Latest

DeSantis COVID PolicyFrom the news:

Remember, it’s Florida state policy to prevent local and private masks requirements, whether in schools, in counties, in cruise ships, in private businesses.

Thank you Governor DeSantis!

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‘Herd Immunity’ May Be Out of Reach

Click for larger version. © 2017 Tkarcher, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The NYT pours cold water on hopes of ‘herd immunity’ for COVID and its variants:

… daily vaccination rates are slipping, and there is widespread consensus among scientists and public health experts that the herd immunity threshold is not attainable — at least not in the foreseeable future, and perhaps not ever.

Instead, they are coming to the conclusion that rather than making a long-promised exit, the virus will most likely become a manageable threat that will continue to circulate in the United States for years to come, still causing hospitalizations and deaths but in much smaller numbers.

How much smaller is uncertain and depends in part on how much of the nation, and the world, becomes vaccinated and how the coronavirus evolves. It is already clear, however, that the virus is changing too quickly, new variants are spreading too easily and vaccination is proceeding too slowly for herd immunity to be within reach anytime soon.

The problem is a combination of vaccine hesitancy and COVID mutation:

The predominant variant now circulating in the United States, called B.1.1.7 and first identified in Britain, is about 60 percent more transmissible.

As a result, experts now calculate the herd immunity threshold to be at least 80 percent. If even more contagious variants develop, or if scientists find that immunized people can still transmit the virus, the calculation will have to be revised upward again.

Plus, it’s a global problem: even if we have a high vaccination rate here, new localized mini-waves of infection can be set off by people visiting from, or returning form, abroad, especially if vaccination rates are lower there.

In time, the best we may be able to hope for is making COVID a seasonal problem like the influenza. Probably with another annual shot or two.

Naturally, vaccination skeptics will respond “why bother?” which is totally the wrong reaction…the more people are vaccinated, the less spread there will be. Not to mention the better the chances of the person actually surviving an infection.

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Water, Water, Everywhere and Not a Drop to Drink?

compressed gas tanks

© 2008 Ildar Sagdejev (Specious), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Or maybe the modern version is “Oxygen, Oxygen, everywhere and not a canister to purify the water”? Wired mag explains, Why Florida’s Covid Surge Is Screwing With the Water Supply (Hint: Oxygen). More people in the hospital means more people need oxygen. But treatment plants also need the gas to purify water.

But remember: people choosing not to get vaccinated–even if vaccination almost entirely protects the 97% of the non-immunocompromised population from serious breakthrough infections of the type requiring hospitalizations–or wear masks in public, which helps reduce transmission of COVID, are making a personal choice that we all should respect. If that purely personal private liberty-loving choice somehow mysteriously has an effect on others, then it is the responsibility of those others–who probably don’t exercise or take care of themselves right–to alter their behavior regardless of the external costs blithely imposed upon the whole state by the freedom-loving among us whom, my commentators and others (like Fl. Gov. Ron DeSantis) instruct, we must coddle and respect and not burden with our greedy desire to do things like drink clean tap water or have an open hospital bed available if we need one.

So, today, I suppose we must invest in home water filters or environmentally hazardous plastic-bottled water, until that runs out, anyway. What? That’s not in your budget? Tough on you, eh? Stand up and learn not to drink so much water! (Wait, staying well hydrated is good for you? But, but…) And, meanwhile, feel the patriotism! And thank Gov. DeSantis for his leadership on the COVID issue! And wait for tomorrow…

Posted in COVID-19, Florida, Science/Medicine | 17 Comments