It's been a long hard slog. No I am not talking about the presidential campaign, nor the last four years (those have been a nightmare). I am referring to the coronavirus pandemic. What started as a few hundred cases and a handful of deaths has spiraled out of control. The country was moving towards tamping it down when a small wave hit at the beginning of summer, receded, and was followed by the out-of-control blazing inferno that we have now.
As of this morning, there have been over 11 million cases in the U.S., and 250 thousand deaths. Six million have "recovered" that we know of. I put "recovered" in quotes, because the lingering and often debilitating effects of those who don't die are seldom discussed. They can include permanent lung and organ damage, as well as brain damage due to micro-clots. It's insane that so many people have dismissed this as just another flu. Of course - we all know why.
The upper midwest is on fire with contagion
. The Dakotas, Iowa, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Idaho (all red states, natch') are running out of available hospital beds as their caseloads spike into numbers not seen before. Sure, these states aren't densely populated, but that also means they are not equipped to handle illness of this magnitude.
Shortly after the election, Pfizer announced they were on the verge of producing a viable vaccine. Testing showed it at 90% effective. The only downside is that it needs to be kept extremely cold (-100 degrees C). tRump and his surrogates tried to take credit, but all credit goes to the German lab (BioNTech) to whom the work was mostly outsourced, and Pfizer was one of the countries that did not take the government money.
In the last couple days, another company - Moderna - has announced a vaccine with a 95% success rate
, and its storage temperature constraints will be much easier to maintain (just below freezing). In response, Pfizer announced that after completing it's Phase 3 trials, it too is 95% effective.
Of course - all of this is currently moot. Production needs to be ramped up. Distribution needs to be planned and implemented. The most vulnerable, healthcare workers, police, etc. should be the first to get it. That means the average among us won't be able to get it until probably mid-2021. Still - this is good news.
In the meantime, we need to continue with our protocols; it's no time for complacency. Sure we're all burned out and ready for this to be over. It's hard to keep one's guard up month after month. Those who work in the government are still passing the disease around like the clap at summer camp. Members of the Secret Service have caught it, as have members of Congress, including its oldest Republican member
Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
As people let down their guard when the disease seemed to be in decline, businesses (which survived) began to reopen. The double-edged sword of the improving jobs market is this resurgence of illness we're experiencing, which will inevitably push the economy back into a tailspin. Over in the Senate, McConnell (R-Hell) is still obstructing anything the Dems propose - in this case, financial relief
for those affected by the economic disaster this disease has caused. Merry Christmas, and fuck you.
A little late to the party, the FDA has finally
approved a home Covid-19 test kit
, so people worried about whether they were exposed, and unwilling or unable to get tested at a public test site can do so at home. The down side, of course, is that it may artificially lower the reported infection rates, although there are likely a lot more cases of infection that go unreported because some of those infected experience no or mild symptoms and don't get tested.
There is some light at the end of the tunnel. We should be able to get back to some semblance of normal by summer of next year, with things improving gradually starting in January. As we've seen over the last month, however, relaxing our restrictions and being cavalier about the disease will only make things worse until then. We can do this, but it will require a little more patience to prevent more patients.