I know I shouldn't still be up at 5am, but I really wanted to finish reading everything in my inbox and make sense of the CDC stuff that came out on Thursday before every media outlet continues to repeat that we don't ever need masks if we're fully vaccinated ever again. I'll move that whole diatribe after the jump. There was also a lot of interesting local news, including the success rate of the Convention Center reuniting unaccompanied minors with family or sponsors, a study on gun violence in our region, reporting on Vision Zero and pedestrian and bike deaths, and that horrific video of SDPD beating an unhoused man for the very serious crime of allegedly urinating in public in a city with so few bathrooms that you can probably count all of them on your fingers and toes in a county of 3.3 million people. And then the end of the post I included some Casbah news since I will eventually venture out of my cocoon for concerts again. If you click the flyers you'll get to the ticket links.
I shall now attempt to sleep. So far Nova has no side effects from Pfizer besides a sore arm and being extremely tired after our four mile hike, so fingers crossed she's back at school today unscathed. I'll still do a Friday post after all the briefings and stuff but I thought I'd do this interim post because today is going to be a big news day. Be safe out there.
It's hard to parse out-- the nuance I mentioned in my last post-- because CDC guidance has always been mostly recommendation and suggestions. The public transit/airplane/train guidelines were also recommendations, but President Biden signed an Executive Order back in January which required the relevant agencies such as the TSA, FAA, HHS and other agencies to require masks in accordance with the CDC guidance at that time. The RULES then are by the agencies themselves, not the CDC.
Dr. Walensky said, "Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing," and later added, "locations such as healthcare facilities will continue to follow their specific infection control recommendations." Later, as she answered questions, more clarifications. "this guidance is really just for individuals who are vaccinated and what they can do — safely do. And we have, you know, work ahead of us, in terms of updating our guidance with regard to all other settings — as you note, schools and camps..." and then later to another question asking about "spaces where they don’t know if the people that are around them are fully vaccinated, i.e. if you’re going to a possible concert or a restaurant" she answered, "if you’re vaccinated in those settings you certainly could wear a mask if you wanted to. But we are saying in those settings, based on the science, that it is safe."
And all of this led to this final response to a question. "But importantly, I think we really need to understand that this country is very heterogeneous; it’s not uniform. And so these are going to have to be at the — these decisions are going to have to be made at the local level. And I would encourage counties and localities to look at how much vaccine they have, how many people have been vaccinated, look at how many cases are in their area, and to make those decisions with that information in mind."
But I'm sure we're going to see a ton of Friday changes because the same frontline and essential workers who had to deal with maskholes before are now put in this impossible position of still working with unvaccinated people who refuse to mask and could be spreading the virus. Yes, breakthrough infections aren't causing a significant problem, but it isn't zero, as evidenced by news that 7 Yankees and TV host Bill Maher tested positive after full vaccination.
So all this to say, I hope that California will move a little slower on lifting indoor mask restrictions, and even the outdoor mask requirements for theme parks, zoos, aquarium, stadiums, farmer's markets, swap meets, etc. We're at 46.7% of the population fully vaccinated. In San Diego, that number is 46.3%. We just barely opened vaccines up to kids 12+. Why not let them get their 2 doses + 2 weeks before we all start shedding the masks? Let the restaurants and bars get back into their groove with hiring and safety procedures before you risk them wondering if 1 out of every 2 people walking in isn't vaccinated? I'm so down with the June 15 reopening target, and by then everyone 12+ who wants should be vaxxed, but in this tourist destination of a city and of a state, I think we're making a mistake if we just let it all go now.
- Droplets vs Aerosols: What's More Important in COVID-19 Spread? — CDC finally acknowledged aerosol transmission, but contribution to case counts remains unclear - MedPage Today (5.13.21)
- BNT162b2-Elicited Neutralization against New SARS-CoV-2 Spike Variants - NEJM (5.12.21)
Because these data show that the newly emerged B.1.526(New York Lineage), B.1.429 (California Lineage), and B.1.1.7+E484K (UK Lineage) variants remain susceptible to an important vaccine-elicited immune effector (neutralizing antibody), they confirm the importance of mass immunization with current, highly effective, authorized vaccines as a central strategy to end the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Explaining the CDC Changes in Mask Guidance For Fully Vaccinated People in U.S.
- When the COVID Response team announced new mask guidance for fully vaccinated people, they cited a bunch of studies as the science behind it (YouTube). This is in response to a question asking if there was pressure or if it was political to change the guidance. Dr. Walensky was also on NewsHour and clarified some of the information. (YouTube)
So several things have happened in the last two weeks. In the last two weeks, the cases in this country have dropped by a third. In the last two weeks, we’ve had increasingly available vaccine and we now have available and eligible people between the ages of 12 and 15.
And we have had a coalescence of more science that has emerged just in the last week. That science has been in three areas: One is the effectiveness of the vaccines in general, in real-world populations. One is the effectiveness against variants, which was just published last week. And then the effectiveness in preventing transmissibility.
- Here are the studies that Dr. Walensky cited for "Real World Effectiveness of COVID-19 Vaccines"
- Association Between Vaccination With BNT162b2 and Incidence of Symptomatic and Asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Infections Among Health Care Workers - JAMA (5.6.21)
- Effectiveness of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Vaccines Against COVID-19 Among Hospitalized Adults Aged ≥65 Years — United States, January–March 2021 - MMWR (5.7.21)
- Interim Estimates of Vaccine Effectiveness of BNT162b2 and mRNA-1273 COVID-19 Vaccines in Preventing SARS-CoV-2 Infection Among Health Care Personnel, First Responders, and Other Essential and Frontline Workers — Eight U.S. Locations, December 2020–March 2021 - MMWR (4.2.21)
- Effectiveness of the BNT162b2 Covid-19 Vaccine against the B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 Variants - NEJM (5.5.21)
- Here are the studies cited for "Decreased Transmission After Vaccination"
- Initial report of decreased SARS-CoV-2 viral load after inoculation with the BNT162b2 vaccine - Nature Medicine (3.29.21)
- Postvaccination SARS-CoV-2 Infections Among Skilled Nursing Facility Residents and Staff Members — Chicago, Illinois, December 2020–March 2021 - MMWR (4.30.21)
- A video of a man being beat by SDPD, supposedly for urinating in public, has gone viral. You can see the full video here. It's sickening, especially in a city that fails to provide adequate facilities for the unhoused, and especially shut down public bathrooms amid pandemic concerns. Beyond that, the fact that it becomes an "internal investigation" is super gross, and that the "expert" News8 chose to interview is a "retired police SWAT commanding officer and lethal force instructor" is incredibly problematic. Of course he's going to say they followed procedure. And if they did then procedure needs to be changed, which is what all the BLM and police reform and defund police protests have been about in the first place.
- This is a statement from Father Joe's Villages about the incident:
"While the circumstances of this incident are not yet clear, we at Father Joe’s Villages are deeply troubled by this video. It is a clear illustration of several broken systems and a stark and distressing reminder of the insufficient resources available to those on our streets.
From the failure to provide the basic dignity of public restrooms to the urgent need for a more compassionate, effective, and comprehensive response to those suffering from mental illness, San Diego can and must do better. In the meantime, this individual and thousands of others experiencing homelessness are paying the price. We trust that a thorough investigation of this incident will be conducted and we will look to see the results."
- Video of San Diego police officers punching man during arrest in La Jolla spurs protest, SDPD internal probe. Video of the officers' efforts to detain the man, who is reportedly experiencing homelessness, prompted a call for accountability from the local branch of the NAACP. - CBS8 (5.13.21)
- SANDAG released their 2020 Criminal Justice Report: Homicides and Other Violent Crimes that Involve the Use of a Firearm in the San Diego Region. It's only 3 pages but worth looking at the graphs. Spoiler alert: it's not good.
- Five Years Into ‘Vision Zero,’ San Diego Streets Are Even Deadlier - kpbs (5.13.21)
- Hope for Vision Zero - Circulate San Diego (5.12.21)
Traffic fatalities and serious injuries in San Diego increased between 2013 and 2018, particularly for pedestrians. This reflects a national trend of increasing pedestrian traffic fatalities.
- As Fewer Unaccompanied Children Cross Border, San Diego Convention Center Workers Reunite Hundreds Of Families - kpbs (5.12.21)
"...Case managers (at the San Diego Convention Center) have eight weeks to reunite children with families or sponsors before they lose the space to hold them — something they’ll accomplish if current trends hold."
- Other Reading:
- The Covid-19 Infodemic — Applying the Epidemiologic Model to Counter Misinformation - The New England Journal of Medicine (5.12.21)