Will The New Year Be Better?

From the Newsletter:

As we turn our calendars to 2021, we’re all hopeful that we’ve crossed over some invisible line from a place of desperate isolation to a better place, where normal life resumes. There are many positive signs, beyond the simple change of a zero to a one on the calendar. We have a new president. There’s a vaccine on the horizon. Some friends of mine are so hopeful that they’ve already purchased plane tickets for a summer vacation. I’m not quite ready for plane tickets yet. 

While I long for normality and fanaticize about wearing beautiful dresses and jewelry and strappy shoes to parties and events, I am deeply concerned about the upcoming chaos. I’m a former political science professor, so I all I can see is the lack of bureaucratic infrastructure to oversee a massive vaccination program. 

Before the pressures of family life forced me to leave academia, I taught political science courses at several colleges. There, I taught my students that the relationship between the federal government and the states has shifted over time. The federal government, with the strong leadership of a president, has always stepped in when the nation was in a period of a national crisis like a war or a depression. When the country was out of work and starving during the 1930s, FDR hired artists and engineers to build and decorate buildings and bridges all over the country. When the states could not agree on how to handle the horrors of slavery, Lincoln did not say, “hell, figure it out yourselves.” 

Strong leadership in DC has been missing during this pandemic. This year, we needed someone to make decisions, and hard ones, about what programs and services should remain open and how we could safely provide government supports to vulnerable populations. We needed uniform, science-based rules and decisions from a centralized government. But Trump passed those decisions along to the states, which were not equipped to make those decisions. Some state legislatures are, after all, still run by part-time, low paid policy makers; legislators in places like Nevada might be farmers every other year. Without strong state governments, decisions were passed on to localities, where some mayor or town administrator made the hard choices that were passed on by presidents, congressmen, governors, and state legislators. 

Let’s not forget that schools are a government bureaucracy. Teachers and therapists tell me that they were forced to figure out remote instruction entirely on their own by reading posts from other teachers on Instagram, because there was no guidance from the state or even their central office in their town. District administrators – who have been trained for education, not health – are opening and closing schools based on their own random calculus. Our country in New Jersey, which is comprised of dozens of school districts, has no uniform policy; so some schools are open, others are closed.

What a failure of government. 

Then I’m hearing stories about how the vaccine programs are unrolling in ways that are unfair, random, and inefficient. In some hospitals, office staff is getting vaccinated before their ER staff that deals with COVID patients every day, because the office staff has the time to sit in front of the computer all day to sign up for a vaccination appointment, while the ER workers are too busy saving people’s lives. There are long lines outside of clinics in Florida, which has chosen to vaccinate the old people first. 

We have lots of unanswered questions, like if teachers are deemed to be essential workers and given priority, will that mean that they’ll return to the classroom for in-person education? Will adults with disabilities, like Down syndrome, be given vaccination priority? 

These are questions that can, and should be, answered. We need to build a huge, and temporary, government infrastructure to handle the pandemic. We need to keep government functioning, so that schools can open and social services can resume. We need to make sure that the vaccination roll out happens fairly and efficiently. 

I’m hopeful that a new administration will provide the central administration that is so desperately needed right now. And I’m hopeful that I’ll soon be hugging my mother and dancing on the rooftop of a very tall building in Manhattan. 

Be well, my friends! 

51 thoughts on “Will The New Year Be Better?

  1. I sure hope so.
    At least we *have* a vaccine, and it is being distributed (well, in some countries at least) – not looking too hopeful if you are in Africa or even India.

    No, the distribution won’t be perfect: some of the ‘wrong’ people will get the vaccine first, it won’t be as quick as it could be in an ideal world, some people may miss out/opt out/not get the booster, some kids won’t get back into education as soon as they might.

    But we will get there in the end.

    And, trying to mandate down to the finest detail (Hospital board Admin getting vaccine before ER) at the Federal level is simply not sustainable. You end up with a massive bureaucracy and Everything Slows Down because the Paperwork Has Not Been Done (believe me, I know what it looks like from the inside).
    In the end, you have to trust to the individual organizations involved to make rational decisions (e.g. the hospitals spotting that the admin workers are ahead of the ER ones, and swapping the priorities).

    Building a huge (even if temporary) bureaucracy is going to suck most of the resources into building the bureaucracy, rather than delivering the vaccine. And, I seriously doubt it’s going to deliver major improvements. Bureaucracies have their own flaws. Now, the Federal Government spending some resources on co-ordination and communication – between State-based delivery systems – could actually have some benefit – a bit like the FEMA

    At a broad political level, Authoritarian regimes (whether social or political) have better tools for this kind of state-directed crisis management (though, they don’t always get it right, ether). Which is why Taiwan, Israel, Singapore & China have done relatively well. Western Democracies are simply not set up for this.

    Just as one example of the difference between democratic and authoritarian regimes – which has a direct effect on vaccination. In NZ, we have the issue that there is no government ID that all citizens are required to have (unlike China or Singapore for example). So how does the State know which citizens have been vaccinated (and which haven’t had the booster, if required)? There *are* ID systems (e.g. driver’s licence, passport, Health System number, Tax number, Social security number) – but no one is *required* to have any of them (e.g. kids may not) and many people will be in multiple databases. And that ignores completely un-documented migrants/ illegal over-stayers, etc. – who have a positive incentive *not* to come to the attention of the Government.

    Strong leadership has been lacking in some countries/areas. And, yes, better communication co-ordination from government/state officials would have improved the experience for many.
    But realistically, very, very few legislators (and even fewer bureaucrats) really have outstanding crisis-management/leadership skills (they’re good at being elected/appointed, if they happen to be good managers as well, that’s a nice bonus) [Sorry for the cynicism].

    And, sadly, it’s already clear that they won’t be punished at the ballot box, or fired for incompetence — the Covid crisis excuses everything.
    Here in NZ. we’ve just had a report on failures in Quarantine – which damns the Ministry of Health for incompetence, butt-covering, failures of communication (including to their political masters), in-ability to work collaboratively, etc. Do you think one bureaucrat has lost their job? If so, I have a bridge to sell to you)

    But, overall, I’d rather live in a society where I’m free to choose what I want to do with my life, rather than being directed (either overtly or covertly) to work for the benefit of the State.

    Really, worst-case scenario, is that people end up in lockdown/social isolation for a few months longer. That seems like the rational choice, if you are in a high risk group, but not yet vaccinated. Just carry on self-isolating. While it’s not ideal, it’s not the end of the world, either. And, from an education perspective, this school year has been totally trashed for most kids, a few months more aren’t going to make a lot of difference. The focus has to be on remediation (educationally and/or socially). But my pick is that the Covid Crisis has widened the existing gaps between students succeeding in the education system, and those failing within it.


    1. Ann said, “And, trying to mandate down to the finest detail (Hospital board Admin getting vaccine before ER) at the Federal level is simply not sustainable. You end up with a massive bureaucracy and Everything Slows Down because the Paperwork Has Not Been Done.”

      Worse, had Trump attempted to be Pandemic Dictator, you’d have gotten huge fights with governors telling the feds, “You’re not the boss of me.” During the campaign, Biden kept promising stuff like federal mask mandates, but the infrastructure simply doesn’t exist to enforce that if governors are not on board. Heck, governors can’t enforce pandemic rules if local government and police isn’t on board. See, for example, all the instances where US governors engaged in big talk about holiday crackdowns and police chiefs said they weren’t going to prioritize policing Thanksgiving gatherings.

      The feds could have done stuff like control international travel better and faster–but even just Trump’s limits on travel from China were treated as hugely controversial at the time. I personally would have loved it if the feds had shut down or limited air travel out of the greater NYC area–but that would have been treated as an outrage. Cuomo was threatening to sue the governor of Rhode Island over RI’s attempts to block travel from NY.


      A March 28 article said:

      “New York’s governor on Saturday ripped suggestions by President Donald Trump that he might institute a ban on New Yorkers’ travel to others states amid the coronavirus, and Cuomo threatened to sue Rhode Island if it continues to seek out New Yorkers entering its borders.

      Cuomo said, “I don’t believe it’s legal. It would be economic chaos.”

      “Late Saturday, Trump backed off the idea, tweeting that he has decided against imposing a quarantine on New York and the surrounding area.”

      In retrospect, travel bans/limits are essential–but let’s not kid ourselves that Blue States were chomping at the bit wanting Trump’s leadership on this. See also Trump’s desire to open all schools in the fall and the response to that from Democratic governors.

      It’s been pretty inevitable that the federal role has been largely limited to advice, funding and the vaccine effort and that the governors have been the people with the biggest local COVID role.

      Also, illegal BLM protests starting 2.5 months into the pandemic and continuing for the next 5 months meant that we weren’t going to get perfect Prussian civil order for anti-pandemic efforts. We needed the police to enforce pandemic rules, and BLM declawed the police.


  2. I do not agree that any bureaucracy could be built to deliver fairness. It would create more paperwork. It could delay it. It would not be able to change behavior by administrators.

    (Warning: the following reports from NPR are shocking)

    To put things simply, one person’s idea of “fair” may not align with the opinions of hospital ethicists.

    An example from Oregon: https://www.npr.org/2020/12/21/946292119/oregon-hospitals-didnt-have-shortages-so-why-were-disabled-people-denied-care

    The near death in Pendleton spurred the advocates to watch for other cases. One state official, who handled complaints at residential facilities, wrote to Gelser in April that her office had received and investigated complaints of hospitals and physicians “inappropriately” asking people with disabilities to fill out a legal form to limit care, according to the documents obtained by NPR.

    Gelser heard reports of disabled and elderly people who had symptoms of COVID-19, went to the hospital and were denied tests, treatment or even lifesaving care. “We had hospitals that were trying to immediately discharge people and saying that they needed to go home for palliative or comfort care, instead of actual treatment,” she says

    And, in Oregon, a separate woman died: https://www.npr.org/2020/12/14/945056176/as-hospitals-fear-being-overwhelmed-by-covid-19-do-the-disabled-get-the-same-acc

    That emergency room doctor would be the first at the hospital to raise a question that would shadow decisions about McSweeney’s care over nearly three weeks at the hospital: Why does a woman with significant and complex disabilities have a legal order that requires the hospital to take all measures to save her life?

    To be clear, I find this outrageous. But I have no idea how one might change this. It is not a case of a lack of governmental leadership.

    An elderly relative has been in and out of hospital with serious issues. I have heard from her children that she got better care in the nursing home than in the hospital. It is essential to have people to advocate for you if you are in hospital. However, these cases in Oregon had trained advocates, who fully knew the applicable laws, and it made very little difference.


    1. I agree about the need for advocates within the health system.
      I’ve had quite a bit of experience with palliative and terminal care for relatives, along with the standard person-getting-older type of medical issues.

      Every time I’ve acted as an advocate: translating the med-speak (or asking for the doctor to do so), making sure that all the alternatives have been addressed, clarifying any possible side effects, navigating the emergency contact pathways (when the side effects happen), supporting the patient to make their wishes known (and repeating them until the med staff have understood and documented them), or even just taking notes, so we can go over them together afterwards – I’ve wondered what happens to people who don’t have a white, middle-class, articulate, confident partner/daughter/niece to do this for them…..

      To be clear, the medical care has usually been excellent, but often you just need to slow the medical specialist down to make sure the person receiving the treatment understands both the good and bad potential outcomes and is able to make an ‘informed consent’ to the procedure. [That concept of ‘informed consent’ is a big issue here in NZ]
      It’s the ‘expert’ problem – what is routine to them, is a whole new world to their patients – and it’s easy for them to forget this.


      1. Ann said, “I’ve wondered what happens to people who don’t have a white, middle-class, articulate, confident partner/daughter/niece to do this for them…..”

        During a COVID-era hospitalization, it may not even be possible to have that person on site.


  3. Hmm, well, I was going to say how much I disagreed with Laura, but Ann from NZ and Cranberry have pretty much said what I might have said. Happy New Year anyway, Laura, and everyone else, even when we totally disagree.


  4. Laura wrote, “But Trump passed those decisions along to the states, which were not equipped to make those decisions. Some state legislatures are, after all, still run by part-time, low paid policy makers; legislators in places like Nevada might be farmers every other year. Without strong state governments, decisions were passed on to localities, where some mayor or town administrator made the hard choices that were passed on by presidents, congressmen, governors, and state legislators.”

    The legislators have been pretty much a no-show this year. For good or ill, it’s been the governors making the calls.

    “I’m hopeful that a new administration will provide the central administration that is so desperately needed right now.”

    I think the states are going to be doing much better within a week. This updated today and it’s already better:


    West Virginia has vaccinated 2.74% of their population, South Dakota is at 2.39% and Maine is at 2.3%. Several states are closing in on 2% (North Dakota, Alaska and Vermont). The following states have used up 40% or more of the vaccine they have been given: Ohio, Connecticut, West Virginia, Maine, Nebraska, South Dakota, Montana, North Dakota and DC. The US average is that 28.1% of distributed vaccine has been used for vaccinations and that 1.1% of the population has been vaccinated.

    The states that are doing better with vaccination numbers are predominantly smaller population states. A lot of them are pretty hick states–and yet they’re currently doing better than their more urban peers. We should be studying what the more successful states are doing–as well as what Israel is doing (they’re at 10.5% of the population vaccinated).

    The US average is that 70% of the vaccine provided is (at least according to our latest info) sitting on the shelf. The problem is not that the “wrong” people are getting vaccinated, but that the vaccine isn’t being used.

    On the other hand, while we can obviously do more, we’re doing way better than continental Europe. At the moment, only Israel, Bahrain and the UK are doing better than the US with regard to percentage vaccinated. Having more than 1% of the population vaccinated is a very select club right now. Also, we’ve done more vaccinations (3.5 million) than any country in the world, aside from China (4.5 million).


  5. I also don’t think we need a pandemic specific bureaucracy. But, I think we should use our existing bureaucracies and given them the trust to operate as independent entities. They would have still made mistakes in the fast evolving knowledge of the pandemic. But as I worried, when I first commented about the novel virus in March, was that the independence of these bureaucracies had already been undermined for politics (the undermining of NWS Birmingham in hurricane prediction in the sharpie incident being one example). The CDC provides advice on lots of transmittable vectors, from Ebola to flu to lice and local health depend on that advice on best practices. The FDA has a process for approving vaccines — the reports that Trump told the FDA director to approve the vaccine or be fired were horrific, if true and certainly did nothing to increase acceptance of the vaccine.

    Biden doesn’t need to build a new bureaucracy. He needs to allow those agencies to do what they do. And the federal government needs to provide money, for education remedies, for vaccination, for testing, . . . I’m hopeful about the first and worried about the resources.


    1. bj said, “But, I think we should use our existing bureaucracies and given them the trust to operate as independent entities…The FDA has a process for approving vaccines — the reports that Trump told the FDA director to approve the vaccine or be fired were horrific, if true and certainly did nothing to increase acceptance of the vaccine.”

      On the other hand, the FDA spring management of the COVID test was a trainwreck–required everybody to use their test, botched their test, made sure that the US didn’t have access to testing for a long time, etc.


    2. Yes, mistakes did happen and there was incompetence, too. But subverting the agencies for political goals (partially because of Trumps ego, but also because the administration’s distrust of the bureaucracy) exacerbated the mistakes, incompetence and management of an incredibly complicated pandemic.

      Also, it was the CDC that botched the test roll out, not, I think, the FDA.


      1. Government agencies are not apolitical, so it’s nonsense to speak of their being “subverted” by politics. And politics is not a dirty word, it’s the way the governed control the state’s decisions. The Wilsonian theory that government is too complicated for the people, and that all decisions should be left to appointed, credentialed experts, is a recipe for more Vietnams.


      2. y81 said, “Government agencies are not apolitical, so it’s nonsense to speak of their being “subverted” by politics. And politics is not a dirty word, it’s the way the governed control the state’s decisions. The Wilsonian theory that government is too complicated for the people, and that all decisions should be left to appointed, credentialed experts, is a recipe for more Vietnams.”

        There have been a lot of examples this year of public health people veering out of their lane (offering true information that people can use to modify their behavior) into politics and debatable areas of public policy–up to and including flat-out lying. For example, think of all the public health professionals this spring who were yelling at the public not to wear masks and claiming that masks don’t help the wearer and are only useful if you are sick and may actually hurt the wearer if worn improperly. The harm done by that messaging has been almost impossible to overcome.

        People blame “anti-maskers”–but the original “anti-maskers” this spring were our own public health establishment.

        A more recent example was Dr. Fauci more or less admitting that he’d been shading his advice on what percentage of the public needs to be vaccinated against COVID for herd immunity based on what he thought the public was ready to hear.


        Fauci said: “When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75 percent … Then, when newer surveys said 60 percent or more would take it, I thought, “I can nudge this up a bit,” so I went to 80, 85. We need to have some humility here …. We really don’t know what the real number is. I think the real range is somewhere between 70 to 90 percent. But, I’m not going to say 90 percent.”

        This stuff breeds distrust.

        For our own safety, the US public health establishment can’t be treated as infallible god-kings. I’d go further and say that (contra a lot of discussion on this), we have no or very few COVID public health experts in the US because a) it’s so new that even experts are still learning on the fly and b) the genuine public health experts on COVID almost all work in East Asia (South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc.). There’s been this desire to deify the US public health people who are new to this and have made a lot of mistakes–while ignoring East Asian expertise.


      3. No collection of human beings is apolitical or without bias. But, some work (for example, advice on lice treatment or vaccines or the trajectory of hurricanes) has to at least appear to be as independent as possible of the personal interests of the powers in charge. The Trump administration subverted that appearance in nearly every agency they touched, from the DOJ to the DOD to the scientific agencies of the CDC, NWS, FDA, . . . .

        In the “sharpie” incident, Trump produced his own warning of a hurricane, independent of the people in charge of tracking hurricanes, tweeted it out to his millions of followers. When people queried NWS Birmingham, Birmingham tweeted out a correction. Trump took that as a personal affront, held a conference in which he restated his uninformed opinion, after the information was already irrelevant, and then worked with the commerce secretary to chastise NWS Birmingham (through the head of the NOAA). This operation is only one example, but it cripples the agencies.

        Mind you, I am not arguing that scientists or evaluators of information do not make mistakes, or aren’t influenced by their own biases or their own incentives or express opinions on areas out of their personal expertise. That’s not the straw man I am defending.


      4. The characterization of the “CDC and FDA working together” is the political issue here. The CDC made mistakes (which were sloppy and resulted in contamination and should require a review of the departments in involved). The FDA applied its red tape standards to testing in a fast moving emergency which caused harm in retrospect. The Seattle Flu Study violated its research protocol and Human Review Board approval (after internal red tape told them they could not test their existing flu samples for COVID and discovered the teenager with COVID). That step did not involve the FDA directly (though there was conversation). Then, their test was not approved by the FDA for clinical using a red tape standard. Wrong in retrospect? probably. But, testing is messy and in other circumstances (for example the antigen tests) they probably prevented use of tests that would have spread misinformation.

        Trump does seem to believe that agencies (all of them) were “working together” to undermine his election (in addition to having an ego that makes him think that he knows as much or more than everyone else about everything, an inability to admit that he was wrong about even the most trivial information, and a focus on his own personal win beyond anything else). He’s operating under that assumption now, that multiple agencies and elected officials (including Republicans who say they voted for him) across the nation worked together to undermine his election. He did it when he talked about COVID and the pandemic.


      5. The CDC came into the COVID crisis having very little credibility in many right-of-center circles, due to its various misguided “woke” crusades of the past decade, e.g., in support of gun control. I’m not talking about survivalists in Idaho, I’m referring to mainstream conservative or libertarian voices, e.g., Reason or Instapundit. Or even 538. https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-cdc-is-publishing-unreliable-data-on-gun-injuries-people-are-using-it-anyway/ To insulate bureaucracies like that from “politics,” i.e., to leave the bureaucrats free to pursue their own agendas without public oversight, only breeds more alienation and mistrust. We have plenty of that already.


      6. Oh the CDC’s credibility will always be suspect in some circles. It’s credibility isn’t great among the left either, for its association with the establishment and the lack of action on AIDS.

        We can’t demand perfection as our measure of usefulness and we have to be ready to accept the validity of unpalatable data.

        Your link shows that the CDC flags its own data on firearm injuries is unreliable. The 538 articles also flags drownings as a case where the trend in CDC estimates differ from other estimates? Is there also suspicion about the politicization of those estimates in right wing circles? It seems a significant politicized jump to assume that the CDCs unstable estimates are the result of bias (which is also the case with presuming some form of collaboration between the FDA and CDC in the missteps with COVID testing).

        I do not think any organization trying to provided data and analysis should be insulated from criticism. My complaint is subverting the information for political purposes (i.e. changing the trajectory of hurricanes) and simply disregarding any unpalatable data on the grounds that analysis is imperfect (and when it is unpleasant, apparently also arguing that it is politically motivated).

        (For example, the presumption should not be that 6 states conducted suspect elections because they delivered a result unpalatable to Trump and his supporters, as is now being argued by 12 Republican Senators and Trump).


  6. https://www.rfi.fr/en/france/20201227-france-begins-vaccinations-but-only-13-percent-certain-to-volunteer-for-jab-pfize-biontech-eu

    Here’s how it’s going in France.

    “The French government said Saturday it was seeking to immunise nearly 15 million people by the summer, slightly extending its earlier target.”

    (15 million is less than a quarter of the population.)

    “Residents of France’s 7,000 retirement homes should have received the shot by the end of February, by which time pensioners over the age of 65 will be eligible – followed by the rest of the population aged 16 and over from the spring.”

    “Vaccine scepticism remains high in France, with a poll published Sunday by Le Journal du Dimanche finding a majority of people – 56 percent – do not intend to get vaccinated.
    Of the 44 percent of people who are in favour of the vaccine, only 13 percent said they were “certain” to receive it. France is one of only four countries in which a majority of citizens say they’ll refuse the vaccine. The others are Lebanon, Croatia and Serbia.”


  7. Here’s what Washington State is doing:


    “Washington state will rely on an honor system to determine eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations, so those administering vaccines do not have to police who qualifies. The state plans to launch an online questionnaire — called PhaseFinder — soon where people can determine their own eligibility for vaccination.”

    ““The hospitals have been pretty clear that they don’t want to be the vaccine police,” [Darcy Jaffe, the vice president of safety and quality at the Washington State Hospital Association] said.
    Administrators don’t want to have to “interrogate someone” who shows up requesting a vaccine, Jaffe added.”

    Yeah, the verification of priority has always been a weak spot in the more complicated prioritization plans.


    1. Honor system? I could imagine that working in Denmark. Or maybe in the small rural communities of eastern Washington. But Seattle? It will just turn into pure rationing by queuing. Of course, the West Coast is the heartland of anti-vaxxer sentiment, so maybe there aren’t that many people who want vaccines.


    2. Did you even check vaccine uptake rates? I was open to the idea that the west coast would have the lowest uptake rates. But, with the flu vaccine (which is the vaccine that seems most comparable to me, since it is given to adults) I see no clear pattern. For 3 year average uptakes, Florida has the lowest rate of flu vaccinations (#50) while Washington state is #8. Ohio, the classic heartland is #29. But, on the other hand, Iowa is #9 and South Dakota is #6.

      I am always wary of state level analysis, which often reflects differences in other variables and demographics, so I’m not going to use this data as a stand in for compliance. Also, flu is an imperfect stand in (and, I believe that vaccine uptake is higher for children).

      But, we in Seattle do think of ourselves as being a higher trust society (ala Denmark). It will be interesting to see the results of the PhaseFinder. We will be answering honestly about our health conditions and I will be operating under the assumption that most other people will, too.


      1. I’m sure you know this but for the gallery: Washington (and Oregon) is basically two completely separate states mashed into one. East of the Cascades is more like Idaho (hence the movement to join the eastern parts of both Oregon and Washington to Idaho). Failing to separate numbers by the mountain range gives nonsensical results.


  8. On a happier note!


    Stephen Gutowski tweets: “Starting my first medical reserve corp event today. It’s a vaccine distribution event. I’m a site assistant so I’m helping with administrative stuff. I’ll be here from 7 to 7. Lots of other volunteers here. Pray for a smooth event!”

    This is in Virginia. Here’s the home page for the Medical Reserve Corps.


    This is the first time I’ve heard about them during COVID, but their page says they have over 193,000 volunteers.


  9. Things are going to be a mess for a long time. You can block action at the federal level with a minority and some largish, but still minority, percentage of the population is actively seeking votes with people who think Pence should be executed by firing squad as a leftist stooge.


    1. The sad part for me is that things will be terrible for a while for some people, kind of OK for others, and good for others. The current analyses of the disconnect between the stock markets and unemployment point towards ever growing divides.


      1. Sad because we the minority can just block those left behinds and ignore them.

        Lindsey Graham tweeting about the 2K stimulus checks would be interesting, if we didn’t just suspect that he is pandering to Trump.

        “With all due respect to my Republican colleagues, a $2k direct payment for individuals and families who are struggling is not socialism.

        In my view it is necessary in the times in which we live.”

        (I would have thought that a spoof, but its not; Seriously a tweet that could have come from AOC)

        Will the populism in the Republican party survive? influence any vote outcomes?


      2. Of the 64 Pennsylvania legislators who signed the letter trying to overturn the election, already 1.6% are dead. The news say aneurysm, but he had covid too.


      3. This was AOC’s paraphrase of Graham’s quote above: “‘Fighting for people’s basic material dignity is socialist, and I will fight against it as much as possible, unless Trump makes me support it, then it’s not socialism, but I reserve the right to call whatever I don’t like socialist again when it suits my agenda’ – Lindsey Graham

        No one on the right has any clear definition of socialism – or if they do, they’re not willing to state what it is. To be fair, few people on the left do either.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. There’s an association between blood clots (i.e. aneurisms) and COVID (and, I guess other viral infections, too), so yeah. I think a number of young[er] people who have died of COVID have died from stroke/other clotting related issues.


  10. A nurse friend just got the first shot of the vaccine today. She is careful about vaccines so I was pleased that she did her research and decided to take the vaccine. She shared on FB, too, and she is the kind of “trusted community member” who can induce others to take the vaccine, so I am hopeful.


  11. Just read this article about the new UK Covid variant being much more transmissible in children.
    They don’t seem to be getting sicker (it’s still rare for a child to have a serious case of Covid, and rarer still for serious complications – though it does happen) – but they are catching the new variant in greater numbers, and therefore passing it on to their families.

    This may have an impact on school openings…..



      1. MH said, “That’s going to enter in the calculations in first world countries, but not here.”


        There are only 4 countries in the entire world that have reported more than 1% of population vaccinated against COVID: Israel (10.5%), Bahrain (4%), UK (1.4%) and US (1.3%). France has (at least as of Jan. 2) vaccinated 352 people total–0.00% of the population. As of Jan. 2, Germany has vaccinated 0.23% of their population and Canada has vaccinated 0.27%. (And the Canadians have ordered enough vaccine to do their entire population 3X over–I don’t know how much they’ve got right now, though.)

        If the US doesn’t qualify as a first world country, then only Israel is a first world country.


      2. The slow vaccination isn’t what makes us in the third world. Our political process has been reduced to caudillismo.


      3. Ben Franklin would turn over in his grave, but if I have a choice between a caudillo who vaccinates 4+ million, and a centrist technocrat from the best schools who vaccinates 516 (updated figure), I would certainly be tempted to go with the caudillo.


      4. Oddly enough, as I understand, France has a much stronger presidential system than the U.S., with very little in the way checks and balances against the president–other than riots, which tend to recur in the absence of other means of effectual protest.


      5. y81 said, “Ben Franklin would turn over in his grave, but if I have a choice between a caudillo who vaccinates 4+ million, and a centrist technocrat from the best schools who vaccinates 516 (updated figure), I would certainly be tempted to go with the caudillo.”

        The weird thing is, it seems to be on purpose?


        “France had vaccinated a mere 352 people by December 31, four days after starting its coronavirus jabs, according to Oxford University’s Our World in Data website. Only 80 people were inoculated in the 24 hours leading up to Saturday evening, according to French data website CovidTracker.”

        “Health Minister Olivier Véran suggested in late December that the government was proceeding slowly deliberately, as a means of reassuring people about the vaccine’s benefits.”

        They are trying to speed up now.

        “Anti-vaccine sentiment is relatively widespread in France. An Ipsos poll published in November found that 46 percent of French adults said they would refuse to receive a Covid-19 vaccine – compared to 21 percent in the UK and 30 percent in Germany. A 2019 Gallup poll found that one in three French people think all vaccines are dangerous – the highest proportion of respondents to say so in 144 countries surveyed.”


    1. I would not support a tyrant who delivers the vaccines on time to the technocrat (even if he makes mistakes) since that is the road to actual fascism. But, we don’t have to make that choice in this country since our tyrant is focused on overturning a fair election (also the road to fascism, but without the vaccines) not delivering vaccines to arms.

      I couldn’t listen, but I did read the transcript. Support for this man seems to make sense only *if* you are willing to exchange tyranny for something you think he delivers, so the comment about vaccines now explains a bit to me.


      1. bj said, ” But, we don’t have to make that choice in this country since our tyrant is focused on overturning a fair election (also the road to fascism, but without the vaccines) not delivering vaccines to arms.”

        Your use of the term “tyrant” is really weird here.

        Trump keeps mashing the buttons, and nothing’s happening.


  12. Just read this pop science article on just how different these Covid vaccines are in the way they operate – and that (if successful) this may revolutionize the way that other vaccines are developed.
    Those of you with science backgrounds may already have appreciated this – but it was news to me.

    Possible good coming from out of this devastating epidemic.



    1. Yes, it really is amazing. The description of katalin kariko’s persistence about mRNA is the stuff of stories. I like this article at statnews https://www.statnews.com/2020/11/10/the-story-of-mrna-how-a-once-dismissed-idea-became-a-leading-technology-in-the-covid-vaccine-race/

      These extraordinary breakthroughs are often oversold and don’t pan out. But sometimes science produces miracles. I hear that there’s hope that the technique might work for immunotherapy for cancers.


  13. Cuomo is at it again. He wants million dollar fines and licenses to be confiscated if providers vaccinate anybody out of priority.


    He also wants everybody vaccinated to present “eligibility certification”–whatever that is.

    Meanwhile, at least one of the vaccines spoils in six hours as soon as you open the bottle and NY has (at least by their own account) only used 30.6% of the vaccine delivered to them.


  14. https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article248135760.html

    CA’s Gov. Newsom is on the same bus as Cuomo (this is a Dec. 28 piece):

    “Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday the state will enforce the order of people receiving vaccinations, issuing a warning to medical providers who may be tempted to cut a friend or relative in line to receive the shot.

    “I just want to make this crystal clear: If you skip the line or you intend to skip the line, you will be sanctioned, you will lose your license,” Newsom said during a press conference. “You will not only lose your license, we will be very aggressive in terms of highlighting the reputational impacts as well.””

    “The California Department of Public Health has the responsibility of enrolling every medical provider into the system that allows them to receive vaccines to distribute.
    “We also have the ability to dis-enroll these providers when in fact any of these violations are flagrant enough that no longer can that provider, that place that’s distributing vaccines continue distributing vaccines based on those issues,” Ghaly said.”

    In related news, as of Jan. 2, CA was reporting having vaccinated 1.04% of the population and having used 27.9% of available vaccine.

    As a lot of people have pointed out, it’s very likely for providers to wind up with an extra dose or two at the end of the day and nobody eligible to give it to, especially in states with strict prioritization. When at least one of the vaccines is mixed up, you have six hours to use up the vaccine before it spoils.

    Meanwhile, in Israel (at least 10.5% of population vaccinated), they are using those extra doses on whoever shows up at the end of the day.


  15. This sounds great:


    “As efforts to rapidly distribute the COVID-19 vaccine in New Hampshire continue, state officials are currently drafting a vaccine plan for Phase 2 which has a goal of administering 100 shots per hour at each of the 13 fixed sites statewide.”

    13 X 100 X 8 = 10,400 a day, even just with an 8 hour day. Do that for 131 days and you cover the entire population of New Hampshire. (Not sure they’d have enough vaccine for that, but it’s promising.)


  16. “So far, hospitals & long-term care facilities in Connecticut have reported to the state that they’ve administered the COVID-19 vaccine to 54,727 people. We anticipate that all nursing homes will have finished administering the 1st dose to residents/staff by the end of next week.”


  17. Two reports on vaccinations:


    Predictably, The New York Times reported today that some clinics throughout New York City, like the Family Health Center of Harlem, are throwing out doses that are about to expire. Vials of the Moderna vaccine yield about 10 doses, so the clinic had to open two in order to vaccinate the 12 people who showed up to their evening appointments:



    The CDC never intended to include workers who do not interact with patients, like administrators and graduate students, in the first tier of priority vaccinations, said Dr. Stanley Perlman, an immunologist at the University of Iowa and a member of the committee that issued the recommendations.

    “This all got so confusing,” he said. “In retrospect, I think it probably needed to be a little more exact on what we were thinking, because we were never thinking about hospital administrators.”

    In the end, an arm is an arm is an arm. It is better to use all the vaccine, rather than throw good vaccine out. It is darkly funny that a medical committee could not predict the behavior of hospital administrators.

    We haven’t even reached the part of the process which would conceivably see really old people waiting in lines outside in freezing weather, for hours. (Polar vortex is due to arrive in a couple of weeks in the Northeast.)


  18. I think vaccinations were going to be messy at the start under any conditions (though they are probably messier because of Trump and his incompetence and distraction, insurrections, decentralized health care, and decentralized government). It’s worth uncovering all the concerns: I’d heard that U Chicago was offering vaccines to people in their medical buildings even when they weren’t medical personnel; I worked in a building that was part of a big long building connected to the hospital/emergency room, with a long corridor and would enter the building through the hospital and would eat in the hospital cafeteria.

    And, I think it’s important to use every vaccine. To keep priorities straight, we need to think through the contingencies and offer guidance and I hope that will happen when we have government that is actually attending to vaccination. Guidelines really do help states with implementation and can be useful even if they make different decisions on priorities.


Comments are closed.