There’s a lot going on around here. I mean beyond the roomful of foster kittens who learned how to leap on my desk and mew for snuggles. Naughty kitties!
Jonah’s home and working at the gourmet pizza restaurant, where the waiters ask if you would like a formaggio board or the insalata. A plate of pasta will set you back $24. Good tips for the kid, so he’s happy. And after his first shift, the workers, who remembered him from two summers ago, started handing him shots of a mysterious liquor right after the dinner shift. There was a tell-tale garbage pail by the side of his bed in the morning. I think it was some sort of Italian initiation ritual.
Beyond shots of unknown liquor and nice tips, the kid is just so thrilled to be done with remote college education. It’s been brutal. Unthinkably awful. While his friends at small private schools carried on like usual. Journalists have written a lot about inequities in COVID K-12 education, but not enough on the inequities in higher education. Jonah’s not entirely sure if he’ll go back full time in the fall, but he can’t manage to think about that now. He’s looking forward to visiting his girlfriend tomorrow and booking a trip in June to Alaska to stay with his former roommate. It’s great to see him happy.
I typed up a to-do list to keep track of Ian’s end of high school events, like prom and graduation, and post-graduation plans. There’s a lot of unknowns, but I think he’ll do a two-week summer remote camp in August with Exceptional Minds, the arts technology program for autistic kids. The program combines instruction about real skills, like green screen technology and computer animation, with social activities for oddballs.
[As I’m typing this, two kittens are attacking my fingers on the keyboard. I just tossed one to the ground.]
Last month, we booked a week at the Jersey shore towards the end of August. The Jersey shore isn’t terribly exciting, but it was a safe option for a COVID summer. Yesterday, we got a very apologetic phone call from the homeowner who accidentally doubled booked the house. We got bumped. To make it up to us, he gave us a free week in September. Steve should still be able to work remotely, so he’ll process contracts with the view of the ocean. Ian and I can work there, too. And it’s free.
We decided to use that shore house money for another trip. We’re feeling more confident about lifting travel restrictions and lowering COVID risk, so suddenly the world is in play. I spent the morning looking at plane flights to Dublin and Madrid and Paris. Because we don’t have a ton of vacation time, and there are still a lot of unknowns about COVID, we decided to play it somewhat safe. After Steve finishes feeding the kitties, we’re going to push all the buttons for a five-day trip to Bermuda. Yay!
We’ll do a bunch of weekend adventures, too, to various campsites. When I reserved a campsite for June in the Catskills, I kept wondering if the worker was one of the nomads from Nomadland. I still need to write about that book. According to Nomadland, many of the campsite workers are roaming homeless seniors.
I’m not quite sure what else we’ll be doing this summer. Steve’s working. I’ll keep plugging away at the book and other projects. Jonah will be healing and working. I hope that we can keep Ian busy. I hope that worrying about Ian won’t keep me from concentrating on my projects.
I wonder if people without children have weathered this pandemic better than parents. I’ve had constant low-key stress for 16 months. Jonah has been miserable with his remote college classes. With all that time in his dark dorm room, he doesn’t even look physically healthy. I’ve written ad nauseam about Ian’s isolation; kids like Ian have been totally screwed this year. Knowing that kids elsewhere have had it even worse, I’m worried about them, too. I have a constant pit of fear in my stomach.
I spent the entire day making plans. Plans for vacations and opportunities for Ian. I watched Jonah make his own plans. And I hoped. I hope that a few months of carrying $20 personal pizzas out to diners, who are still enjoying tables out on the sunny street, will hopefully bring Jonah back to life. I hope that Ian will thrive with at a job supported by a job coach and at his tech program.
These plans are more than just regular vacation planning. They are plans for recovery.
And now here’s a kitten video.
45 thoughts on “Plans for a Post-COVID Summer”
“There’s a lot going on around here. I mean beyond the roomful of foster kittens who learned how to leap on my desk…”
That are totally going back in two weeks!
“While his friends at small private schools carried on like usual.”
Hometown U. has just dropped all masking requirements for vaccinated people. I’m not sure how this will work, but husband and I figure that if you work for Hometown U. and are not perfectly honest about vaccination status, that is probably a firing offense.
“There’s a lot of unknowns, but I think he’ll do a two-week summer remote camp in August with Exceptional Minds, the arts technology program for autistic kids.”
That sounds fabulous!
The September beach trip sounds great, too.
“I wonder if people without children have weathered this pandemic better than parents.”
Having kids means we have had more of a schedule, and it keeps our household standards from collapsing. I didn’t love the spring 2020 homeschooling our youngest, or spending several months introducing my teens to the wonderful world of housecleaning, but things have been 50% normal since the kids went back to school in August 2020 and are probably 75% normal now.
“These plans are more than just regular vacation planning. They are plans for recovery.”
Western WA in two weeks for me and the 8-year-old! I haven’t quite figured out how many camps to put her in this summer, but she’s going to be busy–a week in WA to see family, zoo camp, lots of therapy, passes to the local water park, the library reading program, the school reading program, and possibly an art camp and a dance camp. Our oldest, bless her heart, will be having a second go at Calculus 3 and working through a reading list for her college honors program. The high schooler will be alternating prepping for the SAT and chilling.
1. So – ‘honest about vaccination status’…
“How do you know if a barefaced person you meet, who claims to be vaccinated, is telling the truth?
“You ask him who won the election”
2. Jobs in NJ – raise the minimum wage, or extend unemployment benefits: result robots! https://patch.com/new-jersey/oceancity/ocean-city-restaurant-employs-robot-server-amid-staff-shortage
““How do you know if a barefaced person you meet, who claims to be vaccinated, is telling the truth?
“You ask him who won the election””
It’s a weird environment to navigate. You have to be prepared for just about every configuration of possible rules. My husband says that Aldi says no mask if vaccinated, which is kind of surprising. Meanwhile, our local Panda Express requires masking and has NO seating available. They seem to be doing a pretty hot takeout business, though.
I expect that things will continue to develop over the next month. Current US hospitalizations are at a level last seen over 13 months ago. Also, vaccinations are still ticking along just shy of 2 million a day. 10 days of that, and you really move the needle.
It’s been brutal. Unthinkably awful. While his friends at small private schools carried on like usual. Journalists have written a lot about inequities in COVID K-12 education, but not enough on the inequities in higher education.
I do recall that a few years ago you wrote about how there was no premium to attending a SLAC vs. a large public school. But it turns out that there is. We were directing our kids that way before the pandemic because of the lack of bureaucracy and adjuncts and nothing has happened over the past year to invalidate this plan.
“That first semester, the advisement department (professors don’t do that).”
“He’s almost done with school. He just needs one more upper level class and senior seminar to finish his major.”
One of the things I take away from your stories is that it’s maybe not just students who are demotivated and distracted by the online learning format.
Crazy adjuncts and stupid administrators. That first semester, the advisement department (professors don’t do that) didn’t even register him to the correct science class. He got phenomenal bad advice about registering for classes from those idiots.
Yes, at the large universities the advising is almost always not done by faculty until you are in a major or you are in an honors college. This is why we are strongly directing our kids to the state flagship honors program or the small state honors liberal arts college. If they don’t get into either of those (or even if they do and things work out better) it’s going to be as good a SLAC as they can get into. My experience going to a (top-tier) SLAC and then grad school at a flagship campus is that I would have done better (or at least gone farther) at the flagship *but only* after I had the knowledge of how to student that I gained in four years at the SLAC. So, absent a time machine the SLAC was the winner hands down.
At the flagship where I got my PhD undeclared advising was done by grad assistants. On one hand, this was good for the grad students as you had a bunch of students who probably shouldn’t have been in grad school (because they were unsupported by their programs) who had assistantships and at least didn’t accrue six figures of debt gaining their uncompetitive PhD. (Uncompetitive because their department really didn’t want them around in the first place and gave them very little attention or perks.) On the other hand it was terrible for the undergrads because the grad advisers basically DGAF and gave them a bunch of bad advice. Or, if they did care, advising semi-motivated arts and science students was about tenth on their list of priorities.
I remember one instance where I had a first term student in my pre-calc class who got an 8 on his first exam (out of 100). I pulled him aside and told him that he needed to drop the class or he was going to fail. He said he couldn’t drop because he needed to have the credits to keep his scholarship. I actually went through the trouble of finding out who his adviser was and called up this hapless fellow grad student and read her the riot act, saying that she needed to figure out a solution for this kid that didn’t involve him losing his financial aid through either not having sufficient credits or failing too many classes. He ended up dropping and I never saw him again but I suspect he was not long for college (this time around, anyway) and that this social science grad student doofus was a big contributor to that. Pity, because he seemed like a decent guy.
There is nothing inherently incompetent about adjuncts.
Sure. I’ve adjuncted before as well, in the real sense of the word, where this was a side gig that I had no ambition of turning into a real academic job and I was there for the fun of teaching and giving students some industry contacts. The thing is, even adjuncts who care aren’t paid enough or given enough resources to do a good job. I gave it up when I realized that if I was being paid $3-5K per class then that was all I was motivated to give back and the students deserved more than that. And honestly, you can’t expect an adjunct getting paid that to give more than minimum wage effort, because that is all they are getting paid.
The solution is to not adjunct. I could pick up as many side gig adjunct jobs as I wanted but I don’t want to contribute to such a corrupt system. And the majority of adjuncts are not people like me, who have good industry gigs and were/are doing it for the fun and love of the subject. Instead, the majority are hapless hangers-on who haven’t figured out, no matter how many times they are told, that this path is not going to lead to the tenure track. If they can’t even figure out when they are not wanted, how can they expect to have a career as a professional smart person? So, I would amend your statement to say “there is nothing inherently incompetent about *some* adjuncts.” The solution isn’t to make their jobs slightly better, but rather to make them not exist at all.
Speaking of advising, I’ve told the story before of the freshman chemistry (!) major I had in a Russian course I was TAing for. Anyway, she had somehow been allowed to sign up for 3 different intro level language courses at the same time, one being Russian and one being Hebrew.
That was going as well as you may imagine.
I have no idea who allowed her to do that, but they should feel bad about it.
This is really depressing, and I’m sorry. It makes me feel better about the advising work I do, which often gets all-encompassing (I’ve spent most of the last week trying to deal with a student who did something wrong and so isn’t ready to graduate, and explaining it to her and 2 deans and 2 student services people took up a lot of my precious summer time. But it’s finally resolved as of this morning).
One thing we do here that is very fortunate is that class sizes are never larger than 40, and in COVID times, they were never higher than 30. That’s going to extend to the fall semester because of social distancing in classrooms.
Okay, I was appalled by the political science prof until I got to this sentence: “And that upper level political science had 100 students.” 100 8-page midterm papers for one course! Unbelievable. It’s still appalling – I agree there is no excuse for not submitting grades, and we are very good about enforcing on-time grade submission here at my public university. But that is a terrible choice on Rutgers’ part. Our lower-level courses are almost never more than 50, upper-levels 25.
Jay’s point about support for adjuncts is important too. Whether you are a NJ politician (I *hope* that’s why Rutgers uses adjuncts for the class!) or a 6th year PhD student trying to scrape by, trying to figure out how to teach 100 students on Zoom takes time, and it’s time that will likely never pay off for you in the future. As a tenured full prof I was willing to invest in it, but not even all of the tenured profs were.
Here we have few adjuncts, and they mostly teach small (25 or less) sections of comp or public speaking.
I’m not sure you can generalize about rich SLACs/poor publics. My sister’s rich SLAC was online all year, though the (synchronous) classes were very small and she got to know her students and did a lot of individual work. My nephew’s SLAC was half and half, I think. Here we were mixed – about 10-15% of the courses were already asynchronous online, pre-covid; more were converted, a bunch of people went on Zoom, some people did hybrid, some F2F.
Fun fact – even as recently as five years ago, we charged an extra fee for students taking an online course. It was less expensive to come in person (though if you were fully online there were some other student fees you didn’t have to pay).
Professional advising is common here; it’s helpful in navigating a complicated system of requirements. My department has a great professional advisor, who works with several different chairs, so I may be biased.
My kiddo is at an expensive private universitiy, and would say that her (all) online classes went well. The school made a intentional effort to bring students back to campus (including renting extra space as needed) and doing intensive testing. But, most teaching was still online, some of it asynchronous (because kids were logging in from time zones where distantly apart). She describes some of the issues you describe (regarding grading and feedback) and the stress some other students experienced. She was not as stressed because of her particular skill set & classes. But, other students were.
Others I know at state universities (mostly flagships, in CA, WA, MA) seem to be doing OK with their classes. But, they are sophomores, who are not at the make or break point for heading to graduation and also mostly in majors with limited course lists, that is, not a lot of choices to make.
Most of them are also pretty comfortable with online learning. My two kiddos, for example, have completely different opinions about the online experience. College kid thinks online is fine, and hopes that video lectures will remain available forever. HS kid hates online classes. HS kid doesn’t like them partly because a lot of instructional time was lost (about 2 hours/class rather than five) but also because he just doesn’t like it.
I hope Jonah’s summer revitalizes him.
“Professional advising is common here; it’s helpful in navigating a complicated system of requirements. ”
This is a good point. I’ve been advising now for 6 years and the last year I’ve been in charge of a complicated interdisciplinary studies major, and it’s been brutal. I am still learning things. You have to be a really flexible thinker and a problem solver, especially in these customer-service-centered institutions.
I’ve been underwhelmed by E’s advising, but half of that could be his lack of pragmatic speech skills. And S has done fine in her huge university because her specific area is pretty tightly run.
As a parent whose child attends a SLAC (just finished up her first year), I would highly agree there was a premium attending one this past year rather than a large public school. She had a combination of hybrid and remote classes but exceptionally hands on interactions the entire year with all full time professors, no adjuncts.
I spent an inordinate amount of time/energy on the college search the previous year with our daughter, but spent this past year incredibly thankful that time had been well spent.
I’m excited for the tech camp for Ian and wish I could get insulate & pizza at Jonah’s restaurant. I am peeking out from covid: we had lunch, spouse had poker, kids had girlfriends over, my parents hung out for the day.
College kid is back in town with a summer research fellowship from her college for a project on civil rights protests and policing in the 60s. We spent an afternoon where she told me about the other fellows projects and they were all very cool.
We have not made travel plans but I am getting ready to.
I haven’t had much responsibility but the fantasy among some of my mom friends with graduating seniors is to drive off on solo road trips.
bj said, “I am peeking out from covid: we had lunch, spouse had poker, kids had girlfriends over, my parents hung out for the day.”
Sounds pretty wild to me!
I’m starting to compose a list for a graduate film series that we might host at home for fall 2021. I have two movies so far: French Film (2008) and Whatever Happened to My Revolution (French, 2018). I haven’t finished the second one yet, so I don’t know if it’s going to finish well, but it’s very satisfying so far: painfully idealistic 20-something French city planner loses her job, possibly finds love, engages in tail-chasing lefty conversations with misfit peers, grapples with the question of whether there is such a thing as a private life outside politics, and copes with annoying French yuppie family members.
We might also do a game night.
Don’t know what you’re looking for in films – but I highly recommend “A Self-Made Hero”
Set in France at the end of World War II Albert Dehousse finds out his father wasn’t a war hero while he, himself, was never allowed to fight (and was apparently not trusted by his wife’s family who sheltered escaped airmen). He leaves his wife and goes to Paris. Gradually he re-invents himself as a hero of the Resistance, transforming himself from coward to hero (at least in his own mind).
It’s a brilliant illustration of the way that the stories we invent about ourselves write and re-write history.
Adding to my list!
My alma mater (highly elite small private U) has just now started in-person instruction for summer classes. I think the location of the institution, the local positive rates, and even the political climate in the region have a lot to do with whether any attempt was made to continue in-person instruction.
Derek Thompson (of the Atlantic) writes about a study done on the consequences of the March 10 end of Texas’s statewide COVID restrictions:
“Weeks ago, Gov. Abbott made Texas the first state to abolish its mask mandate and lift capacity constraints for all businesses.
So, what changed?
Nothing. There was ~no effect on COVID cases, employment, mobility, or retail foot traffic, in either liberal or conservative areas.”
Some theories he mentions: warm weather, luck, individual behavior being pretty set in stone at this point, “A social influence theory: Liberals were waiting on Fauci/CDC/NYT for permission to de-mask.” A commenter mentions the possibility that vaccines are swamping the effect of lifting the mask mandate.
As I’ve noted before, in our area of TX, almost nothing changed after March 10 in terms of public behavior. For nearly the next 2.5 months, the large businesses, schools and local college that we deal with had exactly the same rules as before and public behavior was identical. I could show you photos of before March 10 and after March 10 and you’d never be able to figure out which was which.
On the other hand, the CDC’s recent changes and Hometown U’s relaxation have produced instant results. There’s now almost nobody wearing masks outside. Hometown U. has just dropped masking requirements for vaccinated people. I’m heading to the college gym later today, and there’s the glorious possibility that I won’t have to work out in a mask. (I’m fully vaccinated.)
It will be interesting to see if the drop in mask mandates boosts (or at least props up) vaccination rates. There’s at least a minority of the public that is comforted by masking but vaguely worried about vaccination, and they may actually be motivated to get vaccinated by awareness that the mask regime is going away soon. The end of restrictions may help create a feeling of urgency among at least some of the wait-and-see crowd.
By the way, anybody medically vulnerable who is still masking in public places needs to be encouraged to wear an N95 mask or similar. If they’re still wearing a 30% effective cloth mask, it’s a comfort object as opposed to PPE.
Massachusetts is dropping its remaining COVID restrictions as of Memorial Day weekend.
Some fine print: “Even after May 29, face coverings will still be mandatory for all people on rideshares, livery, taxi, ferries, MBTA, commuter rail, transportation stations, in health care facilities and in congregate care settings.”
“Previously, Massachusetts was set to let bars reopen and ease restaurant restrictions on Saturday, May 29. All COVID regulations in Massachusetts were expected to drop by August 1. But that all changed with Baker’s announcement Monday.”
“The state also updated its guidance for youth sports. Starting Tuesday, masks will no longer be required for athletes under 18 years old during competition.”
Massachusetts is 63% vaccinated.
I think the timing is probably important. If states keep their official restrictions and Memorial Day weekend turns out to be a rager and then nothing happens in terms of COVID, they’ll look dumb. But this way they get out ahead of the parade and can look like they’re leading it.
I couldn’t find a link to the actual study, but its main point seems to be that no behavioral changes were detected in the Texas after the March 10th change in the Governor’s guidance. That doesn’t mean that similar results would be found in other states, or based on other Governor’s guidance, or on CDC guidance (as you point out with CDC->Homestate U->behavior) v the prediction you made (and the results you obsereved) after March 10th.
CA said masking until June 15th, and I suspect that our local stores will still ask for masking until around that date (but not the nationwide retailers, like Costco & Target & Trader Joes).
The CDC guidance seems based on the presumption that vaccination protects the individual from both getting severe COVID & transmitting it (to the degree we can expect from vaccines) and that vaccination is thus its own reward (and, frankly, for those of us who believe that masks actually help, making masks non standard makes vaccination even more important for the others who can get vaccinated).
bj said, “That doesn’t mean that similar results would be found in other states, or based on other Governor’s guidance, or on CDC guidance (as you point out with CDC->Homestate U->behavior) v the prediction you made (and the results you obsereved) after March 10th.”
Lately, I’ve been really surprised how fast the dominoes have been falling.
“The CDC guidance seems based on the presumption that vaccination protects the individual from both getting severe COVID & transmitting it…”
It’s getting more and more noticeable that while it is possible to get COVID while fully vaccinated, transmission doesn’t seem to be happening.
And, also, if vaccines protect against severe disease, getting asymptomatic COVID is not a big deal (and something we only know because of the amazingness of science).
I’m sorry that Rutgers has been so bad with online instruction. My friend’s daughter is at Rutgers too – but CS major and has had no complaints. She stayed home last year for freshman year to save money (and worked part-time) and said her instructors were all pretty competent. Is the use of adjuncts specific to the liberal arts at Rutgers?
Thanks to your writing about adjuncts, I researched the state uni my kids attend (TX) – apparently, UT is unique in that they have the lowest use of adjuncts in the country.
Ugh, what a terrible experience for Jonah. I had issues at my Canadian SLAC-equivalent in the 90s but disconnected adjuncts was not one of them.
“One of the things I take away from your stories is that it’s maybe not just students who are demotivated and distracted by the online learning format.”
I’m actually attending the bilingual college of a large university right now and the summer course I’m taking online is, so far, *amazing*. It’s normally a studio course (we’re in lockdown in Ontario) though and the prof is basically doing an hour of lecture/Zoom and then cutting us loose. That’s appropriate given the material (it’s a humanities credit in art, so we actually paint and draw with the remaining time) but if it were 6 hours of Zoom lecture I’d be losing my mind, even with a gifted teacher. All the other courses I have taken during the pandemic have been asynchronous and continuing ed, so this is kind of my first look at Real School.
For summer travel plans, my camping reservations for the last weekend in May were formally cancelled yesterday, but we’re booked for half a week in the Laurentians in early July and I have high hopes for it. My youngest won’t of course be vaccinated but hopefully everyone else will have had the first shot (my teen should be eligible to book soon.) I do feel like we need a break from the same-same-same here at home.
Some workplaces are open here but most things are shut down – schools are virtual, no indoor dining, only essential indoor retail, everything else curbside, due to the 3rd wave. It is visibly passing though.
I went to the college gym today wearing a mask and discovered that just about everybody was already not wearing theirs, so (being 100% vaccinated) I took off mine. On the other hand, when I want to the main college library a bit later, almost everybody was wearing a mask, so I wore mine.
Hometown U. will have the whole summer to iron out the details of this. They want a basically normal fall.
I also got to witness a bit of history. From the library, I could see crews taking down the air conditioned “tents” that covered half of the central campus green space for the 2020-2021 school year, including the one that my oldest kid used to go to for her weekly COVID test. (I’m assuming they’re keeping some testing facilities.)
Hopefully the tents don’t come back.
Sis and I were talking about the Ohio vaccine lottery and how some people need it made worth their while to be vaccinated. I also saw somebody online saying that “vaccine-hesitant” doesn’t cover all of the unvaccinated-but-on-the-fence. There are also the “vaccine-unhurried,” who are mildly interested and not actually hostile to the idea, but don’t feel urgency.
It’s not crazy to feel that way about vaccinating younger children when the clinical trials for kids have been so small. I’m kind of on the fence about vaccinating our 8-year-old (one of my twitter docs said that the risk of death is something like 1-3 in a million from COVID for kids), but if it comes out in the early fall, I think I’d be comfortable vaccinating her by Thanksgiving, assuming no major adverse events come out. With Johnson & Johnson, you needed to have literally millions of people getting it before anybody noticed the blood clot problem.
I’m glad I don’t have to make the decision to vaccinate a child. I think whether it’s “crazy” not to depends on what the vaccination rates are overall. Right now cases are falling practically everywhere (not increasing in any state, though Wyoming is flat). If cases keep falling we might well reach the point where people who can’t be vaccinated (and children) will be safe without vaccinating themselves.
Our governor has announced June 30th as our “open” date with the potential for earlier opening if 70% of >16 year olds have their first shots. So rules are changing fast (I saw that the TX governor said local governments can’t require masking any more). I worry about low vax rates in the South (and Wyoming/Idaho) but at this point I think wait and watch is the right way to go. It’s kind of like having a small cancer you’ve decided not to have surgery for, but I hope for monitoring.
Regarding Wyoming, I wish they were bottoming out harder and that their hospitalizations had a tidier downward curve, but their total numbers are really small. The NYT page has them at 69 daily cases, 27 hospitalized, and a 7-day average for deaths of 0.1. Their death rate is really, really good. I’m cautiously optimistic.
It looks like I botched a stat earlier. Obviously, US child deaths are not 1 in a million from COVID. I confused the stat for MIS-C deaths in children (1-3 per million) with the overall COVID death rate for children.
I was looking this up, and Pfizer only vaccinated 1,131 kids in their 12-15 trial:
They found that Pfizer was even more effective in these teens than in older age groups, but it’s not a big enough trial to pick up rare adverse events. With COVID being so much less dangerous for kids, it’s not impossible to accidentally wind up in a situation (as with young women and Johnson & Johnson) where the risks and benefits get pretty close to being a toss-up.
I agree with Vinay Prasad that the US should follow a more conventional process for approving COVID vaccines for kids. As he says, COVID is not an emergency for children, so the situation does not justify an Emergency Use Authorization. (But as he mentions, there are higher risk kids who probably should be vaccinated faster.)
“I worry about low vax rates in the South (and Wyoming/Idaho) but at this point I think wait and watch is the right way to go.”
On the other hand, Florida (a Southern state and the third biggest state in the country) has a perfectly respectable vaccination rate, as does North Carolina and Kentucky. I’m a little nervous about what happens this summer in less vaccinated states (June/July were rough in the sunbelt last year), but if I had to bet money, I would bet that even just being 40% vaccinated with first doses will make a big difference. Cross 50% first doses, and I’m really optimistic. I’m not quite as certain about the late fall/winter, but that’s 5+ months from now–you can do a lot in 5+ months.
“It’s kind of like having a small cancer you’ve decided not to have surgery for, but I hope for monitoring.”
The thing is that if there’s another surge in the fall (which I fully expect), there’s going to be a new cohort of people who are suddenly motivated to get vaccinated. Part of the explanation for the North/South split in vaccination rates has to be that the North was getting clobbered through most of this spring, while Southern states (even states that didn’t do anything special) got a break. Current local risk is going to affect vaccine motivation.
Another thing–I do not think that all the stops have been pulled out with regard to positive vaccine encouragement. I’ve just started to hear a very occasional pro-vaccine PSA on the radio, but I don’t think I’ve heard more than two or maybe three publicly funded ones this year. I was also expecting to see more governors follow Ohio with the vaccine lottery idea, but…crickets. And that’s actually working!
I also feel that primary care doctors haven’t been properly used yet.
An interesting piece arguing for vaccinating children < 12
Our neighborhood and city is now reporting 75% vax for >12, which is pretty great.
bj said, “Our neighborhood and city is now reporting 75% vax for >12, which is pretty great.”
Wow, that is pretty great.
And, we were really in a 4th wave while we were vaccinating (while most of the rest of the country had falling rates, even Michigan, before us). I wanted to see those rates fall to “believe” in the vaccine (even though I should believe the science, I wanted to see the practice). I think we see rises and falls based on mitigation measures, distancing, relative closing, masks, and weather (and as people get infected and recover). But, in our county, I think the vaccines might really have been the critical difference (as, potentially, with the UK). There are still new surges/weather/variants to worry about, but hopefully manageable, with the vaccines. And, I agree that more people will take them if they think they see evidence for themselves that they are working.
bj said, “But, in our county, I think the vaccines might really have been the critical difference (as, potentially, with the UK).”
Germany and Canada are interesting examples because they were both supposed to have much more robust mitigation than the US and the UK (and I’m sure they really did), and then they had a really rough time this spring. At a certain level of COVID prevalence, mitigation gets you only so far so long.
“And, I agree that more people will take them if they think they see evidence for themselves that they are working.”
I wanted to mention that yet another friend of mine and her husband have just gotten their first shot after a lot of time on the fence. My friend is pregnant and her OB was being kind of squishy, but my friend ultimately went for it, realizing that post-baby logistics would be very difficult without them being vaccinated. They were able to do same-day, which helped a lot.
I’d say that some people need time to get comfortable with the idea. I think it’s also possible that there are people who are mildly interested in vaccination, but who are still working through the logistics–getting time off, getting childcare for the day after a second shot, etc. There are people who are still in the process of getting their ducks in a row. You know how often we parents think stuff like, I’ll do XYZ after school starts or I’ll do XYZ after the end of the school year?
I also suspect that there are also some people out there who believe that they had COVID but didn’t really.
It is interesting that Canada seems to be catching up with us vax wise, with a much delayed roll out.
I was looking at back of the envelope calculations and estimated that in ND, 15% of the population has had reported COVID, while in WA, only 5% have (and we know there are more cases than reported). So, a vax rate of 40% in ND and in WA means more people are protected (it’s pretty clear that infection does convey some protection, even if we think it might not be as good as the vaccine).
Mind you, I think that higher infection rate came at a cost — WA has 10X the population and < 4X the deaths. That's back of the envelope (since WA might have better health care, and a younger population and other factors that would reduce deaths).
I was doing some errands with my college student and made the following observations in a medium-sized Texas city:
–Starbucks has a sign (not very visible) saying that masks are optional for vaccinated people, but their employees were all masked.
–When I took my college student to the cheap hair salon chain (her first haircut in 17 months), there were no signs asking people to mask, but the workers were (mostly) masked. My college student settled down to get a haircut wearing a mask, but the stylist told her she could take it off, which she (being fully vaccinated) did.
–HEB still has a sign on the front door telling people to mask, but I didn’t see the worker they usually have at the front, with a basket full of disinfectant stuff and complimentary masks. Workers were all masked, but I’d say only between 85-90% of shoppers were masked, compared to 95-98% in previous times. I asked the girl who helped me with my cart if HEB is planning on changing their rules, and she didn’t think that anything was going to change soon, particularly not for workers.
–Yesterday, husband and I took our college student to lunch at an Indian buffet, and the rule there seemed to be: no mask at table, mask when going to the buffet, server serves at the buffet (!), and all servers were masked.
So, we’re in transition. The vibe I’m getting is that service workers may wind up having to mask longer than customers.
Going off the NYT COVID page for US cases/hospitalizations/deaths, the US is at 9 cases per 100k (I believe we peaked in Jan. 2021 with about 76 cases per 100k). Texas (while only modestly vaccinated) is one of 4 states with 7 cases daily per 100k. I was just counting, and there are now 6 states at 6 cases per 100k, 4 states at 5 cases per 100k, 1 state at 4 (Nebraska) and 2 states at 3 cases per 100k (California and Oklahoma). The US is within reach of where the UK is right now (they’ve been mostly at around 3 cases per 100k for the past several weeks).
I believe there is some undercounting of cases (I’m guessing based on the relationship between cases and hospitalizations/deaths) in some states, but the trends are really good.
I didn’t quite follow the math and the calculations, but my husband thinks that if there’s no overlap between people who have had COVID and people who have been vaccinated, there’s 73% immunity in the US. (This is based n the CDC number estimate of total COVID cases.) Assuming that the two are totally independent, 60% of people in the US have immunity. The number has to be better than that for at least two reasons: a) people who have been vaccinated rarely get infected and b) people who know they have had COVID are less motivated to get vaccinated. So the true figure is probably between 60% and 73%. If it’s exactly half-way, that’s 2/3 of Americans with immunity.
This seems a little bit too good to be true, and of course even if it’s true, it’s an average–some areas will be better and some will be worse in terms of immunity. The US still has a number of states that are managing to produce daily cases in the high teens per 100k.
Youyang Gu (the machine learning guy) was predicting 59% total immunity as of today and that the US would max out at 64% total immunity by late November 2021.
I’d never, ever bet against Youyang Gu, but looking at his “Total Immunity Charts” estimate, I see that he has natural immunity fading out pretty rapidly, which may be too pessimistic.
So, at least 60% immunity? With 48% of the US population vaccinated already, that’s not really a reach.
I believe a significant number of Covid survivors have also been vaccinated, judging from the people I know.
The health workers who’re turning down the vaccine may well have already had Covid, and figure they don’t need a vaccine. The loss of taste and smell is distinctive.
Yes, we can’t just add the covid rate to the vax rate. But, the overlap isn’t 100%, and more people have probably had covid than were tested for it and added to the databases.
Looking back at the second wave from last year, though, I do worry that this was around the time that rates started to drop (though they were probably a bit later in the year) and that the cyclical modifications of behavior (rates go up, some people stay home more, rates go down, people venture out, rates go up) will repeat itself again. Durable vaccination is what protects us (hopefully) against that repetition, or moderates it. But any decrease buys us time for more people to become vaccinated.
My calcs boil down to saying that if the reported infection rate was as high in WA as it was in ND, we could have had 10,000 more deaths.
But, less resistance to the virus (without the vaccine).
bj said, “But, the overlap isn’t 100%, and more people have probably had covid than were tested for it and added to the databases.”
The CDC thinks we’ve had 115 million COVID cases.
I’d love to think that they’re right, but it seems a little too good to be true.
“Looking back at the second wave from last year, though, I do worry that this was around the time that rates started to drop (though they were probably a bit later in the year) and that the cyclical modifications of behavior (rates go up, some people stay home more, rates go down, people venture out, rates go up) will repeat itself again. Durable vaccination is what protects us (hopefully) against that repetition, or moderates it. But any decrease buys us time for more people to become vaccinated.”
Looking at the NYT Texas COVID page, it looks like there was an upward inflection point around the beginning of June 2020, and then maybe another one in mid/late June. If cases are still dropping or flat in Texas by mid-June, I think we’re OK for the summer. I’m not quite as optimistic about states that are under 40% 1st doses right now, but we’ll see. It might be that nothing much happens in the summer, but that we have a moderate winter surge.
There are quite a few governors that I’d like to ask, where is YOUR vaccine lottery?
Some of my twitter doctors think that we should do better with surging vaccines to hot spots. They start having an effect within a week or two.
Really interesting article about the science of aerosol droplet spread – and the instutionalized resistance of WHO to listening to the experts in this particular field.
Loved the research assistant who tracked down the original science – and found how a particular instance of 5 microns (for TB spread) became conflated with the size for airborne spread (aerosols) – which is actually a size of around 100 microns. And then lazy science (blind repetition) simply repeated the figure as medical dogma forever after.
Have to say that I don’t think WHO have come out of the Covid situation at all well.
Seems to me WHO has been trying to avoid doing or saying things which China doesn’t like. When that’s consistent with, well, public health – okay. When inconsistent – we are all in trouble.
With 1.9 million vaccine doses a day, the US is pulling out of the death spiral it was in. That’s probably the 12-15 year olds, right?
I notice that Israel’s vaccination program has also perked up again.
I was just looking at Canada’s vaccination stats. Last time I looked, it was something like 34% 1st doses. It’s 45.7% now. That’s pretty amazing.
They’re only 4% fully vaccinated, though, so I take it they’re copying the UK’s first-doses-first policy.
Or they just have enough doses (or will). In the US, I think vaccine was in genuine short supply in Dec/Jan/Feb but then largely became available in March, and totally available in April through now.
bj said, “Or they just have enough doses (or will). In the US, I think vaccine was in genuine short supply in Dec/Jan/Feb but then largely became available in March, and totally available in April through now.”
They were stretching doses out, at least earlier.
I’m not sure what they’re doing now.
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