The Messy Politics of Vaccine Mandates

I’m a self described COVID moderate – follow the science, avoid hysteria, balance costs and benefits at all times.

Because of that philosophy, I did not spend the past year and a half in a bunker; I went out with a mask and did everything that was legally available, including restaurants and local travel. As soon as the vaccines were available, we got them. No drama. No internal debates. I made appointments for everyone in my family, including my parents.

We seem to have lost of 1 million Kindergarten students because of remote education. The data keeps coming in. And it’s all bad.

I strongly believe that bad decisions regarding COVID permanently damaged children and young adults, with the worst damage happening to the most vulnerable populations, so I have been very much looking forward to a normal school year starting on September 1st. However, the rising rate of COVID among unvaccinated people could derail that goal. That danger makes me more than a little upset.

That’s why I support vaccine mandates.

Jonah’s college placed a vaccine mandate on all students, but not the professors. Why? The professors have a union. Apparently, 95 percent of professors are vaccinated at his school. (thanks, bj) Great! Let’s vaccinate them all with a mandate. Does that 95 percent also include the vast majority of faculty at Rutgers who are adjuncts, who are not represented by the union? Not sure. That’s why a mandate should include everyone.

And even though all the students and most (maybe) of the faculty are vaccinated, students still have to wear masks and social distance. None of the lecture halls classes, which are the majority of classes for Freshman and Sophomores, will be in-person this fall. Even though all the students are vaccinated and masked.

Remote education at Jonah’s college started okay in that spring 2020, when professors were still on board and had some relationships with the students. But fall 2020 and spring 2021 was a disaster. Jonah could not get professors to respond to simple emails with questions about assignments. He is currently working with the Dean of Students to try to get one asshole to answer his emails. It has involved dozens and dozens of emails. That situation is completely insane.

In a self-reported survey (not very accurate) 90% of public school teachers say that they’ve been vaccinated; 10% say they won’t get a shot. If Jonah can’t enter a classroom with out a shot, then no teacher should be allowed to enter a classroom without a shot.

Those mandates have to go beyond school employees. To get students back in the K-12 classroom and college lecture halls, every person in this country needs a shot. We’ll mask up if absolutely necessary, but these kids MUST be in a classroom in three weeks.

And to be clear, it’s not just MAGA-types who are refusing to get a shot. That’s why we’re seeing a softening of the message about vaccine refusals. Now we’re supposed to be kind and compassionate about their reasons for refusal.

In addition, if we are going mandate vaccines and mask up again, then we need consistency. Nobody was wearing a mask in our packed church yesterday. Ball games, pubs, music festivals, malls, restaurants — no masks, no distancing. I’m not really nervous, because I’ve been vaccinated, but we need consistency. And school kids should be the LAST ones to make a sacrifice.

But lots of people have no interest in making a sacrifice themselves. Obama had a big party this weekend. He lost me. More on this later.

We put kids last for the past two years. Now it’s time to put them first.

46 thoughts on “The Messy Politics of Vaccine Mandates

  1. In addition, if we are going mandate vaccines and mask up again, then we need consistency.

    It is literally illegal to do that in most of the country. Our governor has less power to control disease spread than at the start of 2020. People paid millions to run campaigns to make that happen.

    Close to complete vaccination is going to happen, but it’s going to happen because people are watching people die and because of social shunning and economic pressure. It’s going to be ugly.


  2. I belong to a faculty union, and I completely agree. The teachers and faculty unions are losing me on this bigtime. I do wonder if it’s because of the big anti-union Supreme Court decision, Janus v. AFSCME, which prohibited union dues/fees from being taken from nonunion employees. I know there’s been worry about disappearing union members and the potential loss of hundreds or thousands of dollars per year for each member that leaves, and the potential slippery slope to unions losing influence. Unions want to keep the members they have, and if 10% are antivaxx, they might be reluctant to agree to vaccine mandates.

    My union includes and protects adjuncts, not just those on the tenure track, and I am in favor of unions. Still it’s a huge mistake. The optics are really, really bad, and there’s a risk of losing those on the other side, who are infuriated by their unions placating conspiracy theorists. I am against cancel culture, except when it comes to conspiracy theorists. We need to hit them hard wherever they appear. Faculty who are conspiracy theorists–like that Florida professor who was a Sandy Hook denialist–need to be fired, tenure be damned. Nobody with a conspiratorial mindset should be teaching in any educational institution, and no union should placate them. Conspiracy theories kill.


  3. My university has a vaccine mandate for faculty, students and staff, though there is an exemption request option. Interestingly, they just announced today that staff who don’t deal with students can work from home. I will be on campus but I will be less likely to stay on campus to work if I don’t have to. We will be required to mask, though, which makes me cry. It’s hard to teach while wearing a mask. 😦 That said, we have *awful* ventilation in our classroom buildings, so it’s probably for the best.


  4. I entirely agree with mandates if they work. And I’m inclined to think they will work for faculty unless courts halt them. Todd Zywicky, a law prof at George Mason is suing about their mandate (though specifically for those like him who can document that they have had covid). I don’t know where a mandate would work with union agreements, which is a legal environment that needs to be navigated. Would they have to be negotiated? Rutgers is required health care folks to be vaxed.

    I’m pretty sure that the main reason nursing homes don’t have mandates is that they are having a tough enough time with staffing.


    1. That’s my guess too. It is very frustrating to be unable to visit your parent for very long because of covid restrictions when you are vaccinated and only 70% of the employees are. Calling around revealed none of the other homes had vaccination mandates for the employees either.


  5. I think folks hoped that 70% would be good enough before the delta variant and that we could reach that level without mandates. Now we know, at the least, that we need higher and children still can’t be vaccinated.

    There’s rumbling about mandating the vaccine for military. I want to see it mandated for all government employees, which would include Rutgers, and public school teachers, . . .


  6. A local school board in a very nice suburb just voted to require masks in order to maximize the odds of an uninterrupted school year and a gentleman expressed his displeasure by making the Nazi salute. That’s the neighborhood with $500,000 houses and all the doctors’ families. This whole thing is going to happen after lots of unnecessary deaths and by way of shunning and social pressure and general ugliness.


    1. I’m on a school board in a nice-ish suburban area, and I am already getting bombarded by emails urging us not to mandate masks. The latest ended with: After all, this is American the land of the FREE (free was also bolded). Sigh.

      I’m going to vote for masks regardless of the emails I get because it’s the right thing to do. Our kids need to be in school, and this is what’s going to make them safe. Our governor (Baker) is being a total coward here because he’s contemplating running again, and he’s facing a primary challenger from the right. So rather than doing what’s right by public health, we’re going to have to fight this district by district.

      Exactly one year ago today, we voted to start the school year remotely; I cannot believe one year later, I am in a similar position of being subject to intense public backlash because our leaders will not step up to do the right thing. I am so, so angry that we messed this up, and I am done with having to make these decisions. So yeah – I am 100% on board with a vaccine mandate for all.


      1. Yes, sympathies, and, entirely non-ironically, thank you for your service.

        I’ve been angry at our school board many times in the last year, but have always recognized that it is an intense, unpaid responsibility in which many different needs have to balanced. We are a city district with an operating budget of 1 billion, 30+% free lunch eligible, and wide disparities in the district (and, apparently, with all google links to the website currently broken after a recent “upgrade”).

        I think we need a paid, and potentially appointed school board.


  7. MH said: “This whole thing is going to happen after lots of unnecessary deaths and by way of shunning and social pressure and general ugliness.”

    This is anecdotal (friend of a friend of a friend kind of thing). But, I’ve heard of a birthday party (outdoors, in a field) in England – 12-year-old girls – where only kids whose parents had been vaccinated were invited.
    They may have accidentally included some who were quiet about it – but all of the kids of the prominent anti-vaxers in the community were pointedly excluded.
    Caused quite a bit of fuss…. But this kind of social shunning is pretty much the only thing which will drive home to many of these people the social consequences of their self-centred decisions.


  8. Our governor, using emergency authority just mandated vaccines for state employees and health care. State employees doesn’t apply to K-12 or higher ed (though our major universities are also mandating vaccines) or to boards/elected officials (i.e. the mayor doesn’t have to be vaccinated. He did it under his emergency authorization powers.

    Folks are wondering about schools and why the Governor didn’t mandate K-12, higher ed — sometimes the argument is that he doesn’t have the authority, but sometimes I think those legal arguments are politically applied. I have no sympathy for the personal political maneuvering. But, I do think there are politically relevant maneuverings because your mandate has to work in increasing vaccination if the goal of the mandate is public health, and not some kind of political battle.

    I also do believe in the rule of law (including contracts). If contracts weren’t negotiated with health requirements in mind, or with emergency powers, mandating a vaccine might mean opening negotiations (and I think those protected by contracts have a right to negotiate — even if I think a vaccine should be mandated). So, if persuasion will result in 95% vax rates, it might be the more effective method of getting the public health result (note though I sent the link to Laura, the link said the faculty rep says that 95% of faculty are vaccinated, which is not the same as 95% of faculty being vaccinated).


    1. I have great sympathy for political maneuvering. If there wasn’t a Democratic governor, my vote in the presidential election would have likely been taken away. I don’t really worry about covid the way I worry about the 2022 and 2024 elections.


    2. Yes, it’s the “personal” political maneuvering I’m unsympathetic to (i.e. that you are governor, rather than that your views win out).


  9. Some friends were discussed unvaxxed folks in their kids’ social circles. Shunning doesn’t seem to have joined the toolbox yet — but, these are outliers, some argue for health related reasons for not being vaxed, and they are few. Folks are relying on their own personal vax protection. But, folks aren’t having big parties, or checking vax status. I’m guessing the vax “shunning” will start playing out in the form of parents directing their kids towards friends who are vaccinated.

    My kid’s sport required frequent testing and testing before matches, but only for non-vaxed kids.


  10. I think remote college classes work/are working fine in STEM fields – yes the kids are sometimes lonely, but the classes are engaging enough and the profs are on top of things – have a couple of friends’ kids in Rutgers – CS and Engg respectively and the kids have actually felt there was less chance of blowing off a class with everything online – this is freshman/sophomore. One of them just stayed home last year but is moving into a dorm this year for the social aspect (she got quite lonely as most of her friends were on campus). Have heard from my kids (freshman/junior) that they had no issues with their online classes as well – both are in a Public university, in STEM fields though not CS/Engg. In fact, they felt the classes got more rigorous, with added reading and tests since everything was remote.


    1. I agree that some students learning certain kinds of material like the online format. I’m reminded of the story of the Stanford med students who were skipping class to use online sources because the online sources prepped them better for the 2nd year knowledge exam.

      The teacher in me hates that but, I can’t really make the argument that the Med Neuroscience course I took (which was great for grad students and mostly taught by neuroscience researchers) would necessarily be the right course for someone prepping to be a physician and I can imagine students at Stanford facing the same dilemma.


    2. I don’t know what role cheating plays, though. I do fear students cheat more than teachers think they will.

      And, I’m not sympathetic to people who think that it’s not cheating to not follow the teacher’s rules because the rules are stupid. Still believe in the rule of law and think one is obliged to work to change the rules if they are wrong.

      (a story of a teacher putting an insolvable problem on an exam to catch folks who found an incorrect answer on chegg, a question answer web site)


      1. “I do fear students cheat more than teachers think they will.”

        Oh, it’s impossible for anyone to think students will cheat more than me. I have seen some crazy cheating in my day. So I teach a bit differently now to minimize the benefits of cheating.


    3. A close friend of the family has a son in the Rutgers Engineering program. Super smart kid. Straight A’s. His experience was so bad that the parents wrote a letter to the president of the college to complain.


  11. “He is currently working with the Dean of Students to try to get one asshole to answer his emails. It has involved dozens and dozens of emails. That situation is completely insane. ”

    This is entirely unacceptable, and something I’ve never seen happen, but, I can see how it does. Presumably the instructor is not employed by the U? One would hope.

    In the private HS my elder went to, the teacher letter recommendation process is very involved. The teachers are required to invest heavily in producing the recommendations, which are read and reviewed by the counselor (I think, but I should double check). One year, a teacher left after agreeing to write recommendations, to another affiliated school and wrote substandard recs. The counselors told the students to ask someone new. Another teacher left mid year, after the major work of the year had been submitted (some kind of long research paper) but before that work was graded. Parents were in an uproar.


    1. Other teachers were assigned to the leaving teacher’s classes, but parents were still in an uproar because they were concerned about how the major project would be graded by other teachers who weren’t involved in instructing the students our periods of revision and editing.


    2. Different universities do things differently, but at mine you’d go to the chair, then to the dean of the college. I am assuming Jonah has an incomplete grade and is looking to do an assignment to complete the course. The department really needs to step in here. Around here, the chair or dean would step in and ask another faculty member to do them a favor so the student could complete the class.


      1. For this class (there were 2 problems last semester), he didn’t submit the assignments properly through the online portal. When he realized his error, he contacted the professor through email (no direct contact at all, asychronous class). He explained the error and atttached a copy of the paper. No answer. Did this over and over and over again. At the end of the semester, he got a C for the class (not the end of the world) but no grades for those two other assignments. He tried emailing the professor again several times and no response. He contacted the Dean of Students to help out, because that’s what you are supposed to do at Rutgers. The guy got in touch with the professor who said to the dean (not to jonah. he never contacted Jonah) to hand in those two papers before the end of June and he would grade them. Jonah did. And then sent him another 10 emails to get the status of his work. No response. Now, he has sent the Dean seven emails to find out what’s going on. The Dean says he’ll get back to Jonah with an answer, but nothing so far.


  12. Not sure. I did make one phone call to the Dean of Students back in June, but I’ve tried to stay out of it. If this goes on for another week, I’m going to make people’s lives painful.


    1. I know the son of a friend who sat a ‘late’ exam (he had special permission – university approved – to do so, due to a clash).
      Online exam – so no physical exam papers. Though (providentially) he sat it at Uni- under the eye of an invigilator – so there is a witness!
      He submitted the result – and thought no more about it.
      Until the results came out with ‘Did not sit’.
      He followed up and was assured that it was simply the record of the *initial* exam, and his results were still to come.
      6 weeks later and no sign of the results appearing.
      He’s been in regular contact with the University – but the exam appears to have simply vanished into thin air (my interpretation) – he’s getting a lot of run around, with no answers.
      It seems that he’ll now be issued with an aegrotat pass – but it certainly doesn’t shed a good light on the integrity of the online system.
      I *hope* that the University are running some very serious forensics over this – to figure out what went wrong, and how to prevent it happening in the future – but don’t have a lot of confidence that this is happening. Certainly, there has been no urgency in communication with the young man involved.

      In the meantime, he’s had to present a transcript of results – including the ‘Did not sit’ one – as part of application for summer intern jobs (he’s studying engineering – and they have requirements for a practicum element to the course). Very luckily (it’s who you know) he’s got an ‘in’ with a company – and they’ve accepted his explanation. But another student would have been severely disadvantaged.

      If I’m completing an important document online – IT systems are routinely set up to email a copy to me – complete with a registry ID number/reference for the organization concerned. And this has been helpful, more than once, where data has been ‘lost’ by some branch of the government, or organization (please check your reference number: XXXYYYAAA – oh look, you’ve magically found it….[sarc])

      It seems incredible to me, that university systems don’t do this….


  13. Off topic, but how do you find out about estate sales in your area? I’ve been trying to find some information, and it’s not easy. It doesn’t help that the local papers have dwindled to almost nothing.


  14. I haven’t caught up with this thread, but I was just watching this 9-minute video by Vinay Prasad (MD MPH, professor at UCSF, and author of Ending Medical Reversal):

    He is arguing in favor of randomized controlled trials for nonpharmaceutical COVID interventions, and pointing out that the COVID era has led to the disappearance of randomized controlled trials.

    With regard to nonpharmaceutical interventions and COVID, we really don’t know what works, because we haven’t bothered to do the work to find out.


    1. I love random controlled trials. I suspect the way to do this one is find a district that doesn’t require masking and convince them to mask in half the buildings.


      1. MH,

        Vinay Prasad explains in the video why the parachute example is not a good analogy to masking.
        On the one hand, almost certain death, on the other hand a lot of murk and controversy. Prasad is the author of a Johns Hopkins Press book entitled “Ending Medical Reversals,” so he’s kind of a go-to guy for figuring out if various pharmaceuticals or procedures aren’t effective.

        Bear in mind that Europeans have been doing things very differently than ourselves–it’s not obvious to them that what we are doing federally is the way to go.

        I was looking up child masking requirements on various European airlines.

        “Children under the age of 11 are exempt from wearing a mask, except on flights to and from the United States where only children under the age of 2 are exempt, according to US federal law.”

        “It is mandatory for children aged 11 and above to wear a face mask, and recommended that children aged between 3 and 11 wear one. Face masks are not recommended for children aged 3 or below.”

        Interestingly, Air France does not accept cloth masks as fulfilling their masking requirement.

        Lufthansa says,

        “Children under the age of six are allowed to travel without wearing a face mask; older children must wear a face mask at the airport and on board. Please note that at some airports it is compulsory to wear a medical face mask (FFP2, KN95 or N95 standard or surgical masks) in the shops, on public transport and sometimes also in the terminal building. Fabric face masks are no longer permitted.”

        So maybe, just maybe, the CDC’s recommendation of all-day masking for kids 2-and-up did not come down from Mt. Sinai on stone tablets?

        I especially note that our Euro cousins are often stricter with regard to mask type (NO CLOTH MASKS!), but less strict with regard to child masking, especially for younger children.

        I have to run off, or I’d do the deep dive on European school masking rules.


  15. OK, I’m catching up. Some notes:

    –The CDC estimates that over 120 million Americans have been infected with COVID.

    Some of the reluctant-to-vaccinate are people who believe that they have had COVID already–and many of them are correct and do have some immunity.
    –Interestingly, 35-40% people at the grocery store here in TX are suddenly masking, without anybody having made them do it. This is up from a summer low of maybe 5%. Before the late spring relaxation, masking at the grocery store was 95-98%.
    –I continue to hear crickets in terms of there being no pro-vaxx federal or state PSAs on the radio.
    –I suspect that we’re going to be dealing with a lot of different layers of rules in different institutions locally. I haven’t figured out all the nuances yet.
    –Hometown U. (private) here in Texas says that individual teachers can declare their classrooms to be mask-required or mask-optional. My husband will be going mask-optional. He taught in-person masked all last year.
    –Hometown U. is requiring unvaccinated workers and students to test weekly. Hometown U. has all kinds of levers to make that happen, including locking students out of the gym, cutting off their wifi, and potentially suspension.
    –Hometown U. currently has over 3/4 of employees reporting vaccination and over half of students. Employee might or might not include adjuncts, but I wonder if it includes contractors–it’s very likely that it doesn’t–3/4 seems suspiciously high. (Hometown U. has a lot of Aramark contractors working in the dining halls.)
    –The younger kids’ school (also private) says that masking is optional for 7th-12th graders (since they can all be vaccinated) and mandatory for PK-6, but parents may opt out of masks for PK-6. There’s no masking required outdoors, but all kids need to mask for gatherings of 40+ kids. Vaccinated asymptomatic kids do not need to quarantine upon exposure, but unvaccinated kids do. (School has a lot of connections to the local healthcare community, including lots of doctor moms and doctor dads, so a lot of medical expertise went into the guidelines.) School has delayed some parent meetings until next month.
    –My husband was talking to a math department colleague who taught an online Calculus course this summer with honor system exams and has been assiduously hunting cheaters and boobytrapping exams. (The tests were open book, open notes, but you weren’t supposed to google anything.) He was very suspicious of anybody who was using methods not taught in the course.
    –My husband says that one method to deal with this kind of grey area is to sit the suspect student down with a fresh problem and see if they can solve it at all. You’d need to be in person, though…

    Our current plan is to get the 8-year-old 1 shot when available and then wait to see what happens–and ideally have her fully vaccinated by Thanksgiving. We are opting out of masking in school for her, as she has ADHD, is pretty bad at masking, and her 3rd grade class will be basically a pod. We think–and our pediatrician thinks–that our fully vaccinated 11th grader probably got a mild case of COVID over the summer. Our 11th grader won’t be wearing a mask unless required to. As a family, we don’t mask unless we have to. My husband did a grad game night earlier this summer, but we probably won’t be doing any big indoor social events for a while. We might do some small outdoor events, though, and I have a couple of friends that I hang out with. I’m not worried for us (as 4/5 of us our household is fully vaccinated and our youngest is low risk), but I don’t want to encourage big social stuff when the local vaccination rates are so spotty.


    1. My husband got Pfizer and wants to get a third shot as soon as he can talk our primary into prescribing it. (He’s not the kind of outlaw who would just go out and lie his way into a 3rd shot.)

      I had two shots of Moderna and am not concerned.

      “The study found that in July in Florida, where COVID cases are at an all-time high and the delta variant is prevalent, the risk of a breakthrough case was 60% lower for Moderna recipients as compared to Pfizer recipients.

      “Similarly, in Minnesota last month, the authors found that the Moderna vaccine (also known as mRNA-1273) was 76% effective at preventing infection, but the Pfizer vaccine (known as BNT162b2) was 42% effective.”


    2. Ooh, looks like the profs may have an opportunity to at least informally test mask efficacy! There are confounds — maybe non-vaxed profs will require masks, but mostly it seems the students would be randomly assigned.

      Though if they released masking plans, would students self select? But that would require info before registration.

      Elder’s college is reporting 94% and 95% vax for students and faculty and staff. She says all her classes are planned to be in person.

      UT San Antonio announced 3 weeks online today.


      1. bj said, “Though if they released masking plans, would students self select? But that would require info before registration.”

        There’s still add-drop–they’re not 100% locked in.


      2. But they’d have that data, so it could be included in the analysis. They presumably wouldn’t know the vax status of the students, though.


      3. bj,

        Hometown U. has just announced some changes:

        –People who are unvaccinated or who haven’t had a positive test in the past 6 months will need to test twice a week during at least the first month, not just once a week.
        –Hometown U. anticipates a bump in cases for at least the first two weeks.
        –Masking will be required at least temporarily in classrooms and labs and other required locations. (There’s no specific mention of residence halls and dining halls–I’m guessing that policing the residence halls was a huge hassle last year.)
        –Have a plan for isolation or quarantine–Hometown U.’s capacity to provide isolation/quarantine space is going to be limited this year. Out-of-state and more distant students will be prioritized.
        –They note that rules may change, depending on whether things get better or worse, and that the first month is crucial.

        Delta is a different bug, but the basic pattern last year was a biggish bump at the beginning of the Hometown U. school year, a pretty good middle fall, and then deterioration in November. I don’t recall the spring in as much detail, but I think it was generally better. My cleaning lady said that at one point there was a whole floor of athletes. (She worked as a night watchman at the college’s COVID hotel.)

        We took our youngest rollerskating today, and I talked to two different moms from 3rd grade. One mom had a nasty case of COVID in December 2020. The other is a doctor mom with (I believe) a doctor husband. She and her husband were vaccinated with Pfizer but their family got COVID this summer. Her case was relatively mild but unpleasant–flu-like, plus partial loss of sense of smell.

        My 11th grader heard through a chum (doctor’s kid) that 5 doctors in one neighborhood here got COVID this summer. His chum’s family is going back to CDC rules. (They have some fragile local grandparents.)


      4. bj said,

        “They presumably wouldn’t know the vax status of the students, though.”

        Everybody at Hometown U. is encouraged to upload a copy of their COVID vaccine card as they get vaccinated, plus a lot of people are getting vaccinated on campus by student health.

        It’s going to be so much trouble to be in the twice-weekly testing group that I can’t imagine that any significant number of people are going to be vaccinated but not tell Hometown U. that they are vaccinated.

        It’s all moot, though, given that masking is going to be universally required in classrooms, at least initially.

        No randomized controlled trials here!


      5. Does Hometown U’s plan to require masks change your thinking on masking in K-12 for yourself?

        The private school in our area was going to require masking for the under 12s and the 7th & 8th graders when they were in public spaces (presuming most to be vaxed). But they’ve now revised to the CDC recommendation. They are offering “hybrid” for families that need to quarantine or stay home, but will stop providing that when the vax is available for under 12 year olds. My kiddos HS will require masks. I haven’t checked latest guidance from my elder kiddos college about whether they will have any quarantine when students first arrive (even if they are vaxed) and whether they’ll require masks in classrooms and whether any more classes will go online.

        The Ware school district in Georgia (looks like it’s kind of near Jacksonville, FL?) is pausing school for 2 weeks because of Covid cases (though apparently extracurriculars still go on, i.e. no pause of football. I wonder if that means marching band, too, or only football).


      6. bj said, “Does Hometown U’s plan to require masks change your thinking on masking in K-12 for yourself?”

        Not really.

        The 11th grader wore KN95s in school all last year, did a good job, and could again, but I don’t think that there’s much point for him, given that he’s double-vaccinated and probably had a mild case of Delta last month. If the school rules required it, he could do it again, but it’s probably gilding the lily at this point. Maybe if there were some new, even scarier variant?

        The 3rd grader has a number of special needs and is pretty bad at masking and also not especially high-risk, so I don’t think she should mask. The 3rd grader’s level of physical self-awareness is such that she would need constant reminders. If school demanded it, we could try, but it would be a huge waste of everybody’s time. I’m also pretty dubious that if elementary kids are hanging out in a classroom 7 hours a day together, that they don’t all eventually breathe the same air multiple times, masks or no masks. We will get her a first shot as soon as we can.

        My husband and the 11th grader wore KN95s and high quality industrial respirators all last year until their vaccinations kicked in. If we’re required to mask again, barring some sort of super scary variant situation, we’ll wear the most comfortable (i.e. least effective) masks we can find that are allowed.

        “i.e. no pause of football.”



  16. “We put kids last for the past two years. Now it’s time to put them first.” I’ve found that one of the interesting things about this pandemic, you can see from the decisions societies (states and countries) make about what to open first and last what their priorities are. Here in Australia (where our vaccination problem is lack of supply, we haven’t got to hesitancy yet) we’ve been not too bad with schools and kids, terrible with universities, and sadly casinos seemed to manage to argue their way quite a few times into being front or close to front of the opening queue. And construction; our government has a love affair with “tradies” which construction seems much more able to argue that their safety precautions are good enough even in an outbreak.


  17. There’s a biggish surge of vaccination happening right now, much of it in states that aren’t especially restrictive.

    Out of a national total of about 682k shots a day, Texas (53.8% 1st doses) has been doing 80k and Florida (60.4% 1st doses) has been doing almost 62k.

    There’s a lot of movement happening right now. Mississippi and Alabama, which have been the slowest vaccinating states for the past half year, are now at 42.7% and 45.8% 1st doses. Looking at the NYT state pages, Mississippi and Alabama both have over half of 18+ vaccinated with 1st doses (53% and 56%), and both have 4/5 of 65+ vaccinated with 1st doses (80% and 82%). I don’t have an easy way to check, but just about every state is at or over 80% 1st doses for 65+, and the NYT says the national number for 65+ 1st doses is 91%.

    Throw in disease-created immunity, and the pool of completely unprotected, vulnerable people just isn’t that big anymore.

    That said, I never expected Louisiana to go to 120 new cases per 100k–but they do seem to be slowing down right now. Just about every hot spot state is slowing down:

    (Click on “effective reproduction number.”)


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