Daily Digest: March 8, 2021
I was at dinner—outdoors and socially distanced, of course—with a vaccinated friend not long ago.
“So, what do you think is safe for me to do now?” he asked.
My clumsy response was that—as long as he’s masking up, social distancing, etc. in public—he could do whatever he was comfortable doing, considering that all three approved vaccines offer nearly complete protection against serious COVID-19 cases.
My friend’s question was rooted in a rather astonishing fact: As of that dinner, the CDC had not issued any meaningful guidance regarding what vaccinated folks should and shouldn’t do.
Fortunately, that changed today.
According to the guidance, fully vaccinated people can safely visit with other fully vaccinated people and some unvaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or social distancing, according to the guidance. Someone is considered fully vaccinated two weeks following either a single shot of Johnson and Johnson’s newly authorized vaccine or two weeks after their second shot of Moderna’s or Pfizer’s two-dose regimens.
About 58.9 million people in the U.S. have received at least one shot with 30.7 million of those people receiving two doses, just over 9% of the nation’s population, according to the CDC, which doesn’t break down which vaccine people received.
Normalcy, or at least a new version of normalcy, appears more and more within reach each day.
From the Independent
By Ana B. Ibarra, CalMatters
March 8, 2021
In a nationwide United Farm Workers Foundation survey of 10,149 farmworkers—the vast majority in California—73 percent said they would get the vaccine as soon as […]
By Bob Grimm
March 8, 2021
Raya and the Last Dragon offers a terrific take on redemption, and the finale may leave whole families in tears
And Now, the News
• The $1.9 billion COVID-19 relief package could possibly, maybe, just maybe, be signed into law by the end of the week. The Washington Post offers an update, beginning with the fact that the House could OK the Senate’s changes to the bill soon: “A vote could happen Tuesday or perhaps Wednesday morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters, adding the chamber is waiting for the Senate to transmit the legislation it amended. The timeline puts Congress on track to adopt the stimulus package before millions of Americans are set to lose unemployment benefits March 14. It also opens the door for the U.S. government to start sending one-time checks to a large number of families ‘by the end of the month,’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday.”
• Related: Federal help has meant that Riverside County’s budget woes won’t be nearly as bad as once feared. The Press Enterprise explains: “Riverside County’s projected budget shortfall has been cut in half to $20 million thanks to the federal government’s reimbursement of coronavirus-related costs, according to a report to be delivered to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, March 9.”
• Doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine are now being given out across the country—including some here in the Coachella Valley. Three health-care management experts, writing for The Conversation, say they’re concerned that negative beliefs people may have against the vaccine could cause problems. Key quote: “The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is a strong boost to the COVID-19 vaccination effort in the U.S. However, it may well lead to frustration and waste if vaccine planners don’t prepare for potential biases against this new vaccine. The focus should be to leverage the three vaccines to achieve herd immunity rapidly so that the U.S. can finally leave the prolonged pandemic behind.”
• The New York Times looks at the spread of the British SARS-CoV-2 variant in the U.S.—and explains how this could be a problem … or maybe not? The explanation: “There is not yet enough genomic sequencing—the process required to screen positive coronavirus samples for variants—to be certain of how widely that variant, known as B.1.1.7, is spreading. But data suggests its share of total cases is growing at a trajectory similar to that seen in countries where it has fueled surges. Still, experts note that low total case counts in states with a high share of B.1.1.7 are an encouraging sign. It remains to be seen, they say, whether the variant will cause a significant resurgence here or whether widespread vaccinations and virus-control measures can keep case counts at bay.”
• As some states are eliminate mask mandates and business-capacity restrictions, the CDC continues to produce science showing that so far, there’s—duh—been a link between relaxing/removing restrictions and COVID-19 case increases. NBC News explains: “The CDC researchers looked at U.S. counties placed under state-issued mask mandates and at counties that allowed restaurant dining—both indoors and at tables outside. The study looked at data from March through December of last year. The scientists found that mask mandates were associated with reduced coronavirus transmission, and that improvements in new cases and deaths increased as time went on. … Reopening restaurant dining was not followed by a significant increase in cases and deaths in the first 40 days after restrictions were lifted. But after that, there were increases of about 1 percentage point in the growth rate of cases and—later—2 to 3 percentage points in the growth rate of deaths.”
• Related: Three public-health experts, writing for The Conversation, point out that asking people to voluntarily mask up doesn’t have the same effect as mandating that they do: “Hearing from state leaders that there is no longer a mandate to wear a mask, but that individuals should choose to wear masks and remain vigilant, can be confusing. If the end of stay-at-home orders last summer and resistance to health guidelines over time are any indication of what to expect, mask wearing will fall rapidly without a mandate.”
• Our partners at CalMatters take a look at the effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom—who will be giving his State of the State address at Dodger Stadium tomorrow (Tuesday)—and explains how during the recall election, he could get more votes than anyone else … and still lose. Quote: “If more than 50% of voters opt for a “yes” on the recall question, whoever comes first on the replacement list is immediately hired as the state’s next chief executive. That’s where things can get weird. In a crowded field with no clear frontrunner, coming first could mean getting far less than 50% of the vote. It might even mean getting far less support than the incumbent being ousted.”
• Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik makes the case that, as the headline says, “We’re facing a tidal wave of COVID-related disability cases, and we’re not ready.” Key quote: “No one has been able to estimate the size of the wave that may be building. Medical experts say that 10% of COVID patients develop long-term symptoms. Some studies place the figure higher—with up to 15% exhibiting “significant pulmonary/cardiac damage” (that is, of the lungs and heart), and 5% suffering from long-term symptoms related to treatment in intensive care units, known as post-ICU syndrome. If that remained true of the 29 million U.S. COVID cases thus far and all applied for disability, it would suggest that as many as 5.8 million new disability cases would appear. About 15% of the disability rolls comprise spouses and children of disabled workers, bringing the total to as many as 6.7 million new cases.”
• It’s been a while since I’ve posted a cocktail recipe, in large part because the news has not been so horrifying as to drive me to drink since, say, Jan. 20. Back when I was posting them more, I, at one point, posted a recipe for the Boulevardier. Well, I was at a restaurant over the weekend where I tried to order one, and … let’s just say what arrived was a debacle. So … here’s another Boulevardier recipe, because cocktail-lovers out there need to learn more about this delicious mix of bourbon or rye, Campari and sweet vermouth.
• And finally … Burger King U.K. just gave a masterclass in how NOT to do social media Adweek explains how good intentions, meant to mark International Women’s Day, went terribly wrong when Burger King U.K. published a tweet, saying: “Women belong in the kitchen.” The story says: “With a New York Times print ad today headlined ‘Women belong in the kitchen,’ Burger King today announced the launch of its H.E.R. (Helping Equalize Restaurants) Scholarship, which offers financial assistance to women who work at Burger King and aspire to an academic degree in culinary arts. The print ad quickly makes it apparent that the headline is being used ironically, as the message continues: ‘Fine dining kitchens, food truck kitchens, award-winning kitchens, casual dining kitchens, ghost kitchens, Burger King kitchens. If there’s a professional kitchen, women belong there.’” However, the same campaign, created by agency David Miami, was repurposed into a series of tweets via the @BurgerKingUK Twitter account, where the full context wasn’t quite as obvious.”
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