Mask Confusion

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Less than a week ago, the CDC came out with new guidelines for the vaccinated, including that those of us who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks or socially distance. This is great news.

Except…

There seems to be a little confusion on this guideline (including from the CDC itself), and I have some concerns.

My first concern is that unfortunately we are allowing the people who spread the misinformation quickly and without remorse since the beginning of this pandemic to continue with their campaign of dishonesty and deception. They are already at it in regards to mask wearing and who is allowed to remove their masks in public settings. Some have stated that mask wearing is over, leading the CDC to clarify its position that ONLY FULLY VACCINATED people should remove masks in SOME settings. One example, people think that the CDC said that masks are no longer needed (THEY ARE) and even more unfortunately, retail outlets are beginning to change their masking policy in a groupspeak mentality which will put many in danger of being exposed to covid.

Second, less than one third of Americans have received the vaccine. Some of this is the result of vaccine hesitancy, children under twelve who can’t receive the vaccine, many who are immuno-compromised who either can’t receive the vaccine or are still at risk even after receiving their doses. We are nowhere near herd immunity which should have been the criteria for unmasking as a policy.

Third, the entire premise of stating that vaccinated people can take off their masks in all settings relies on everyone who is not wearing a mask to be vaccinated, but are they? We’re relying on an honor system that’s been missing in this country for more than a year now. We’ve watched hundreds of viral videos of mask-less people shirking responsibility, ignoring mask mandates, spitting and coughing on people, and now we’re expecting these same people to voluntarily wear a mask until they are vaccinated? When they wouldn’t voluntarily wear a mask before?! Or follow LAWS about masks?

Fourth, the lack of guidance and specificity leads to the kind of confusion that we really don’t need right now. As I listened to the CDC Director discussing this subject with Martha Raddatz on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopolis, I wondered: if this person was with the Trump Administration, what would I say about their comments? And so I’m speaking out on the lack of direction on the masks. I think this is giving non-mask wearers and non-vaxxers an out instead of doing the right thing and regrettably, the retailers are jumping right into new policies without a thought to the possible concerns of their employees and loyal customers.

There also doesn’t seem to be an significant changes to travel policy regarding mask wearing.

I don’t expect much from Walmart, but from more progressive retailers like Target, Starbucks, and Trader Joe’s, I’m extremely disappointed in their new stated policies that if you are vaccinated you can enter their stores and shop mask-less.

How are we to know who is vaccinated?

We can’t presume that everyone without a mask is fully vaccinated (two weeks post the second dose of Pfizer and Moderna or two weeks post the single dose of Johnson & Johnson) when this last year (often traumatically) showed us that our fellow citizens don’t care about the rest of us.

They didn’t wear masks before.

What makes the CDC think they will wear masks now?

And what will the enforcement be like? It seems to be put back on the lowest paid retail and fast food workers, some of whom have already been assaulted by non-mask-wearers.

Will there be consequences for being unmasked?

According to Pien Huang of NPR, the CDC has expressed that “they’re going to be making more updates to mask guidance in the next few weeks,” but how does that affect businesses that have already announced a new mask mandate? Is it feasible for a company like Walmart or Target or your local mall to say if you’re vaccinated you don’t need masks, and then change that policy for public places in another couple of weeks? It’s confusing and will lead to more confusion as well as a lot of anger from people with compromised family members and also from anti-maskers as they’re continually asked if they’re vaccinated.

I suppose that if you refuse to answer, then you need to wear a mask to keep everyone safe, but that’s going to go over like a lead balloon, and please for the love of everything, do NOT cite HIPAA – it is not applicable, do some research.

Two of the retailers changing their mask policies – Costco and Trader Joe’s — will not require proof of vaccination to go mask-free. The others have not said anything about verification.

I feel like for some of us, instead of being relieved by the positives of the vaccine and lower covid infections and deaths (I’m thrilled by this), we’re going to revert to staying in our homes and only going out when necessary. For our family, wearing masks didn’t make us invulnerable, but we did feel comfortable eating out most of the last few months and allowed us to go on vacation. We were very lucky, and I feel (somewhat melodramatically) that we’re being punished for having done the right thing all along.

I’m personally concerned about church as our Bishop has talked about cancelling the dispensation for attending masses and holy days. Regardless I will put my health and safety first, and so far, no changes have been made at my local parish. Will we have vaccinated and unvaccinated sections for worship? Or eating in a restaurant like they had smoking/non-smoking?

I don’t know.

I do know that this could have been, and should have been, thought out more fully and implemented in stages, just as the shutdown was implemented in stages.

I’m not the only one who feels this way, but I’m interested to know your opinions on this. Let me know how you feel in the comments.

Covid Vaccine Update – Second Dose

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To read the previous posts on my covid vaccine experience, links are here:

One Dose Down

Covid Vaccine Update

And without further ado, here it is, the post you’ve all been waiting for – ha, ha! I got my second dose of the covid vaccine on Tuesday, three days ago, and I am now able to describe the side effects I experienced.


Three caveats before I share:

1. It’s a little TMI as most medical posts are wont to be.

2. Side effects will vary from person to person and from vaccine to vaccine. You may have these or other side effects not listed or you may have none. I’ve have friends and acquaintances offer both experiences. They can also be mild or severe. YMMV. I would characterize mine as a bit more than mild. Nothing was incapacitating, but I could not do my normal daily routine. If I didn’t already had my physical scheduled for Wednesday, I woudn’t have left my bed. That may have also extended the length of my side effects simply because I didn’t give my body the liquids and rest it needed on that first day after the shot.

3. Side effects will go away. Most of us won’t even notice them. I’m a whiner and a share-er. Don’t let someone’s side effects stop you from getting the vaccine. We’re almost through this and we can get through it together.

Continue reading

One Dose Down!

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COVID VACCINE THOUGHTS AND REACTION Updated 3/17/21 – see below

This post perfectly aligns with yesterday’s inspire for March: gratitude. I am truly grateful to have received my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Much gratitude to all the doctors, nurses, health care workers, scientists, named and unnamed whose hands guided this moment to fruition. I said all along that I would take the vaccine when and if Dr. Fauci and Ron Klain said it was safe – they have, and I did. And I will also shout out a thanks to President Biden and his Administration for the roll-out!

At the FEMA site I received my vaccine at, it could not have gone smoother. Everything was very organized. There was plenty of parking and a shuttle to bring us to the site. The wait was minimal. I was in and out even before my scheduled time.

Knowing myself I did not eat breakfast. I have a nervous stomach when I’m unfamiliar with a place or what’s coming next. I did bring a bottle of water, although they had bottles of water to take.

A few notes:

  • Wear short sleeves – it’s easier to get jabbed that way.
  • It was recommended that I receive the shot in my dominant arm – they said that it hurts less in the long run.
  • No pictures were allowed in the medical area, but on the way to the exit was a sign for selfies. I am happy to say that I was not the only one taking selfies – there were at least two other dorks.
  • There’s a fifteen minute wait for observation, all socially distanced. You need to keep track of your own time, but there was a large clock at the front of the seating area.
  • If you’re getting the Pfizer or Moderna, they will give you a card with your next appointment – same time, same place.
  • They recommended staying hydrated and provided water bottles to take with you when the observation period was over.

Reaction:

It’s been about two hours, and I have no reaction or side effects. My arm doesn’t hurt at all, and didn’t since the initial poke. Gently touching it also does not hurt at all.

If anything changes or develops, I will update.

UPDATE 3/17/21: About 13 hours after the initial shot, I began to feel a little pain at the injection site – very, very little, minor pain, but more than was there all day. Waking up this morning, about 20 hours after the shot, I was a little stiff, but I rotated my arm and stretched and now all that remains is minor pain from the needle. No swelling, no hotness, no redness.

Yesterday afternoon, I did feel a bit achy and tired, but I can’t tell if that’s a reaction or my normal Tuesday afternoon. I’m inclined to think it’s just me and unrelated to the vaccine.

Continue reading

The President Who Cried Wolf

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Before I write anything else, I’d like to first extend my honest warm wishes for a full recovery to President Trump and the First Lady. I’d also extend this to anyone else who is symptomatic or who tests positive for covid-19 who came in contact with them, their staff, and to any of the Senators, Judge Barrett and her family. With a virus so unpredictable once you contract it, it can add to the stress of being sick in the first place. The unknown is often a scary place.

That said, I was on Twitter until the wee hours of the morning, about 3AM, reading, getting updates, laughing at inappropriate jokes, although none were really too bad or personal. I was also not the only one who thought the report of the president and first lady testing positive was another one of his lies, another distraction from her horrifying comments about Christmas and migrant children in cages, a way to ignore the NY Times story of his tax and bank fraud, a way to move beyond his horrendous performance at Tuesday’s debate, or any of the other fifty or so things that hit the news wires yesterday before the news of his positivity became the only story of the night.

After spending six months calling the virus racist nicknames, and clouding his response in what he termed a Democratic hoax and scare tactics, I didn’t think he would claim the virus if he wasn’t actually sick and/or infected.

It also wasn’t a Friday night news dump.

He also skipped out on a phone call with NY’s Governor Andrew Cuomo this afternoon, which I take to mean that he wasn’t up to it.

Sadly, I don’t trust the news that Mike Pence is negative. He, of course, will have to be tested again.

Their constant lying for three and three-quarters years have made any statement they make suspect.

Mitch McConnell continuing his farce of the confirmation of the Supreme Court seat only exacerbates the idea that this is a distraction that they are using to their advantage.

Mitch McConnell is one of many GOP Senators who were at Judge Barrett’s roll out last Saturday, and Senator Mike Lee of Utah, who was there, not wearing a mask, shaking hands, and hugging people tested positive today. The entire Senate needs to quarantine for fourteen days as does Judge Barrett and her family.

And all these people need to wear masks.

All the damn time.

Nancy Pelosi needs to be kept in isolation to keep safe the line of succession.

This is a national security emergency.

According to NBC News the President of Notre Dame, who was at the nominating ceremony at The White House has tested positive for covid-19 and Judge Amy Coney Barrett was diagnosed with covid-19 earlier in the summer, which puts her at greater risk for reinfection according to studies within the WHO.

I’m glad that the President and First Lady have made public their tests and having the coronavirus. We should also be hearing from the White House doctor which twice daily updates on the President’s condition. This is not a time for hiding things; it is a time for transparency. 209,000 Americans have died. Now, maybe the third of the country ignoring this pandemic and this very contagious and very dangerous virus will finally come to their senses and listen to the science – wash your hands, wear a mask, social distance.

Being tested does not prevent you from contracting the virus. The test is a moment in time. You could be negative this morning and the virus then sheds this afternoon and you’re positive and don’t know it. The GOP are being very irresponsible by forcing the Senate to convene, especially in small groups of committees and not requiring masks at all times at the Capitol and the White House is dangerous to the non-political staff including Secret Service, food service, journalists, and guests.
It’s irresponsible and reprehensible.

Podcasts – Ongoing, Information, and Interviews with Experts (Updated 4/12/20)

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Epidemic. Hosted by Dr. Celine Gounder and former Ebola response Coordinator, Ronald Klain. New episodes every Friday.

America Dissected: Coronavirus with Dr. Abdul el-Sayed. New pods will be broadcast on Tuesdays and Fridays. (added 3/13/20)

NEW Coronovirus: Fact vs. Fiction (CNN)

In the Bubble with Andy Slavitt

Here’s the Deal with Joe Biden (the presumptive Democratic nominee for President) (first episode includes Ron Klain)

What a Day – 15 minutes of news and politics, including current covid-19 information. Hosted by Gideon Resnick and Akilah Hughes

Interviews with Ron Klain

Campaign HQ with David Plouffe

Interviews with Andy Slavitt

Stay Tuned with Preet Bharara

The Al Franken Podcast

Who to Follow on Social Media

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Updated 3/31/20

Twitter

Dr. Celine Gounder

Ronald Klain
Dr. Scott Gottlieb (added 3/9/20)

Dr. Tom Frieden (added 3/31/20)

Dr. Abdul el-Sayed (added 3/13/20)

CDC – I have serious concerns about the information coming out of the CDC based on Dr. Brix’s false statements this week. Please be wary and use good judgment. (added 3/27/20)

CDC-Emergency
NIH
WHO (World Health Organization)

Richard Engel

Epidemic Science & Health list on Twitter compiled by Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo (added 3/5/20)

Chef Jose Andres – he’s on the frontline of getting food to the people in disaster relief

Andy Slavitt

Asaf Bitton

NY Governor Cuomo

Speaker Nancy Pelosi – for updates on coronavirus related legislation

Meet Dr. Fauci (Updated 4/20/20)

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Dr. Anthony Fauci receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush, 2008. Getty Image. (c)2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci is the director of the NIAID, the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, a part of the NIH, the National Institute of Health for the US Government. He has been in that position since 1984 and has worked as Director successfully with six Presidents, both Democrats and Repulicans. You may have seen him at various press conferences, coronavirus task force updates, and in television interviews. Here are a few more things if you want to read about him and his response and outlook for this unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak. He has been serving in a public health capacity for over fifty years.

The Atlantic

Axios

A Conversation with Dr. Fauci (at Regis HS President’s Dinner)
Facebook Live with Mark Zuckerberg

The Atlantic

Politico

Washington Post

Science Magazine

Interview with comedian, Desus Nice

A Reflection Written by Anthony Fauci (how his faith informs him as a doctor) (Photos on a Twitter timeline)

Interview with Dr. Fauci on MSNBC (aired April 12, 2020)

Vanity Fair: Anthony Fauci on the New Rules of Living with Coronavirus

COVID-19 Update

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(This will also be added to original Coronavirus post that is linked at the top of my home page)

I recommend you follow Dr. Scott Gottlieb on Twitter. He is not currently a part of this Administration, but is the former head of the FDA and Harvard professor and offers good, thoughtful advice on dealing with this epidemic.

His USA Today op-ed: Take Smart Steps to Slow the Spread of the coronavirus

This is a transcript of his interview on CBS’ Face the Nation

Coronavirus Resources Update

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Talking Point Memo’s Josh Marshall has compiled a list of Twitter accounts giving real time updates and accurate information. If you’re on Twitter, check the tweet here, or go directly to the Epidemic Science & Health link, and follow these folks.

There is also a Coronavirus Live Update Website from Worldometer (h/t to actor Jim Beaver for the link) with statistics and numbers. However, please be aware that the number of cases is based only on those tested. Here in the United States, we are well behind the testing, so our numbers may be higher than reported. This also doesn’t include people who are carrying the virus but are asymptomatic.

I received an email from my health insurance company with their current policy on coronavirus testing. Check with your own health insurance provider to find out when and if you should get tested and how that procedure would work for your specific situation.

I will add this to my original post (link is at the top of my home page) which will continue to receive updated information as I discover it.