Covid-19 Diary : Sunday 28 March, 2021

My Sunday diary entry got scrambled a bit by weather.  I was driving from ID back to Seattle, something I’ve done (too) many times before, and usually a fairly uneventful experience.  This time things got off to a bad start with a road-range incident that I feared might escalate to a very serious level.  Then, driving west back to Seattle, there was a head wind so strong that my car’s fuel consumption, never good, dropped to 13.5 mpg.  Next, a “dust storm” caused the only east/west freeway to be closed, and I had to do an 84 mile diversion before rejoining the freeway again.

What else could possibly go wrong?  Yes, there is more.  An unexpected snowstorm saw awful conditions (it was now night) for 50 miles of freeway, maybe even more, where the snow was so heavy that if you had your lights on full, the reflection off the snow blinded you to the road, and if the lights were dipped, you just couldn’t see anything.  At one point, all vehicles except AWD had to chain up, and at another point, with most traffic creeping along at 15mph, I moved to the left lane to get past, albeit also at a sedate speed, whereupon the vehicle in the front of the slow lane lit up its blue/red lights – signaling me that it had deemed 15 mph to be the maximum safe speed.

The worst part of the 15 mph – in a mile or so, I realized the state trooper was actually correct and sensible to keep us down to that speed!

Anyway, I’m safely home again now, so let’s pretend it is still Sunday.  I’ll stick to mainly just the twice-weekly stats and not much else.

Here’s an article about another country getting close to vaccinating its entire population – this time it is the Seychelles, another tiny country of 98,975 people, located in the Indian Ocean, north of Madagascar and more or less east from Kenya.  To date they have reported an infection rate of 40,447 per million people, and a death rate of 202/million.

However, what makes them different from places such as New Zealand is that they plan to encourage international tourism, with no quarantine requirements, just a single Covid test up to three days before travel.

Care to guess how long it will be before they are struggling with new Covid cases?  It will be interesting to see what happens to them as well as Gibraltar over the next few months – will the vaccines truly keep the virus away?

The US vaccination program continues to roll out positively, and this article reports that nearly half of states will make all adults eligible for vaccinations by 15 April.

That’s extremely good news, but I wonder why there is an imbalance between states.  Shouldn’t all states be moving more or less at the same speed?

Meanwhile, the struggle between getting vaccine numbers up and keeping new virus cases down continues, and by some perspectives – such as shown on the above chart, it might seem the virus is winning the battle, aided and abetted by the way-too rapid relaxation of social distancing measures.

Not only is it regrettable to see this rush to abandon safeguards prematurely, but it is doubly regrettable to see an unwillingness to admit that the virus is rushing back again and we need to return to stricter social distancing.  This article, about my county and Washington State’s largest, suggesting we’re entering a fourth wave, is typical .  New case numbers are soaring after recent relaxations in social distancing measures, but there’s no-one suggesting we need to step back and reintroduce some of the earlier measures that were successfully beating the virus back.

But, as with most things to do with the virus, it isn’t clearcut.  While WA – well, at least the Seattle region – has been very careful and compliant with social distancing and mask wearing, but is still suffering growing numbers, in Texas, after reopening most of the state, the last 17 days have seen steadily dropping numbers.

How is it that TX, with low remaining levels of social distancing and mask wearing, is experiencing falling numbers, while our numbers are rising?  We need to answer that question so we know what works and what doesn’t work, and adopt the best set of strategies accordingly.

Or perhaps we need to look at the broader picture.  In total, WA with a case rate of 47,796 is the fifth best state in the nation, TX, with a case rate of 96,048 is the 26th.  The US-overall average is a case rate of 93,571.

In Brazil, their numbers continue to climb and are now at the highest they have ever been.  Their virus-denying President and generally weak responses to the virus are probably the reason for that.  You’d think that even the stupidest politician (or am I repeating myself) would eventually realize that the virus is real and doing nothing isn’t the best answer.

Current Numbers

RI and MA swapped places in the death table.

Bahrain is back in the small country list, returning directly to ninth place.

Poland moved up two places on the major country list, and notwithstanding the grave situation in Brazil, it dropped one place.

Brazil has appeared on the death rate list, today at tenth place.

US Best and Worst States

Rank Cases/Million Deaths/Million
A week ago Now A week ago Now
1 Best HI (20,322) HI (20,770) HI (321) HI (326)
2 VT VT VT VT
3 ME ME AK AK
4 OR OR ME (542) ME (548)
5 WA (46,978) WA (47,796) OR (560) OR (563)
47 IA (118,458) IA (119,781) MS (2,337) MS (2,352)
48 UT (119,037) UT (119,952) MA (2,447) RI (2,462)
49 RI RI RI (2,450) MA (2,483)
50 SD SD NY (2,555) NY (2,587)
51 Worst ND (133,389) ND (134,612) NJ (2,722) NJ (2,746)

 

Top Case Rates Minor Countries (cases per million)

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Andorra (148,887) Andorra (153,188)
2 Montenegro (138,845) Montenegro (143,416)
3 San Marino (128,186) San Marino (136,093)
4 Gibraltar (126,766) Gibraltar (126,855)
5 Slovenia Slovenia
6 Luxembourg Luxembourg
7 Israel Israel
8 Aruba (81,901) Aruba
9 Panama Bahrain
10 St Barth (78,291) Panama (81,068)

 

Top Case Rates Major Countries (cases per million)

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Czech Republic (137,042) Czech Republic (141,281)
2 USA (91,822) USA (93,167)
3 Portugal (80,345) Portugal (80,632)
4 Sweden Sweden
5 Belgium Belgium
6 Netherlands  (70,011) Netherlands
7 Spain (68,687) Spain (69,806)
8 France (65,506) France (65,525)
9 UK (63,053) UK (63,581)
10 Brazil (56,159) Poland (59,525)
11 Italy (55,902) Brazil (58,662)
12 Poland (54,435) Italy (58,481)

 

Top Death Rate Major Countries (deaths per million)

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Czech Republic (2,300) Czech Republic (2,423)
2 Belgium (1,948) Belgium (1,967)
3 UK (1,851) UK (1,858)
4 Italy (1,738) Italy (1,787)
5 USA (1,671) USA (1,692)
6 Portugal (1,648) Portugal (1,655)
7 Spain (1,559) Spain (1,607)
8 Mexico (1,523) Mexico (1,550)
9 Peru (1,507) Peru (1,545)
10 France (1,412) Brazil (1,462)

I Am Not a Doctor, But….

Two more sources say the virus came from a Chinese bio-research lab in Wuhan.  The former CDC director, Robert Redfield, and the former State Dept official who lead the US enquiry in to the virus origin, David Asher.

Spot the apparent contradiction.  New variants of the virus are very much more contagious than the original variants, and are driving the latest global increases in case numbers.  But, at the same time, the CDC has said that schools can now safely space students only three feet apart from each other, rather than six feet as was formerly the case.

One of those two statements doesn’t match up with the other, does it.  Yet again, I get the strong and unpleasant taste that suggests much of our virus response is politically based rather than medically based.

Vaccine News

Here’s a fascinating look at the slow-motion trainwreck that is and continues to be AstraZeneca and their approach to their vaccine.

The frustrating thing about this vaccine is that some of the numbers hinted at in some of the “mistake” parts of their testing are extremely encouraging.  But they don’t seem to have been built on, and instead are apparently being overlooked.  Or maybe not?  We just don’t know.

Please stay happy and healthy; all going well, I’ll be back again on Thursday.

 

 

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