12 votes

Weekly coronavirus-related chat, questions, and minor updates - week of August 3

This thread is posted weekly, and is intended as a place for more-casual discussion of the coronavirus and questions/updates that may not warrant their own dedicated topics. Tell us about what the situation is like where you live!

29 comments

  1. kfwyre
    (edited )
    Link
    My usual personal update: Coworker who tested positive four weeks ago still hasn't recovered taste or smell. Working with my union to oppose reopening our school. Our district provided us their...

    My usual personal update:

    Coworker who tested positive four weeks ago still hasn't recovered taste or smell.

    Working with my union to oppose reopening our school. Our district provided us their "plan" which isn't an actual "plan" but is literally just the abstract guidelines for schools parroted back to us. It includes stuff like "provide PPE" and "socially distance students". When we've pushed for specifics -- what kinds of PPE? how much? how will we fit all the students in the building given the distancing guidelines? do we have enough staff to cover additional environments? what's the actual protocol for confirmed infections? -- we've gotten non-answers. I think the district is waiting to see what the state and others are doing before committing to anything. Why spend the time, effort, and money on preparations if we're not reopening, right? It makes pragmatic sense but does not instill confidence that any sort of reopening will go well, which is also the current direction everyone is anticipating this heading. I expect a plan to have answers for lots of different outcomes, but this one has no answers and is basically a "let's wait and see". It's completely inadequate, especially this late in the game.

    At this point many districts have reopened and are seeing cases, and as much as it pains me to see that, I'm hoping that shifts public sentiment from "schools need to be reopened to relieve parents from childcare and for the social-emotional health of our students" to "reopening schools in the middle of a pandemic is clearly irresponsible". I think unions, parents, and pretty much everybody should be heavily pushing the liability angle as a way of getting local leadership to listen. At this point it's clear many districts are unconcerned about exposing their students and staff, so maybe they'd take it more seriously if their jobs or district finances were on the line. Superintendents, school boards, mayors, and governors pressuring or choosing for schools to open right now should feel some responsibility for the outcomes of that decision.

    I'm also working on some specific stuff that I won't share on here since it's somewhat identifying for me. I'm actually probably going to go a bit radio silent on Tildes regarding my personal situation a bit, simply because I don't want when and how I start school to identify my location. It is extremely important to me that my identity here not be connected to my real-world one, as I feel that is what allows me to speak honestly and frankly about a great number of topics.

    Suffice it to say though, I am not returning to my job quietly -- especially if my safety and the safety of my students cannot be assured. I waver between extreme anger and profound sorrow about the situation. Sometimes I'm fired up with righteous energy and want to funnel it into something productive, and sometimes I sit and start to cry when I think about my husband and my dog how absolutely devastated we would be if something were to happen to any of us. I then take that feeling and multiply it across the families of all the students who will allegedly be returning to my school, and I find myself in a deep, unfathomable sadness when I consider the magnitude of personal loss that could arise from us reopening.

    I keep coming back to the story of the Georgia teen who lost both of his parents. My heart breaks for that kid. And his parents are just two out of so many -- so very many more deaths. How much more suffering and loss do we have to endure before we see this for what it is and act accordingly?

    15 votes
  2. [8]
    kfwyre
    Link
    Teachers returned to a Georgia school district last week. 260 employees have already gone home to quarantine.
    10 votes
      1. [5]
        kfwyre
        Link Parent
        Oh my GOD, that photo... It makes my skin crawl and my heart hurt. Those students should not be there. What a complete failure of leadership to prioritize safety for their kids and ultimately, the...

        Oh my GOD, that photo... It makes my skin crawl and my heart hurt.

        Those students should not be there. What a complete failure of leadership to prioritize safety for their kids and ultimately, the community.

        I do know that many districts and cities are working to delay reopening or have committed to a sort of soft remote opening but with intentions to pivot to in-person shortly thereafter. I see this as a matter of outrunning the bear and letting other districts be the guinea pigs. It's a sad comment on how short-sighted and selfish our national response has been that instead of a unified and consistent long-term strategy, we've basically committed to addressing this in the form of piecemeal triage as a country.

        12 votes
        1. [4]
          spit-evil-olive-tips
          Link Parent
          Buzzfeed has a story about how that high school is even worse than the photo makes it look And it's not just one thing, it's a grab bag of everything that could be done wrong.

          Buzzfeed has a story about how that high school is even worse than the photo makes it look

          And it's not just one thing, it's a grab bag of everything that could be done wrong.

          North Paulding High School, about an hour outside Atlanta, reopened Monday despite an outbreak among members of its high school football team, many of whom, a Facebook video shows, worked out together in a crowded indoor gym last week as part of a weightlifting fundraiser.

          And multiple teachers at North Paulding say there are positive tests among school staff, including a staff member who came into contact with most teachers at the school while exhibiting symptoms last week. Teachers and staff said the school won’t confirm coronavirus infections among district employees, citing privacy reasons.

          Despite recommendations from CDC health officials, the district has called mask-wearing a “personal choice” and said that social distancing “will not be possible to enforce” in “most cases.”

          Some students at North Paulding say they were forced to attend school in person because all of the slots for the district’s virtual learning option were filled. A narrow sign-up window for virtual classes meant many parents missed their opportunity to enroll their children online.

          But a few hours later, his mother had spoken to the school and was told that students who “chose not to go to school” could face suspension or expulsion.

          On Wednesday, the school addressed the controversy that had swirled around the viral photograph via an intercom announcement from North Paulding High School principal Gabe Carmona. In it, according to two people familiar with the situation, he stated that any student found criticizing the school on social media could face disciplinary consequences.

          7 votes
          1. [2]
            Deimos
            Link Parent
            The guy who posted that original photo on Twitter had quite a few follow-ups (and will probably post more), including: Audio of the principal threatening students with "consequences" for posting...
            9 votes
            1. kfwyre
              Link Parent
              cc: @spit-evil-olive-tips I was tempted to dissect everything wrong with this whole situation piece by piece (because there is a lot here), but I think doing so would overshadow the main and most...

              cc: @spit-evil-olive-tips

              I was tempted to dissect everything wrong with this whole situation piece by piece (because there is a lot here), but I think doing so would overshadow the main and most important takeaway from this: district leadership has displayed an extremely malicious and negligent self-interest. They are more worried about looking bad on social media than they are about the health and safety of their own students. They took more direct and timely actions to mitigate the spread of information on social media than they did to mitigate the spread of a deadly virus within their community. They also demonstrated that they're completely willing to use coercive measures to protect their image, which shows that their refusal to use forceful measures in areas related to mitigating the spread of COVID wasn't because they couldn't but because they chose not to.

              7 votes
          2. Deimos
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            Buzzfeed published a follow-up article today about the suspensions that I mentioned in my previous comment: Two Students Say They Were Suspended From Their Georgia High School For Posting Photos...

            Buzzfeed published a follow-up article today about the suspensions that I mentioned in my previous comment: Two Students Say They Were Suspended From Their Georgia High School For Posting Photos Of Crowded Hallways

            Techdirt also published an article about this situation, specifically focusing on how it's a violation of First Amendment rights for students: Georgia School District Inadvertently Begins Teaching Lessons In First Amendment Protections After Viral Photo

            Edit: also, the same Twitter user posted some more photos that were sent to him from a different school, Woodstock High School in Cherokee County, Georgia: https://twitter.com/Freeyourmindkid/status/1291393251669311496

            7 votes
      2. Atvelonis
        Link Parent
        Very good observation from Amanda Mull. I've lived in the northeast for my entire life and grew up in a district that consistently started after Labor Day. I had no idea that any K-12 schools...

        Very good observation from Amanda Mull. I've lived in the northeast for my entire life and grew up in a district that consistently started after Labor Day. I had no idea that any K-12 schools would be reopening for at least another few weeks, and was hoping that some more time could pass for the southern states to hopefully start to flatten their curves before sending students back to school.

        I've previously written comments here supporting in-person learning, especially for younger students, but the photo shown in that tweet doesn't seem to indicate that the district pictured has taken any serious precautions whatsoever to prevent the spread of the virus. No outdoor classrooms, no staggered learning times, no universal mask usage, and no social distancing. That's not a solution to the problem, that's just pretending it doesn't exist.

        I still believe that safe in-person education is possible with the right precautions. An admin at a college I'm affiliated with remarked some time ago that despite housing a substantial number of students since March, including over the whole summer, there was only one case on the entire campus (not even from a student). They expect to see an outbreak on campus when students arrive this month, but have developed a lot of procedures to limit its spread, including several of the things I mentioned above. I was and still am skeptical, but not dismissive.

        The stereotype is that young people don't care about the virus, but my experience—at least with this school and its neighbors—is that they're at least as concerned about it as older folks. These institutions are admittedly cultural oddballs, private liberal arts colleges with relatively small student bodies (~1500) and no fraternity life, but the dialogue among students that I've witnessed has been strongly in favor of protective measures/restrictions. Even students living in frat houses at larger colleges are taking the concept of a living "pod" very seriously. I know it sounds naïve to be optimistic right now, but I don't think we're necessarily going to see the sort of chaos shown in the picture above everywhere in the country. Some places really are taking every step not to be vectors for the disease.

        7 votes
  3. rogue_cricket
    Link
    More tangential, but my aunt has been posting a lot of concerning things that are a bit on the "hoaxy" side, and today I had to say something about one of them. It was a series of pictures from a...

    More tangential, but my aunt has been posting a lot of concerning things that are a bit on the "hoaxy" side, and today I had to say something about one of them. It was a series of pictures from a protest in Berlin... the protest was real, but the post claimed it had been nearly a million people (it was closer to 17,000 per most sources I could find) and the photo in the collection with the biggest crowd was from an unrelated event in 2019.

    I very gently pointed it out to her and she took it really well. I explained how she could use a reverse image search to check for herself next time and she seemed receptive. We affirmed that we loved each other at the end, it was a really good talk. I don't think she buys into the worst of the conspiracy stuff and she is certainly not malicious, but she's always been kind of an odd bird and I hope I can bring her around a bit.

    I think some of it is that she lives away from the rest of the family and it must be very lonely and very frustrating - she really wants restrictions lifted, and NB is one of the stricter areas for travel and for gatherings so she's missing a niece's wedding as well. :( I'm going to take it as a reminder to check in on her more often.

    10 votes
  4. Deimos
    (edited )
    Link
    Facebook and Twitter both took down a video clip Trump posted today from his interview with Fox News this morning, where he said that children are "almost immune" to COVID-19. As the article says,...

    Facebook and Twitter both took down a video clip Trump posted today from his interview with Fox News this morning, where he said that children are "almost immune" to COVID-19.

    As the article says, this is the first time that Facebook has actually removed something he's posted.

    Another article on Axios from earlier today summed up some recent studies about how it affects children.

    7 votes
  5. [2]
    skybrian
    Link
    9 cases of COVID-19 reported at North Paulding High School

    9 cases of COVID-19 reported at North Paulding High School

    The Paulding County high school that became infamous for hallways crowded with unmasked students reported a half dozen students and three staffers in the school with COVID-19, the school district told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Saturday.

    6 votes
    1. Deimos
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      They've cancelled in-person classes for at least Monday and Tuesday now, and will decide by Tuesday evening whether they're going to resume or stay with digital. Edit: a few tweets previous in the...

      They've cancelled in-person classes for at least Monday and Tuesday now, and will decide by Tuesday evening whether they're going to resume or stay with digital.

      Edit: a few tweets previous in the same thread, shows one of the members of the Board of Education in the county suggesting that students switch seats every 14 minutes to circumvent a requirement related to students being considered in "close contact" when they've sat near a positive case for 15 consecutive minutes. Ridiculous. In terms of spreading an infection that's obviously going to be worse, so they're more worried about avoiding the restrictions than reducing spread.

      5 votes
  6. [2]
    skybrian
    Link
    Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tests positive for coronavirus

    Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tests positive for coronavirus

    DeWine was tested as part of the "standard protocol" to greet Trump on the tarmac at Burke Lakefront Airport, the governor's office said in a statement. He is returning to Columbus, where he and his wife Fran will both be tested.

    5 votes
    1. Deimos
      Link Parent
      He tested negative later the same day - the second test was a PCR test, and the original one that gave a positive result was an antigen test (some more detail in the linked tweet thread).

      He tested negative later the same day - the second test was a PCR test, and the original one that gave a positive result was an antigen test (some more detail in the linked tweet thread).

      5 votes
  7. [3]
    skybrian
    (edited )
    Link
    Exposure to common cold coronaviruses can teach the immune system to recognize SARS-CoV-2 Note that cross-reactivity could help, hurt, or have no effect. The thing is, the immune system is very...

    Exposure to common cold coronaviruses can teach the immune system to recognize SARS-CoV-2

    Researchers caution: It is too soon to say whether pre-existing immune cell memory affects COVID-19 clinical outcomes.

    Note that cross-reactivity could help, hurt, or have no effect. The thing is, the immune system is very complicated.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      viridian
      Link Parent
      This article's opening leaves me really conflicted. The author really seems to be trying to make the case that the general public is hopelessly lost when it comes to understanding basic...

      This article's opening leaves me really conflicted. The author really seems to be trying to make the case that the general public is hopelessly lost when it comes to understanding basic immunology, but then presents a reasonable primer for basic immunology. He obviously can't really talk about specific behavioral examples or case studies, but it's a pretty good job for folks not familiar. That said, between help/hurt/no effect, hurt is exceedingly unlikely, and even if it is somehow the case, it's almost certainly solvable via existing medicine or treatment.

      2 votes
      1. skybrian
        Link Parent
        I'm assuming you mean the second link, Ed Yong's article. I think people do find immunology confusing, and also he's using a running joke to keep people paying attention to some fairly dry...

        I'm assuming you mean the second link, Ed Yong's article. I think people do find immunology confusing, and also he's using a running joke to keep people paying attention to some fairly dry material.

        It might come off as pandering to some, but I think it worked pretty well as a way to hold the article together and keep people reading. Particularly if you compare it to the confusion from reporting on Covid-19 science that doesn't put this stuff into context. There is a tendency to read an article about some scientific result and draw an "obvious" conclusion that turns out to be wrong, or at least unjustified.

        2 votes
  8. krg
    Link
    Took both forms of the COVID-19 test, today. So far, I’m negative on the antibody front (which is apparently accurate up to 7 days before its taken). Kinda surprising, to me, as I haven’t adjusted...

    Took both forms of the COVID-19 test, today. So far, I’m negative on the antibody front (which is apparently accurate up to 7 days before its taken). Kinda surprising, to me, as I haven’t adjusted my way of life, much. Figured I would’ve contracted something considering the amount of times I use public transportation and shop for groceries and what not.

    Well, the next result (in about a week from now) will tell me if I have it as of today.

    4 votes
  9. viridian
    Link
    So based on current CDC information, at this point anywhere from 8.8% to 35.4% of the US has contracted covid. I think at think point we really don't have a choice but to acknowledge that herd...

    So based on current CDC information, at this point anywhere from 8.8% to 35.4% of the US has contracted covid. I think at think point we really don't have a choice but to acknowledge that herd immunity might be how this problem gets solved rather than holding out for a vaccine. I'm sure covid will have a long tail, but current infection numbers are unsustainable, especially given that the most likely vectors are also the most likely to already have adapted T helper cells because they've already contracted covid.

    We obviously are no where near out of the woods, but I don't think covid has much of a path forward in the face of current policies. 1% infected a week just can't be maintained.

    4 votes
  10. skybrian
    Link
    From Carl Bergstrom on Twitter: [...] [....]

    From Carl Bergstrom on Twitter:

    This is an infuriating new frontier in #COVID19 #disinformation.

    Here we a professional-looking website claiming to present results from a randomized controlled trial of hydrochloroquine.

    No authors or affiliations are listed, just a twitter account

    [...]

    Someone has put a lot of work into this sham report, and that someone doesn't want to be identified. Not only are no authors or affiliations listed, but the ICANN registry information is shielded. This—along with the dreadfully misleading analysis—should be an enormous red flag.

    [....]

    Meanwhile, the consequences were predictable. This is already being presented as serious science on FOX News.

    How many viewers, having been told that RCT's are the gold standard, will know that Country-RCT is a made-up term that isn't randomized at all?

    4 votes
  11. skybrian
    Link
    Brazil passes 100,000 deaths as outbreak shows no sign of easing [...]

    Brazil passes 100,000 deaths as outbreak shows no sign of easing

    The virus killed 50,000 people in three months, but that number doubled in just 50 days. There have been more than three million confirmed cases so far.

    The pandemic is yet to peak but shops and restaurants have already reopened.

    [...]

    Cases have accelerated in recent weeks in the countryside, particularly in southern and western states, while the situation seems to be improving in São Paulo, the most populous.

    Meanwhile, the number of infections has declined in northern states - including Amazonas, which was an early hotspot - and in Rio de Janeiro, where pictures of crowded bars and beaches outraged many earlier this week.

    4 votes
  12. spit-evil-olive-tips
    Link
    The annual Sturgis, South Dakota motorcycle rally is still happening. It starts Friday and runs for 10 days. It usually draws half a million people from all over the country. Most of whom ride in,...

    The annual Sturgis, South Dakota motorcycle rally is still happening. It starts Friday and runs for 10 days.

    It usually draws half a million people from all over the country. Most of whom ride in, which means they're also probably sleeping in hotels and eating in restaurants on the way there and back.

    "As a city, there's nothing we could do, we're not able to put up roadblocks and say, 'You can't come in,'" he said. "And it was quite obvious that we were going to have a lot of people here, even if we didn't call it the rally. The issue is if we did not officially sanction it as a rally, then we would not be able to prepare for it."

    3 votes
  13. Deimos
    Link
    A little over-dramatic in some ways (which is pretty normal for his posts), but I thought Scott Galloway's post today was quite good: The Great Distancing I recommend not reading the comments though.

    A little over-dramatic in some ways (which is pretty normal for his posts), but I thought Scott Galloway's post today was quite good: The Great Distancing

    I recommend not reading the comments though.

    3 votes
  14. Kuromantis
    Link
    The coronavirus is never going away

    The coronavirus is never going away

    The most likely scenario, experts say, is that the pandemic ends at some point—because enough people have been either infected or vaccinated—but the virus continues to circulate in lower levels around the globe. Cases will wax and wane over time. Outbreaks will pop up here and there. Even when a much-anticipated vaccine arrives, it is likely to only suppress but never completely eradicate the virus. (For context, consider that vaccines exist for more than a dozen human viruses but only one, smallpox, has ever been eradicated from the planet, and that took 15 years of immense global coordination.) We will probably be living with this virus for the rest of our lives.

    Influenza might be another useful point of comparison. The “flu” is not one virus but actually several different strains that circulate seasonally. After pandemics like 2009’s H1N1 flu, also known as swine flu, the pandemic strain does not simply disappear. Instead, it turns into a seasonal flu strain that circulates all year but peaks during the winter. A descendent of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic strain is still the seasonal flu today. The seasonal peaks never quite reach pandemic heights because of building immunity in the population. Eventually, a new strain, against which people have no immunity, comes along and sparks a new pandemic, and then it becomes the new dominant seasonal strain.

    In this way, the long-term outlook for COVID-19 might offer some hope for a return to normal. “I think this virus is with us to the future,” Ruth Karron, a vaccine researcher at Johns Hopkins, told me. “But so is influenza with us, and for the most part, flu doesn't shut down our societies. We manage it.”

    2 votes