Uncertainty about the pandemic is not blocking confidence in mitigation

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A lot of less serious cases = a lot of cases. That’s enough to strain the system. Any system. Our system. Especially when we are still dealing with Delta.

Sunday Times:

We won’t go back to Covid wards, say traumatised NHS staff

Hospitals could be under unprecedented pressure this winter as Omicron hits

Traumatised medical staff are refusing to be redeployed back to Covid wards, limiting hospitals’ ability to respond to a projected surge in patients triggered by the Omicron variant, NHS chief executives have warned.

Government scientists say there could be between 1,000 and 2,000 daily admissions to hospital within weeks. This will hit the NHS at the worst possible time as the service battles an existing capacity crisis of not enough beds or staff, which is already affecting patient care. There are logjams at every stage of treatment.

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SF Chronicle:

Omicron in Oakland: How a Wisconsin wedding with ‘super responsible’ vaccinated people led to outbreak

Most if not all of the guests wore masks when the Nov. 27 wedding ceremony started at a Wisconsin celebration that is now the suspected origin of an outbreak of COVID-19 and the omicron variant among Kaiser Permanente’s Oakland Medical Center staff, according to an attendee.

But as the celebration wore on, the cocktails came out and people took to the dance floor, many leaving their masks behind, said Debra Furr-Holden, an epidemiologist and associate dean of public health at Michigan State University, who was in attendance and believes she contracted the coronavirus there….

Furr-Holden said the revelation that even this group of “risk-averse” and “super responsible people” could have let their guard down enough to become unwitting vectors of COVID-19 shows just how vulnerable even vaccinated people remain to the virus when indoors and in groups.

“We need to shift the narrative and stop calling this a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Furr-Holden said. “It doesn’t honor the fact that we’re seeing more and more breakthrough cases in the vaccinated.”

We don’t want to close everything down and we don’t want to close schools. So get vaccinated and do responsible things indoors.

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Because it’s Fox News  (now without Chris Wallace).

Amanda Carpenter/Bulwark:

Someone Is Lying About Why It Took So Long for the National Guard to Deploy on January 6

Who isn’t telling the truth, why not, and how will we find out?

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PrintWhat actually happened amongst the Army’s leadership on January 6 during the crucial three hours between when then the U.S. Capitol was breached by a pro-Trump mob and when the grounds were secured?

Short answer: We still don’t know.

On one hand, we have current House Sergeant at Arms Maj. Gen. William Walker, who was then commanding general of the DC National Guard, and his then-Army counsel Col. Earl Matthews saying, in an explosive, new 36-page memo to the January 6 Committee that the DC National Guard was prevented from quickly deploying to the Capitol and that Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy was strangely incommunicado during that time period.

And on the other hand, Army leadership says they spent those agonizing hours creating a plan for a Guard mobilization that McCarthy had to twice call upon Walker to implement.

Yet Walker and Matthews say that these supposed calls from McCarthy never took place and that they never saw the plan that Army leadership supposedly produced. When the Guard finally got the go-ahead to move, they claim, it followed its own plans as it intended in the first place.

So, what really happened? Who is lying? And why?

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Cecília Tomori/Nature:

Scientists: don’t feed the doubt machine

From climate to COVID, naivety about how science is hijacked promotes more of the same.

Researchers at the COP26 climate talks this month know well how doubt can be weaponized to delay action — something many COVID-19 scientists have taken too long to appreciate. They point out problematic methods, poor study design and unjustified claims, but their efforts would be much more effective if they first considered a larger strategy: how ‘sciency-ness’ is used to distract from reality and hinder effective policy.

Much of my own work focuses on how industry exploits scientific credentials to bolster false claims that undermine breastfeeding to increase sales of formula milk and, ultimately, damage health. The strategies and patterns recur across industries: they have been documented in tobacco, fossil fuels, pharmaceuticals, food and more. This influence is so powerful that public-health researchers consider it a distinct area of study: ‘commercial determinants of health’.

Add to that professional and weaponized grifting. Why, it might even qualify you to run for Senate from Pennsylvania.

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Michael Powell/NY Times:

In Texas, a Battle Over What Can Be Taught, and What Books Can Be Read

A new state law constricts teachers when it comes to race and history. And a politician is questioning why 850 titles are on library shelves. The result: “A lot of our teachers are petrified.”

In late September, Carrie Damon, a middle school librarian, celebrated “Banned Books Week,” an annual free-speech event, with her working-class Latino students by talking of literature’s beauty and subversive power.

A few weeks later, State Representative Matt Krause, a Republican, emailed a list of 850 books to superintendents, a mix of half-century-old novels — “The Confessions of Nat Turner” by William Styron — and works by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Margaret Atwood, as well as edgy young adult books touching on sexual identity. Are these works, he asked, on your library shelves?

Mr. Krause’s motive was unclear, but the next night, at a school board meeting in San Antonio, parents accused a librarian of poisoning young minds.

Days later, a secretary sidled up to Ms. Damon and asked if district libraries held pornography.

“‘No, no, honey, we don’t buy porno,’” Ms. Damon replied.

Remarkable in its own right, this article had a great accompanying tweet thread thanking the TX reporters who uncovered the things in the piece.

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Dan Froomkin/Press Watch:

What does the Republican Party stand for besides ‘let’s go Brandon’?

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has decided that the best way for Republicans to win back Congress in the 2022 midterms is to not tell voters what they stand for.

He has made no secret of his plan to make the elections a referendum on President Biden and the Democrats — and not to complicate things with anything remotely like a Republican legislative agenda.

It’s a brilliant strategy, if he can get away with it. And so far, all the signs are good. Pretty much every prognosticator inside the Beltway is predicting significant GOP advances, certainly enough to take back the House, if not the Senate.

But I’m old-fashioned. I think voters should know what they’re voting for, not just what they’re voting against. And if Republicans themselves won’t tell the voters about their agenda, then it’s incumbent on political journalists to do it for them.

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