Looking for clarity emerging from the pandemic

posted by Jeff | Monday, April 12, 2021, 8:20 PM | comments: 0

A week ago I had my second vaccine dose, and what I didn't know then is that I would be largely knocked on my ass for two nights. As is the case with a lot of people who got the Moderna shots, that second one put me deep into that sick funk, with some intermittent fever even. I tell myself that maybe it wasn't as bad as I thought, because I haven't been actually sick since late 2019 (turns out that avoiding Covid means avoiding everything). While this was not convenient, in the middle of my time off from work, I'm still thankful to have it done.

While I still technically have another week for full efficacy, the difference between 90 and 95%, probably, and likely 100% against hospitalization, I tend to view nearly every situation differently. I don't walk into a restaurant thinking about table density, or into Home Depot wondering if that contractor hacking up a lung is spreading disease. At the grocery store, I look at the old folks as the first line of enhanced humans, while I wonder how long it will be before the teenage baggers get their shot. We can make plans to see grandparents. We're talking with other parents about getting the kids together. We're even wondering when it will be time to return to the theme parks, not out of concern of Covid safety, but wondering when they'll be able to service a reasonable capacity.

But what to do with the kids? There is growing concern that youth sports and kid parties are causing a lot of community spread, and obviously the more kids get infected, the more you see some percentage of them get exceptionally ill or have long-term effects. (The lack of testing in club sports in particular seems pretty dumb.) It turns out that pediatric Covid death is also significantly more common than flu death, in part because it's more contagious. The crappy reality is that, best case scenario, the trials for kids won't be done until September.

While vaccinated adults will certainly help to slow down the pandemic, it seems like we need guidance about the kids. I think the schools have it figured out (at least, they do in my district), but their efforts assume some portion of kids are remote learning, which no one wants because it's fucking terrible and ineffective. Adult gatherings that may include kids also need some guidelines.

Vacation travel has to be figured out, too, which absolutely will include families with children. The CDC isn't getting anything right with the cruise industry, which has started to figure that their only way forward is to vaccinate crews themselves and require it of passengers. That's probably fine for most of them, but not Disney Cruise Line. The theme parks need a long-term plan as well, to understand when they can appropriately increase capacity, do standing room night spectaculars, allow queue density, with children, and probably above all, set mask expectations. For a significant time forward, there really are two populations: vaccinated adults and everyone else.

And then, what do we do about the holdouts? If herd immunity is not effectively achieved without 70-90% of people getting the shots, then what? We don't reach that level without children. We might not get there if these goofy anti-vax people don't get on board. We need to start getting the vaccine to all the places in the world that haven't started yet, too.

It's a weird time... you can see something awesome on the horizon, and it feels good. Just need to push it across the finish line. One more week and I'm licking doorknobs with reckless abandon!


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