Link love

Right now what is irritating me is mom bloggers talking about how they know they’re taking stupid risks but they’re taking them anyway. Like, just shut up. You’re taking risks that are putting other people in danger and you’re telling the world about it. Just stop. Because people do what they think other people are doing. Stop taking stupid risks when in as little as 3 months your aging parents may be vaccinated and if you’re going to take those risks anyway, stop talking about them on social media. Let this be your dirty little secret and not something you encourage other people to do. Not when Covid rates are as high as they are in the SF bay area. Or Florida. And not when there’s a new more virulent variant just discovered in the US. And there’s large numbers of carriers who got positive at Christmas but don’t know it yet. You can wait. Or you can meet outside with masks on, especially in SF and Florida. Jeez. Ugh, I cannot even with the mommy bloggers. Like, stop being, “I’m doing this naughty thing even though I know I shouldn’t”– just don’t do it! Maybe you don’t know anyone who has died of Covid yet, or who has died of something else because the ICU rooms were too full and the health professionals too frazzled, but the more people do these stupid risky things, the more people will die. Even if you don’t spread Covid yourself, you may encourage someone who does.

Just got an email asking for prayers for our admin whose father and brother are both in the ICU with Covid.  According to our county reporting, ICUs are 104% full.  What does that even mean?  Update:  Her dad died.  I realize I am almost out of sympathy cards AGAIN.  I bought more after my uncle died last April.  This is relentless.  Please don’t make me buy another box before the end of the semester.  Protect yourself and other people.  It only takes two mistakes in a two week period to infect someone.

The Shu Box talks about her current experience in a Covid Positive household and notes that her husband had several negative tests with mild symptoms before ultimately testing positive.  (She updates that she also tested positive eventually.)

I need to go through this thread and find books and authors I haven’t tried yet!  CONSENT IS SEXXXXXY!

Don’t forget to contribute to your IRAs!  If you’re high income, here’s info on the backdoor Roth.

I guess I don’t have much to say about the New Year.  Like Scalzi, I’m not going to think it really starts until January 20th.  When it does, we need to step up and support positive change as much as we can.  Because it’s going to be a rough couple years with Republicans trying to make things as bad as possible so they can win big in the Midterms because they don’t actually care about people.  We’re going to have to keep fighting even though we’re tired and it feels like we should be able to take a break.  :(

In the mean time, for goodness sake, model and ADVERTISE your good behavior.  Hide the bad behavior you have no intention of stopping– don’t publicize it.  I mean, go ahead and tell people you’re eating leftover fruitcake, because that’s not going to have any negative effects on anybody else.  And definitely talk about things you need help fighting.  But if encouraging people to do the bad thing you’re doing ends up with people dying… just keep it to yourself.  (Better yet, just don’t do it.)  Nobody under the age of 80 should have to buy sympathy cards in bulk unless they work in a funeral home.

64 Responses to “Link love”

  1. FF Says:

    Re your opening paragraph, Farhad Manjoo had a column in the NYT ( where he discussed how much bigger his bubble was than he thought (over 100 people), and then decided to go visit his parents for Thanksgiving, including his elderly diabetic father anyway (although at least they planned to eat outside). It amazes me that someone can look at the data and then decide to ignore it and just do whatever anyway. Whenever I’ve been asked to do something unsafe, I tell the person asking something like, “I would love to, but my doctor says it’s not safe to do that.” No pushback at all so far.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      And then BRAG about it!!!

      Though I guess eating outside is supposed to be lower risk. I’m more concerned with all the people bragging about unmasked indoor activities.

      I am not looking forward to school starting again and me teaching in person. We all have to get the saliva test this week or next but given its high false negative rate for asymptotic people …

      • omdg Says:

        I could actually almost get on board with the outdoor family gathering concept, but then people take it to the next level and decide to do indoors just because. We are having beautiful weather here, with tons of snow and temperatures that are not that cold, and kids can meet up outside and go sledding, and we can still go for walks, and it is lovely. But still people, for some reason, are craving being able to hang out indoors and complain that they can’t socialize at all — which simply isn’t true! They just aren’t willing to be flexible about it. *headdesk*

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        It’s Gorgeous in a good part of the country with insane covid rates. No excuse at all.

        And yes, it was an uphill battle forcing my sister to stay socially distanced at outside thanksgiving (one of the reasons we ended up not pushing for Christmas at her patio). When the other party isn’t taking things as seriously it’s really hard to keep up. (Fortunately I am the older sister and she’s used to behaving herself after I scold her. But if it weren’t my sister, I don’t know that I’d have been brave enough to keep policing, or even to set ground rules beforehand like we did.)

  2. SP Says:

    I haven’t seen any of what you talk about, but I don’t read mom blogs. It is not really surprising, though. I agree, if you MUST choose to do risky things, don’t normalize it by posting about it. I did witness a lot of “small” gatherings in my bay area neighborhood this holiday season. There were even carolers outside on Christmas eve, which… I don’t know. Outside = good, singing = not good.

    My parents (mom still working in a non-COVID area of hospital) did a christmas with my sister and her husband. They claimed they were all quarantining and testing, but there ended up being a few pretty major exceptions (mom work, dad took dog to vet for emergency, BIL went icefisihing). It seems like no one was infected (or asymptomatic), but it was still a risk I wouldn’t have taken.

    I have to admit my calculations about risk have shifted a bit with a vaccine on the horizon, even if the timeline is uncertain. If this felt like an endless slog, I’d take on slightly more risk (mostly just determining the threshold when we send LO back to daycare). An end in sight really helps me continue to keep risk low.

  3. Debbie M Says:

    I now know more friends and acquaintances who have been vaccinated for covid in the last year than who have died.

    Apparently a lot of people are making new year’s resolutions about what they will do when things are back to normal. Mine is on staying strong against covid.

    Since I actually worked last year, I have earned income! So I got to contribute to my IRA!

    In other financial news, I found out that although for 2020 (and beyond, I think?) you can deduct up to $300 of your charitable contributions without itemizing, contributions to donor-advised funds (DAFs) don’t count. That’s disappointing. I still make my selfish donations directly (public TV and radio, local wildflower center, neighborhood association), but I want the vast bulk to be anonymous, so they all go through my new DAF. And so the price of anonymity goes up even more. But will it kill me if I’m not anonymous with, say, the food bank I’m probably going to choose to receive the part of my relief check that goes to charity? I just can’t stand charities bugging me all the time, telling me depressing sob stories, and spending lots of money and other resources begging me for more.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      since the goal is for charities to get money NOW it makes sense not to allow the DAF thing which is really just something to benefit mostly rich people anyway. I bet there are other ways to donate anonymously… does united way offer that option for people who don’t donate through work?

      • Debbie M Says:

        Not that I can see, but good idea! I used to use, but they’re gone now.

    • revanche @ a gai shan life Says:

      I created another email sort of as a throwaway for charitable organizations so they can’t so easily reach us virtually after the donations and email them all to tell them to keep us off mailing lists. It’s a bit of extra work but it helps since we don’t have a DAF.

  4. rose Says:

    Thank you. My rage at those determined to spread it, people who have exposed or/and sickened and/or killed people who really have taken all possible precautions…… RIght. It does keep my choices on the side of isolation even when I am severely tempted. Tempted is one thing, risking self and others is another. Jealousy of those who take the risk and do not appear to have or cause consequences … that is human but also pure luck and luck is fickle.
    I did/do wonder if those blogging about their willingness to look at the information and then decide to risk exposure anyway……are now signing up to foster children who have lost their parenting adults to the virus?
    This is not going to be an easy time. Thank you for writing. THANK YOU for your support.

  5. Matthew D Healy Says:

    I’m a Virologist and I approve of this message!

  6. middle_class Says:

    I thought mommy bloggers were pretty much gone. Either they got publishing deals or their kids are older and want privacy.

  7. revanche @ a gai shan life Says:

    Funny I realized that I didn’t think of those bloggers (except one) as a mommy blogger and I really only started reading three of them because of you :)

    Maybe I should start writing about how we’re staying super cautious as part of our everyday routines.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I guess they’re not mommy bloggers until they use their kids as excuses to endanger people?

    • Omdg Says:

      Yes! Write about this! I feel like so many people see and read about others pushing limits and then a) feel like it is safer than it is, or b) feel intense fomo and then do the things themselves. I even feel myself falling into this mindset from time to time, and I have to remind myself not to succumb.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I’m working on a post right now saying what we’re NOT doing.

        (Well, actually I got distracted because I’m at ASSA and now I’m writing an economics rant about white dudes who study discrimination.)

      • Matthew D Healy Says:

        “…economics rant about white dudes who study discrimination…”

        I’m a white dude who studies biology so I know very little about Economics. But a while back I saw an article in the UWM alumni magazine with an interesting take on discrimination. I’m not an alum of UW-MILWAUKEE but get their alumni stuff because my family funds scholarships (my parents taught History and English there). Anyway this was about somebody who studies Hollywood Actors’ contracts for evidence of discrimination. Zie said that’s a great setting because ALL the stars use the same agents who get the same commission percentage and therefore the usual “women and minorities just don’t negotiate as hard” excuses are basically excluded. Sorry I can’t give a citation but you can probably find it.

      • Matthew D Healy Says:

        I’m a VIROLOGIST and sometimes have felt like everybody else is getting to do things I haven’t and am tempted to take chances. But then I look at the data…

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Somehow it is less cool for the people who are being safe to be loud and proud about it!

        Also, pictures of the inside of our houses aren’t as interesting as pictures with the cousins…

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        (It’s the availability heuristic)

  8. undine Says:

    It makes me furious to see people bragging about their travels and unsafe behavior. You don’t even want to know the unkind thoughts I have about them, which involve deep meditations on Dante’s Inferno. I know people who have had Covid but no one who has been vaccinated, although I know from the media that it is happening. What’s wrong with a walk or an outdoor meal, for heaven’s sake?

  9. A Says:

    I want to visit my parents so badly-I haven’t seen them since fall 2019, but am terrified that I’ll pick something up in one of the 3 airports I need to transit through to get there, and give it to them, and then I’ll kill them. I’m not even telling them that I got vaccinated (HCW here) because, they refuse to listen to me when I say that THEY need to be vaccinated as well in order for me to visit. Thankfully, they live in a Blue state, in a bluer area of the state, so it shouldn’t be long. I will also be moving w/in driving distance by the summer, so I can wait until then.

    I’m so pissed off at all these seemingly educated bloggers cheerily posting about their choices to engage in risk and shrugging it off. Particularly when there are nannies and other people involved who don’t get those same choices about the risk, and are now impacted. And then the kids who truly need in person learning are getting short changed, or are being put at risk-all because mommy bloggers are posting about ‘different levels of risk tolerance’. And finally, I’m so tired of people thinking that because they are educated, they somehow are experts at vaccine biology (if I hear someone else wax poetic about vague side effects…), virology, and public health.

    I’m just so sick of it all. Thank you for publicly writing this.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      DITTO on the airports! Or the gas station restrooms if we drove.

      Everything that you say. We, the privileged have a RESPONSIBILITY to do our best to help and protect those who *don’t* have the choices that we have. Like spider-man says, with great privilege comes great responsibility. (And the women saying these things who claim to be Christian… my Catholic/Anglican upbringing cringes. Since when did Christian = I get mine and personal responsibility for everyone else?)

      And it’s garbage about risk tolerance. Of course we rich people have higher risk tolerance! We’re going to get better medical care! We’re better able to take time away from our jobs! We’ll still be able to pay our rent! We can afford funerals.

      • Matthew D Healy Says:

        Gas station restrooms are *much* less risky than airports, simply because you’re in there for a much shorter time. To make it even less risky, DW and I usually get off the Interstate and go a few miles on smaller roads to a gas station where the restrooms are not as busy as an Interstate rest area. Of course we use hand sanitizer before and after entering the building, and we spend as little time as possible indoors.

        When the weather was warmer, I chose low-usage pit toilets at State Parks to be even safer, but the risk is quite low even with filling stations if one spends like five minutes inside the building, wears a mask, and uses hand sanitizer.

        I did not enter any airports in 2020. It was the first year in more than 40 years that I did not go to any airports.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        But do you drive through several states with ardent anti-maskers?

      • Matthew D Healy Says:

        I have used a restroom in Nebraska where the filling station had two signs on the door. One said Masks NOT required (though nobody said anything about the one I was wearing). The other was shaped like a pistol and said We will NOT call 911 for robbers.

        I spent as little time as possible in there, but was not especially worried for reasons explained in the excellent document linked below. For CUSTOMERS who are in and out quickly, a place like that isn’t especially risky. For its EMPLOYEES who are in there for hours, the risk is quite high!

        Here is evidence that I have infectious disease research experience. Because my career has been in Pharmaceutical Companies, my H Index isn’t very high by academic standards (about 12). But I played a key role in putting several antiviral drugs on the market.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        But you don’t mention that how crowded a place is matters (and how are you to predict that?) or the underlying prevalence. Both of these things are important. Are you then encouraging people to drive across country right now if they don’t have to? Because a casual reader could easily believe that. Take some responsibility here. What might have been ok this summer assuming two week quarantines on either end may not be ok now. Of course, we didn’t actually KNOW this summer if it was ok under those prevalence rates.

        And, like eating cold cuts while pregnant, each individual risk is low, but if everyone does it there’s more (fetal) deaths. Only in this case it’s worse because the death is contagious. I’m not asking should I fly or drive to do this important thing I have to do. I’m stating that there’s no reason to risk unnecessary travel.

        When we drive during the holidays the gas stations are always packed and we usually have to wait in line to use the restroom. I don’t know if that’s true this year but i imagine so. Nobody lives in Nebraska but people do live in the south along the major highways. There are a lot of potty breaks with two kids on a 13-18 hour drive (or however long we calculated in the post we were weighing the possibilities for).

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        DH’s former immediate boss is recovering from Covid right now (it’s a slow recovery). He says the only place he could have gotten it was the grocery store because he didn’t go anywhere else.

        His daughters stopped by his house after he started showing mild symptoms (but thought it was a cold or allergies)– they talked for an hour masked and 6 feet apart and then slept and left the next morning. Some time later in a way that makes sense for him infecting them rather than the other way around, they were diagnosed with covid. Either they got it from his house or they got it traveling.

      • Matthew D Healy Says:

        I should clarify a few things here. First of all, the big risk of a car trip is usually not the trip itself but what the people involved have done before the trip. A party with five people from different local households who walked there could be vastly more dangerous than a 2000 mile drive before which everybody had been careful. And many people are delusional about what “quarantine” means; I know of COVID-19 cases where somebody said “but I never left the house!” and it turns out many people had visited them in their house.

        Japan has had far fewer COVID-19 cases than most Western countries despite less stringent restrictions on daily life because people there actually pay attention to the three C’s of COVID: Close Contact in Crowded indoor places for extended amounts of time. In Western countries some people must be extremely careful in order to compensate for those who are extremely careless. Epidemiological studies consistently find that Talking, Eating, Drinking, Exercising, and Singing indoors away from home are by far the biggest causes of virus spreading.

        I have made exactly three actual road trips (defined as, I ate or drank something outside my residence) during the pandemic. For New Year’s my wife and I spent a few days with my mother who lives alone in Chicago four hours drive from here. All three of us quarantined for two weeks before the visit (we ate food that Mom had put in her freezer in anticipation of the visit so she could avoid grocery shopping during the quarantine period). My brother lives in walking distance of our mother, so we had one outdoor gathering with various friends in my brother’s back yard during which I entered my brother’s house once to use the restroom. My wife and I had Thanksgiving alone and the day after Thanksgiving drove to a couple of scenic overlooks where we walked around outdoors, eating and drinking stuff we had brought with us. The only indoor places we visited during that trip were brief visits to restrooms. My mother ate alone in her apartment on Thanksgiving and had an outdoor walk with my brother and his family the day after.

        During the summer I made a number of short drives to State Parks at uncrowded times and so forth, none of them long enough that I needed to consume anything other than water that I carried with me. My indoor activity away from home (aside from two visits with my 90-year-old mother before which Mom and I quarantined) has been brief shopping at off peak times (mostly grocery and pharmacy). Dr, Fauci has told the NY Times that he does in-person grocery shopping at off-peak times. Before each visit with my mother I took extra care and strongly encouraged her to also take extra care. Our church switched to online services in March and does not plan to resume in-person services until that is medically safe.

        The Nebraska stop in October was on my only long road trip, moving my mother in a rented truck from Colorado to the Chicago apartment my brother arranged for her. On that trip, Mom and I ate takeout food outdoors or in the truck and stayed in the type of old-fashioned motel where you park next to the door of your room. Mom who is 90 was afraid that if she got sick in Colorado then my brother and I would feel pressure to take risks in order to get there and therefore wanted to be closer to my brother and me. So my brother found an apartment for her and had some furniture delivered to there prior to her arrival. Mom and I loaded just what the two of us could put into the rented truck unassisted in a single day from her Colorado place, and left the rest in Colorado for the time being. We didn’t want contact with movers or with local friends/relatives at either end! My brother makes brief masked visits to my mother’s Chicago apartment to pick up or deliver things, but his extended visits with Mom consist of outdoor walks. Fortunately, our 90-year-old mother is in excellent health and quite happy walking a couple of miles with my brother, his wife, and their teenage kids.

        Both NY Times and Washington Post have published multiple interviews with experts during which the subject of restrooms came up, and the consensus is that precisely because restrooms FEEL unclean people do the right things in them: sanitize before and after, wear masks, avoid talking or eating, and get out as fast as possible. The squick factor actually makes restrooms safer, one Infectious Disease Physician told WAPO, much as very few people die on scary mountain roads: car accidents are mostly on familiar roads close to home where people feel safe and pay less attention.

        The big risk with travel is indoor socializing at the endpoints, for which quarantining before the trip is the best defense. Testing is NOT sufficient, as the White House has demonstrated: you can get infected just before or just after sample collection and spread the virus despite a negative test.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        So to be perfectly clear, you are not recommending that people take unnecessary car trips or that such trips are completely safe. But if a person must take a trip, you are recommending that a cautious car trip, following careful social distancing/masking/not staying indoors very long/etc. may be safer than a plane trip.

        Is that accurate?

      • Matthew D Healy Says:

        It is also important to understand WHY isolation works. The scenario that I was thinking about when my wife and I visited my mother for New Year’s was, what if I got the virus at a grocery store, was totally asymptomatic, then gave it to my wife who was also asymptomatic, and then she gave it to my mother? Two weeks isolation was sufficient time to make that scenario very unlikely. Of course if either of us had developed symptoms during those two weeks we’d have gone to get tested and probably called the trip off even with a negative test because tests can have false negatives.

        But to work, the isolation must be pretty strict: absolutely no indoor contact longer than about five minutes with any person outside the household bubble.

        Note also the CDC recently changed its definition of “close contact” from “one instance of 15 minutes duration” to “a cumulative 15 minutes in 24 hours close to one or more known or likely cases.” They made this change because of an incident at a prison where several inmates were known cases so the Correctional Officers were striving to keep all encounters as short as possible. One officer got the virus despite those precautions; analysis of security camera video concluded that officer had been close to one of the infected inmates about a dozen times during the shift for a cumulative 17 minutes even though no single encounter had been longer than a minute or two.

    • Matthew D Healy Says:

      Yes, exactly. Trips should only be undertaken for specific reasons that justify the risk, and all appropriate precautions must be taken. But I think the larger message is that miles are not the relevant metric. It’s how many people are sharing air with each other and what they did before and after sharing air with each other. Driving a thousand miles to my mother when each of us isolated for many days before the visit was far less risky than walking to a bar near my home (yes, in Iowa the bars are still open with capacity limits) and spending a few hours there. The ONLY people with whom I have eaten a bite of food indoors since March are my wife and my mother.

      As for flying, on board the airliner is probably not very dangerous: they have far better air filters than most buildings other than hospitals. The reason I’m not flying now is because I refuse to enter any AIRPORTS or SHOPPING MALLS or other enclosed venues.

      I’ve literally had to cut a couple inches off my belt (it’s the cheap kind where the manufacturer only makes one very long size and the customer cuts it to length) because I’m not eating fast food and my primary recreation has been daily photography walks. I read in NY Times that 100 million Americans don’t have any public park nearby; I’m very fortunate to be an easy walk from parks and trails along the Iowa River and several creeks. For these outdoor walks I don’t wear a mask. When other people approach I just step off the trail or sidewalk onto the grass.

      • Matthew D Healy Says:

        On those few careful road trips that I have taken, I have never waited in line for a restroom because I didn’t use Interstate Rest Areas. It’s amazing how quickly traffic thins out if you go just five miles away from the Interstate on a secondary road and stop at a gas station in some small town.

      • Matthew D Healy Says:

        During the summer, for day trips to parks I chose low-usage restrooms where I could wait outside long enough to be certain nobody was inside before I went in.

  10. xykademiqz Says:

    I haven’t properly seen my eldest son since March. I saw him a grand total of four times, all masked, three of which was me dropping off something (masked) that he (also masked) came outside to collected it from the trunk of my running car, and the fourth time was for Xmas where we all stood outside, masked, 6 ft apart for 5 min. That’s it.

    All of his roommates have been traveling back and forth for Thanksgiving, then Xmas, seeing family like nothing is going on. It seems like nobody gives a shit and everyone thinks they will be the exception. As someone said on Twitter, sometimes I feel like I’ve hallucinated a pandemic because so many people seem to be going about their business like nothing is going on.

    I don’t go anywhere except to the grocery store and will resume in-person teaching in a few weeks. I am masked all the time, whenever I step out of the house. The rest of my family literally goes nowhere (husband teaches online). Still, I am scared I will get sick because those around me (read: grocery store) don’t want to stay put or wear a mask.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I feel for you. We have 100% signed on to curbside groceries even if they don’t always get things right. (And it’s harder to know about produce quality or size but buying the cheapest produce because it’s in season helps with quality.)

  11. Patty Gordon Says:

    Thank you for your honesty. Love the way you just say it like it’s! I live just outside the Bay Area and everything is shut down. It sucks! Also while I don’t know people who have died from Covid I do know people who’ve been down sick for a month with it! Stay home if you can. It’s not about you. It’s about the rest of us. Countries who are doing better now shot down their lives to save others!;

  12. K Says:

    Initially I wasn’t going to comment but then decided I would at least communicate that I have been reading both your post and omdg’s. And it is so important for these to have been shared. Our country is so far down the shitter with this virus(and the consequences that will be felt for years)…..and the same(damaging)thinking patterns will still likely be seen in how we talk about attempts to move everyone beyond this mess and, “get back to normal”.
    Anon in mass

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Thanks for speaking up against some of those earlier “covid isn’t a problem” people. They are both tiring and enraging. I don’t understand the sheer selfishness of some people.

  13. CG Says:

    These posts point out how helpful it would be to have clear and consistent health regulations, or at least guidance, because it is really hard for people to parse this stuff for themselves. And clearly, we all have different perceptions of and tolerances for risk. We canceled our post-Christmas vacation (which would have been a driving vacation to a red state, and which was itself a backup vacation after we canceled the ski trip that would have involved flying). DH was super bummed, especially since he knew many of his colleagues traveled. I see people in our neighborhood posting about their trips to FL and SC and explaining how their trips were safe. Were they? Maybe. And maybe ours would have been, too, but I just didn’t know and it didn’t seem like the right thing to do. BUT. My SIL flew here for Christmas and stayed with my in-laws. She got a test before she came because we asked her to and it was negative. Having her come here was clearly the wrong thing to do–the CDC was begging people not to travel to see family at Christmas. However, my DH and in-laws thought it was okay and I didn’t feel like stirring up a shitstorm by, I don’t know, refusing to attend Christmas. This illustrates my point–the decision was left up to us, and we didn’t do what the CDC would have wanted us to. Luckily it seems like none of us got each other sick.

    I haven’t read the SHU blog post, but if her kids want to do soccer and everyone is doing it without masks, it makes it much harder for her to insist that her kids alone wear masks, or to keep them out of soccer altogether. Here, the kids played soccer all season in masks and as far as I know it’s been okay (my kids do not play soccer at the moment). Establishing guidelines and norms, or even better, health orders, would help in these kinds of situations to make it easier to do the right thing.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      My youngest kid understands why zie can’t have maskless playdates even if zie is invited and wants to. Sometimes it is important to do the thing that’s hard because it protects people.

      These things are not excuses and talking about doing these things and justifying the actions of people *who should know better* just makes other people feel less like behaving themselves. I don’t want to hear excuses for SHU who is a pediatric specialist for goodness sake. (And her “I don’t know if I should get the vaccine” post, OMG! At least she backtracked from that and is firmly endorsing getting the vaccine now. But she could have been quiet until she’d done the research instead of expressing uncertainty. I don’t think she understands how much responsibility for other people’s actions she holds in her situation. She’s an influencer whether she thinks she is or not.)

      So no, I don’t want to see anymore “it’s not this PhD/MD/etc.’s fault for doing things that put people at risk” comments. And I definitely don’t want to see ANY “I do these dangerous things and I’m still ok” comments because that will end up with other people dying. Maybe not because of actions that individual took but because of actions that some reader took that they wouldn’t have taken if they didn’t think everyone else was having fun without it being dangerous.

      • CG Says:

        Yeah, I’m not making excuses for anyone (including my family). And I take your point about people who are influencers having a particular responsibility to model good choices. Just saying that there is a lot of evidence that relying on people’s individual good judgment isn’t working very well.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        But we can’t do anything about it until January 20th, so we have to work with what we have. And the people who have the capability of understanding (or at least of knowing to trust say, wandering-scientist) need to step up. Folks can do better and need to do better and if they’re not doing better, they should keep quiet about it so as not to negatively influence people who don’t have those capabilities.

      • A Says:

        The SHU vaccine post and her defensiveness made my blood boil. I wonder how her nanny would have felt about her employer “musing”, or how her trainees felt (and I guarantee, if my PD had a blog, we’d all be reading it). And the comments saying MDs questioning vaccines are critical thinkers…People with PhDS in virology and immunology are saying the vaccine is safe, so maybe this is the Dunning Kruger effect at play? I’ve seen a lot of MD friends think because they went to med school, they’re experts on everything. But, MD programs just don’t have the rigor in data analysis and critique that MPH programs, PhD programs do. MD students sort of pick it up on the fly with maybe a few lectures here and there. Hell, I have a PhD, and I don’t feel comfortable diving into epidemiology and public health data without caveats about my lack of expertise. I’ve been frustrated by this for a long time, not just bloggers, but in general, and I’m not sure how it will get fixed.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I mean, I’m willing to believe that SHU just hadn’t looked into it at all, needed a blogpost, and wasn’t thinking about the fact that she’s an influencer as an MD, not just a mommy/planner blogger. She probably thinks of herself as an organizational planner influencer and forgets the whole MD thing when it comes to her online platforms. I don’t think she’s stupid, just thoughtless.

        But we need to realize that in this kind of situation, we have to think a bit harder because there *isn’t* good messaging from the government. Under president Rodham Clinton she probably wouldn’t have even made that post because information would have been forced on her in a unified format from multiple fronts and she wouldn’t have had to do her own research. BUT WE DO NOT LIVE IN THAT WORLD. So people with influence need to be responsible. Thankfully she did actually do the research and gave a thoughtful opinion on the topic and is advocating (and took) the vaccine. But we could have done without the first post. Hopefully she has a better understanding of her platform now too.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Also, I do think there’s a few experts trying to say, “well actually…” and diluting the message because underlying truths have uncertainty to them. But they need to be more careful with their messaging because what they say is not necessarily what people here.

        For example, SHU can say, “I don’t know because I haven’t looked into this yet” meaning she hasn’t had time to look into it and hasn’t had to yet because the vaccine wasn’t actually available yet. But what people see is, “This specialized MD doesn’t *know* about something so important– therefore it must not be safe.”

        Or… “this virologist says long car trips with stops in restrooms are safer than plane trips, he even cites this paper about how particles don’t stay in the air for very long” therefore “long car trips and hanging out at gas station shops must be ok.” People have to think very carefully about the message received.

        The world might benefit from all researchers being forced to get some media training and to learn some psychology around messaging. Or to have to observe mommy forums for a few years. Or maybe just teach college freshman at a state school who aren’t all in competitive majors…

      • Matthew D Healy Says:

        Yes, safER does not mean totally safe. Many experts think in terms of “risk budgets” where for example if a car trip must be undertaken then other activities are severely constrained before and after.

        But the history of HIV is also instructive: telling people take zero risks really did not work. What did work was a combination of (1) better drugs and (2) specific directions on how people could reduce their risks on terms with which they could live. Japan is doing much better than most countries in large part because they did a better job of explaining how people could live as close as possible to normal life while reducing infections to a low level.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        The vaccine is out now– we can slow down temporarily. By Spring most high risk people will be vaccinated. By Summer the hope is we all will.

        Keep in mind that everything you post here is being read, and not everybody is reading very carefully. Now is maybe NOT the time to be encouraging people to test the limits of their behavior. We’re no longer in this for the long haul and our rates are so high that if it were any other country we would be in lock-down. Most of what you’re saying makes sense for say, last summer (except where I live where the rates were almost as insane as right now). Right now is very poor timing.

      • A Says:

        I think you’re right about SHU re: the vaccine post-it was clearly thoughtlessness (and a tiny bit of ‘not knowing what she doesn’t know’-she’s a pediatric endocrinologist, not an immunologist or a public health expert). I’m surprised that she did post it, as a pediatrician, she MUST see the effects of vaccine hesitancy constantly (or perhaps not anymore, if her patients require specialized care). But, perhaps she viewed this not with her MD hat, but with her ‘planning blog’ hat, as you said.

    • Matthew D Healy Says:

      The next few months are going to be a race between the faster-spreading variant and the vaccine, until enough people have been vaccinated to make a material difference. Unfortunately, because the US never really had a national strategy to contain spread of the virus, we already have far too many deaths and hospitalizations. The Herd Immunity argument makes even less sense now than it ever has, because we have the vaccines.

      I do not envy those deciding who gets the vaccine first; the number of people with a plausible moral claim for priority is much larger than the number of people who can be vaccinated in the next six weeks. As a healthy person under 65 who is working from home, I should come after many other people, but I want my 90-year-old mother vaccinated as soon as possible. She is physically safe being isolated, but isolation IS taking a large emotional toll on her, especially because my father died in 2019.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        From what I’ve seen, most states, both red and blue, have people over age 75 vaccinated in the second batch (along with people with pre-existing conditions) after health care workers and people nursing homes. The difference is that Blue states have a plan for who comes after that and Red states don’t.

      • Matthew D Healy Says:

        Yes, I think most States plan to do the over 74s in the second batch. The initial CDC guidelines had put ALL essential workers right after the healthcare workers and long term care facilities, but they changed that because if the large number of workers deemed essential all get shots before over-74s who live alone then those over-74s would have to wait a long time (like my 90-year-old mother who cooked and ate alone on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day). So the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices revised their recommendations.

        [The rest of this was copy-pasted from the CDC website. Phase 1a is healthcare workers and long-term care facilities]

        CDC made this recommendation on December 22, 2020.

        Phase 1b
        Frontline essential workers such as fire fighters, police officers, corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, United States Postal Service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, and those who work in the educational sector (teachers, support staff, and daycare workers.)

        People aged 75 years and older because they are at high risk of hospitalization, illness, and death from COVID-19.

        People aged 75 years and older who are also residents of long-term care facilities should be offered vaccination in Phase 1a.

        Phase 1c
        People aged 65—74 years because they are at high risk of hospitalization, illness, and death from COVID-19. People aged 65—74 years who are also residents of long-term care facilities should be offered vaccination in Phase 1a.

        People aged 16—64 years with underlying medical conditions which increase the risk of serious, life-threatening complications from COVID-19.

        Other essential workers, such as people who work in transportation and logistics, food service, housing construction and finance, information technology, communications, energy, law, media, public safety, and public health.

        [end of copied text from CDC]

        Since I am under 65 in good health and able to work safely from home, I will come after Phase 1c.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Yes, I am aware of the CDC.

        My state has chosen not to follow their guidelines. In addition, it is not using the same numbering system (several blue states are also not using the same numbering system). What the CDC recommends is not what many people will be seeing because the feds are not in control of the roll-out, the states are.

      • Matthew D Healy Says:

        I hope most States will use age as their primary criterion, for the same reasons that many other countries are. Age is by far the biggest epidemiological risk factor for this disease. Also, age is by far the simplest risk factor to define and verify. Complicated rules may slow the process down and offer scope for gaming the system.

      • teresa Says:

        Don’t forget that planning who should get vaccinated only gets you so far- you need a plan for distribution too.

        Considering that I, as a fairly resource/system/tech-savvy physician providing direct in-person patient care (that absolutely cannot be done remotely) in a (blue) county with supposedly the most COVID of just about anywhere, cannot find a way to get myself vaccinated I am not exactly holding my breath for an efficient widespread vaccination campaign.

        CA has *very* detailed phases and tiers and subtiers to say what order people should be vaccinated in though.

      • Matthew D Healy Says:

        It’s just like the PCR testing mess early on: without leadership at the national level, nothing works as it should.

  14. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Here’s our admin’s father showing up as a statistic, “The [x] County health department reports another death from coronavirus, a man in his 60’s who was hospitalized.”

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