News roundup for Fri, Oct 29, 2021

The Environmental Protection Agency says it has a plan to address problems with water infrastructure and sanitation for Native American communities. The EPA will work with the National Tribal Water Council to address inequities in access to indoor plumbing and safe drinking water. Scores of millions of dollars of grants for these projects are ready for disbursement.

The private equity firm Blackstone warns that the current energy crunch could cause social unrest. Oil, gas, and natural gas prices are going to continue to rise. Blackstone predicts that people in the developing world will be most impacted and the most likely to suffer from unrest.

In some places in China, vegetables are more expensive than meat. Heavy storms damaged crops this year. The lack of produce coupled with the pricy energy crunch has folks worried.

Both coasts of the US were battered by storms this week. The East Coast had a significant nor’easter that left hundreds of thousands without power:

The Department of Health and Human Services was evacuated secondary to a bomb threat. No reason or motivation for the threat has been revealed. The DHHS building was swept and cleared.

Fracking waste is leaching into California groundwater, mostly in the Central Valley.

There has been almost biblical flooding in Sicily.

The world has had 246.2 million COVID cases. The world has gained 3 million cases in the last seven days. There have been ~5 million deaths in total. The US has had a cumulative 46.7 million cases—nearly 500,000 cases were added in the last seven days. Over 763,000 Americans have died—over 10,000 in the last week. The US added nearly 80,000 new cases on Wednesday and over 1,500 deaths that day as well. The US is still leading global daily case gain.

An FDA committee has voted in favor of giving EUA to Pfizer for COVID vaccines for kids aged 5-11. The data on the trials this vote is based on look very good. Kids in this age group get 1/3 the dose of an adult. The CDC will likely move to approve this as well. Doses could begin getting doled out as soon as the first week of November. Why these committees didn’t schedule meetings on this to help get kids vaccinated before they take to the streets in massive hordes on Halloween is beyond me, but I’ll take what I can get:

Vaccination rates impact regional COVID rates. States and regions with low vaccine uptake suffer much higher caseloads:

Merck says it will allow other companies around the world to make its pill for COVID treatment. This will give millions of people around the globe access to a potentially life-saving drug. Vaccine makers have not yet agreed to do what Merck is doing.

People with a compromised immune system may be eligible for a 4th COVID vaccine dose:

There’s an antidepressant, fluvoxamine, that cuts COVID hospitalizations and risk significantly. Large trials have shown definite benefit over placebo.


    • EzlyAmuzzed

      I’m careful where I get my information from, however my dad reads from un-reputable sources and said something I had not heard before that “the inventor of the mRNA vaccine has been screaming from the rooftops to never give this to kids”…have you heard anything about this? I’m assuming this isn’t true.

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      • Sbesch EzlyAmuzzed

        If he’s talking about Robert Malone, this seems like a fairly balanced account of both his involvement in the development of and opinions about the current use of mRNA vaccines:

        “Malone may keep company with vaccine skeptics, but he insists he is not one himself. His objections to the Pfizer and Moderna shots have to do mostly with their expedited approval process and with the government’s system for tracking adverse reactions. Speaking as a doctor, he would probably recommend their use only for those at highest risk from COVID-19. Everyone else should be wary, he told me, and those under 18 should be excluded entirely. (A June 23 statement from more than a dozen public-health organizations and agencies strongly encouraged all eligible people 12 and older to get vaccinated, because the benefits “far outweigh any harm.”) Malone is also frustrated that, as he sees it, complaints about side effects are being ignored or censored in the nationwide push to increase vaccination rates.”

        It’s difficult, sometimes, to separate valid scientific opinions from the flawed humans who hold them.  While Malone seems bitter and “difficult to deal with” as an individual, that doesn’t automatically invalidate all of his medical opinions.  In light of the repeated “noble lies” (lying to influence behavior in ways he thinks is ultimately beneficial to his audience) that Fauci has been exposed for telling, it’s not a stretch to believe there would also be suppression of data involving adverse vaccination reactions.  The government only fuels the spread of more conspiracy theories from the other side when they betray trust and lie themselves. There are almost certainly people both lying and telling the truth on either side of these ongoing arguments and only time will tell which ones were which.  The trick is figuring out the best course of action for yourself in the meantime.

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      • Bed Sbesch

        So… do you agree partially with how people not at high risk from COVID-19 shouldn’t get vaccinated?
        (I’m gonna go into forum-post mode, so please bare with me!)

        Because I’m genuinely at my limit in terms of figuring out what to do. I’ve been researching so SO much in terms of what I (a 21yr old who’s supposedly young and healthy) should do. Over the past few days, I’ve been worrying constantly about what action I should take: I worry about potential unknown, long-term effects from the vaccines, and worry about the known side effects of a COVID infection.
        All of the information I look up conflicts with each other, especially with how social media has both information from doctors/nurses as well as quacks. I can’t tell if those saying the vax is bad because they wanna help people, or if they wanna make a profit off scared people. I think I’m losing my critical thinking skills because of all of this.
        I worry that each choice (getting vaccinated or remaining unvaccinated) is the wrong choice. What if I get vaccinated and suffer from god-knows-what for months (or get something several years from now like prion disease from the mRNA in the vaccine making a misfolded spike protein or some deadly sh*t like that)? What if I don’t get vaccinated, get COVID, and don’t have a mild/moderate infection? Both outcomes scare the f*ck out of me, and I feel like I’m losing myself mentally.

        Sorry for unloading all of this onto you and whoever else reads this, but I needed to tell at least someone, anyone about this. To whoever reads this, please don’t see me as an anti-vaxxer… 🙁

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      • Robert LarsonContributor Bed

        To filter out conspiracy theories versus facts and reality, I’ve heard to consider if the rich and powerful are following suit. 

        For example, there probably isn’t mind controlling chemicals in the contrails of airplanes. It is not a “chemtrail” and is just condensed moisture vapor. You can know that because the rich and powerful are living under those contrails as well and they would be breathing in the same air. 

        So applying that logic to the vaccine, no it is not making everyone infertile, there’s not microscopic trackers in it, and there probably isn’t any known long term side effects if celebrities, presidents, kings, the homeless, poor, and everyone in between is getting it.

        It doesn’t sound like you fall into believing in the far conspiracy theories of the vaccine and are just worried about long term side effects, which is a reasonable and logical thing to consider. 

        Looking at things from a purely statistics viewpoint, the odds of something going wrong after catching Covid is much much greater than the incredibly small percentage of side effects with the vaccine.

        I’m in my 20’s, healthy, and I have gotten it. No side effects besides a minor minor headache the day of my second shot. 

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      • Bed Robert Larson

        Yeah, I don’t believe in the far-flung conspiracy theories and mostly just wonder about long-term side effects or anything adverse that may occur within the weeks following the first dose. That’s really it in terms of rabbit holes I fell into. And, yeah, COVID itself has been shown to be way way worse, I agree.

        I guess I just wonder about if anything could potentially occur, like, a year to a decade or so from now. But, at the same time, I wanna get vaccinated so I could get a job (I’d get vaccinated for jobs regardless of mandates since I’d be in public) or hang out with a friend during Christmas or w/e.

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      • Sbesch Bed

        I chose to get vaccinated, as did my wife, and we chose to vaccinate both of our children (12 and 14) as well.  That being said, I don’t support vaccine mandates, as I don’t believe the government should have the ability to force anyone to take a foreign substance into their bodies against their will.

        I’ve been following the vaccine developments with some vigor since the initial introduction of the mRNA vaccines and I haven’t seen anything scientific that would indicate that side effects of an mRNA vaccines would take any longer to appear than side effects from any other vaccine.  So anyone who’s fine 4-6 weeks after the mRNA vaccine is almost certainly never going to experience any ill effects from it.  I don’t believe there’s a secret “gotcha” related to that specific vaccine technology that’s going to surprise people a decade from now.  But I’m not a virologist or vaccine specialist, so mine is only a semi-educated opinion.

        The open question, in my mind, is whether the rates of adverse effects for COVID vaccines (in any/all forms) are higher than they might be for other vaccines and the government is suppressing that information “for the greater good”.  I certainly believe the government could (and would) suppress that information, if it exists, but I don’t really know if it exists.   I’ve known a couple of people who were negatively affected by the COVID vaccine, but the sample size from my personal acquaintances is certainly limited, so I can’t really draw a scientifically-supported conclusion from their reactions.

        Like I said, in the end, the balance of all those considerations still swung in the direction of vaccinations for me and my family, but everyone needs to (and should be allowed to) make that call for themselves.

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      • Bed Sbesch

        I see. Thank you for telling me your take on this!
        In any case, I scheduled a vaccination for a few days from now. Seeing all the articles about anti-vaxxers and/or hesitant people (and their families) posting about how COVID f*cked them up or killed them and that everyone should get vaccinated definitely leaned me towards getting vaccinated. Not only that, but I wanna get a job so I might as well vaccinate since I’d be in the public sector, something I’d do regardless of mandates.
        But… even then, I still have this nagging feeling. Thoughts like, ‘what if there IS a “gotcha” 1 to 5 to 10 years from now?’ or ‘what if I get a really bad side effect?’ etcetera seeped into my mind as I thought about scheduling the Pfizer vaccine for myself. And I can’t determine if that’s me overworrying and being paranoid, or being scientifically-inclined and questioning/researching things to get a clearer view on this. Hell, I’m even starting to think I made a mistake scheduling due to this…

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      • Colorado Jones Bed

        Dude!  You’re overthinking this.  How many items in your home, including prepping items, have a CA Prop 67 cancer and reproductive harm warning on them?  Have you ever lived in a basement apartment or had a basement childhood bedroom (think radon gas)?  Have you ever lived in an old house (abestos, lead paint)?  Or spent much of your life in a smoggy, urban area (lung cancer)?  Or were careless about using sunscreen when you were younger (skin cancer)?  Or spent your life eating processed foods?  (heart disease, intestinal cancer, other)?  I’ve been exposed to all of the above but, given the crazy drivers in my neighborhood, I suspect that I’m much more likely to be killed or critically injured in an auto accident (most likely while backing out of my garage or cycling to work or making a left turn at a busy intersection) than to live long enough to experience the long-term effects of any of these other things.  We’re all going to die of SOMETHING and, barring stupid or reckless life choices (or a SHTF scenario that kills us all), most of us will enjoy longer lifespans than our parents and grandparents.  We just make the best choices we can with the knowledge we currently have, hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.  Beyond that, I just try to live my life in the present and not overly-obsess about long-term effects of things that I have little or no control over.

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      • Hardened Bed

        Hi Bed,

        I understand your concerns and want to throw my 2 cents into the ring.  I’m much older than you and can share some of the things I’ve picked up from life experience.

        First, all of your concerns are valid.  You’re thinking about this in an intelligent way.  I admire that about you.

        Because you’re young, you may not have much experience in your relationship with your triune brain.  Your neocortex is humming along but your reptillian brain is freaking out.  This is understandable but it’s also making you uncomfortable and introducing a bias into your thought process.  One of the reasons this is happening is because the sources of information out there that are questioning the safety of vaccines are lacing a lot of their messaging with content deliberately designed to provoke fear.  It doesn’t mean the information is incorrect or not worthy of your attention but it does have a significant impact on your reptillian brain and you need to be aware of that.

        Second, this decision (to vaccinate yourself or not) feels high-stakes and filled with uncertainty.  This is not a happy combination and to a 21 year old it may understandably seem like the end of the world.  I felt that way when faced with such choices at your age.  At my age, the reaction is more like, “Oh shit, yet another one of these?”  Life turns out to be filled with them, unfortunately.  After a few more decades of facing these kinds of choices they’ve lost their novelty and don’t really produce much anxiety in me any more.  I’ve learned that this is a part of life.  I make my choice, knowing that it may be the wrong one, and move on.

        Given the uncertainty for this particular choice, I encourage you to focus your attention on two things:  1) Talk to and listen to health care professionals, like the ones who are commenting on this blog.  They are closer to the situation than you are and you’ll get much better signal from talking to them than from whatever you read on social media. 2) As much as you can, try to base your decision on this issue on evidence rather than emotion.  The frustrating thing here is that you may not have as much evidence as you’d like but in a situation like this, where there is a clear and present danger, you need to pull the trigger using whatever evidence you’ve got and feel good about that.  Then, regardless of which action you take, always stay open to gathering new evidence.  Don’t obsess over it; just evaluate, act, and move on.

        Good luck.

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      • Bed Hardened

        Thank you.
        Agreed. Healthcare professionals know a lot more than I, just some person on the Internet, do. And, yeah, I’m doing my best trying to base my decision on evidence even though the amount that’s there is lower than normal. I mean, it kinda helps that it’s been a year since the vaccine trials happened, but still.

        But my problem is that I really don’t know what the wrong choice is. One minute, I’m confident about the vaccines working since there’s not a lot of people with horrible/adverse side effects. The next, I read about a kid in a wheelchair some time after being vaccinated and beyond scared it’s more common that the CDC/FDA says it is, or I’m read something about prion disease from the vaccine’s spike protein and believe it even though it’s from a routine anti-vaxxer. It’s insanely nerve-wracking.

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      • Greg P EzlyAmuzzed

        I work in healthcare & I would simply tell you this – in this last wave of patients, adults and children, 98% of them were unvaccinated.  I live in a state where we lag behind the national average of vaccinations & it shows.  In addition, in the last 20 months, I have had only TWO patients survive if they got sick enough to be put on a ventilator.  It is NOT that the ventilator killed them, it’s that by the time you get sick enough to end up on a vent, your chances of survival are slim to none.  How many patients did I lose in that same timeframe? – literally hundreds.  

        I am burned out now & am taking about three months off.  I will decide early next year if I am coming back or simply retiring.  Let’s all just hope that my younger colleagues don’t follow suit & bail.  

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      • Captain Peanut Greg P

        I hope your three months off will be therapeutic and you can receive the rest and recovery that you need. Thank you for your many hours of service and care during the past few months. I cannot imagine the things you have gone through.

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      • Stephanie ArnoldContributor EzlyAmuzzed

        I work in healthcare. All of my young kids (3) are getting all of the COVID vaccines as soon as humanly possible. The risks of the vaccines, even imagined risks, are orders of magnitude less dangerous than the risks of the disease–from clot risks to cardiomyopathies. Just because fewer kids die from the disease doesn’t mean they don’t face other morbidities/risks from it. Vaccinating kids keeps them out of the hospital. Vaccinating kids helps lower R0 and lower community transmission. I tried to get my kids into the clinical trials in my area but the trials filled too fast. 

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    • brownfox-ffContributor

      Great collection of current events.

      What you can do about it:

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      • Sbesch brownfox-ff

        All good points.  The only one I’d add would be to invest time in maintaining our own health and fitness level.  The vast majority of folks dying from COVID have complicating conditions, many of which are fully within the individual’s ability to mitigate.  Eventually, something’s going to come gunning for each of us.  If it’s not COVID, it will be something else.  Being fit and maintaining a generally healthy lifestyle could likely be your number one asset for survival when that day comes (and when that day arrives, it will be too late to start).

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      • brownfox-ffContributor Sbesch

        Excellent point. Thank you. I have added a note and link on physical fitness.

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      • Gideon ParkerStaff brownfox-ff

        Excellent thought process of not just reading about the current events and worrying, but taking action and not becoming a victim.

        Love all of the linked articles as well!

        Of the articles you linked, I personally need to work on building up my food stores, having a backup source of heat, and power bank of electricity.

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      • brownfox-ffContributor Gideon Parker

        Thanks Gideon.

        My thought was: Providing a short list of actionable links gives people something to focus on and do, to improve our situation.
        You can take back control over a small piece of your world, by doing something about it.
        Even if you pick one link, or take one step, you’re better off than you used to be. You’re more prepared. “Not perfect, but better”.

        This site has created a solid collection of broad and deep wisdom.
        Many of the articles are useful for multiple situations.
        Linking to relevant articles may be one way to showcase how regular, normal, everyday steps really can help you to be more prepared for events that do happen.

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      • Gideon ParkerStaff brownfox-ff

        I love this mindset! It is so healthy and a better way to think about things than being overwhelmed by how much there is to do and getting into perfectionism.

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      • Sbesch brownfox-ff

        Another great point, Brownfox.  As the saying goes, “Perfect is the enemy of good.” Some people waste so much time waiting for the perfect opportunity to complete an entire project, when just taking small steps from time to time can make significant progress toward your goals.  Which reminds me of another of my favorite quotes: “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.”

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      • brownfox-ffContributor Sbesch

        >“How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.”

        Love it. Let’s all improve, one prep at a time.

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      • brownfox-ffContributor Gideon Parker

        >Of the articles you linked, I personally need to work on building up my food stores, having a backup source of heat, and power bank of electricity.


        I named this account with ‘-ff’ to stand for “fitness” and “finance”, to remind myself that I need to regularly work on both.
        I’m half decent at the second one.
        I’m still working on the first one.

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      • Stephanie ArnoldContributor brownfox-ff

        Thanks, Brownfox! Great tips. 

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    • Errans

      “Vaccine makers have not yet agreed to do what Merck is doing.” Kinda/ sorta. They aren’t doing it directly, but Moderna “… has reiterated on several occasions that they will not enforce their intellectual property during the pandemic” and WHO is taking advantage of that to fund an African company to reverse-engineer their process:

      Pretty interesting if you ask me, the more people with the tech the better in general.

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