News roundup for Tue, Jan 4, 2022

So many firefighters were out sick and isolating with COVID in San Diego County that operations (including emergency response) had to be cut back. Seven engines were pulled from service temporarily.

There’s been a huge sewage spill in Southern California impacting beaches from Los Angeles down to Orange County. Mass beach closures were enacted as a result:

Global superpowers have issued a joint statement regarding the futility of nuclear war (and, by extension, the futility of mutually assured destruction). France, the UK, Russia, China, and the US announced that there are “no winners in a nuclear war,” and so nuclear war should not be fought. The countries agreed to comply with extant non-proliferation practices.

The world has nearly 291.4 million COVID cases. The world has gained over 9.5 million cases in the last week. There have been nearly 5.5 million deaths in total. The US has had about 56.2 million cases cumulatively. The US gained about 2.5 million cases in the last seven days. Over 847,000 Americans have died during the pandemic—over 8,000 in the last week. The US gained over 185,000 new cases on Sunday.  Not all states are reporting daily anymore, and the holidays will continue to cause the tallies to be an underestimate. When the actual data is compiled, case gain (in preceding days) in the US turns out to be explosive:

London is being slammed with Omicron. 1 in 15 is infected in London itself, and 1 in 25 is infected in England. We expect a sharp peak in the UK as has been seen in South Africa and other countries with this variant. Why are countries peaking like this? Because Omicron might be nearly as infectious as measles.

A life insurance company out of Indianapolis is noting that deaths in adults aged 18-64 have grown by 40% during the pandemic. The company notes that it’s one of the highest rates of death it’s ever seen. Most of these deaths are not listed as being from COVID—they’re excess mortality (which means many of them probably are, in fact, from COVID or related to pandemic-impacted health care issues, etc.).

France has identified another highly mutated variant. This variant, B.1.640.2, seems to cause moderate to severe disease. It’s unclear how transmissible this variant is or how it will fare in competing with other circulating variants at this time.

The Washington Post has a non-paywalled COVID metrics page that is useful:

Hospitalizations in the US are rising quickly:

The FDA is warning that some over the counter COVID tests may be less accurate in testing for Omicron. Some of the companies have pushed back on this statement. Abbott, the makers of the Binax test, disagree with the FDA. Some folks have found that throat swabs more readily produce a positive result compared to nasal swabs, but since these at-home tests were not tested that way I cannot confidently recommend that practice:

On a personal note, I have lost someone close to me from COVID. It’s hard, especially given the work I’ve done to try to prevent this kind of outcome in the lives of people around me. One silver lining from this experience is that folks in the extended social circle of this person I cared about have gotten their first vaccine. I feel an immense need to help people overcome vaccine hesitancy, and I try to reach people before extreme outcomes become the precipitant. In honor of the person I lost, please encourage some vaccine hesitant folks you might know to reconsider getting vaccinated.


    • Tony B

      Stephanie thanks for your work.  My heartfelt condolences.

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      • brownfox-ffContributor Tony B

        Stephanie – my deepest condolences. I’m sorry for what you are going through. Thank you for all of your hard work and spreading useful information. Best of luck with whatever comes next.

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    • brownfox-ffContributor

      What you can do about it:

      Happy New Year everyone. Wishing you a successful and healthy 2022. May all of your projects go well, and your preparations be ready but never needed.

      8 |
    • brekke

      I’m so sorry for your loss Stephanie. I really appreciate the work you do here and I know, from personal experience, that it has contributed to getting a reluctant person to agree to get the vaccine. 

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    • River

      I’m sorry for your loss – sending you light. 

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    • Hardened

      I’m so sorry, Stephanie.

      One of my friends who was vaccine hesitant got the vaccine after reading your articles.

      6 |
    • Jamie

      So sorry for your loss, Stephanie.  These news roundups are the single best part of The Prepared and the best regular COVID news I’ve found.  You’ll never know how much good you are doing.

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    • JustMe

      Oh, no. I am so very sorry, Stephanie. 

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    • Mr. Mark

      First, Stephanie, my deepest condolences for your lost.

      I am 64, a smoker and a drinker, and eat more then I should. Two of my anti-vax coworkers and two anti-vax close friends have had Covid. They all made it through it okay but my other co-workers and I and also other friends in our close knit circle had to go through emergency testing because of their issues. Because of this I felt the need to be vaxxed as early as possible was and recently boosted as well. With God’s blessing I will stay Covid free. 

      I say that to say this: My younger brother refused to be vaccinated. He never smoked or drank alcohol. On December 4th of 2021 he died from pneumonia brought on by Covid. He waited too long to see a doctor despite showing Covid symptoms. He did not want to believe that he had it because he has always otherwise healthy. 

      I use this unfortunate experience to tell my anti-vax friends that no one really know what Covid will bring, so why take the chance to put one’s self and everyone round at such risk? 

      I don’t know that I’ve changed anyone’s mind yet. But like you and many others, I will keep trying. God bless…

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    • Karl Winterling

      The bad news about COVID/vaccine misinformation is that you have to be pretty extreme before social media platforms will ban you (I’m not sure the article characterizes everyone’s politics accurately, but the information is good).

      The good news is that I’ve noticed the market is getting a little saturated. I’ve been following what’s going on and noticed a few patterns:

      • The overwhelmingly consistent point is the assumption that public health experts and scientists are making the decisions behind the pandemic response. In reality (in the US at least), it’s overwhelmingly been politicians making decisions about how to respond to the pandemic.
      • Credentialism: Assuming that you should trust the people pushing misinformation or because they’re doctors or scientists.
      • Repurposing arguments from books like The Mass Psychology of Fascism or The Authoritarian Personality without necessarily being aware of those books or the context in which they were written.
      • Many people pushing misinformation will, for instance, get vaccinated/boosted themselves while they’re telling their audiences the vaccine is dangerous.
      • In a positive development, I think we’re starting to move into a “diminishing returns” phase where it’s harder now to make money spreading misinformation on social media. There are too many competing conspiracy theories going around to really form a coherent ideology.
      6 |
      • EzlyAmuzzed Karl Winterling

        I am rather upset at the damage disinformation causes. I was talking to my parents about their upcoming cruise telling them if they get sick to please tell me since I have supplies ready for them. Then, as if them taking a cruise wasn’t bad enough my mom says “wish you could get Ivermectin”. After me making a face of disbelief my dad says “she doesn’t understand she just hears it’s cattle wormer” I don’t have words to convey how I felt, I am so mad at this disinformation that makes them not believe in science.

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      • Hardened EzlyAmuzzed

        There are no words for this.  I feel for you.

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      • Frank Sampson EzlyAmuzzed

        Your comment is eerily something like I would hear from my in-laws. Maybe they are sharing note cards… 

        Sure is frustrating isn’t it?

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    • Stephanie ArnoldContributor

      Thanks, everyone. Wishing all a happy and safe New Year.

      8 |
    • EzlyAmuzzed

      So sorry to hear of your loss Stephanie, especially since I remember us discussing our loved ones a few weeks ago and had been wondering the outcome for them. I’m glad you at least have this media to help you share your loss and get the information out to help others. I greatly appreciate all your effort you put into these posts.

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    • RoryM

      I was very saddened to read about your personal loss.  My sincere condolences. 

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    • Rubber Duckie

      Heartfelt condolences Stephanie. Wishing you moments of strength, peace and comfort. 

      3 |
    • M. E.Contributor

      Stephanie: I am so sorry for your loss. I will do what I can to honor your request and encourage more folks to get vaccinated. 

      4 |
    • Karl Winterling

      Starting on January 1, 2022, cash apps like Paypal, Zelle, and Venmo (both business and personal accounts) will make a report to the IRS and send you a 1099K form if you receive over $600 in gross transfers. This will apply even in circumstances like, say, you have a garage sale and make over $600.

      It looks like in some cases you won’t have to pay taxes on those transfers (I’m not an expert), but you’ll have to be ready to deal with the 1099K form when you do your taxes in 2023.

      More Information

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    • Don

      Keep up the good work Stephanie. My condolences.

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    • Ryan

      Stephanie, thanks for your hard work. I’m sorry for your loss. 

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