Another Goddamn Coronavirus Roundup, Which Is Why Joe's Had It With You People
Our COVID roundup for today starts with gladsome tidings: On the same day that Joe Biden mandated wide-ranging vaccines for private businesses (yes, he can do that, because OSHA), the Los Angeles Board of Education announced that by January 1, 2022, all students 12 and older will have to be fully vaccinated to attend school in the LA Unified School District. The only exceptions would be for kids unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons, since California did away with vaccine exemptions for "conscience" or "religious" reasons in 2015.
This is a pretty big deal, since LAUSD is the nation's second-largest school system. Earlier in the pandemic, LA schools were also ahead of much of the nation in testing and mask mandates, too. The LA Times notes that New York City, the country's biggest school district, so far only mandates vaccinations for students who play contact sports, although both New York and Chicago schools do mandate vaccinations for all employees. Now that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has full FDA approval for those over 16, it's likely other school districts will start requiring vaccines as well.
LAUSD moved forward with its vaccine mandate for 12-and-ups based on the FDA's emergency-use authorization; full approval is likely to come fairly soon, as is an emergency authorization for vaccinating kids between five and eleven.
Damn well about time. [LA Times]
Schools Opening And Closing Faster Than Restaurants On That One Corner, Every Town Has That Corner
US News reports that "More than 1,400 schools across 278 districts in 35 states that began the academic year in person have closed" already, according to "Burbio," which the story insists is "an organization that's tracking how schools respond to the ongoing pandemic" and not a dating app for people in the suburbs.
Of the schools that have had to temporarily close, most went back to online classes, but a surprising 40 percent didn't actually have any kind of plan in place for online instruction, because apparently they were just sure the pandemic was over or they'd just keep the schools open no matter how many teachers keeled over.
The numbers of kids infected after schools opened with mask-optional policies are at first astonishing and then disgusting, because what did those states' Republican leaders fucking expect?
Texas: 51,000 students have tested positive since schools opened in August. Mississippi: 20,000 kids. And it just gets worse and worse:
Meanwhile, in Florida, more than 26,000 children tested positive just last week, and children under the age of 12 became the age group with the highest new COVID-19 case count. In Georgia, cases in children 11 to 17 years old quadrupled over the last month since schools reopened. According to the state's public health officials, Georgia is experiencing the highest number of COVID-19 outbreaks since the pandemic began – more than half of which are connected to K-12 schools.
It's almost as if all that blather about freedom and individual responsibility doesn't do jack shit to control a highly infectious virus. Who could have guessed, besides everyone? [US News]
Texas: Mask Mandates Work? How Can This Beeeee?
Austin TV station KXAN did some number crunching, comparing school districts in Central Texas that had mask mandates in place at the start of the school year with districts that began classes without a mandate (but don't forget, they urged individual responsibility!). And son of a gun, it turns out that schools with mask mandates had way fewer cases of COVID among students and staff than the districts that opted for freedom and hoping for the best.
Currently, 11 of the 20 districts analyzed require masks.
Of those districts, the three with the highest percentage of students and staff cases do not require masks.
Of those three, Lago Vista ISD, about 20 miles from Austin, had the highest number of cases per capita out of the 20 districts KXAN looked at, with
more than one in every 13 students and staff members infected this school year.
The surge caused district leaders to shut down the high school for the rest of the week. Students there will instead learn online until they can return to campus Monday.
A quick look at the Repository of All Knowledge shows Lago Vista is 94 percent white, and that the annual median family income is a fairly comfortable $72,114, compared to the statewide median family income of $61,874. Data on the number of large late-model pickup trucks that never haul cargo were not immediately available.
If Lago Vista ISD is Goofus, then it looks like Austin Independent School District, with only one case of COVID per 159 students and staff, is probably Gallant, although there look to be multiple Gallants in the area:
The four districts with the lowest percentage of cases (Austin, Round Rock, Manor, and San Marcos) all required masks before the school year started.
And in fact, of the 10 districts that had the most cases since the start of school, only one, Elgin ISD, had a mask mandate in place when classes started.
Get ready for Tucker Carlson to announce, "See? Mask mandates don't work!" [KXAN-TV]
UPDATE: Goddamn it, Kentucky Republicans Just Hate Kids Or Something
Just after this story posted, we found out we missed a schools and covid story: Republicans in both houses of the Kentucky legislature voted last night to override Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear's vetos of two bills that restricted the state's ability to order mask mandates in schools and elsewhere. The upshot is that the state board of education's mask mandate is gone, although individual school districts will still be able to mandate masking.
Worse, schools will only be allowed 10 days of "non-traditional instruction days" for an entire district. That oughta teach the virus to not keep spreading! School districts would be allowed to move particular groups of students to online learning for up to 20 days (until December 31, by which time we guess the Lege will demand the virus to go away forever), but district-wide online classes will only be allowed for a total of 10 days. That way a certain percentage of kids will be in school where they can be exposed to the virus as God intended.
The bill also eliminated mask mandates for daycare centers, for freedom. Perhaps the goal is to increase child mortality rates to those seen at the time of America's founding. Another provision in the bill would allow students who have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 to keep attending school, as long as the student tests negative daily. The bill contained an emergency clause, so it will go into effect immediately. [Lexington Herald-Leader]
We Are Here For Joe Biden Being Pissed At Republican Governors
In other COVID 'n' Skools news today, Joe Biden got very specific today about where the problem lies, in contrast to his carefully no-names-mentioned speech last night. After touring a school in Washington DC, Biden said,
I am so disappointed that particularly some Republican governors have been so cavalier with the health of these kids, so cavalier with the health of their communities. [...] This is what this is. We're playing for real here. This isn't a game. And I don't know of any scientist out there in this field that doesn't think it makes considerable sense to do the six things I've suggested.
In response to Republican governors who threatened to sue over Biden's new vaccine mandates, Biden said "Have at it."
Go Joe. [WaPo]
White House says that fines for private companies that shirk vaccination requirement can be as high as $13,600 per… https://t.co/lmKhGwe0X6— Alexander Panetta (@Alexander Panetta) 1631289572.0
White House says that fines for private companies that shirk vaccination requirement can be as high as $13,600 per unvaccinated employee, under the Occupational Health And Safety Administration
Go Joe again.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.