Photo: Nebraska state Sen Carol Blood

Time for another quick run through the developing pandemic news, because the goddamn Delta variant is doing what super-transmissible viruses do — finding people to infect — the hospitals are filling up again, and the schools are having to close.

Illinois: Yay Teachers, Boo Cops

Let's start in Illinois, where Gov. JB Pritzker is expected to order statewide masking for all people aged two and up when they're in indoor public locations, and to mandate that all public school employees get vaccinated. Pritzker had already ordered vaccinations for "state and private workers in congregate settings, such as nursing homes, prisons and veterans' homes," and had recently said he didn't plan to expand that mandate. The rise in infections, combined with the FDA's granting full approval to the Pfizer vaccine, changed his mind. The Chicago Tribune reports that teachers unions in Illinois "are expected to release a joint statement that embraces Pritzker's new mandate." Good on them! [Chicago Tribune]

We wish that were the case for the police unions in Chicago. Mayor Lori Lightfoot's requirement that all city employees be fully vaccinated by October 15 was protested by all four of the city's police unions. Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara responded with exactly the sort of hysteria and hyperbole you'd expect from a bunch of assholes, who incidentally are empowered to use deadly force on the public. Catanzara treated the Chicago Sun-Times to a "profanity-laced tirade" about how preventing a deadly disease is exactly like the Nazis, at least if you're a fucking idiot.

"This has literally lit a bomb underneath the membership. ... And what are they gonna do when four or five thousand coppers say, 'Screw you. I'm staying home. You're not making me get this f---ing vaccination. Don't pay me. That's fine. We'll see you in court.'"

"We're in America, G-ddamn it. We don't want to be forced to do anything. Period. This ain't Nazi f---ing Germany, [where they say], 'Step into the f---ing showers. The pills won't hurt you.' What the f--k?" he said.

In reality, Nazi Germany killed people in death camps with cyanide, and by allowing epidemics of preventable diseases, particularly typhus, to run unchecked through its system of concentration camps. The Anti-Defamation League condemned Catanzara's comments. [WBEZ / Sun-Times]


Florida: Tampa Bay Residents Asked To Watch Water Use So Hospitals Have Oxygen

Hospitals in the Tampa Bay region have ICUs full of people who need ventilators, and the hospitals' supply of liquid oxygen is beginning to run short. Liquid oxygen is also used in municipal water purification systems, so to ensure the hospitals have enough, water customers in the area are being asked to "conserve drinking water by cutting back on non-essential uses like washing cars, watering lawns and using pressure washers." A local water utility will also be changing its method of treating drinking water to deal with the diversion of liquid oxygen to hospitals. [Tampa Bay Times]

Rarely Is The Question Asked: Is Our Children Disease Vectors?

CNN reports that older teens, aged 16 and 17, are now experiencing the highest rate of new COVID-19 infections among all age groups, according to an analysis of CDC data. While adolescents over the age of 12 have been eligible to be vaccinated since early May, teens remain the least vaccinated segment of the population. Combine that with teenagers and their damn wandering away from the family room, where they should be learning to whittle, and their general tendency to mingle, and you've got trouble. [CNN]

In Aiken, South Carolina, more than 700 pre-K to 10th grade kids and about 30 faculty and staff had to be quarantined at "Horse Creek Academy," a charter school. The school lasted only two weeks into the school year before it had to switch to online learning. Staff shortages were particularly acute among folks who worked with disabled kids. South Carolina is yet another state that forbids schools from requiring masks be worn. South Carolina schools Superintendent Molly Spearman said that school reopenings in the state would not be contingent on the rate of community transmission of the virus, and that teachers will not be required to get vaccinated. For what it's worth, the CDC data tracker shows no counties in South Carolina — or most of the rest of the South — with anything less than a "HIGH" rate of community spread. [The State]


Nebraska: Not Vaccinated? Come Be A Nurse Here!

Nebraska loves its veterans, and to prove it, the state has been trying to recruit nurses for its state-run veterans home by emphasizing that there's no requirement to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. State Sen. Carol Blood, who represents the district in Bellevue where the veterans home is located, said she learned about the recruiting postcards when vets' families called her.

"What criteria was used by our executive branch to make this decision? And how appropriate is it to utilize this as a marketing tool to encourage people to come and work in facilities where some of Nebraska's most vulnerable people are currently living," Blood said.

Blood has asked Gov. Pete Ricketts and the state Department of Veterans Affairs for some answers, and Nebraska's nursing association and other medical professionals are protesting the move.

Taylor Gage, a spokesperson for Ricketts's office, wouldn't comment to the Washington Post on Blood's letter, but did confirm that the postcards were real, as part of a plan to "address workforce challenges."

"Many in the health care field resent this personal health care choice being mandated by their employer," Gage added in an email. "For nurses finding themselves in that situation, the State welcomes them to apply for a position in State government where we do not have a coronavirus vaccine mandate."

Can't possibly see anything going horrifically wrong with that.

But c'mon, if you want to make sure there are enough nurses, doesn't lowering your standards automatically mean you'll get more applicants? Besides, most of those old people probably watch Fox News all the time, so they know not getting vaccinated is the only way to avoid Canada-style Gulags. Thank you for your service! [KETV-TV / WaPo]

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Doktor Zoom

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.

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