Ron DeSantis image by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license 2.0

The coronavirus pandemic is still very much with us; last week, Florida saw a new single-day record for new COVID-19 infections on Friday, even as Gov. Ron DeSantis keeps fighting against allowing schools and communities to require mask wearing. But in many parts of MAGA country, people are saying the hell with all this, we want kids and communities to be safe, and that's some good news in the middle of all this chaos.


Alabama: From Trump Rally To Mask Mandates

In late August, Donald Trump held a big slob picnic with Rep Mo Brooks, to launch the latter's 2022 Senate bid. As The Root reports, Cullman County, Alabama, which hosted the rally, is "is quite literally the Trumpiest place in America," according to Cook Political Reporter. It's also a place where talk of vaccines and masking can be enough to make people fightin' mad. As The Root's Michael Harriot puts it,

Since the Caucasian COVID convention, the anti-mask, anti-vaxxer parents of Cullman have realized that the feeling making their chests swell with pride is actually tiny bits of coronavirus multiplying in their lungs. Now the county is in the throes of the worst spate of COVID cases this year.

But here's the surprise: In response to the outbreak, the local school officials, still conservative to the core, have nonetheless "stepped in to stop the mass sacrifice of Cullman's youth to the MAGA Jesus" by putting mask mandates in place in the county's schools — at least, in the schools that haven't already had to go to remote learning because of outbreaks. In one district, as many as a third of students were absent because they'd either tested positive or had close contact with someone who had.

One school district where officials had gone into the school year insisting masks were a matter of parental choice reversed course and imposed a mask mandate, although it was planned to last just two weeks, from August 30 through September 10, as if the outbreak will be all better by then. But it's a mask mandate all the same. [The Root]

Florida: Fuck You Ron DeSantis Trend Continues

The Hill reports that, following a trend that largely started in large urban school districts with fairly liberal parents, several "more conservative counties have begun to make moves of their own" to defy Gov. Ron DeSantis's executive order banning local authorities from mask mandates in schools (DeSantis said masks could be "required," but only if parents could opt out for any reason at all, which makes it not a requirement but a suggestion.)

On Monday, school board members in Brevard County — an area that DeSantis carried by nearly 17 points in the 2018 gubernatorial election — voted 3-2 to institute a 30-day mandatory mask policy.

The meeting came after a Friday ruling by a Florida judge allowing school districts to impose strict mask mandates, dealing a blow to DeSantis, who had argued that such decisions should be left up to individual parents.

Also too, in Lee County, "a deep-red part of southwest Florida," the school superintendent ordered a 30-day mask requirement in the schools, which went into effect yesterday. [The Hill]

Despite that court ruling against the mask mandate ban, DeSantis continues to be a dick; this week, the Florida Department of Education announced it would withhold funding for school districts in Alachua and Broward counties — in the amount of the school board members' salaries — to punish the school boards for imposing mask mandates. [NBC News]

Texas: District Closes Schools After Two Teachers Die

The Conally Independent School District, near Waco, Texas, is closing its five schools until after Labor Day following the deaths of two Conally Junior High School teachers from COVID-19, the Washington Post reports. Natalia Chansler, 41, taught sixth-grade social studies, and David "Andy" McCormick, 59, taught seventh-grade social studies. The Post notes that it's not clear whether either had been vaccinated. Unlike some districts in Texas which have ordered mask wearing, Conally Independent Schools complied with Gov. Greg Abbott's order forbidding mask mandates, although it recommended wearing masks.

In McLennan County, which includes Waco and the Connally school district, health officials reported 263 new cases Tuesday, as well as 11 deaths. The county's seven-day average for new coronavirus cases is now the highest it has been at any point of the pandemic. County data shows that 45 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, lower than the 47 percent vaccination rate across Texas.

Abbott must be very proud of how the good people of McLennan County are proving that freedom and individual responsibility are all Texas needs to deal with the pandemic. [WaPo]

British Study Finds Vaccines Cut Risk Of 'Long Covid' By Half

We figured we should close with some good news, so here is a paywall-free Washington Post linky about a study in the UK which found that

instances of people contracting the coronavirus after full vaccination are extremely rare — and that their risk of experiencing lingering symptoms of the disease in what's known as "long covid" is reduced by almost half.

The study, published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal on Wednesday, included more than 1.24 million British adults who reported receiving their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine from December 2020 to July 2021. Of those people, 0.5 percent tested positive for the coronavirus.

Even better, among people who were fully vaccinated, only .2 percent tested positive, which confirms how rare breakthrough infections are. It's worth noting that Britain has approved three two-dose vaccines: the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which are also used in the USA, and the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not.

And here's the new news that's especially encouraging:

"We found that the odds of having symptoms for 28 days or more after post-vaccination infection were approximately halved by having two vaccine doses," the study's authors wrote. "This result suggests that the risk of long covid is reduced in individuals who have received double vaccination, when additionally considering the already documented reduced risk of infection overall."

So that's pretty good news!

Oh yes, and also, that podcaster guy Joe Rogan says he's tested positive for COVID-19 and is using horse paste, fuck him.

[The Root / WaPo / The Hill / NBC News / WaPo (no paywall) / Ron Desantis image by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license 2.0]

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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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