The pandemic isn’t over — or shouldn’t be, anyway

Bookmarked The Year the Pandemic ‘Ended’ (part 3) by Artie Vierkant and Beatrice Adler-Bolton (

On June 6th, 2022, Politico published: “How many Covid deaths are acceptable? Some Biden officials tried to guess.”

From the piece:

Biden officials in recent months privately discussed how many daily Covid-19 deaths it would take to declare the virus tamed, three people familiar with the conversations told POLITICO.

The discussions, which took place across the administration, and have not been previously disclosed, involved a scenario in which 200 or fewer Americans die per day…

Our opinion is that this reflects a broader issue: that, by this point, the Biden administration have clearly absorbed a central lesson, which is that as long as they attempt to make a good show of things––pretending everything is ok––the levels of illness, death, debility, and disability from covid that the US public will apparently just absorb without rioting is shockingly high.

Importantly though, one of the individuals cited says that the number of deaths floated, 200 a day, would be “aspirational.” And that individual was right: even with our now-restrained data reporting infrastructure, we’ve never gotten down to that level. In fact, the lowest we’ve gotten to for any significant stretch of time is still an average of 300 deaths a day, or over 110,000 deaths a year.

And in the UK:

COVID isn’t just infecting you—it could be reactivating viruses that have been dormant in your body for years by Erin Prater (Fortune Well) – Dec 26, 2022

A mild or even an asymptomatic case of COVID can cause reservoirs of some viruses you’ve previously battled to reactivate, potentially leading to symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome—a condition that resembles long COVID, according to a recent study published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology. 

COVID may suppress our immune systems:

What If COVID Reinfections Wear Down Our Immunity? by Andrew Nikiforuk (The Tyee) – Nov. 6, 2022

T cells are a body’s key line of defence against infection. COVID infections can cause them to prematurely age, harm organs and become exhausted, warns Dr. Anthony Leonardi.

The epidemiology of long COVID in US adults by Robertson et al. (Clinical Infectious Diseases) – Dec 21, 2022

An estimated 7.3% (95% CI: 6.1-8.5%) of all respondents reported long COVID, corresponding to approximately 18,828,696 adults…We observed a high burden of long COVID, substantial variability in prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 and risk factors unique from SARS-CoV-2 risk…

Covid-19 and drug overdoses drive US life expectancy to lowest level in 25 years, CDC reports by Deidre McPhillips (CNN) – Dec. 22, 2022

Covid-19 was a major contributor to the decline in life expectancy, which is now nearly two and a half years shorter than it was at the start of the pandemic. After a drop of 1.8 years in 2020, another cut of 0.6 years last year brought US life expectancy down to 76.4 years in 2021.

[L]ife expectancy typically only changes by 0.1 or 0.2 years.

History Places

A Victorian sewage plant adorned in ironwork

Liked Forgotten Gems: Crossness Pumping Station by Georgie HooleGeorgie Hoole (

Nicknamed the Cistern Chapel, Crossness Pumping Station by Joseph Bazalgette is a joyously decorative feat of Victorian industrial design, which inadvertently helped eradicate cholera in London.

See also: Why Beauty Matters (thread)

Health Self Care Society

Stress response

Liked That’s a stress response (

My intense stress may have been less than others’, in other words, but that didn’t diminish how my body was internalizing it.

And so, instead of acknowledging — then or until recently — the effects of that structural stress, and connecting it to my hair loss, I did what so many of us learn to do: 1) conceive of it as a personal failing and 2) conceive of it as a personal failing remedied through consumerism.

My body has severely expressed its anger over the situation over the past two plus years. From little things like irritating dermatitis flare-ups to constant indigestion to heart issues, my body is trying to tell me something is wrong.

We’re bad at talking about this stuff because a lot of the causes are intertwined and intersectional…But we’re especially bad at talking about it because of a collective tendency to treat ailments as personal.

It’s our structures — the units of community and family and care that are supposed to catch us — that are fundamentally unwell.

So we can navigate this alone, as so many of us have…But on a societal scale, I also know this: we recover together — or not at all.

The current societal response of saying everyone’s responsible for protecting their own health is ableist and short-sighted (it literally costs more to not offer universal health care): we operate as a society and need each other, no matter how much some like to think of themselves as independent. They need workers at the ports to transport goods they buy, they need the workers at the factory to make things, they need waiters to serve them at restaurants. And that’s just looking at the direct dependencies. As a society, what are we missing out on by excluding everyone with cancer and chronic illnesses from participating in society because we’ll do nothing to help protect their safety? I think of an Eons show I watched recently sharing examples of early human groups caring for disabled and “non-contributing” members of their group, in some cases for years. Economic contributions and service aren’t the only ways we need each other, they aren’t the only value we offer our community. Something we seem to have forgotten for the time being.


A framework for using mask mandates to protect immunocompromised

Bookmarked When will one-way masking be safe enough for everyone? (

My reasoning is that if our goal is to protect the most immune-compromised members of the community—people in whom vaccines provide zero protection against infection let alone severe disease—then perhaps it would be acceptable to drop indoor mask mandates when case counts are low enough that the highest-risk adults can attend to something like daily living and have less than a 1% chance of becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2 in a 4-month period.

We could protect immunocompromised people if we cared.