An Occasional COVID Update
The media rhetoric around COVID continues to be irresponsibly contextless
It’s hard to know when I should write about what is currently happening with Covid. My problem is that I’m simultaneously too close and too far away from this topic. I still do a check on the core data every few weeks so I have a vague sense of what is going on, but watching media reports on the virus is worse than useless so I simply don’t pay any attention to them.
Even so, most people still get their information about COVID from major media sources and some of those sources are starting to get panicky. Some are calling the most recent variant (BA.5) “the worst COVID variant yet”, claiming it is increasingly vaccine resistant, or stressing about a rise in hospitalizations.
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In my optimism, I had hoped that we would be past implementing top-down mandates that have been repeatedly proven ineffective to arrest viral spread. And yet here we are, with several large metros and counties returning to these oppressive and pointless measures. San Diego schools are mandating indoor masks, as are Gwinnett County and Los Angeles County.
Unfortunately, none of this actually tells us anything about COVID. At this stage of the game, the policies seem entirely divorced from the reality of what is happening. They still claim to be tied to metrics, but those metrics don’t seem to be indicative of any particular danger to the public. For example, the LA County mandate is supposedly triggered by COVID hospitalization rates, but the hospitals in the county say that these are not hospitalizations due to COVID but simply incidental positives.
Even so, I think it is worth giving a data-centric assessment of the state of the pandemic right now because I still have good tools for that.