Covid and Republicans
The President deserves the best of care. So does the country. Vote Biden and the Democratic ticket in November.
If Republicans at the highest levels aren't smart enough to protect themselves, the greater fool we to imagine they know how to protect the country.
This last week there was a paradigm shift in our understanding of the transmission of Covid-19, and, as if on cue, the President and many prominent Republicans rushed in to to illustrate the new paradigm.
A huge, peer-reviewed contact tracing study of Covid-19 in two Indian states, published in Science, confirmed and quantified what many have long suspected. Quoted in an article on NPR, one of the lead authors of the study said, "We found that 8% of the people who were infected were responsible for 60% of the infections that grew out of these primary cases."
Mr. Trump and prominent Republicans relied too much on the Abbott Labs Covid-testing-protection-bubble they erected around White House. They fostered a cavalier attitude about social distancing and mask wearing inside their bubble. They extended their disdain for masks and social distancing in the Rose Garden reception for their new Supreme Court favorite on Saturday, September 26.
At least eight people who attended the Rose Garden event have tested positive, eight Republicans and the President of Notre Dame. All of them were seated in the first three rows and only one is seen the photographs wearing a mask. Was the diseases transmitted in the Rose Garden or, perhaps, in the jubilant, indoor, unmasked hugging and back-slapping that occurred around the event, or at some other event entirely? It is impossible to know, but the new transmission paradigm offers some hints.
We already know that Covid-19 is quite good at spreading from infected individuals who 1) never develop symptoms, 2) who develop symptoms only later, or 3) are minimally symptomatic. The Indian study reveals that infected hosts vary widely in the number of contacts they infect. A few infected hosts, for reasons unknown, spread the virus widely, while many don't spread it to anyone at all. We already knew (and a prudent President should have known) from the Skagit Chorale incident last March that one person can infect a high percentage of contacts in an indoor venue. What we didn't know until the Indian study (and other smaller studies) is that some 80% of infections occur from super-spreading events.
The Republican Party shameful hubris around testing, masks, and social distancing was on blatant display on national television at the presidential debate held at the Cleveland Clinic last Tuesday, September 29th. The entire Trump retinue walked in to the hall with masks in place and then flouted the rules by removing their masks once they sat down--and then refused to replace them.
What are the implications of the new paradigm? No regimen for testing for Covid-19 can offer ironclad protection. It only takes one asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic super-spreader to upend any gathering--and the upending is all the more likely if the gathering is indoors, not socially distanced, maskless, and/or involves a lot of vocalization. A group can get away with flouting the rules. A group can gain false confidence by doing so and not paying a price, as long as no one in their midst is infected or is infected and is not a spreader. But woe betide them after a super spreader unknowingly participates. (One hopes that Trump, with his incessant interruptions at the debate on last Tuesday, does not prove to be a super spreader himself.)
We see this locally, especially in churches, some of which seem to take flouting safety measures as an article of faith. The Candlelight Christian Fellowship is a glaring example. Another virus cluster was recently reported in Old Town, ID, also in a Fundamentalist Church. (Read in the Bonner County Daily Bee).
The Party of Denial and their most ardent supporters can get away with flouting the best medical advice (See Loren Culp rally, handful out of hundreds wore masks or Idaho high school football game stopped at halftime after dispute involving Ammon Bundy or candidates Rob Chase or Jenny Graham questioning mask wear)--until, like their President, one day their lack of caution is one step too far.
Let's move past this. Send the Republican Party to the wilderness from the November elections.
Keep to the high ground,