In the morning thread, there was some discussion about finding safety levels that work for us as individuals during a pandemic that is seemingly unending. I follow the CDC guidelines, recognizing that the CDC is not infallible but trusting that during a Democratic administration, they probably aren’t manipulating and/or hiding data for political gain. I don’t trust my state government on that, and the top story in the current Tampa Bay Times tells me I’m right not to:
For 105 days this summer, while COVID-19 deaths soared across the state, Floridians had no idea how many of their neighbors were dying.
The Florida Department of Health knows how many people are dying in each county, but stopped telling the public on June 4. That’s when state officials stopped releasing daily pandemic data, switched to weekly reports and started withholding data once available to the public…
This occurred right around when Florida became the epicenter of the delta variant outbreak, and it was 100% to shield Governor Ron DeSantis from the political consequences of his catastrophic decision to politicize the pandemic to pander to the Trumpist kooks. The governor’s press secretary, Christina Pushaw, is a Dollar Store-brand Kellyanne Conway who puts out statements that would make Kim Jong-un’s state-appointed flatterers cringe with vicarious shame. She announced the data stoppage on June 3:
“COVID-19 cases have significantly decreased over the past year as we have a less than 5 percent positivity rate, and our state is returning to normal, with vaccines widely available throughout Florida.”
The delta variant hit the state hard, with the pandemic ultimately killing 1 of every 400 Floridians who were alive in March of 2020, with many more dying this year even though vaccines were widely available and free to recipients.* It’s entirely possible more people failed to protect themselves in hard-hit counties because Florida hid data to create a false sense of security.
The COVID dashboards at the county level went dark in June, so it wasn’t possible to track local positivity rates. Common sense told my husband and me that the redder the county, the greater the risk of infection, so after a joyous but brief interlude of mask-free normal, we followed the CDC recommendation to mask up indoors again and chose to hunker down as much as possible this summer to ride out delta. The Tampa Bay Times report says that was the right move:
The data reveals how deadly the latest COVID wave has been in two of the region’s smallest, most rural counties: Citrus and Hernando rank third and fourth in deaths per 100,000 residents since June 5.
It will be impossible to total up a butcher’s bill with 100% accuracy, but the high hospitalization and death toll in states with Trumpy Republican governors like Florida as compared to states like California is obviously due to Republicans politicizing mitigation measures, including masks. I wish I were confident they will pay a political price for their monstrous indifference to public health, but I’m not.
Anyhoo, the delta variant is declining fast here, so it’ll be time to seek a new comfort level soon. I’ll keep following the CDC guidelines on masks but may feel safer in crowds outdoors in the weeks ahead. There are a lot of trade-offs to think about. I expect comfort zones will be different for everyone.
*Edited for accuracy because my stats were off.