Vaccine progress stalling
Vaccine distribution is not going well, and SARS-CoVID-19 is gaining ground
Well, Substack told me this email is “too long”, but I think it’s okay. You may have to click on something to see the entire thing, the end will likely be clipped off.
Don’t forget to click the underlined text! Lots of good stuff just through the hyperlinks.
COVID-19 Vaccines—The how and why
“Didn’t even feel the needle going in, and I thought I’d feel it because it looks like six inches long,” Joseph Enrietti, 95, said.
Enrietti, a resident of Ahmeek, got his first COVID-19 vaccine shot through the Hancock Veterans Affairs Office in mid-January. He’s scheduled for his second dose next week.
“A little sore if you touched it the next day, but if you didn’t touch it, didn’t know I had it,” he said.
He said the VA called him, and he was the second person to get the vaccine there, after a 97-year-old. He said he recommends the shot to anyone who can get it. He said his family in Marquette can’t get an appointment.
Unfortunately, Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla has said COVID-19 is likely here to stay in an interview with Bloomberg this week. New, emerging variants before the vaccine was distributed mean that new vaccines will be needed to be in continual development.
“But also it looks like we have the tools to make Covid like the flu,” he told John Micklethwait. “That means it will not disturb our lives or the economy. We just need to be very vigilant about [tracking new] strains. And we need to be very vigilant about vaccinating people.”
But in Copper Country, those vaccination efforts have now slowed to a crawl. Plans for vaccine distribution have changed several times, and the vaccine supply isn’t increasing, according to Kate Beer—MPA, CFPH, CPA and CGMA.
Two of those designations are certifications in public accounting, MPA is a master’s in public administration, and the CFPH is a certificate in the foundations of public health. She’s worked in different roles in Upper Peninsula health for more than 25 years, and has been the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department’s administrator since October 2014.
“So, for example, this week we got in about 1,000 doses,” Beer said. “And 750 of those doses were second doses.”
That means only 250 more people in WUPHD’s 5-county jurisdiction can receive their first vaccine shot this week, but if the second doses aren’t delivered, the first doses will be wasted.
“We’re hopeful that this next round, we might get a little bit more, because they’re almost done with the long term care facilities,” Beer said.
But the state could decide to allocate those spare doses somewhere else, too.
Beer said the state has changed their allocation strategy several times in response to the supply they’ve been receiving from the federal level. Right now, she said WUPHD doesn’t know how many doses the district will be getting from week to week, which makes scheduling and keeping appointments difficult. Beer said some care providers have had to cancel vaccination clinics because they didn’t get the vaccine they had planned on having.
She also said that care providers are working very hard to verify appointments, because many people are signing up on more than one providers vaccination list.
“We're going to run into where people just aren't going to show up for an appointment slot, because they got it somewhere else,” she said. “And that's, that's what's gonna, you know, kind of gum up the system.”
She asked that people only sign up for one list, or take their names off duplicate lists. That will help make sure no vaccine is wasted in our area.
Tight scheduling is crucial in making sure each dose is responsibly used, too. Each vial of the Moderna vaccine contains six doses of vaccine, but can’t be transported and expires within six hours of opening. If you have six bottles of vaccine, you want to be sure to have 36 arms ready for a shot in that time.
“We've actually had a few no-shows,” Beer said. “So we've had to, you know, we've kind of kept a list of people we can call on.”
This list mainly consists of people previously eligible who missed or turned down their first chance at a shot, or others eligible who might be able to travel to the vaccination site on short notice. Beer said she isn’t front-line essential and has not had her first shot.
Individuals will mostly get their vaccine shots from their regular care provider, but WUPHD has been running vaccine clinics for school staff, first responders, and other smaller, eligible groups. WUPHD advocates for local care providers with the state. For instance, the Pfizer vaccine has to be kept very cold, and in rural areas refridgeration of that level is not readily available. Pelleted dry ice can be used to achieve those temperatures in many areas.
“In the Western U.P., we really don’t have a source for dry ice that does it in the pellet form that’s required,” Beer said.
So most of the vaccines sent here are from Moderna.
“Vaccine hesitancy”, or resistance to taking the vaccine, hasn’t been too much of a problem, but isn’t uncommon, either. Beer said that the goal is at least 70% of the population taking the vaccine, but some groups they’ve scheduled with have had as low as 50% acceptance. She said a lot of people are coming around as distribution continues, though.
“I think there's a lot of, of mistrust around the safety of the vaccine, because nobody's been upfront to say, ‘Hey, we did actually do all the studies that would normally be done, we just did it in a way that compressed the timeline,’” said Dr. Kelly Kamm.
Kamm has a doctorate in epidemiology from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and a master’s degree in microbiology from John Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. She works as assistant professor of kinesiology and integrative physiology at Michigan Technological University. Among her research foci are rural health, hand hygiene, and the social determinants of health.
Johns Hopkins University of Medicine has put together a really great interactive explanation of the accelerated trials process the vaccine went through. I highly recommend checking it out, because I’m not going to try to duplicate it.
A short explanation of the timeline acceleration is that trials are normally done one after another, but in the compressed timeline, they overlapped the phases, and started preparing for the manufacturing process under the assumption it would be successful.
COVID-19 vaccine research wasn’t slowed down much by an ethical issue that slows down other medical research. A “challenge trial” is when a placebo is given to half the participants instead of the preventative being tested, and then all participants are exposed to the disease. Those that catch the disease are then treated.
“You can only do those kinds of studies with things that we can treat, it's completely unethical to do it with a disease that we have no treatment for,” Kamm said.
With no proven treatment for COVID-19, once the trial participants are given a vaccine, researchers have to wait for enough of them to be naturally exposed to do mathematical comparisons.
“You pick a population to run your trial and of people who are already at high risk, because they're going to be more likely to be exposed. And unfortunately, some of them will develop the disease,” Kamm said. “COVID—we have lots of people who are at high risk.”
She said allergic reactions that have been observed since the vaccination of the public began are not a sign that the testing wasn’t thorough, or that the vaccine is unsafe.
“If you have a reaction that occurs, one in a million people—you don't do the phase three trial in a million people,” Kamm said. “So you wouldn't see that reaction until you release it into the public.”
Beer said a handful of reactions have been caught during the vaccination process in the Western U.P.. Providers have been keeping patients under observation for at least fifteen minutes to monitor for a reaction, and keep medication on hand to treat the anaphylactic shock that has been observed.
“And, and we see that with flu too. So you know, even with flu, if you've not had a flu shot before, or you've had any kind of reaction, they won't let you just get the shot and go, they make you sit there,” Kamm said.
Kamm said the idea of herd immunity without vaccines is an impossibility.
“Herd immunity is in terms of vaccines,” she said. “I mean, we really don't talk about it as a public health methodology of letting the disease rampage through the population to develop herd immunity.”
She said trying to do so puts a lot of people at risk of long-term impacts, even if they don’t die.
“And I think we have to remember, we don't know the long term impacts,” Kamm said.
Strokes, long-term breathing trouble, heart weakness and cognitive difficulties have all been reported by people who have ‘recovered’ from COVID-19.
“If you had an infection that led to that, you know, that led to all sorts of systemic inflammation—We don't know if 20 years from now, that's going to be a contributing factor to cardiovascular disease, we have no idea,” Kamm said.
The well-known initial symptom of loss of smell and taste has also been reported to be long-lasting to some.
“The quality of life impact on that is, you know, it's not something to to dismiss lightly,” Kamm said.
She said even those people who initially only showed mild symptoms could have long-term effect that might impact quality or length of life.
Beyond that, Beer said that research is starting to show a person’s immunity after having COVID-19 seems to only last between 90 days and 5 months at the most, which means a person can re-catch COVID-19 several times a year, new variants or not.
“And so this idea to ‘just let it rip’ is, is very problematic in my opinion,” Kamm said.
I’ve got my RevEye on you
I want to introduce you to a tool that can easily be used to debunk falsehoods on the internet. I use it frequently.
Here’s an example of how it can be useful.
I found this meme on Twitter.
Now, if you know anything about the plastic straw initiative in California, homelessness, or humor, you know this is a bad meme without doing any fact-checking. But as a reporter, I want to find the proper context for this image, because it obviously has nothing to do with plastic straws. So where is it from?
An image search is probably the easiest way to find out. With RevEye installed on my browser, all I need to do is right-click on it, and select “Reverse image search.”
Selecting “All search engines” pulls up a tab for each of the options below. You can choose your favorite, but I usually check all of them. Each one is a search engine capable of accepting an image as a search parameter. Now that I have four new tabs, I can go to each of them and see what comes up.
Google Images mostly turns up the same meme and places it has been posted, like the Facebook group “You Can’t Dump the Trump”.
Bing turned up a lot of similar images from across the internet, mostly homeless camps and slums.
TinEye showed a lot of places on Twitter and Imgur where the exact same image was shared. It’s one way of seeing who might be sharing the image in question, and how they’ve each been labeling it. One place I found it was a deleted account. People responding were addressing former President Donald Trump.
In this case, Yandex brought me the best information, though. The second result on the page was a link to this article.
Not only is there the name of the person claiming to be the original image’s photographer, but there’s a full article below the gallery of images. It’s from a student-run newspaper in California.
Residents of tents and other temporary shelters found themselves on the streets once again, after the City of Oakland evicted the homeless encampment formerly located at the corner of East 12th Street and 23rd Avenue over the course of two weeks starting Jan. 31.
The City planned to relocate the estimated 39 residents from this encampment to the Community Cabins, or “Tuff Sheds,” located at 1449 Miller Ave., said Joe DeVries, Oakland’s assistant to the city administrator and chief privacy officer.
However, Needa Bee, an organizer in Oakland’s homeless advocacy group, The Village, said that the number of people at the location was actually at least 56 and as high as 70 at times and, consequently, there were not enough shelters for everyone displaced.
Someone decided this was a good time for a crack about plastic straws, but I find it decidedly unfunny.
If you aren’t using Chrome or Firefox, or you don’t want to install an extension, you can always just bookmark Google Images, Bing, Yandex and TinEye, and upload the images or image URL individually. I prefer the shortcut of RevEye.
Other things this technique is useful for:
Uncovering false profiles by discovering the true source of the profile photo
Exposing “fake news” by revealing the story the original photo is from
Unveiling edited photos as fakes by finding the original
Finding out who shared an image to social media
Verifying the original date or owner of a photograph
Finding similar photos for use in media projects
This is one of the primary tools for uncovering lies on social media, and it’s relatively easy to use, too. But practice makes perfect!
Editorial - This isn’t about indoor dining
I haven’t managed to get anything together out of the Café Rosetta documents yet, but when I was browsing them, I did find this passage that I really wanted to share immediately.
You can inspect the court documents for yourself on my Patreon page. The post is now public. This passage is quoted in the motion from January 6, 2021.
But the liberty secured by the Constitution of the United States to every person within its jurisdiction does not import an absolute right in each person to be, at all times and in all circumstances, wholly freed from restraint. There are manifold restraints to which every person is necessarily subject for the common good. On any other basis, organized society could not exist with safety to its members. Society based on the rule that each one is a law unto himself would soon be confronted with disorder and anarchy. Real liberty for all could not exist under the operation of a principle which recognizes the right of each individual person to use his own, whether in respect of his person or his property, regardless of the injury that may be done to others. This court has more than once recognized it as a fundamental principle that
"persons and property are subjected to all kinds of restraints and burdens, in order to secure the general comfort, health, and prosperity of the State, of the perfect right of the legislature to do which no question ever was, or upon acknowledged general principles ever can be, made so far as natural persons are concerned."
Railroad Co. v. Husen,95 U. S. 465, 95 U. S. 471; Missouri, Kansas & Texas Ry. Co. v. Haber,169 U. S. 613, 169 U. S. 628, 169 U. S. 629; Thorpe v. Rutland & Burlington R.R., 27 Vermont 140, 148. In Crowley v. Christensen,137 U. S. 86, 137 U. S. 89, we said:
"The possession and enjoyment of all rights are subject to such reasonable conditions as may be deemed by the governing authority of the country essential to the safety, health, peace, good order and morals of the community. Even liberty itself, the greatest of all rights, is not unrestricted license to act according to one's own will. It is only freedom from restraint under conditions essential to the equal enjoyment of the same right by others. It is then liberty regulated by law."
This case was over a mandatory vaccination program. The court’s decision, in favor of Massachusetts, spawned a nationwide anti-vaccination movement. It didn’t change much.
Café Rosetta is going to lose in court because, simply put, they have no case, and they know it. This is why they have instead used their legal fund money for a PR campaign of intimidation against the locals who would enforce due process on them.
Tanya Rule no longer has a social media presence because she fears attacks exactly like this. She has been terrorized into silence, and no longer has a voice to defend herself.
Sheriff Brian McLean was faced with hundreds of people, many of them armed and clearly willing to flout the law, who “thanked him” for not causing trouble for them. How is this not intimidation of law enforcement?
Café Rosetta’s “peaceful protest” has become decidedly uncivil. We are in the grip of extremism, and it’s time to demand the protection of the law we have been promised.
Open Meetings Act violation in Houghton County
Here’s the recording of the Jan. 29 meeting of the Houghton County Board with Senator Ed McBroom and Representative Greg Markkanen. (The transcript is automatically generated and FAR from 100% correct, but serves as a way of finding what you want to listen to more easily, like an index for the recording.)
In attendance were Al Koskela, Tom Tikkanen, Gretchen Jannsen, Glenn Anderson, and Roy Britz, all five commissioners.
While no quorum was called, it doesn’t need to be for this to have been considered a public meeting.
Page one of the Open Meetings Act. A quorum was present, according to the recording, in which each of the commissioners introduces themselves.
Robert’s Rules of Order, which many legislative bodies use to conduct business in an orderly manner—despite potential controversy among the members—is not part of Michigan law. Those rules are adopted voluntarily by the legislative body. Not calling a quorum under Robert’s Rules doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist under law, or exempt the body from following the Open Meetings Act.
While the county commissioners did not make any decision, they certainly spoke on matters of recent resolutions. The meeting lasted an hour and fifteen minutes and the agenda covered items from DNR funding for the trail system to reopening ice rinks and bars.
Page two. And the county board is not listed in the exceptions in sections 7 and 8.
The Open Meetings Act requires public comment be allowed under these circumstances, but there was none asked for.
Senator McBroom and Representative Markkanen said they had other appointments, and the Zoom video call was ended.
But those in attendance probably saw that coming, based on the agenda-
McBroom and Markkanen, not being part of the public body in question, were free to reach their next appointments. But under the Open Meetings Act, the commissioners should have stayed to take comment.
And none of this even gets into the problematic way that public notice of Friday’s meeting was given.
Violating the Open Meetings act is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $1,000.
Page seven. If members of the board of commissioners want to avoid those fines, they should become more familiar with the Open Meetings Act now.
These are articles (and a couple podcasts) I’ve found that I thought should be shared. None of the work is my own, but it comes from colleagues and organizations that I find generally trustworthy, or am personally a member of. These articles are not sponsored, but they are endorsed. Click on the headline to be taken to the story.
“A group of a few dozen men … associated with the white supremacist group Patriot Front were seen marching on the National Mall towards the Capitol Friday morning.”
Biden swore in on a Douay-Rheims Bible, ICE still detains immigrants, COVID is real, Buffet doesn’t care about Keystone and Gates didn’t say three billion must die.
Michigan Launch Initiative has selected a site at the Chippewa County International Airport at the potential future site of the command and control center.
Luckily, ‘On The Media’ rescued me with a mid-week podcast demystifying it, with writer James Surowiecki, formerly of “The Financial Page” in The New Yorker.
Nobody will say why, despite Gov. Whitmer being pressed about it repeatedly. Although we are reminded of the unique pressures of working in government now. I’d like to point out that brandishing a firearm does not solely mean pointing it.
Open to the public, “Hijacking the American Conversation” with Andrew Marantz, and author of Anti-social: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation takes place Wednesday night, on Zoom. Registration required.
As a reporter, I try to be impartial, but I also see myself as a defender of democracy (small ‘d’) in America, and in Michigan. So no, I won’t just let it go.
9&10 News is not one of my trusted sources, but the DNR didn’t publish their news release, they only sent it out via email, and I didn’t want to dump the entire thing here. The information in this post is accurate, I checked against the press release.
“Federal authorities have arrested a Wixom man… accused of attacking officers near an entrance to the Capitol during a violent clash caught on camera.”
Ty Garbin, 25, gave a detailed description of his part in the failed operation as part of his plea agreement. There are boats, IEDs, test runs and practice shacks involved.
GOP demands negotiations, but won’t commit to any compromise. Whitmer told reporters GOP leaders haven’t shown up to COVID-19 data modeling sessions.
The group formed to work on the nonprofit will meet for the first time this week! I’ll write a brief report of our discussion for next week’s Late Edition.
My Patreon campaign has gone better than I hoped, thank you so much to everyone who has contributed! I’m confident I won’t need to take more hours now, and I’m laying out some plans for the coming weeks with the confidence I’ll be able to follow-through on them. I’m hoping to bring occasional guest writers into Late Edition soon, to diversify the voices you hear from each week. Let me know if you know someone in the area you consider to be a talented writer.
Nobody asked any questions about me, so I’m guessing you’ve all heard enough. :) Fine by me.
Have a great week! There’s a lot of dark news out there, but keeping our chins up and smeyes ready will see us through more than you might think. I believe in you.