With family get togethers during the holidays, it is best to check in, and check on family, friends, neighbors, and others. Take reasonable medical safety precautions, as advised by the CDC, public health departments, and medical professionals. Listen to the experts, not just the opinionated. (Everyone has an opinion, but not everyone is an expert).
Get your Covid vaccines, if you have not done so. Get your Cover booster, if due. Wear good quality face masks in busy places. Maintain social distancing and be patient. Frequent hand washing is a sound health practice, always. This is the “new normal” and it is time to gracefully accept common sense precautions to protect others, as you would want your family and yourself to be protected. The science can be confusing and is admittedly subject to change with time and evidence. One fact, However, that has been repeatedly supported by the evidence is that the vaccines keep most people from the most serious of outcomes and consequences of Covid and the Covid variants. Get tested with known exposure, with or without the vaccine, and, with or without Covid symptoms. Hopefully, free testing kits will soon become available. If America wants to Build Back Better, free at home testing should be readily available. Celebrate the victories and try not to be too distressed by the failures. Happy Holidays… in whichever holiday tradition gives you comfort, peace, and joy. Maintain your sense of humor. Honor your family and your family traditions. Be kind.
Thank you for reading my blog. Your feedback and stories are welcome.
The New England Journal of Medicine published an article presenting preliminary findings about the risks of the mRNA type COVID vaccines before or during pregnancy. The findings evaluated the data obtained through the adverse effects reporting multiple data collection systems: VAERS, v-safe, and the v-safe pregnancy registry. VAERS, www.vaers.hhs.gov, tracks the side effects and outcomes following the COVID vaccinations. The preliminary results indicate that the risk of the mRNA vaccines, (Moderna and Pfizer), during pregnancy, do not outweigh the risks of COVID 19, itself. See study abstract.
Generally speaking the COVID vaccine is strongly encouraged for everyone over age 16. Please note that this article is discussing the mRNA type (two dose) vaccines that are currently being given in the United States, (Moderna and Pfizer). This particular study does not include the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Further research available at www.nejm.org.
Always consult your own physician who will consider your personal health history and risk factors that should weigh in to your medical decisions including the decision whether to get the vaccine.
The success of the Covid vaccine is attributing to societal normalization in the USA. Every person who can get the vaccine, makes it safer for those who can not. Hospitalizations and deaths are decreasing significantly in older, medically compromised populations, in part, because they have received the vaccine in high numbers. Research indicates that the vaccine diminishes spread. Let’s make sure the next preventable Covid wave doesn’t generate a tsunami of pediatric cases or others genuinely unable to receive the vaccine. Global containment begins at home.
Lives lost to COVID-19 in the US, as recorded by Johns Hopkins University, are about equivalent to the population of Kansas City, (Missouri) or Sacramento, California.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. topped 500,000 Monday, all but matching the number of Americans killed in World War II, Korea and Vietnam combined.
The good news: What you do matters. Help is arriving…
Common question: What COVID-19 vaccines are available in the US?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given emergency use authorization for two COVID-19 vaccines, the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. A vaccine might prevent you from getting COVID-19 or from becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 if you get the COVID-19 virus. A third vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is in the approval process for emergency use authorization and will soon become available. The vaccine from Johnson & Johnson vaccine has the dual advantage of not requiring sub zero storage and requiring a single dose. As research continues and new variants identified, booster shots or vaccine changes may be required to acquire efficacy and immunity.
Trending locally in Kitsap County, Washington:
All counties in Washington state have now been advanced to PHASE 2 by Governor Inslee. This has allowed businesses and schools to inch incrementally toward normalization. In Kitsap County, children in the youngest grades have been attending school and older grade school children have just returned to school on Feb 22nd. Strict but reasonable precautions have facilitated reopening schools. Children and staff wear face masks indoors, distancing is provided between desks, number of children in a classroom at one time is limited. Face mask breaks are scheduled to allow students to have snacks outside. Parents and guardians attest to their students being symptom free, (as evidenced by absence of fever, COVID-19 symptoms), to assess exposure risk).
If you have already had the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the recommendation is that you can expect good immunity response after 10 – 14 days after the second dose. The current recommendations suggests, after vaccination, it still may be possible to carry virus and silently spread to unvaccinated. It will be important to continue precautions, of wearing face mask, continuing to maintain social distancing, and frequent hand washing to protect yourself and others for this reason after your vaccination.
It is noteworthy that COVID-19 precautions have also had the benefit of lowering the incidence of other viral infections, such as influenza. Measures, like virtual meetings, working from home and participation in online forums have become familiar and commonplace. It will make sense to continue these post pandemic practices.
Trending in SEATTLE / King County, Washington
(Reported by KOMO) State and local health officials announced Tuesday that a variant of COVID-19, similar to what was found in South Africa, has been detected in King County, adding to the urgency to increase vaccinations in the region to halt spread of the virus and its effects. The variant, initially identified in South Africa, was identified Monday through genomic sequencing at the University of Washington Medicine Virology Laboratory, according to a written statement released by the Washington State Health Department.
There are two widely known variants so far, according to health officials:
B.1.351, was originally identified in South Africa in December and has been found in ten states in the U.S. At this point, it is not known to cause more severe disease and it is not clear whether it spreads more readily than other strains, state health officials said.
B.1.1.7 strain, first identified in the UK, seems to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19.
State and local health officials said the discovery of the B.1.351 variant poses a new challenge for Washington.
“The detection of these COVID-19 variants in our state reminds us that this pandemic is not over,” said acting State Health Officer Scott Lindquist. “Despite the decrease in our case count, we are very concerned about the emergence of these variants and how it will affect future case counts. As a community, we need to re-double our efforts to prevent the spread of this virus and its variants by following public health guidance.”
If you do not have internet or need help registering for your vaccine: Call 360-728-2219 (English) or 360-728-2218 (Spanish)
COVID-19 Risks versus benefits:
So you got your vaccine, what now?
After you are vaccinated: Remember to continue wearing face masks, frequent hand washing and maintain social distancing to protect the unvaccinated. Follow the science and the science based facts. Adhere to advice by CDC, Health Departments and other trusted medical professionals.
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Today, (Jan 22, 2021), marks the first anniversary of the first diagnosed case of the novel corona virus – COVID 19 – in the US, after being first diagnosed in Washington state.
The news had been reported about the outbreak in China and pandemic experts were concerned and monitoring for potential outbreaks in the US and around the globe. Researchers and experts in China had identified the new virus and shared genome information to other countries to jumpstart international research and vaccine development.
I was working at a Long Term Care Nursing facility and we were dealing with an influenza outbreak. Staff was concerned how the facility would manage, how we would get testing to rule out COVID, whether we had adequate PPE, whether we would have staff shortages, and what we would need to do to protect residents and staff. Residents had to stay in their rooms. Common areas, including dining rooms, were closed. Visitors were not allowed. Temperatures were monitored. Anxiety and stress were prevalent as residents and staff became sick. Some succumbed. It was a prelude to the reality of the pandemic.
A year later, the question of whether to get the vaccine for Covid has been answered. Unless you have a history of severe allergic reactions to vaccines, you should get the vaccine when eligible, unless your medical provider, considering your health history, recommends otherwise.
Trump called it a hoax and wearing a mask risked signaling political overtones. However, newly elected President Biden has now confirmed what most of us already knew. It was NOT a hoax. As President Biden stated “We are in a war-time effort against Covid.”
It took a change of leadership. It took research and manufacturing new vaccines and treatments. It took creating diagnostic tools and procedures. It took curtailing fake news, so the public could separate fact from fiction. Four hundred thousand (400,000) Americans have died because of COVID in the last year (probably more than that, considering the limited testing). COVID is contagious and it can mutate. It may be next fall before 70 – 85% of people have been vaccinated and herd immunity attained per Dr Fauci.
There are ways to mitigate spread. Wear face-masks, do frequent hand washing, maintain social distancing, and avoid crowds. For further info check: https://www.cdc.gov
Proactively watch for opportunities to get your COVID vaccine. President Biden’s goal is 100 million COVID vaccines in 100 days. In Washington state, each county is organizing vaccine clinics. Presumingly, each state is doing the same. Public / private enterprises are partnering and announcing plans to provide pop up COVID vaccine clinics, like the one organized by Virginia Mason and Amazon. That event plans to provide 2,000 COVID vaccinations in Seattle, Washington, this weekend.
If you are over age 65, you are eligible to receive a vaccine. Let your provider know that you want to get a vaccine and make your appointment. New vaccine opportunities are popping up all the time. Make getting your vaccine a priority and git ‘er done! By the way, my vaccine didn’t hurt a bit and I am feeling fine! For further information contact https://www.doh.wa.gov or your local health department.
A recent article published July 13, 2020 in the Kitsap Sun written by Nathan Pilling, discussed the SBA (Small Business Administration) Payment Protection Program and the potential impacts of the emergency small business loans received in Kitsap County, Washington.
I think it is important to evaluate how our tax dollars are being spent as our country tries to balance the intertwined crises of the economy and the pandemic.
As the coronavirus pandemic’s economic impact came into sharp focus, hundreds of businesses, trusts, churches and nonprofits in Kitsap and North Mason counties were approved for emergency small business loans backed by the federal government, databases released on July 6 by the U.S. Small Business Administration show.
Among the largest recipients of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans in the region: Kitsap Mental Health Services in Bremerton and Taylor Shellfish Company in Shelton, which were both approved for distributions of between $5 million and $10 million.
In the SBA release last week, approved distributions of more than $150,000 are reported in ranges and those under that line are identified without names, by business or organization type. Many, but not all, list how many jobs the funds would help to retain.
Funds were designed to help businesses retain at least 3,300 jobs in the region, according to those databases.
Kitsap Mental Health CEO Joe Roszak said his organization received a $6.1 million distribution and that the vast majority of the money went to payroll. A final chunk of about $100,000 will be gone within the next week or two, he said.
“Individuals who were requiring services who refused to come in for service because they were fearful for their health and the health of others, it pretty much significantly impacted our operation’s ability to deliver services and revenue,” he said. “The PPP, I know, was really essential to stabilizing our operations and allowed continuance of many of our services, and for that we’re grateful,” he said.
On Bainbridge Island, the environmental education center IslandWood received about $1 million, which allowed the nonprofit to bring back staff it had furloughed as events like retreats and school visits were canceled and other funding had dried up, CEO Megan Karch said. About 60% of the center’s typical staffing level of 100 people had been furloughed, but many were able to come back to work with the funding on redesigning education programs that could go online, she said. IslandWood was transparent with staff that it was highly likely that they would be brought back only for a temporary period, and as the center recently finished off the pot of money, it had had to re-furlough employees and is now back down to about 35 staffers, Karch said. She anticipated about 70% of the loan her organization received would be forgivable. “The environmental education industry is at great risk, frankly,” she said. “The Paycheck Protection Program money is a step in the right direction.”
All of us have been profoundly effected by the reality of living in a pandemic. Elizabeth, my daughter provided a guest post of how this has effected her situation living in Seattle.
My husband, our dog, and I live in 640 square feet- one-bedroom condominium in a busy, but residential Seattle neighborhood. My husband has been working in our living room since early March. As King County’s Covid-19 numbers fluctuate, we do not know when he will return to his office. My office has always been in our bedroom closet. We both take care to not step in video meetings and conference calls. And my husband takes special care to be quiet when I record a podcast. Thankfully, we have a patio which gives us a chance to shout hello to our neighbors in their patios and I planted our puppy a little garden so she could lie on plants between trips to the park. Still sometimes it feels tight. There is always another mess to clean, another meal to prepare with both of us home. Still, with so many unemployed or struggling for any number of reasons, we are lucky.
I wander between sadness and feeling lucky that I don’t have to choose my health over work
For myself, and many Seattleites, Covid-19 is a real threat. It doesn’t matter if we, personally, are not in a vulnerable population. Too many of us knew the butcher from the next neighborhood over who died of Covid19 in March. There was a favorite local restaurateur who, along with her husband, died from Covid19. A month ago, we were sent a courtesy message when someone in the next building contracted the disease. Due to privacy concerns, we don’t know who it was or what happened to them. Hopefully, they recovered.
We wear non-medical cloth masks within our building. There is no more small talk in the elevators because we ride elevators alone or take the stairs. We duck into alcoves so people can pass us in the corridors. There is always the noise of other people, but we rarely see anyone.
In public, we wear masks as we try to watch the cues, ropes, or tape marks on the floors to remain distant. Anger simmers under the surface due to long lines or out of stock items. I have heard people curse at masked store clerks standing behind acrylic barriers. Most often, the next person in line says please after every sentence along with several thank yous as if they might negate the harm.
When I am running multiple errands, I use hand sanitizer between stops. Many stores have set up temporary handwash stations at the front door. I always use them. I stopped taking the bus, I drive if I have to go somewhere not within walking distance.
Though legally not required to wear a mask outside, most sidewalks are too narrow to pass without entering another person’s space, so I do. I wish others would. I put an extension on my dog’s leash so she may say hello to other dogs at the parks, keeping the other dog owners and me at least 12 feet away from each other. I even wear a mask to grab our weekly takeout dinner from a Doordash driver. Only people who want their dinner stolen from the front stoop would say yes to a no-contact delivery.
I also wash my hands as soon as I return home. After all, I have touched door handles, hit buttons. that others touched. And most often change my clothing unless I am returning outside.
Though I have mostly avoided crowds, I have been to a few Black Lives Matter rallies and marches. The goal to end police brutality and eradicate systematic racism is worth the risk of joining the crowd. It goes without saying, I wore a mask. However, the organizers also gave away masks, face shields, and hand sanitizer. At one event, it was pouring. My umbrella helped people to stay even further from me.
Yes, wearing a mask can be uncomfortable. My face gets hot, walking in sunny weather. Stepping inside from the wind or rain always causes my glasses to fog, but it doesn’t matter. We wear masks to protect each other.
It doesn’t matter that Washington State is opening up: I live near people with Covid. There is no way to know who is infected, so I won’t visit my family. I won’t chance bringing unknown germs to my grandmother, my parents, or siblings or their children. My writing group meets via Zoom.
Still, the Seattle Freeze has shifted somewhat in the pandemic. While there is the constant stress of other people, most people have seemed friendlier on their daily walks. Some of this is forced since we cannot see each other’s facial expressions. Hellos have become in a higher, affable pitch. There are nods when people pass each other. When we do stop the chance to talk, there is talk of our dogs, of course. And afterwards there is talk of a better, kinder, more equitable future after the pandemic passes.
Elizabeth Guizzetti is Sheila’s eldest daughter and lives in Seattle with her husband and dog. She is an author, illustrator, and podcaster—though more regularly writes about vampires and aliens rather than real life. You can find her work at http://elizabethguizzetti.com