Friday, August 12, 2022

Who Benefits?


Some time ago, I read an excellent book by Michael Lewis called The Premonition: A Pandemic Story. In it, the author follows a group of dedicated researchers and a public health officer who fearlessly follow the science of the emerging pandemic, frequently facing obstructions and even threats to their very careers. Their heroism stands in sharp contrast to the careerists who lead entities like the Centers for Disease Control, utterly failing to fulfill their mandate of protecting and keeping the public adequately informed on the emerging virus. To say that such people are political whores is the gentlest way to describe them.

I was therefore not entirely surprised that the CDC has now loosened its guidelines around COVID-19. Here are some of them, with emphasis added:

The changes shift much of the responsibility for risk reduction from institutions to individuals. The C.D.C. no longer recommends that people stay six feet away from others. Instead, it notes that avoiding crowded areas and maintaining a distance from others are strategies that people may want to consider in order to reduce their risk.

People who are exposed to the virus no longer must quarantine at home regardless of their vaccination status, although they should wear a mask for 10 days and get tested for the virus on Day 5, according to the new guidelines. Contact tracing and routine surveillance testing of people without symptoms are no longer recommended in most settings. 

...the guidelines note that schools may want to consider surveillance testing in certain scenarios, such as for when students are returning from school breaks or for those who are participating in contact sports.

Unvaccinated students who are exposed to the virus will no longer need to test frequently in order to remain in the classroom, an approach known as “test to stay.” The C.D.C. no longer recommends a practice known as cohorting, in which schools divide students into smaller groups and limit contact between them to reduce the risk of viral transmission. 

Not everyone is onboard with the new guidelines: 

Dr. Saskia Popescu took issue with the CDC removing the quarantine recommendation for those who have been exposed, particularly those unvaccinated. She also questioned the feasibility of people wearing masks in small offices where they will have to take them off for eating and drinking.

Additionally, Popescu said discouraging routine testing ignores the "high levels of asymptomatic cases."

"We should be providing people the resources to stay home if they're exposed, especially if unvaccinated and [without] vaccine-induced protection, not doing away with the quarantine guidance [altogether]," Popescu said.

Dr. Judy Stone called the CDC's guidelines "capitulation" in a tweet.

"What would be welcome to me and many others would be masking until rates are down and a focus on improving ventilation," she said. "Immunocompromised/elderly people have been devalued and discarded."

So, as I often ask about suspicious actions and decisions, "Who benefits?" 

Clearly, those disruptive elements of society who have made a fetish of their opposition to masks and mandates benefit. But if appeasement of such people is part of the motivation here, they will surely be on about something else in short order.

Perhaps the biggest winners are to be found in the world of commerce. The past two years have been admittedly very difficult, with shut-downs, staff absences, etc. But, as Rick Salutin has asked on more than one occasion, "Does the economy exist to serve us, or do we exist to serve the economy?

The new guidelines also serve to weaken calls by workers to provide more sick days, another cost to business, along with the expenses of  hiring temps in many instances. The strongest suggestion in the guidelines is that people who test positive should stay at home for five days. 

As well, the new CDC direction pays no heed to the dangers of long-Covid. If anything, they will facilitate the spread of a virus about whose long-term effects we still really understand little.

Ultimately, everything is up to the individual in the new guidelines. And if the past two years have taught us anything at all, it is that individuals, and groups of individuals, make some pretty poor, even dangerous, choices.


  1. I’ll stay somewhat brief with this comment, most certainly will return after organizing thoughts in ideally, a useful manner ! The book MUST BE READ ! Both of us here, Boss & I.. have read it & very carefully.. We immediately moved it on to my son & his wife.

    FYI - They & their 1 yr old returned from a week in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in early August this year - tested at home due to obvious symptoms - all were Positive Covid - Boss & I will essentially emulate their pathway this Saturday Aug 20 but to Turks & Caicos

    They did Limo to Airport, 3 hours before flight, the usual Airport Terminal stages albeit ‘babe in arms’ to head of lineups etc, Security etc, boarded, flew - landed - went through Customs/Immigration then took cab van to their Air B & B with pool, mere steps to the beach, bought needed groceries/beer etc locally, had wonderful time, and returned by cab I assume, so again - in the Terminal time, board, fly, land, Canadian Customs/Immigration, & limo home to Toronto

    My question ‘for the ages’ is - Where did at least one of them ingest a Viral Load or Cumulative Loads & thus become infected & no doubt contagious ? Where/When ? His guess is she ‘picked up the infection’ at one of her solo trips to get groceries.. I assume it was walking distance..

    The difference for us.. upcoming.. is pretty minuscule
    We will only be indoors at the Club Med Turkoise resort when we’re showering, sleeping or engaging in wild sex in private !

    Yes.. we tend to find ourselves a popular couple for the staff or other guests to join at our usual table at Sharkies.. we’ve been to this CLUB med 6 times & mainly for the walk-in snorkelling & convenience plus stunning Hospitality. We know from other trips to Turks we spend as much going non-inclusive re Accommodations & Dining Out ! So Sharkies - a large outdoor bar/deck, light grill items, even breakfast, fruit smoothies, great view of Grace Bay 200’ of sand away, hobie kats, kayaks, barracuda, parrot fish.. you name it. We never hang at the main outdoor bar Blue Coral though it’s essentially ‘outdoors’ but is under a high roof

    All meals are self serve buffet in the connected main area, where outdoor deck seating rings the entire sprawling & exquisite central buffet building.. so yes .. serving ourselves at the buffet ‘counts’ as PER what I call ‘ENCLOSED SPACES’ where Covid Load accumulates. Even Check-In is the same .. a roof over it, but that’s all

    Hell, a limo for a 30 minute ride ‘COUNTS TOO ! Or taking TTC subway & bus to the airport. So does 20 minutes in a Mexican grocery store ! Or sitting in Pre-Boarding areas for 2 hours after 1 hour in a terminal lined up for check-in.. & what about 2 of us sitting in an aircraft for 5 hours (note: rows of 3 eh ! - and we’ll do that twice, coming/going)

    What will be ‘Our mistake or presumption’.. ideally our Masking discipline in the obvious risky ‘ENCLOSED SPACES will work. Boss is one of the most active, bright, vital & disciplined people I’ve ever met.. I’m also highly active, extremely vulnerable, undisciplined people I’ve ever met.. in many ways.. but not all ways.. though ‘I do come through fire’

    🦎 the salamander

    1. Have a great time, Sal. Masking, to me, seems the most important and simplest safeguard. We practised it both on our flight to, and during our recent visit to, Newfoundland, even though masking indoors among people was as sporadic there as it is here. Any time we went indoors were times when the masks were donned.

      About two weeks after our visit, our daughter-in-law got Covid, but she thinks it was from the office where she works, where masking is not all that diligently practised.

      All we can do is take sensible precautions in both our everyday lives and in our travels, and hope for the best.