Thursday, September 23, 2021


I'm not ready to believe this yet, but maybe it will happen:
Americans may be able to breathe a tentative sigh of relief soon, according to researchers studying the trajectory of the pandemic.

The delta surge appears to be peaking nationally, and cases and deaths will likely decline steadily now through the spring without a significant winter surge, according to a new analysis shared with NPR by a consortium of researchers advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For its latest update, which it released Wednesday, the COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub combined nine different mathematical models from different research groups to get an outlook for the pandemic for the next six months....

The most likely scenario ... is that children do get vaccinated and no super-spreading variant emerges. In that case, the combo model forecasts that new infections would slowly, but fairly continuously, drop from about 140,000 today now to about 9,000 a day by March.

Deaths from COVID-19 would fall from about 1,500 a day now to fewer than 100 a day by March 2022.
A hundred deaths a day! That's an annual rate of 36,500 a year, similar to the annual death toll from the flu. That would be a remarkable improvement, all because, the modelers tell us, so many of us will have a degree of immunity from vaccination, previous infection, or both.

This scenario assumes a degree of childhood vaccination that approximates the level of teen vaccination in America. (Half of 12- to 17-year olds had at least one vaccine dose as of late August.) That's possible. We might avoid bad new variants, and maybe we'll avoid new surges, even if case numbers decline and people respond by relaxing their vigilance.

If all this happens, the president and Democrats ought to take a victory lap. Stressing vaccines and other public safety measures worked. We won. COVID lost.

But the right has a head start. The right is already taking credit for the fact that the Southern surge seems to have passed its peak. Here's an editorial from the right-wing site Issues & Insights:
Biden’s Vaccine Browbeating Backfires ... But COVID Rates Fall Anyway

... The Delta surge appears to have already peaked and is on the decline in many states, including those with the lowest vaccination rates....

In Florida, which Biden repeatedly bashes for not kowtowing to his wishes, the number of daily new COVID cases has been in decline for the past 30 days. In Texas, another state that raises Biden’s ire, the number of new cases appears to have peaked.

Rates of new cases have been in decline in Mississippi, a state where less than 42% are fully vaccinated, and Georgia, where less than 44% are vaccinated.

But the number of new cases is on the rise in Vermont and Maine, which have the highest and second-highest vaccination rates in the nation (69% and 67% are fully vaccinated, respectively, in those two states).
The fourteen-day average of cases per 100,000 in Vermont and Maine is 34; it's 42 in Florida, 44 in Texas, 46 in Georgia, and 52 in Mississippi. There might be increases in the New England states and decreases in the Southern states, but they're relative to extraordinarily high numbers down South and much lower numbers in the Northeast. And the hospitalization and death rates in the New England states are much lower, which suggests that the cases in New England are milder on average.

But the right is ready to pounce on any good news and memory-hole all the bad things that happened before. If you're asking yourself, What the hell are Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott thinking?, this is what they're thinking: By election season 2022, COVID will probably be in a sharp decline and they can say they did the right things all along -- regardless of how many people suffered and died in their states.

They'll claim they did the right things and President Biden did the wrong things. They'll say masks didn't work and lockdowns didn't work and freedom worked. They'll shout this from the rafters.

What will the president and other Democrats do? They'd better do some shouting themselves. They'd better be ready to start taking credit as soon as there's good news to take credit for. They should take credit even for lucky breaks they couldn't control -- because Republicans certainly will.

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