Hey, so something came up at synagogue board meeting today, and really important as many people know this as possible:
COVID is NOT getting less dangerous as it mutates. In fact, some new varieties are much more dangerous than the original.
COVID is just as -- if not more -- dangerous now as it was at the start of the epidemic. People who do not have access to vaccines, who are immunocompromised, who work in customer-facing positions, etc, are still at high risk.
Further, you can NOT trust COVID case numbers. Case numbers are going to be lower than the reality both because of the people who don't get tested, and the people who self-test at home and don't report their infection to doctors or health authorities.
If you want to know how bad things are in your area, hospital admissions will give you better info.
Right now, my area is reporting low infections, but medium-high admissions. The risk here is NOT low.
@jessmahler in my country (UK) the test reporting website has been intermittently broken (as if the resources behind it have been scaled down) so a load of positive tests definitely are not being reported, and this has been going on for a couple of months..
@jessmahler yep, hospital admissions is absolutely the number to watch. it also shows if the hospital system is too overloaded to provide sufficient care for people who suffer complications
@jessmahler also perhaps interesting perspective from a fellow board member (a hackerspace in my case), what we settled on now wrt covid precations is watching a 7 day average of the hospital admissions, if it's below 50 we don't mandate masks, when it goes above 75 we do again (for some hysteresis). Maybe not perfect but the country dropped *any* mask stuff many months ago so glad we're at least still doing something..
oh and we improved the ventilation a lot, using various co2 meters as proxy variables
If the report says 10 hospital admissions per 100,000 people, well, that's how many hospital admissions there were.
but if the report says 200 infections per 100,000 people, we know that number is wrong -- because most people are home testing and not reporting. but we don't know how wrong.
If someone is trying to understand the risk levels right now, the yellow for admissions (ie, higher risk level, take more precaustions) is more likely to be right than the green of cases.
For folks who still follow COVID and understand what is going on, there are better methods. But for (as started this thread) the other board members at my synagogue who don't even realize that Omicron is more dangerous than older strains of COVID, this kind of easy-to-follow info can help prevent dangerous decisions.
@jessmahler Definitely looking at hospital numbers is better than case counts. I also like the weekly "weather report" put out by People's CDC as a general summary.
Here's the one from last Monday: https://peoplescdc.org/2022/08/29/peoples-cdc-covid-19-weather-report-13/
@suetanvil @synthgal @alienghic
This will be very local-variable, but in PA, water suppliers are legally required to give accurate info on water supplies. Arguably a state-constitution requirement, so I don't think they CAN fuck with water info easily/at all. Like, sure, gov may be able to put out false info, but there are hundreds of water suppliers in PA and everyone of them is required to give accurate info on request. Gov just can't fuck with all of them without it getting out.
re: COVID PSA
The best way to interpret those biobot plots is if there's some wastewater data that overlaps a period with good testing, so you can get an idea of how the surges detected by COVID testing compares to wastewater measurements.
The most annoying thing is you have to check the date of last update, as I think they only sample the water treatment plants occasionally so in my area it's frequently a week out of date.
re: COVID PSA
Some areas have wastewater sampling which can give a pretty good idea of how widespread the virus is in your region.
https://twitter.com/COVIDPoops19 has some discussion and links to resources in various parts of the world.
As for the US the best resource I know of is
@jessmahler It’s important to keep in mind that hospital admissions follow the actual case-numbers with 2-3 weeks delay. When they start to rise sharply, it’s too late to react with moderate measures.
Hospital admissions show you how bad things were 2-3 weeks ago, so the risk may already be much higher.
@jessmahler Since we’re not actually reacting strongly to risk by covid as long as it does not take out a serious fraction of the workforce immediately, it can still mutate to much, much worse strains.
It’s our reaction to virusses that typically cause them to evolve to weaker variants over time. If we as society don’t react differently, there’s no evolutionary pressure to become weaker.
Quick follow-up/break down on this for folks interested --
If we crack down on COVID, strains of the virus that produce more symptoms (which are usually stronger variants) get caught and quanteened and can't spread. They die out, leaving only weaker variants
If we DON'T crack down then stronger strains spread more easily (for instance, because more coughing to get more virus into the air), so weaker strains will die out and stronger, more dangerous strains will spread
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