A couple weekends ago we went to the county animal shelter and looked at the cats and kittens they had that were looking for homes. We picked out a tuxedo kitten (~3 months old) and Jess brought her home on Wednesday after she was spayed.
The girls have been ecstatic. Heather went into research mode and checked out books from the library all about cat behavior, how to play with them, how to care for them, and how to train them.
Her name in the shelter was "London" and we decided we better keep it to avoid an endless argument about what her name should be.
She came from the shelter litter-trained (yay!), with most of her vaccinations, and micro-chipped. But she seems to have picked up an illness before coming home because she's been sneezy, a little snotty, and a little lethargic. But we had her checked out on Friday and she seems to be doing a little better today. The vet prescribed some antibiotics and she gave my leg a good scratch while we were trying to give her the first dose (one of her hind legs got loose), but we're figuring out the trick to getting it done without blood.
She likes me (or at least my body heat) and will happily snuggle up on my lap or against my legs while she naps. She'll happily nap next to Jess too. She's still getting used to the girls and the girls are still getting used to her. They're a little too excitable and fast moving to make her fully comfortable.
Here she is sleeping next to me this morning, before her flower collar arrived:
Alameda County cases: 106,262; deaths: 1,264; eligible vaccination rate: 75.6%
U.S. cases: 40,085,000+; deaths: 647,000+; eligible vaccination rate: 62.3%
The main update for today is all the states that have medical systems that are collapsing. The first entry is Idaho (from the Associated Press): "Idaho public health leaders announced Tuesday that they activated 'crisis standards of care' allowing health care rationing for the state’s northern hospitals because there are more coronavirus patients than the institutions can handle." Meaning, patients will be scored for survivability and that will drive who receives what care.
Patients are being treated in conference rooms or education rooms using whatever resources are available. The National Guard has been mobilized to assist in managing the crisis. The director of the Department of Health and Welfare recommends avoiding needing emergency care until the crisis passes [sigh].
From the same article, Hawaii is sheltering its hospitals/employees from liability if they begin rationing care.
The latest messaging on the vaccines receiving emergency authorization for kids 6+ is that it won't happen until winter. 🙁
The girls' school (the whole district, but broken down by school) is maintaining a daily report of positive cases on site. So far their school has only had 2 known cases on site since school started. So that's encouraging. The district overall has had 49 cases, with 13 of those being a cluster at one of the high schools (Granada), with 4 of those being recorded today. The other high school (Livermore) is at 3 for the year, so hopefully Granada can get their cluster under control.
Work rolled out their mandatory attestation process this week which comes from a federal requirement. All employees must attest to their vaccination status which will determine whether they operate under protocol A or protocol B. Protocol A is to continue as we have been and will allow for reduced controls as conditions permit. Protocol B will require weekly testing and will not be eligible for reduced controls. Rather dishearteningly, there are apparently a bunch of anti-vaccination people working at the Lab, so this is going to be a mess. Refusal to comply will result in currently-unspecified disciplinary action (at least one other national lab has stated that employees will be placed on unpaid leave until they comply).
In other news, we decided to get a cat. We picked one out at the county shelter over the weekend and we'll bring her home next week after she's been spayed and received her next round of vaccinations. The girls are ecstatic.
Oddly, Heather's and Corinne's classrooms are next to each other. Which turns out to be pretty convenient because parents aren't allowed inside the fence right now as a Covid precaution, so Heather can drop Corinne off on her way to class.
They eat lunch outside at picnic tables under the solar panels. Which seems like a super California thing to do.
They both survived the day. That, uh, has a much grimmer tone to it than I meant considering the number of kids around the country catching Covid in their schools right now :-/.
* I'm noticing that the Livermore number in the past 2 posts must have been the "at least one shot" number; this number is the "fully vaccinated" number. The county and national numbers has been the "fully vaccinated" numbers.
Alameda County cases: 100,343; deaths: 1,257; eligible vaccination rate: 73.7%
U.S. cases: 37,583,000+; deaths: 625,000+; eligible vaccination rate: 60.1%
The past week or so has been filled with reports of how overwhelmed the medical facilities in several Southern states have become.
These two governors in particular seem hellbent on watching kids die for some reason.
Mississippi's State Health Officer issued an order requiring 10-days of isolation for anyone with COVID-19 and threatens a $500 fine or 6-months in prison for failure to comply. I doubt even a single person will be subjected to those punishments, but I guess we'll see. Things aren't any better in Mississippi than their neighboring states.
Booster shots will be available to people starting 8-months after their second shot (if they received one of the mRNA vaccines). It's expected that a booster shot will be authorized for those, like me, who received the viral vector vaccine soon.
In other news, the U.S. finally pulled our military out of Afghanistan and the Afghan government promptly collapsed and was taken over by the Taliban within ~48 hours; massive fires are burning throughout the west (including California); a hurricane is hitting New England this weekend, and the first ever water-shortage declaration was made for the Colorado River.
Finally, school starts on Tuesday. As mentioned above, our schools have mask requirements for students & staff and vaccination or testing requirements for staff. They'll be operating at normal capacity and with a normal schedule whereas at the end of last year used a hybrid schedule that kept capacity to about half and no food was eaten while on campus. Lunch is supposed to be done as distanced as possible, but that will be a challenge. They're planning on eating outside whenever possible, but the air is smokey right now and it does get hot or rain, so there will need to be fully indoor options as well. We bought new, snugger fitting, better filtering masks for the girls to wear instead of the plain cloth masks they've been wearing. Rumor has it that emergency authorization to give the vaccine to kids 6+ is coming within the next month or so.
Back in May things were really looking up. Jess and I had been vaccinated. Infection rates were declining. We were optimistic about being able to take a small vacation over the summer since we've done mostly nothing since March 2020. I looked to book a room at the motel we like in Fort Bragg and their first availability was in mid-August. So we booked it.
Then the summer actually happened and we watched as vaccination levels stalled out and infection rates soared with the delta variant. So we became a little hesitant about taking our trip, but our plans were to be outside pretty much the whole time except for our motel room and so we decided to go for it.
We drove out to Fort Bragg on Friday, Aug 13. We made it to Oakland before Jess was feeling really carsick so we got off the highway and stopped so she could get out, recuperate, and take some Dramamine. Then we sat in a lot of traffic all the way through Santa Rosa for some reason. We eventually made it out there, got checked in to the motel, walked along the beach a little, and ordered a pizza to eat in our room for dinner. The county had a mask mandate in place and compliance levels seemed to be fairly good.
The motel wasn't serving breakfast, so breakfast on Saturday (and every other day) was toaster strudel, cereal, and yogurt that we brought with us (we brought a toaster). Saturday morning we had a reservation to ride the pedal cars on the Skunk Train railroad. I picked up some sandwiches from Subway and packed them for lunch and we rode the rail line up into the woods. The bikes have electric assist-motors so it was quite pleasant to pedal along up into the woods away from the noise of town and not get too worn out while doing so.
The company that runs the tours is building a little event space in the woods that's really only accessible by rail. We stopped there to eat lunch while they turned our cars around for the return trip. Minus the construction noise, it was a really nice spot. Deep in the woods and shady. We ate our lunch at a picnic table and then walked around for bit until it was time to head back.
Since the rail lines fall under DHS/TSA railroad regulations we were all required to wear masks while on the ride, which is probably a bit silly since we were quite well spaced out, but presumably the railroad regulations were written with passenger cars in mind and not bikes, so, whatever. It really wasn't a big deal, because wearing a mask isn't a big deal in the first place.
Once we returned from our ride we walked down to the ice-cream shop for dessert, then back to the train depot to look at the gift shop (once their next train ride left so it wasn't crowded with people). Then we went back to the motel and down to the beach.
After some time of playing about, Corinne got knocked over by a wave she didn't see coming and needed to head back to the room to warm up. So Jess took her up and I stayed with Heather for a while longer digging a hole ('cause that's what one does at the beach, I guess).
Dinner was burgers from Jenny's Giant Burger eaten hunkered down in our motel room.
On Sunday we went out to the Mendocino Botanical Gardens, which is a regular destination when we go to Fort Bragg. We walked around for a while and then went looking for lunch. Heather continues to successfully grow in her garden.
After bailing on a couple of options due to being crowded with nowhere outside to eat we ended up in the slowest McDonald's drive-thru lane ever. I think it took over 30 minutes to get through. We took the food back to the motel to eat.
Then it was more beach time for the girls while I napped in the room. We had more pizza for dinner and another trip to the ice-cream shop. Then we walked along the trestle bridge after dark as a novelty for the girls who are rarely up after dark much less out and about.
Monday morning we packed up and checked out. We stopped at Glass Beach to look around. This is an area of beach which use to be a garbage dump. Now timthough by the time we were ready to leave it was about lunch time so we ate our one and only meal in a restaurant. There were only two other customers in the restaurant (which was a "full-size" restaurant, lots of space) and they had signs like this up, which actually made me feel better that they were taking things seriously:
We had our lunch and then drove home. And that was our trip. Our only real vacation for 18 months. And it looks like that's going to be true through quite some more time now.
School starts on Tuesday--thankfully with a mask requirement in place and vaccination requirements for the teachers/staff. Given how much exposure the girls are likely to get this year since the classrooms will be at regular capacity for full days we bought the girls some new masks that are supposed to help protect themselves from others as well as protecting others from themselves. Finding certified masks is a crap shoot--especially looking for things that fit kids properly, but the masks we bought don't seem like they can be worse than the ones they've been using. They fit more snugly at least.
Hopefully the emergency authorization for the vaccine for kids 6+ gets approved soon and we'll be able to have the girls vaccinated before too long. Maybe even get to go trick-or-treating for Halloween.