COVID-19: Part 54

March 7, 2021 11:06 am
  • Quarantine Day 356
  • Livermore cases: 4,042
  • Alameda County cases: 77,941; deaths: 1,254
  • U.S. cases: 28,771,000+; deaths: 522,000+

February just kind of rushed by. The regional public health orders were lifted in early-to-mid February after the massive wave of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths due to the contraindicated gatherings held during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years subsided. Unfortunately, many people are hearing "things are so much better now" and relaxing their posture despite the fact that things are still worse now than they were in October.

However, with the lifting of the regional public health orders, the county public health orders went back into effect which allows for very small gatherings, outdoors, wearing masks. So Heather, Corinne, and Jess at least get to see one friend each week.

The vaccines continue to roll out, though rather slowly. A third one was approved, which should help as well. It's not clear to me why it's taking so long, since supposedly one of the main thrusts of the accelerated process was to ramp up manufacturing before FDA approval was complete so that if/when each vaccine was approved there were tens of millions of doses waiting to be distributed. As far as I can tell, that just didn't happen, so now we're all waiting for manufacturing to ramp up. In theory, there will be enough doses available in the U.S. by the end of May for anyone willing to be vaccinated to do so. I guess we'll see.

Still significant concern over emerging variants and long-term vaccine efficacy in the face of a rapidly mutating virus. Also concerns over what percentage of the population will refuse to be vaccinated.

An NPR article from the end of January had this quote:

And thus, now we have a game of "cat and mouse," said virus expert Ravi Gupta, between the virus and the vaccine. The virus finds ways around the vaccine (and our immune system), said Gupta, and so the manufacturers have to reformulate the vaccines (or else we run the risk of getting infected twice).

"We've been here before with the flu. We're having to live with influenza and figure out a way of staying ahead of the virus by making vaccines on a yearly basis," said Gupta at the University of Cambridge.

"So I can imagine that we'll be doing something similar with [the] coronavirus. Eventually we'll need to design different vaccines that are targeting different parts of the virus — ones that the virus finds harder to change."

This process is going to cost the world a great deal of money — and take time, Gupta added. "I don't think there's going to be a single solution that just comes along in 2021 that says, 'That's it, we're done.'

"The coronavirus is going to cause a long-term disruption."

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2021/01/27/961108577/why-scientists-are-very-worried-about-the-variant-from-brazil

We've now passed the 1-year mark from when the Lab began advising people to work from home if possible (Thursday, March 5, 2020). I began working from home that following Monday, March 9. So this week will mark a full year of working from home out of my closet (well, I didn't start working from my closet until another week later when the schools closed).

At the end of my Part 1 blog post, I wrote, "It's been 10 days and it feels like it's been 6 months. 2020 is going to be a very long year." Boy how accurate that statement was. This past year has felt so very, very long. Yet, at the same time, in retrospect it feels short because we didn't do anything. There were no trips to break up the time. School & work, a couple of days off. School & work, a couple of days off. Rarely leaving the house. Rarely seeing friends. Never seeing extended family.

We're all tired of it. But, our family has remained healthy while hundreds of thousands have died and millions more are facing long-term, and possibly life-long, effects. Hopefully, dawn is on the horizon.

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The school district is finally caving to pressure and will re-open the schools in two weeks. We signed the girls up to stay with their teachers whether that meant staying home or going in person. It looks like they'll both be going in person, but we don't have final confirmation on that yet. In-person classes will meet in the morning for ~3 hours. Everyone must wear masks and maintain 6-foot separation. No food will be allowed. If these protocols are actually followed, it should be minimal risk.

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The Lab has received approval to administer vaccines to employees, however they have not received any actual vaccines to distribute at this point.

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This week, my friends completed the final adventure in the Dragon Strike campaign I created. Don't know what we'll do next, but so long as I'm not in charge of generating and running the whole thing I'll be happy with it. It was fun putting together the whole thing, but also a huge amount of work and drain on my creative energy. It was also an additional ton of work running the whole thing via video call. Every session I had to set everything up for both the game and the video equipment--then, after we finished, take it all down again.

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The family has been playing the Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle game, specifically the Creatures expansion which Jess received for Christmas (she also received the Potions expansion, which we haven't tried yet). Starting last month we also started playing Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion. It's an adventure, ongoing campaign RPG (role-playing game) in the general vein as Dragon Strike and Dungeons & Dragons, however it's a cooperative game and no one has to be a Dungeon Master. So I get to play the game with the rest of the family together as a team instead of playing the enemies and having to be careful about which members of the family get attacked by the monsters.

It's complicated though, so it's a good thing we played Dragon Strike before so we can build on the mechanics rather than trying to learn it all from scratch. And that's taking into account that Jaws of the Lion is a prequel to the original game for which the designers did a lot of play-testing work to streamline the game, reduce complexity, and make it easier to learn the rules and get playing. It uses the first 5 adventures to introduce the concepts. We've only played the first two, so I can only imagine how complex the original game is. Hopefully by the time we've played through all 25 adventures in Jaws of the Lion we'll have a solid handle of the mechanics and jumping into the original isn't too daunting.

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On February 18 we watched the NASA video stream of the new rover, Perseverance, landing on Mars. I'm always awed by the incredible things the human species can accomplish when we set our minds and resources to the task. I try to enjoy them and not get too down about the number of worthy tasks we could tackle if we just showed the will to do so.

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I guess I'll continue these posts under the COVID heading until all the public health orders have been lifted. Hopefully that happens sometime in June or July (if vaccination rates are high enough and mutation rates are low enough).

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