We Are Number One (In Covid Positivity Rate) And That Ain’t Good

According to the July 31, 2021, edition of the Daily Gazette, Saratoga County has the unfortunate position of having the highest positivity rate for COVID in New York State.

In the face of this, the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors has continued their practice of opacity. On Thursday, they announced the formation of the Saratoga Health and Readiness Planning (SHARP) Task Force which is charged with addressing ongoing developments regarding COVID. I use the word opacity because the county Health and Social Services Committee met the day before the announcement of the task force and there was no discussion whatsoever of the establishment of such a body let alone who would be appointed to it. All of this was done then outside of the public process of the county’s committees.

According to the Gazette:

“The announcement specifically cast doubt on directives and mandates as a public health strategy, however, and said the task force would focus on educating the public so it could make its own decisions.”

In other words, they have predetermined that there will be no mandates. Who decided this and why? The public has no idea.

There are arguments to be made both for and against mandates but clearly the decisions were made with a complete indifference to transparency or public input.

There appears to be no serious analysis behind the decision to reject mandates.

For a start it would seem important to try to answer a basic question in order to come up with an effective plan: Why is our county number one?

It would also be good to know why the idea of mandated mask wearing in indoor situations has been summarily dismissed.

According to the CDC the viral load of this current variant is staggering. The viral load is the number of viruses being expelled by infected individuals. Apparently the amount of viruses expelled by a person infected with the Delta variant is 1260 times greater than that of the original virus. This is one possible explanation for the sharp increase in cases and the fact that even vaccinated persons have been subject to infection in surprising numbers although those cases have almost always been less severe. Worse, even though the impact of the disease is greatly reduced for the vaccinated, they are still able to spread the disease even if they have no symptoms.

It may very well be that local businesses might be negatively impacted by a mask mandate and there may be other reasons to avoid this. Still, there are arguments to be made for mandating masks. A mandate could help protect employees in shops and restaurants particularly in Saratoga which has an influx of tourists from all over the country including from states with very high Covid rates. Aside from the well being of those workers, businesses, already struggling to hire enough staff, might find themselves having to reduce the hours they are open if staff members fall ill. Responsible policy makers need to be willing to discuss all options and their ramifications.

My concern is that it is ideology, not science driving this decision.

People’s rights need to be respected but we have an encyclopedia of examples where individual rights are limited in the interest of the public good. As just a couple of examples, we have drunk driving laws and shirts and shoes are often required in public venues.

The fact is that if you are a carrier of the disease and you are not wearing a mask, you are spreading the disease wherever you go. You are putting other people’s lives at risk.

One might also ask, is the county really going to come up with an education strategy as an alternative that is going to convince people to voluntarily wear masks?

Unfortunately, having such thoughtful discussions in front of the public is simply not the way this county operates.

6 thoughts on “We Are Number One (In Covid Positivity Rate) And That Ain’t Good”

  1. I truly wonder why anyone is surprised we are #1. In New York State, at this time of year, we are visited by people from all over the country. From all over the world. Check your color-coded maps and you will wonder no more. It’s not like the jets coming into the County airport are bringing in vacationers to the Town of Providence.

    No, its Saratoga springs driving this number. But this could have been mitigated, If we actually planned, based on that reality, once we decided to open up.
    Here’s what I wonder:
    * I wonder why I got this Excelsior Pass so I could attend at venues. When I HAVEN’T BEEN ASKED FOR IT ONCE!
    * I wonder why we are unable to process out of state data from places like Walgreens and CVS into this same Excelsior Pass system. (Actually, I know the answer to this. Our State is tech inept. Pure and simple.)
    * Finally, at the risk of being controversial, I wonder why we trust people who don’t have the brainpower to see the science, to turn around, and do the right thing – to be honest when it comes to wearing a mask when necessary.
    In conclusion, I wonder about many things, but not why we are #1. Be careful, everyone.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. One year ago, before vaccines were available, I visited our local supermarket. The hours between 6am and 7am were reserved for old folks like me, and the sign on the door said Masks Required.

    So I walk in and I see a cashier with no mask. She glares at me as if to say “Whaddya gonna do about it?”

    Then, as I make my way up and down the aisles (following the directional arrows that most other shoppers ignored) I see a guy stocking shelves. No mask, just a bandana down around his neck. His mouth and nose uncovered. Then I see two more employees, also unmasked.

    I mentioned it to the manager on the way out, and two weeks later when I visited, there were still some unmasked employees. But they’d pull their masks up when they saw a customer approach.

    It’s not just the tourists, although they’re certainly a factor. Plenty of homegrown idiots.

    Two weeks after my second pfizer shot, I stopped wearing my mask in stores. Looks like I’ll be masking up again. Just my luck I’d end up with a breakthrough infection and long haul covid.

    Speaking of the Schenectady Gazette, I see they’re running one of their surveys: “Should the state reissue mask mandates for indoor public spaces and workplaces?”

    Here are the results so far: 33% say YES, and a whopping 68% say NO. (I’m sure the NO numbers will increase before the survey is taken down.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Paul Krugman makes some interesting points:

    True, many people doubt the science; the link between vaccine refusal and Covid deaths is every bit as real as the link between D.U.I. and traffic deaths, but is less obvious to the naked eye. But why are people on the right so receptive to misinformation on this subject, and so angry about efforts to set the record straight?

    My answer is that when people on the right talk about “freedom” what they actually mean is closer to “defense of privilege” — specifically the right of certain people (generally white male Christians) to do whatever they want.

    Not incidentally, if you go back to the roots of modern conservatism, you find people like Barry Goldwater defending the right of businesses to discriminate against Black Americans. In the name of freedom, of course. A lot, though not all, of the recent panic about “cancel culture” is about protecting the right of powerful men to mistreat women. And so on.

    Once you understand that the rhetoric of freedom is actually about privilege, things that look on the surface like gross inconsistency and hypocrisy start to make sense.

    Why, for example, are conservatives so insistent on the right of businesses to make their own decisions, free from regulation — but quick to stop them from denying service to customers who refuse to wear masks or show proof of vaccination? Why is the autonomy of local school districts a fundamental principle — unless they want to require masks or teach America’s racial history? It’s all about whose privilege is being protected.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It began when the orange man in the WH made it political. Had he supported Dr Fauci from the beginning, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

      Liked by 1 person

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