The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Get Ready for More Shutdowns

Omicron is VERY contagious. Where I am, we have doubling of cases every three days, and that seems typical.

No matter how much politicians don’t want more closures, this is going to overwhelm ICUs and force closures — unless politicians are willing to see people dying in the streets (which some may be).

So, expect new closures, soon. I would suspect that most governments will try to hold off until after Christmas, but even that may not be possible.



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Open Thread


  1. Trinity

    The expectation is that they will continue to mishandle this pandemic, for multiple reasons: greed economy, population reduction, and the opportunity to own and live on a mega yacht while the rest of the world burns, dies, loses everything in a flood or tornado, starves, thirsts, etc.

    Meanwhile, apparently there’s no one left to teach new nurses, they’ve all quit or died.

    Their very own luxury Noah’s Ark, minus the inconvenient animals. It would be nice if they were denied ports of call just as those covid cruise ships were, back at the beginning. I guess the “winner” will be the last ship floating. I wonder if they will ever be able to really and truly trust their crew?

    There is a bad moon rising.

  2. someofparts

    Well, sounds like a good time for retired geezers like me to step up and do what we can to help our younger neighbors who will be impacted by this.

  3. Dan Lynch

    Ian, you are assuming that rulers in the West care about people dying and hospitals being overwhelmed. As you have pointed out, the ruling class get vaccinated, get the best of treatment, and get richer. Covid deaths are disproportionately poor and people of color. Until the pandemic affects them personally, our rulers are not going to care.

  4. anon

    Why are the moratoriums ending if shutdowns are coming? Assistance should be continued until our leaders find a way to get this under control, which I expect will not happen in our lifetime. Criticize China all you want, but once the leaders there understood the danger of COVID, they have done a much better job of controlling its spread within its borders compared to Europe and North America.

  5. Ian Welsh


    I’m probably over-optomistic, but I’m assuming they don’t want to have people dying in the hospital parking lots and so on.

  6. Dr. Strangelove

    I think this post assumes Omicron is bad as Delta. Preliminary reports indicate that it is not. More contagious? Yes. More virulent or just as virulent? Apparently not. This may be the moment we’ve all been waiting for: COVID mutating into something less virulent.

  7. Yeti

    I keep waiting for some sign of sanity coming from our fearless leaders. It blows my mind that not one reporter ever asks Bonnie Henry how our search for early interventions is going. This disease, like AIDs will only be conquered by therapeutics. Vaccines may have their place but will not end or even control this by themselves. There are off the shelf treatments that do alter the course of disease. The most obvious is vitamin D, I don’t understand why it is not even being brought up. Another is fluvoxamine, cheap and apparently effective in RCT’s at preventing hospitalization and death. There are others which cannot be talked about but they also appear to be effective. Japan has all but eradicated Covid since the Olympics but no one seems to want to know how. India also seems to have a good handle on keeping deaths relatively low. Central Africa also seems to have lower infection rates than more vaccinated populations. Some of these may be explained away but I still wonder.

  8. Trinity

    “America Is Not Ready for Omicron
    The new variant poses a far graver threat at the collective level than the individual one—the kind of test that the U.S. has repeatedly failed.”

    ‘Will the new and rapidly spreading variant overwhelm the U.S. health-care system? The question is moot because the system is already overwhelmed, in a way that is affecting all patients, COVID or otherwise. “The level of care that we’ve come to expect in our hospitals no longer exists,” Lowe said.’

    “Like the variants that preceded it, Omicron requires individuals to think and act for the collective good—which is to say, it poses a heightened version of the same challenge that the U.S. has failed for two straight years, in bipartisan fashion.”

  9. different clue

    More shutdowns? Unlikely in at least parts of Michigan.

    Vicious violent armed Trumpanons have our governor and possibly others in “authority” spooked enough with their credible threats of murderous violence that neither the governor nor others will dare attempt any statewide shutdowns or restrictions of any kind.

    Deep blue urban islands may well do their own shutdowns if their police and sheriffs’ departments are willing to use force and the credible threat of force against Typhoid MAGA Jonestown Trumpanon efforts to invade the Deep Blue urban islands to impose their vision of forcible spreading of disease.

    If the Blue Islands can be protected against the armed MAGAnon mobs, then let the MAGAs enjoy spreading the disease amongst themselves as much as they like.

  10. Soredemos

    Well, governments will try and do lockdowns. But I suspect few will listen. The Mandate of Heaven was lost long ago.

  11. Astrid

    We’re probably beyond further effective lockdowns, especially in the USA. The GOP want to deny its existence and Dems went all in on vaccines that at best temporarily reduce likelihood of hospitalization and death, while ignoring effective masking and ventilation and proper trialing for early treatments.

    But enough people may stop coming to work because they’re sick or scared, that logistics chains will break down further and the net effects will be the similar, with extra fear and unpredictable suffering.

    Another effect that is not well noted is that the eastern and central part of the US has been abnormally warm, 60s and 70s in places that typically see snow and freezing daytime temperatures by November and December. It looks like that’s about to change next week. This shift to a cold weather pattern will likely increase transmission during the Christmas holidays and also dramatically increase home heating costs. January will be miserable.

  12. Ché Pasa

    The GOP want to deny its existence and Dems went all in on vaccines that at best temporarily reduce likelihood of hospitalization and death, while ignoring effective masking and ventilation and proper trialing for early treatments.

    Is this true? I say no, on either side of the aisle.

    Instead, I see the GOP rather gleefully accepting the rampaging of the virus through the old, sick, poor, Black and Brown communities of mostly useless eaters — while leaders are carefully protecting themselves behind layers of barricades that include plenty of vaccines and monoclonal antibodies, concierge treatments if they get sick, and the kind of social distancing that never lets them be within sight of or hailing distance of the unwashed/infected/dying masses.

    Let’s be clear. These people want you dead. The sooner the better.

    Dems, for their part, are not and never have relied solely on vaccines. This is a canard that needs to die (“kill it with fire”). Masks, social distancing, hand washing, AND vaccines and therapeutic treatments have all been strenuously advocated by Dems (and most Rs in private and sotto voce in public) alike. This is basic public health, which of course is extraordinarily difficult in the United States and much of the rest of the English-speaking world — and not just there — because the whole idea and ethic of “public health” has been virtually destroyed by rigid ideological extremists who have been in charge of governments, economies and our much shortened lives for decades.

    At this point, it’s of little use to accuse political parties for their utter failures to handle
    this crisis among so many others. It really is a systemic failure, which apparently is unsolvable by usual means.

    The question is how do we (?) reestablish a public health ethic in the Western world? Can we learn from China and elsewhere in the East before it’s too late? Or is the game over?

    I don’t have an answer.

  13. Astrid


    I’ve stopped paying attention to the details of the Kabuki acts in DC. Whatever they say has no connection with what they do, so I don’t waste my time. The 99% might occasionally benefit sporadically, but nothing lasts. And in any case, what does get filtered down to me these days are mostly lies and hatred against the Chinese, who are presenting the only plausible alternative to letting Covid rip.

    There were absolutely things that the Dems could have done, even in a bad healthcare system. The healthcare system in developing national did not collapse more even though they had less resources. They did not collapse in China, which has an awful healthcare system (though admittedly far better basic public health apparatus). The politicians could have waived patent protection for Covid related pharma and gave it to the rest of the world. They could have worked on large scale trials of therapeutics immediately in conjunction with a vaccine strategy or infection immunity strategy, which makes sense given that immunity to coronaviruses is known to at most a few years. Could have required production of high quality masks and supplied them free to as many as possible. Could have pushed for M4A. Could have pushed for better basic income protection or cancelled student loans. They didn’t do these things, not because of the system couldn’t handle it, but because they and their masters didn’t want to. Even hard and fast quarantine – I call bullshit on that. A country that forced the drinking age to 21 and cart blanche actions under the interstate commerce clause and have kids to endure active shooter exercises can’t manage a public health involved shutdown? The Feds could have threatened the states hard enough and gotten near universal compliance. They didn’t want to. The plans and precedents were there, they didn’t wanna. There’s nothing impossible about better choices, except the people making them.

    What I observed in my comment comes from their followers. The right-libertarian leaning ones are still saying people are dying with Covid. This includes pretty wealthy people who can easily insulate themselves. Even when they personally know people who died, they’ll say that the person was unhealthy or old or it was God’s will.

    The Dem leaning ones, even amongst the elderly, are saying they’ve taken their shots and are talking up specific”back to normal” travel and activity plans. They might wear masks and reduce travel, but if my in-laws (who all have multiple autoimmune issues, parents and children) are typical, they’re not prioritizing mitigation to wear N95 masks, stop optional socializing, or stop eating in restaurants. I went to a family reunion in late July where the few unvaccinated attendees (who were masked and this was a fully outdoor event) were treated like lepers. If there was fine print that the vaccines are not sterilizing, nobody at the reunion acted like it.

  14. Soredemos

    @Ché Pasa

    Bullshit. Biden, Fauci, and Wallensky have all repeatedly touted vaccines as the end of masking. And social distancing does nothing short of something like thirty feet. Hand washing is similarly useless. The droplet theory is total bunk. This virus is airborne, has been from the start, and this has been known for at least 18 months. Yet the CDC and WHO co tune to lie about this critical fact.

    Dems have utterly mishandled this entire pandemic. Might as well go find a witch doctor and listen to his advice. He at least might warn you about ‘evil spirits on the wind’, which is far closer to the truth than Biden making a show of putting up useless plexiglass screens.

  15. Ché Pasa

    It’s true, I left out the key public health provision during pandemics or pretty much any out break of easily transmissible/contagious disease: isolation/quarantine.

    That’s been the primary means of controlling disease wherever it has been controlled. Vaccines and therapeutics are great but imperfect. Mitigations like masks and ventilation and such are good (remember TB sanitariums? Well, there you go), but they are equally imperfect. Keeping your distance works but only if it is universally observed, and that isn’t happening. Hasn’t ever.

    Isolation/quarantine works. But how could we do that without the necessary provisions — like food and other supplies — delivered? Without charge. The whole apparatus of control fell down on that key failure.

    No, people were forced to keep working — essentials, right? — even if they were sick. No provision was made for those who self-isolated; they were on their own, and if they couldn’t pay to have someone bring them stuff, too effing bad. Old people were packed together in virus incubators — nursing homes — and died by the great gross.

    Communities of color were riven with Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt, much of it spread by their preachers, so precautions lagged. Quarantine was nigh unto impossible. The disease spread; death stalked the streets.

    We could go on and on about how we got to this point: terrible decisions by sometimes terrible people were a big part of it. But understanding that there was no clearly delineated path forward, and many interests were competing to profit from this crisis — like they hope to from every other one — all wrenching policy makers back and forth to serve their needs and desires first, means that we understand (which some obviously don’t) that there is NO public health system or institution in this country or much of the rest of the world, and none of the political parties can remedy that.

    We the people might be able to, but only after much more suffering and death, and only when or if those with the determination to end the suffering and death take control.

    I doubt it will be in my lifetime. If ever.

  16. rangoon78

    Jen “buckle down” Psaki: “We are prepared for the rising case levels, and @POTUS will detail how we will respond to this challenge. He will remind Americans that they can protect themselves from severe illness from COVID-19 by getting vaccinated and getting their booster shot when they are eligible. “
    Same capitalist imperative as leaders reiterate“no lockdown!” Even as Coronavirus again ramps up with a vengeance in 2020s first US hot spot: New York City.

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