Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics: Government Loses Control of the COVID-19 Narrative

Conflicting data, changing stories, and the politicization of science are resulting in a wave of confusion and mistrust when it comes to this latest wave of COVID-19. messages,

COVID-19 is once again out of control in the United States. But that’s not all the bad news. The U.S. government has also lost control of the narrative, and no one knows who to believe, what to think, or whether to mask up.

I think the government, with support from social media, is trying very hard to prevent the release of any data that shows vaccination does little or nothing to prevent infection. That idea runs counter to their narrative and may prevent people from getting vaccinated, which they still consider to be the Holy Grail of COVID prevention. They don’t want to give people who resisted vaccination over safety concerns another reason to avoid it: Ineffectiveness.

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The Slippery Slope: Where do the Mandates End?

First it was mask mandates. Then it was business closures. Now the government is forcing people to get the vaccine. Wher does this pattern of abuse lead us?

Webster defines mandate as “to officially require something; make (something) mandatory” and by as “an official order to do something.”

America was founded on freedom and liberty and the concept that the powers of government are limited. Nowhere in the Constitution is the president or the executive branch given the power to force people to get vaccinated, and the CDC is part of the executive branch. Yes, in 1905, the Supreme Court allowed fining someone $5 for not taking the vaccine, but it also allowed reasonable exceptions. Citizens have a fair bit of leeway in deciding how they behave, and forcing someone to get a vaccine is probably illegal.

Most Americans don’t like to be told what they must do. It sticks in our craw and causes people to resist. It would not surprise me that there are people who would have taken the vaccine if made available but who chose not to do so because they felt they were being forced to do so.

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Are you Seeing Panic In Your State?

The Pfizer vaccine may be less than 40 percent effective against the Delta variant of COVID-19. We hit 49,746 cases on July 23. Are people around you panicking, or is it just the media?

We went to a restaurant the other day when my daughter was visiting and we brought my baby granddaughter, which means there’s always the chance of a screaming baby ruining our dinner and the dinners of everyone else in the restaurant. I am happy to report it went smoothly. She charmed the wait staff by smiling and waving at everyone. Service was good, the food was excellent, and by the time we left, almost every seat in the place was full. There was no sign of COVID concerns.

After the kids headed home, I dropped off the garbage, got the truck its 7,500 mile service, went to the post office, and ran a couple other small errands. Everybody I saw was friendly and helpful, and I didn’t see a single person wearing a mask. The only place that had a sign about masks was the post office, and their employees were not wearing one.

No one where I live seems to panic about the possibility of another COVID-19 wave, but I get the feeling that may not be the case in other parts of the country. Just reading the headlines about “breakthrough” cases that happen in the vaccinated and the failure of the Pfizer vaccine against the Delta variation in Israel is enough to cause some people to panic, and the echo chamber effect of mass media and social media is making the problem sound worse than it is. It’s also causing the anxiety levels in our society to increase, which will inevitably lead to more panic and over reactions.

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Prepper News Update July 23: COVID and Inflation Look Like they are here to Stay

I am still on vacation, but here’s a short prepper news update:

Shutdowns Begin in California as COVID-19 Cases Surge

A few restaurants in Los Angeles have become the first to close as this new wave of COVID-19 sweeps the country.  The difference between this outbreak and earlier waves seems to be thus: Before, public health officials and politicians over reacted to protect people.  This time, they are shrugging their shoulders and saying “We told you to get vaccinated.”  Nonetheless, I expect to see more mask mandates and other restrictions coming down the pipe.

Are we Underestimating how Bad Delta Will Be?

I don’t think WE are underestimating how bad this wave of the Delta variant will be, but plenty of other folks are. 

Life Gets More Expensive as Unilever will Raise Prices

Unilever joined Procter & Gamble, Conagra, Modelez International, and General Mills by announcing it would raise prices due to higher costs of ingredients, packaging and transportation.  We often talk about stocking up on food, and that advice is still good, but consider also stocking up on soap, cleansers, detergents and other household items to get ahead of these future price increases.  Check out our recent report on costs at club stores and consider making a  trip to Sam’s Club to stock up.

Here’s more info from the Wall Street Journal about inflation and companies like Fastenal who are raising prices.

What to Expect as COVID-19 Cases Climb in Every State

COVID-19 cases are up in every state, driven by the Delta variant. Here’s what to expect, how to prepare for it, and what to do before it is too late.

It looks like I may have to start writing about COVID-19 regularly again. The number of new cases reported daily has more than doubled in the past 14 days even though the number of tests being given is lower.

As tempted as I am to think that all the media coverage about the Delta variation is scare tactics, seeing the numbers head upward and the curve steepen makes it pretty obvious that there is a sudden uptick in cases. Why remains the unanswered question.

Is it because we relaxed our stringent policies and re-opened everything too soon? Is it because Delta is more contagious? Does the increase in summer have anything to do with it? Maybe it’s because not enough people were vaccinated. Could it be all of the above? Or is it just COVID-19 season, like we have the flu season?

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Just a Short Update and Prepper News Recap

Not much going on around the homestead today, so I did chores and got things prepper in case storms from Hurricane Elsa get this far.  I fed the chickens, added a super to another beehive, fed the weakest beehive, stacked firewood, paid some bills, and a friend came over to visit.  My wife went to the farmer’s market and then to Yoga, so I took a nap.

Like much of the East, we are expecting some rain associate with Elsa, but probably not a serious storm.  The heaviest weather should be to our east.  That should keep me indoors long enough to do some woodworking.

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Prepper News Update, July 2

Tropical Storm Elsa Heads Towards U.S.

We’re just one month into Hurricane Season and Tropical Storm Elsa has formed in the Atlantic and is slated to head into the Caribbean, then on to South Florida and possibly continue on up to hit the pan handle or wander into the Gulf. Better keep an eye on this one, folks, as it may develop into a hurricane. This is the earliest storm ever with an “E” name, possibly foretelling a deadly hurricane season with multiple storms.

Drought to Cause Higher Food Prices

Unfortunately, Tropical Storm Elsa won’t have any impact on the drought out west. The Wall Street Journal says, “While high inflation for some goods and services might prove to be transitory, the run-up in prices for food staples such as beef, pork and milk might be extended by the effects of severe drought.” Besides those staples, expect to see higher prices for fruits, vegetables, and almonds, which are grown in California. Global food prices in May were 40 percent higher than last May.

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Many Vaccines Less Effective with Delta Variant of COVID-19

Perhaps people would take the Delta variant of COVID-19 more seriously if they called it COVID-21. Its causing another wave in much of the world.

The good news is that COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in the U.S. continue to drop, even as the Delta variant is becoming the dominant strain in the U.S. For those that haven’t been following the news, the COVID-19 mutation known as Delta caused the surge of cases and so much death in India and is far more transmissible. More good news is that both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines appear to be quite effective against Delta.

The bad news is that the Delta variant of COVID-19 is marching across the world, and Chinese vaccines appear to be less effective against this mutation. Multiple countries are experiencing surges as this article reports “examples from several countries suggest that the Chinese vaccines may not be very effective at preventing the spread of the virus, particularly the new variants.”

A vaccine that is 51 percent effective is still better than no vaccine, and China vaccinated 500 million people in a single month. But that may only cut the path of COVID-19 in half. If another outbreak develops or the country increases its lockdowns and shutdowns to prevent the spread, it could exacerbate supply chain problems and cause costs to rise. Shipping delays already plague key Southern ports in China. COVID-19 could increase the backlog.

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Problems in the Food Supply Chain Causes Shortages, Price Increases

Empty grocery store shelves are so last year… or are they? As food service at restaurants and hotels restarts, expect more food supply disruptions.

When COVID-19 started and restaurants closed down, food packaged for sale to restaurants suddenly have no destination. As sales shifted from restaurants to hones, there were food shortages because plants that put 25 pounds of chicken in a box or sold millions of pounds of French fries to fast-food chains could not repackage them for sale to consumers. Farmers poured milk down drains as school lunch programs ended, farmers plowed potatoes under, and warehouses for frozen foods were filled to their gills.

Now, the re-opening of restaurants is causing disruption again, this time in reverse. The sudden demand as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted is challenging the supply chain. Even corrugated cardboard and refrigerated truck availability are limited. According to the article “Food Supply Chains are Stretched as Americans head Back to Restaurants” in the Wall Street Journal:

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COVID-19 Plunges in U.S. But Sees Growth in Other Countries

The CDC relaxes its mask mandate for fully vaccinated individuals, but we expect everyone except the very sick or the very paranoid to remove theirs.

Author’s Note: We are on a 1,000+ mile road trip, so my opportunities to post have been few and far in between. My apologies for the delay, and I hope to be back on my regular posting schedule tomorrow. This COVID-19 update is going to be a bit shorter than usual as a result.

The big COVID-19 headline in the past week has been the CDC’s relaxation of the mask mandate for people who are “fully vaccinated,” which it defines as having had both shots with at least two weeks have passed since the last shot. Multiple states quickly relaxed their guidelines.

Close to 60 percent of the population has had one shot, but my observation is that far more than 60 percent of people have immediately stopped wearing their masks. This was based on traveling through rest stops, fast-food restaurants, gas stations, and convenience stores in a piece of Virginia, a section of Tennessee, a chunk of North Carolina, a large section of South Carolina, through Georgia, and into Northern Florida. This was to be expected in Florida, where Gov. Desantis has relaxed rules for some time, but it was a surprise to see masks discarded so quickly in many other parts of the Southeast.

I’ll talk more about masks and the gas shortage in my next post.

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