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COVID - Where are we now? Where are we going?

Posted: Mon Aug 24, 2020 4:30 pm
by Queequeg
Back in March, it felt like staring into the abyss. Five months on, a lot of research and studies have been conducted and published, and we're getting a better picture the disease, its risks, and its impact.

1. We know that mortality is very low among healthy populations. Those with diseases affecting the respiratory and circulatory systems and other risk factors such as weight, are at much higher risk. Older people also are at higher risk.

2. The effects of COVID on even healthy people can be long lasting, and we don't know the long term effects well.

3. We don't know if prior infection and recovery give a person immunity, and if so, for how long. I've seen studies on this released and then withdrawn recently. The data is just not conclusive.

4. We have a good idea about how to control the spread of the disease: social distancing, avoiding closed spaces with bad air circulation, personal hygiene, and wearing a mask in public. This means we can probably safely resume some public activities, but others are probably not good ideas, especially as the seasons turn and weather gets colder, requiring us to close windows and stay inside spaces with poor air circulation. Restaurants, gyms, theater, bars - basically entertainment oriented activities should be avoided because of the inordinate risk and relative frivolity of the benefits.

This brings us to schools - keeping kids out of school, especially younger children, is a disaster for their development. We thought children don't spread the virus, but apparently they do. They generally don't get as sick, but then some do. Unfortunately, the kids who most need in person school for their learning and development are also the ones with the least self control, making social distancing and mask wearing difficult to keep up.

In the US, where some schools have already opened, we are seeing clusters of infection break out. As the bulk of schools reopen in September, there is a good chance of another rise in infections.

In summary, we know how to keep the disease in check. With behavior modifications and contact tracing, we ought to be able to manage this until a long term solution (treatment or vaccination) is found. The problem is, the response to COVID is deeply politicized in the US and this, along with sensational news coverage, arguably derivative and opportunistically taking advantage of a confused political landscape, is getting in the way of a sober, science based approach to managing this pandemic.

Some recent articles that I found informative.

https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/c ... e-declined
(for context, two other articles by the same author. They are interesting because they present a historical snap shot of particular moments in time in this pandemic. https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/c ... and-beyond https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/c ... ng-economy)

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/202 ... asing.html

Re: COVID - Where are we now? Where are we going?

Posted: Mon Aug 24, 2020 8:20 pm
by Genjo Conan
FWIW, my kid is in 3rd Grade, and is now starting week 3 of distance learning. It's been a shitshow; I'm not sure how much she's actually learning; I'm not sure how much she can learn under the circumstances; and the burden on us as her parents has been huge.

That said, we're also not in a hurry to send her back. We're not overly concerned about her--as you say, the risks to young people, while real, are also quite small. We're concerned about the teachers and staff. As you say, it does seem that young people can carry and transmit the virus. I haven't seen any realistic plan from anyone in our school district to keep teachers and staff safe, and until we see that, it doesn't feel right to send the kids back.

Some of the parents and administrators were exploring ways to hold classes outside, but we're in California, so this was before the entire state lit on fire. :shrug:

Re: COVID - Where are we now? Where are we going?

Posted: Mon Aug 24, 2020 8:37 pm
by Johnny Dangerous
Genjo Conan wrote: Mon Aug 24, 2020 8:20 pm FWIW, my kid is in 3rd Grade, and is now starting week 3 of distance learning. It's been a shitshow; I'm not sure how much she's actually learning; I'm not sure how much she can learn under the circumstances; and the burden on us as her parents has been huge.

That said, we're also not in a hurry to send her back. We're not overly concerned about her--as you say, the risks to young people, while real, are also quite small. We're concerned about the teachers and staff. As you say, it does seem that young people can carry and transmit the virus. I haven't seen any realistic plan from anyone in our school district to keep teachers and staff safe, and until we see that, it doesn't feel right to send the kids back.

Some of the parents and administrators were exploring ways to hold classes outside, but we're in California, so this was before the entire state lit on fire. :shrug:
I'm in the same boat, the distance learning was a joke last time, and I don't expect it to be any better now. We are torn between having them join the homeschool co op and their normal school. Our reason for hesitancy with their normal school (which is quite good outside of pandemic times) is that it was such a waste of everyone's time trying to follow the 'lesson plans' last time, we figure we might as well just do their homeschooling ourselves. However, if we do homeschool, they may not be able to join in the in person classes at their local school when it re opens.

Personally, once there is a possibility of two days a week or so of in person interaction, I'm sending them. It's worth the risk to us for the mental health benefits to the kids, they have not done that well with the isolation. My wife and I likely already had Covid, and our county is not bad. I get how nervous people are though, everything during this time is about calculated risks.

Re: COVID - Where are we now? Where are we going?

Posted: Tue Aug 25, 2020 4:52 am
by Queequeg
Remote learning required me to go full tiger dad. It was exhausting. Since my work dried up, I had the time, so there's that. In many ways it was awesome, though, getting to spend so much time with my kids at these ages - 5 and 7. After we finished school, we'd go on walks or bike rides. I will remember a lot of this time fondly, even with a dark cloud hanging over it.

Our school is opening hybrid - two days in person, three days remote. We've gotten together with some other families to hire an instructor for the remote days. Will probably ignore the online curriculum and trust the instructor, who was our children's preschool teacher at a Montessori school, to get the kids to their milestones.

NY has low infection rates, but our village has had a recent spike, and we anticipate rates to rise across the region soon, especially after schools open back up. We anticipate going full remote within weeks.

I feel bad that the schools have to try to open, even though it is almost certainly going to end quickly. Lots to complain about, but the school district is doing their best in an impossible situation. Especially for the young kids, in person instruction is critical. They have to try to make it work. The teachers are heroic.

Re: COVID - Where are we now? Where are we going?

Posted: Tue Aug 25, 2020 5:02 am
by Johnny Dangerous
Queequeg wrote: Tue Aug 25, 2020 4:52 am Remote learning required me to go full tiger dad. It was exhausting. Since my work dried up, I had the time, so there's that. In many ways it was awesome, though, getting to spend so much time with my kids at these ages - 5 and 7. After we finished school, we'd go on walks or bike rides. I will remember a lot of this time fondly, even with a dark cloud hanging over it.
I'm enjoying the time with my kids, but it's taxing. I'm working from home and in school full time, in addition to this.
Our school is opening hybrid - two days in person, three days remote. We've gotten together with some other families to hire an instructor for the remote days. Will probably ignore the online curriculum and trust the instructor, who was our children's preschool teacher at a Montessori school, to get the kids to their milestones.

NY has low infection rates, but our village has had a recent spike, and we anticipate rates to rise across the region soon, especially after schools open back up. We anticipate going full remote within weeks.
I don't think anyone knows for sure how it will go, we won't be doing the two day a week thing until the new year, at least.
I feel bad that the schools have to try to open, even though it is almost certainly going to end quickly. Lots to complain about, but the school district is doing their best in an impossible situation. Especially for the young kids, in person instruction is critical. They have to try to make it work. The teachers are heroic.
Yeah, I think it's good that they are prioritizing opening schools when safe. I can't imagine how this is for families already in dire straits, one of whom has to say home now, whether they want to or not. For me it's just an inconvenience, and a thing I have to adjust to. For some kids school is one of their main sources of food, a place they can go to get away from ugly home environments, etc. The effects of keeping kids out of school are far reaching, and it's worse the lower you go on the economic ladder.

Re: COVID - Where are we now? Where are we going?

Posted: Tue Aug 25, 2020 5:40 am
by Queequeg
Johnny Dangerous wrote: Tue Aug 25, 2020 5:02 am Yeah, I think it's good that they are prioritizing opening schools when safe. I can't imagine how this is for families already in dire straits, one of whom has to say home now, whether they want to or not. For me it's just an inconvenience, and a thing I have to adjust to. For some kids school is one of their main sources of food, a place they can go to get away from ugly home environments, etc. The effects of keeping kids out of school are far reaching, and it's worse the lower you go on the economic ladder.
I had written a little bit about this, but thought it might have been too much info. Our village has stark inequality. Half is working poor, many undocumented, and the other half highly educated affluent professionals. For the professionals, its like you say - an inconvenience - but manageable. I feel like the school district is working hard to open the schools for the poor half of the town. Those kids will probably not get much help at home with school, their parents will be in the impossible situation of having to choose between caring for their kids or going to work, and as you mention - many get their regular meals at school, not to mention the escape.

I think of my daughter going into kindergarten, and her classmates. When my son was in kindergarten, there was one kid who barely spoke English because his family only spoke Spanish. By first grade, the kid who was my son's class mate again had picked up English and was doing fine, at least until COVID ended school for them. The kids entering kindergarten in that position this year are going to be behind, probably for the rest of their lives. I've got a lot of Early Childhood Ed people around me who have made me hyper aware of how important the early years of school are for kids. Its sad.

Re: COVID - Where are we now? Where are we going?

Posted: Tue Aug 25, 2020 10:53 am
by Bundokji
Where i live, we had very few cases over many months, but recently, due to bad border control, we are witnessing a rise in cases, circa 40 new confirmed infections a day.

What i see as a positive is that it is getting normalized. The government decided to open schools with certain health measures. The way the media reports on new cases has toned down when compared with the hype associated with every new case during March and April this year.

However, people are still confused, not knowing how to act. Last week, one of my colleagues found out that she interacted with a possible coronavirus patient without knowing it, so she sent a message to the rest of the team warning them to be careful. The immediate reaction was one of panic, faces turned yellow and everyone was confused. Within 15 minutes, the delivery guy arrived with the food and they followed him to the kitchen as if they were hypnotized. They ate together on the same small table without wearing masks.

Re: COVID - Where are we now? Where are we going?

Posted: Tue Aug 25, 2020 1:56 pm
by Fa Dao
In some ways I am so glad all my kids are grown...I really feel bad for you guys with young ones right now...hope this all settles down sooner rather than later for you all

Re: COVID - Where are we now? Where are we going?

Posted: Tue Aug 25, 2020 2:28 pm
by Queequeg
Bundokji wrote: Tue Aug 25, 2020 10:53 am Where i live, we had very few cases over many months, but recently, due to bad border control, we are witnessing a rise in cases, circa 40 new confirmed infections a day.

What i see as a positive is that it is getting normalized. The government decided to open schools with certain health measures. The way the media reports on new cases has toned down when compared with the hype associated with every new case during March and April this year.

However, people are still confused, not knowing how to act. Last week, one of my colleagues found out that she interacted with a possible coronavirus patient without knowing it, so she sent a message to the rest of the team warning them to be careful. The immediate reaction was one of panic, faces turned yellow and everyone was confused. Within 15 minutes, the delivery guy arrived with the food and they followed him to the kitchen as if they were hypnotized. They ate together on the same small table without wearing masks.
The confusion is the worst part. It would be ideal if we had consistent guidance on best practices and national coordination on making and distributing safety equipment. We have a lot of really smart people in the country who could help get us on the right track, and most would feel it their duty to help if asked.

In the meantime - wear masks, avoid crowds in closed spaces, maintain social distance. Cooperate with contact tracing. We can't make ourselves 100% risk free, but we can cut down transmissions with a few precautions.

We (my family) are not 100% isolated anymore like we were in March and April, and I've been in situations where I've been in close contact with family and people at the office. I still avoid public transport and large public crowds. I try to keep my interactions to people I know - that way if someone does get sick, I'll likely hear about it and can take precautions not to spread to others, like avoiding visiting my elderly parents for a while. We let our kids go to he community pool. Its only people from the neighborhood and so we can easily contact trace. I know several people who have had it, and heard of others within 2 degrees of separation. This is how I'm balancing caution and needing to have some sort of semblance of normal.

I think we just have to be cautious and calculated about activities.

Back to school - there are a lot of uncontrolled interactions in a large community like a school. This is the most concerning risk in our lives right now. I guess if you work with a lot of people, that presents a similar risk, though, I don't think you're picking each others' noses like 5 year olds.

Re: COVID - Where are we now? Where are we going?

Posted: Tue Aug 25, 2020 2:29 pm
by Queequeg
Fa Dao wrote: Tue Aug 25, 2020 1:56 pm In some ways I am so glad all my kids are grown...I really feel bad for you guys with young ones right now...hope this all settles down sooner rather than later for you all
Thanks, man.

Re: COVID - Where are we now? Where are we going?

Posted: Tue Aug 25, 2020 2:59 pm
by PeterC
Where are we going?


Re: COVID - Where are we now? Where are we going?

Posted: Tue Aug 25, 2020 4:42 pm
by Bundokji
Queequeg wrote: Tue Aug 25, 2020 2:28 pm The confusion is the worst part. It would be ideal if we had consistent guidance on best practices and national coordination on making and distributing safety equipment. We have a lot of really smart people in the country who could help get us on the right track, and most would feel it their duty to help if asked.

In the meantime - wear masks, avoid crowds in closed spaces, maintain social distance. Cooperate with contact tracing. We can't make ourselves 100% risk free, but we can cut down transmissions with a few precautions.

We (my family) are not 100% isolated anymore like we were in March and April, and I've been in situations where I've been in close contact with family and people at the office. I still avoid public transport and large public crowds. I try to keep my interactions to people I know - that way if someone does get sick, I'll likely hear about it and can take precautions not to spread to others, like avoiding visiting my elderly parents for a while. We let our kids go to he community pool. Its only people from the neighborhood and so we can easily contact trace. I know several people who have had it, and heard of others within 2 degrees of separation. This is how I'm balancing caution and needing to have some sort of semblance of normal.

I think we just have to be cautious and calculated about activities.

Back to school - there are a lot of uncontrolled interactions in a large community like a school. This is the most concerning risk in our lives right now. I guess if you work with a lot of people, that presents a similar risk, though, I don't think you're picking each others' noses like 5 year olds.
I agree. Consistent guidance is in short supply, not because smart and well-intentioned people are not trying, but because COVID presented us with challenges that goes beyond science. It reminded us that the limits of our responsibility can go deeper than what meets the immediate eye. Maybe it has always been this way, but it is now repackaged to become more obvious. It raises questions about what constitutes intentional action. The cost of proposed solutions. The stress caused by our attempts to be consistent through comparing how we used to behave before COVID with the actions required after it. We all hope it goes away, but it is a great learning experience nonetheless.

My mother experienced a lot of stress during the lockdown, and she had to undergo cardiac catheterization. Having had lost her sister to similar operation, she was hesitant to do it. My ideals is usually to respect personal choice, but i went against my own grain and convinced her to do the operation without being too pushy. Thanks Buddha, everything went well before the recent outbreak. Now, her chances to survive in case of infection is higher than before.

I am not married and have no kids, but i sympathies. During the first outbreak, the government imposed a curfew during the Eid holiday, so kids did not have the chance to enjoy it or wear new clothes. Add this to distant learning and absence from school, one can't help but feel sorry for them and admire the lengths most parents have gone to to mitigate the impact on their childern.

Luckily, COVID is not as bad for children, and nations are becoming more skillful in dealing it. Today, the goveenment declared that schools will open on time despite the increase in new cases. I hope everything will be OK. I also hope the upcoming winter will come with the least amount of harm.

Re: COVID - Where are we now? Where are we going?

Posted: Mon Aug 31, 2020 2:52 pm
by Queequeg
Talking with friends last night not so much about COVID and its impact on our kids per se, but how this is throwing into relief how we depended on schools to basically help us raise our kids. We sent them to school, 5 days a week, to after school programs, etc. We got to talking about what sort of stuff is going into their heads. We all are on the more progressive end of the spectrum and are not happy with some of the institutionalization education they get. This is a situation where maybe we start rethinking education a little bit - along with all the other things we need to rethink about society.

No conclusions, just sharing an unexpected conversation I had growing out of this situation.

Re: COVID - Where are we now? Where are we going?

Posted: Mon Aug 31, 2020 11:30 pm
by Johnny Dangerous
Queequeg wrote: Mon Aug 31, 2020 2:52 pm Talking with friends last night not so much about COVID and its impact on our kids per se, but how this is throwing into relief how we depended on schools to basically help us raise our kids. We sent them to school, 5 days a week, to after school programs, etc. We got to talking about what sort of stuff is going into their heads. We all are on the more progressive end of the spectrum and are not happy with some of the institutionalization education they get. This is a situation where maybe we start rethinking education a little bit - along with all the other things we need to rethink about society.

No conclusions, just sharing an unexpected conversation I had growing out of this situation.
Yeah, I've had the same conversations. The thing is, we are able to have this kind of conversation because we both have the money/time/resources to have more choices. Lots of people just get what they get. Attempts at "school choice" have almost uniformly benefited rich private institutions. The quality of public education varies massively across the US. Right now we live in one of the best places for it, and even here the pandemic-era choices are friggin' terrible. We are better off just giving our kids projects on their own really.

Ideally I'd want to see more money going into quality programs based on some kind of community education model - based on specific community needs, rather than beefing up administration and so much emphasis and money thrown towards metrics and testing, which is how it has been for while. The schools here are very good and they at least attempt this - serving the community needs, but all the stupid testing, metrics and BS get in the way. Hardly anyone knows how to do distance education properly, and I'm not even sure you can have quality distance education for younger kids.

The funny thing is, on paper some of the charter school ideas I've seen seem great. it's just that when they are put into practice they are mainly for people with money. But yes, teachers partially raise our kids. Coming from a family of teachers, I already knew this. Unless you wanna homeschool, that is reality. One of our reasons for moving to the PNW (to the particular place we did) was excellent schools, which don't really exist where I grew up.

We thought about doing one of the homeschooling "pods" or whatever, our district gave us that choice due to the pandemic. Then I thought of the sort of folks we'd be interacting with - likely some upper class liberals who think that harsh tones and vocal opinions are a form of violence...and we decided on normal school (whatever it ends up looking like), extra "assignments" Mom and I cook up, some trips to the boxing gym, and lots of bike rides. Until there is actual interaction again, that's the best we can do.

Re: COVID - Where are we now? Where are we going?

Posted: Tue Sep 01, 2020 3:51 pm
by Fa Dao
Maybe you could find a dozen or so like minded parents and hire a tutor for all of your kids with everybody chipping in and agreeing before hand what would be taught and sharing in the hosting duties?

Re: COVID - Where are we now? Where are we going?

Posted: Thu Oct 15, 2020 8:11 am
by muni
I am taking this meanwhile older tread back, to say, take care, people in America and elswere...
When things are going little better, is it the moment to remain cautious to avoid a new huge wave like there is now in some countries of Europe and go eventually back to a lock down.

Sweden always had another approach, and I cannot say all countries had to do like that, I really don't know.
For me what counts is not to be a spreading virus bomb, avoid fellows, or wear a clean covering mask if not possible.

Re: COVID - Where are we now? Where are we going?

Posted: Thu Oct 15, 2020 10:07 am
by Bristollad
muni wrote: Thu Oct 15, 2020 8:11 am Sweden always had another approach, and I cannot say all countries had to do like that, I really don't know.
There has been vocal support and much criticism of Sweden's approach both from within Sweden and from outside. Here is a recent article from critics' side:

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/370/6513/159

Re: COVID - Where are we now? Where are we going?

Posted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 2:41 am
by Lucas Oliveira
How Does a Pandemic End? Here's What We Can Learn From the 1918 Flu

https://time.com/5894403/how-the-1918-f ... mic-ended/


:namaste:

Re: COVID - Where are we now? Where are we going?

Posted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 6:51 am
by Kim O'Hara
Baby bust in USA
Women Are Deciding Not to Have Babies Because of the Pandemic

... A June report from the Brookings Institution estimated that the U.S. would see as many as 500,000 fewer births in 2021, a 13% drop from the 3.8 million babies born in 2019. Telehealth clinic Nurx tells TIME it has seen a 50% jump in requests for birth control since the beginning of the pandemic...

...On top of financial worries, the pandemic has plagued would-be mothers with a host of other concerns, including hospital rules that might banish partners from the delivery room and the risk of exposing relatives to illness if they’re needed to provide childcare. And of course, parents are worried about the health of the baby: Los Angeles County recently reported the first newborn cases in the U.S., with 8 of 193 babies testing positive for COVID-19. ...
The long-term impact of such delays could be staggering. The U.S. fertility rate is the lowest it has been since 1985. We’re also a relatively elderly nation; by 2034, Americans over age 65 are expected to outnumber those under 18 for the first time in U.S. history. Already, the country faces a severe dearth of workers able to drive the economy and care for our aging population.

Demographers and women’s-rights advocates alike say the looming baby bust is a damning indictment of the health care and childcare systems in the U.S. America is the only developed country that does not guarantee paid leave to new parents, and it does not offer universal childcare or universal pre-K. ...
:reading: https://time.com/5892749/covid-19-baby-bust/

:namaste:
Kim

Re: COVID - Where are we now? Where are we going?

Posted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 9:08 am
by PeterC
Kim O'Hara wrote: Mon Oct 19, 2020 6:51 am Demographers and women’s-rights advocates alike say the looming baby bust is a damning indictment of the health care and childcare systems in the U.S. America is the only developed country that does not guarantee paid leave to new parents, and it does not offer universal childcare or universal pre-K. ...
I'm not sure how falling fertility rates are a *bad* thing - aren't they an unequivocally good thing? Of course the mechanism by which that is happening is the failure of public services in the US, but still, it's the direction we need to go globally