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BA.5 is spreading.  It’s come sooner than I expected and is likely to make more people sick.  We don’t know yet about hospitalization and deaths, or about how sick it will make us

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Covid-19 Updates Week of
May 14, 2022

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It’s back. I didn’t think we’d see another surge before the fall, but Covid-19 is back in Rhode Island. Our testing numbers are up; hospitalizations have doubled; some test sites in Central Falls are running 25 percent positive, and some schools in Central Falls have lost so many staff to illness that they are talking about whether they need to close for five to ten days.

Read More: Click the image or title                                                            May 13, 2022

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SO cases were a little up and then down and now up a little again, hospitalizations were down in Rhode Island and are now up a little but down in the US, deaths in the US are down, I can’t tell for sure what is happening to deaths in Rhode Island (because the Department of Health just adjusted the count up to 3523, up almost 100 in a week but likely a “technical adjustment”) but the weekly count of deaths is between 5 and 10 a week -- and envelopes remain stationery. (The last bit references an old joke: escalators are up, elevators are down and envelopes remain stationery). Yikes. 3523 deaths in little Rhode Island. At least 500 preventable in the last six months– and more likely close to 3000 preventable when you compare us to other countries. But things are better than they were. Way better.

Read More: Click the image or title                                                             April 6, 2022

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SO cases were a little up and then down and now up a little again, hospitalizations were down in Rhode Island and are now up a little but down in the US, deaths in the US are down, I can’t tell for sure what is happening to deaths in Rhode Island (because the Department of Health just adjusted the count up to 3523, up almost 100 in a week but likely a “technical adjustment”) but the weekly count of deaths is between 5 and 10 a week -- and envelopes remain stationery. (The last bit references an old joke: escalators are up, elevators are down and envelopes remain stationery). Yikes. 3523 deaths in little Rhode Island. At least 500 preventable in the last six months– and more likely close to 3000 preventable when you compare us to other countries. But things are better than they were. Way better.

Read More: Click the image or title                                                             April 6, 2022

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SO cases were a little up and then down and now up a little again, hospitalizations were down in Rhode Island and are now up a little but down in the US, deaths in the US are down, I can’t tell for sure what is happening to deaths in Rhode Island (because the Department of Health just adjusted the count up to 3523, up almost 100 in a week but likely a “technical adjustment”) but the weekly count of deaths is between 5 and 10 a week -- and envelopes remain stationery. (The last bit references an old joke: escalators are up, elevators are down and envelopes remain stationery). Yikes. 3523 deaths in little Rhode Island. At least 500 preventable in the last six months– and more likely close to 3000 preventable when you compare us to other countries. But things are better than they were. Way better.

Read More: Click the image or title                                                             April 6, 2022

Special Added Chapter for Health Care Revolt written in June 2020.

Every morning at 5AM, three or four white minivans leave from a parking lot on Cowden Street in Central Falls, Rhode Island for factories all across southern New England. Each minivan is densely packed with ten to fifteen mostly undocumented immigrants who live two or three or five people to a room in the ramshackle wooden frame triple-deckers that are crammed into every available square foot in this old mill city. The people in the minivans are from all over the world - from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, from Cape Verde, the Dominican Republic, Colombia; and Puerto Rico – refugees from Hurricanes Maria and Dorian who can’t find other jobs here. The vans are run by labor contractors who find and supply unskilled labor to the low wage employers who need bodies for the hot, dirty, smelly and dangerous jobs no one else wants, in the factories, construction sites, meat-packing plants and fish-houses of Southern New England. The vans charge each worker $5 to $10 a day.


Read More: Click the image or title                                                                      June 2020

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What We’ve Done. And What Lies Ahead.
Covid-19 in 2022
Four Essays

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Here are the numbers: Rhode Island had 252 deaths in January of 2022, almost as many as in the second six months of 2021 – and all likely preventable.

The good news in Rhode Island is that community spread and hospitalizations appear to be dropping as most epidemiologists predicted -- and I hope and pray that deaths will start dropping as well. Rhode Island has done an amazing job of using antivirals and monoclonal antibodies to reduce deaths. But 44 percent of deaths were still in vaccinated people in December and January. That’s 172 vaccinated Rhode Islanders who died only because our political leaders refused to endorse simple public health measures....

Read more: Click Here.                                                                                       February 10, 2022

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Recent data reported in The New York Times and Wall Street Journal suggest the US had highest death rate among high-income, developed nations; that our rate of Omicron related deaths is far higher than those of high-income, developed nations; and that we’ve had almost a million pandemic associated deaths, about 100,000 more than number of deaths caused by the virus itself, excess deaths associated with the pandemic that may not have been caused by the virus itself. People who own stores and bars and restaurants used their political muscle to keep their business open, and politicians listened to them, instead of doing their jobs, which was to protect the lives of their constituents. We didn’t wanna get vaccinated; didn’t wanna wear masks, didn’t wanna stop large events when community transmission was high and didn't wanna dial back our activities then – essentially, too many of us didn’t care that someone else was going to die because we wanted to live “normal” lives. And then that someone else (usually) did die. And that doesn’t seem to bother anyone very much. Dead people don’t vote, don’t pay lobbyists, and rarely complain about past mistakes.

Read more: Click Here                                                                                February 14, 2022

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There are three disinformation campaigns I want to take a moment to debunk, because they all have the potential to cause a fair amount of chaos and distract us from being one people focused on saving lives by beating this virus into submission. The idea that the risk of dying from the virus isn’t any greater than the risk of dying from the flu; the idea that Omicron was milder so we can throw the masks away and start dancing in the streets; and the idea that lockdowns don’t work. These are all false beliefs, and I can’t believe that our friends over in the Kremlin aren’t licking their chops over the way the disinformation campaigns have been spread around in the U.S. and are widely believed, so we have something new to fight over.

Read more: Click Here.                                                                                 February 17, 2022

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The numbers woke me from sleep last night. I had reported them in a previous essay but had not really processed them yet.

Again: In December of 2021, a year after the vaccine became available, and about eight months after it became widely available, Rhode Island had 152 deaths, 59 of which were in vaccinated people. In January of 2022, Rhode Island had 252 deaths, 113 of which were in vaccinated people.

That means that in December of 2021, 93 unvaccinated Rhode Islanders died, and in January of 2022, 139 unvaccinated Rhode Islanders died.

404 Rhode Islanders died in December and January alone. Big numbers.


But picture these numbers another way.

Read more: Click Here.                                                                             February 21, 2022

"Okay, Dr. Fine", I imagine some of you are saying. "January 7th came and went. You said we’d see 12,000 new cases in Rhode Island in a single day by then. And here we are, with no more than 6,000!"

 

My first response is, "whew! I love to be wrong when being wrong suggests that we have fewer people ill than I thought we would have, and fewer hospitalizations and deaths, which follow new cases by about two and three weeks, respectively."

Read More: Click the image or title                                                     

 

                                                                                                                         January 15, 2022

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Ok. More than 3000 tested positive cases on December 30, 2021. I just saw that the positivity rate of testing at one New York Hospital is fifty percent. Which is no surprise. With a doubling rate of three days, we will likely have 6000

test positive cases today, January 2, 2022, if we test 25,000

people. And 12,000 by January 5, 2022, which is about 50 percent
positive.

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January 3, 2022
 

Take-home points:

  • Our polarization has allowed Covid-19 to spread. Covid-19 made our polarization worse. Others may have taken advantage of Covid-19 to make that polarization more intense.

  • Government is stuck on familiar tropes and is following its constituencies, not leading.

  • Our institutions – CDC and FDA failed to act effectively, clearly and decisively, which opened the space for our polarization to get worse.

  • Government prioritized commerce over protecting the lives of Americans. That new priority puts us on a slippery slope towards political violence. What each of us says and does matters.

Read More: Click the image or title                                                            December 30, 2021

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Take-home points:

  • The Omicron Variant has become the dominant form of Covid-19 in the US.

  • We don’t know how dangerous Omicron is yet, but it’s more contagious than Delta, and more resistant to vaccines.

  • It is very likely to infect lots of people in a very short time.

  • It may or may not cause more hospitalizations and deaths. We won’t know for another three or four weeks.

  • But it will cause lots of people to get sick at once, and that will disrupt life for four to six weeks. Be prepared.

Read More: Click the image or title                                                             December 21, 2021

Take-home points

  • The Covid-19 vaccine does not protect people from getting or spreading Covid-19.

  • We can expect 70 to 100 preventable deaths in December and between 100 and 600 or

  • more deaths in January, mostly among people over 60.

  • 18 to 25 of those deaths in December will be among people under 60

  • 25 to 150 of those deaths in January will be among people under 60

  • About half of those deaths will be in people who were vaccinated.

  • Masks help prevent Covid-19 from spreading but they only reduce spread by 53 percent.

  • Government has failed to protect Rhode Islanders. We can protect one

  • another by avoiding parties, stores, bars and restaurants. Starting now.

  • Omicron is going to upend our lives in January, whether we are tired of all this or not.

Read More: Click the image or title                                                             December 20, 2021