Summer’s officially departed-outbound this Wednesday afternoon, but it’s still way-warm here in California’s Central Valley with temperatures notching out in triple digits, though, for the supposedly last time for a while, maybe this year.
The Autumnal Equinox (the moment when the length of daylight and darkness are almost perfectly equal) bookmarks the now:
Today, #autumn officially begins in the Northern Hemisphere at 3:21 pm ET! ??
To celebrate, here is a a time-lapsed loop from the #GOESEast ?? showing the change in the angle of the sun from the 2021 spring equinox to the #AutumnEquinox. pic.twitter.com/neLCYb5BMH
— NOAA Satellites (@NOAASatellites) September 22, 2021
Not at all in context with the moment, other than a shitload of people dying for no reason — Jeffrey Sachs, professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, and president of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, in an op/ed this afternoon at CNN tells the tale of the horrid impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for a supposedly modern America:
There is one overwhelming and grim reality: most of the Covid deaths could have been prevented, but America’s fractured culture — political, economic and personal — mainly delivered death rather than life.
With our 330 million-plus population, the pandemic has caused about 2,048 deaths per million population.
This is one of the highest mortality rates in the world. Several South American countries have higher rates, as do a few countries of Europe.
Yet the death rate is shockingly high, considering that the US mass produces Covid-19 vaccines that prevent most deaths.
Instead of an orderly lifesaving response to the epidemic, the US response has been unruly and disorderly from the start.
Many lives would have been saved if the US had only implemented basic public-health protections until mass vaccine coverage was possible: mask mandates, physical distancing, testing-tracing-isolation procedures and closing large events.
Once the vaccines arrived, continued use of precautionary actions would have helped to keep the virus at bay. (Vaccines save lives but only partly prevent infections and transmission.)
This is the route that Australia, China, Hong Kong, Korea, New Zealand and Taiwan have scrupulously followed. Their deaths rates per million are a tiny fraction of the US death rate.
All those countries have suffered fewer than 50 deaths per million population, or less than one-40th of the US death rate.
If the US had kept deaths to 50 per million rather than the actual 2,048 deaths per million, the US would have saved 650,000 lives from Covid-19.
US culture has repeatedly showed itself to be too self-centered, shortsighted and poorly informed to forestall mass deaths and continued surges of infection.
Even with lifesaving vaccines in prospect or in hand, politicians — and notably Republican politicians — and too much of the public demanded complete, immediate and untrammeled personal freedom: the freedom to not wear face masks, the freedom to attend large gatherings, the freedom to eschew vaccines and the freedom to infect others.
Many right wingers have treated even the most modest and limited protections as an attack on freedom.
No immediate gratification should be denied; no face masks warranted even in schools, where children face the threats of infection. The message is now, now, now, without a pause for informed reflection and safety.
The selfishness of it all has been staggering.
Poor people and people of color in disproportionate numbers, and frontline workers, were repeatedly ordered to go to work in unprotected settings at workplaces where even basic face mask protections were widely flouted.
Across the 50 states, those with Republican governors and those with chronically weak public education systems, notably states in the South, have had much lower vaccine uptake than the states with Democratic legislatures and with better performing schools, notably those in the Northeast.
These facts reflect the two aspects of our broken culture: the Republican ideology of irresponsibility in the name of freedom and a culture prey to misinformation that results from chronically low-quality public education.
We are not at the end of this story.
Covid-19 deaths in the US continue at an average of around 1,900 per day (during the last seven days).
Long ago, the US Covid deaths ceased to be a tragic fact of nature, but became a fact of a fractured culture. America needs to embrace life, not death.
As Sachs writes, we’re not out of the woods, by far.
And in order to maybe default the dying, the FDA this afternoon stepped up the vaccine boost (The Verge):
The Food and Drug Administration cleared a third dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for people some vulnerable groups — the first booster in the United States’ vaccination efforts.
The agency signed off on boosters for people 65 years of age and older, those who are at high risk of severe disease, health care workers, and other people at high risk of exposure to COVID-19 at work.
The decision only covers the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine shots, and there are no updated guidelines for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots at this point.
Good news for me (I’ll be 73 in November) as I’ll be making an appointment for this as soon as possible. Just the way we are nowadays.
We’ve the means, but pushed away a shitty weapons-list:
And, too, once again, here we are…
(Illustration out front: Pablo Picasso’s ‘The Weeping Woman [La Femme qui pleure],’ found here)