Monday Morning Thoughts: People Are Not Taking COVID Seriously Enough – And Some of Them Are Dying

FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a small bottle labelled with a “Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine” sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken October 30, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Nashville-based conservative radio talk show host Phil Valentine was like any number of skeptics.  On his program, he repeatedly downplayed the importance of getting a vaccine.  He proclaimed that he believed his personal odds of dying from Covid-19 were “probably way less than one percent.”

In a July 13 message, he wrote: “Well, the first day back went according to plan.  Got feeling better and better during the course of the show.”

He continued: “The good news is there are some very effective alternatives to the vaccine.”  His recommendation: “Have a doctor on speed dial who will write you a prescription for ivermectin.  Then you’re ready to go.”

He did add: “If you’re high risk of dying from COVID, I still strongly suggest you consider the vaccine, but this (is) totally your choice.  Just make sure you’re prepared if you decide against the vaccine.”

However, Valentine then took a turn for the worse.  By late July, his family announced that Valentine had been hospitalized in “very serious condition” and was suffering from “Covid pneumonia and the attendant side effects.”

His tune changed.

“Phil would like for his listeners to know that while he has never been an ‘anti-vaxer’ he regrets not being more vehemently ‘Pro-Vaccine,’ and looks forward to being able to more vigorously advocate that position as soon as he is back on the air, which we all hope will be soon,” his brother Mark Valentine wrote on July 22.

“He recognizes now that him not getting the vaccination has probably caused a bunch of other people not to get vaccinated,” he said in the interview. “And that he regrets.

“This is a real threat, it is a real public health crisis and it is something that if he had to do over again … his cavalier attitude wouldn’t have been what it was and he would have gotten vaccinated and encouraged everybody to get vaccinated,” he added.

The right-wing, for reasons that remain unclear, has been vaccine reluctant—even though Trump pushed through the vaccine and trumpeted it as a major administrative achievement.  The right has instead pushed alternative treatments like ivermectin.

But last month, the push for that drug received a major setback when the main study that suggested ivermectin as a treatment against the virus was withdrawn due to “ethical concerns.”

The study, conducted by Dr. Ahmed Elgazzar from Benha University in Egypt, was published on the Research Square website in November.

It claimed to be a randomized controlled study.

The study found that patients with Covid-19 treated in the hospital who “received ivermectin early reported substantial recovery” and that there was “a substantial improvement and reduction in mortality rate in ivermectin treated groups,” by 90%.

But the study was pulled reportedly “due to ethical concerns.”

Research Square did not outline what those concerns were.

According to an article in the Guardian, “A medical student in London, Jack Lawrence, was among the first to identify serious concerns about the paper, leading to the retraction. He first became aware of the Elgazzar preprint when it was assigned to him by one of his lecturers for an assignment that formed part of his master’s degree. He found the introduction section of the paper appeared to have been almost entirely plagiarised.”

They noted: “It appeared that the authors had run entire paragraphs from press releases and websites about ivermectin and Covid-19 through a thesaurus to change key words.

“Humorously, this led to them changing ‘severe acute respiratory syndrome’ to ‘extreme intense respiratory syndrome’ on one occasion,” Lawrence said.

It’s actually worse than that.  According to the Guardian, “Lawrence contacted an Australian chronic disease epidemiologist from the University of Wollongong, Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz, and a data analyst affiliated with Linnaeus University in Sweden who reviews scientific papers for errors, Nick Brown, for help analysing the data and study results more thoroughly.”

“The main error is that at least 79 of the patient records are obvious clones of other records,” Brown told the Guardian. “It’s certainly the hardest to explain away as innocent error, especially since the clones aren’t even pure copies. There are signs that they have tried to change one or two fields to make them look more natural.”

This is what you are trumpeting as your alternative to the vaccine?

The real problem here is people still are not taking COVID seriously enough.  They will often point to the relatively low death rate and the disproportionate impact on people who are older or who have other immuno-compromised.  But in a way that makes the disease more insidious.

Every time we have relaxed our guard, case rates have exploded.  Cases which were around 14,000 per day in early July are now at 150,000 over the weekend.  That’s more than a tenfold increase.  The death rate is ramping up as well, as 1000 people died yesterday in the US.

Vaccines and better treatment options are probably holding down the death rate slightly, but, as I have pointed out, death is still a lagging, not leading, indicator.

The NY Times tracks the daily rates—the case rate has only increased by 36 percent over the last two weeks, a sign that perhaps the spread is slowing down, but the death rate is up 95 percent, nearly double what it was two weeks ago.

I have said this for the last 18 months now—people need to take this more seriously.  Phil Valentine didn’t and he did not live to truly regret his decision.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Keith Y Echols

    There’s some anti-liberal, anti-authority disease going around in this country.

    Even Trump got booed the other day at a rally in Alabama for encouraging vaccination.

    “I believe totally in your freedoms,” Trump said. “You gotta do what you have to do.”

    “But I recommend — take the vaccines,” he said. “I did it, it’s good!”

    When the crowd turns on their own orange hued leader….the socio-political disease out there is pretty bad.

      1. Keith Y Echols

        Well…yeah…but that’s not the point.  The point is about the amount of irrational rebellious resentment that has festered in the U.S. society.  It’s so deep that they’d even turn on their own.

        You would have thought that a national crisis like a pandemic would pull the country together in a time of crisis:  sacrifice for each other for the good of the people.  Instead the socio-political schism became wider and pulled the people even further apart.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Forgetting the anti-vaxxers, for the moment… I know of a couple in the family who have postponed vaccines… one had Covid, quickly recovered, the other has been pregnant since the beginning of the year… their concern is that the vaccines are still considered “emergency”, not fully accepted… until today…

      The Pfizer version just got full FDA approval.  Today.

      Some folk have been ‘conservative’ without ever wearing red MAGA caps… will be interesting to see how many of those who were waiting for full approval, will now choose to go ahead.  Perhaps Moderna will follow shortly.  Full approval might just be a “game-changer”… time will tell, for those who were legitimately concerned about the safety/efficacy of the vaccines to date.

      Yet, one of our family got the double-dose Pfizer, and still got hit with the the new variant, but had mild symptoms and fully recovered in ~ a week…

      Then, there will still be the “knuckle draggers”…


    2. Bill Marshall

      the socio-political disease out there is pretty bad.

      Virulent, highly contagious, no known vaccine nor cure.  Also, very difficult to isolate those who are ‘carriers’…

  2. Keith Olsen

    London Breed caught MASKLESS dancing and partying at San Francisco night club defying her own COVID rules.  What was she thinking?  She knows how Newsom and Pelosi were skewered for doing the same thing.  One of Breed’s replies to getting caught:

    Breed added, she and fellow club-goers “don’t need the fun police to come in and micromanage and tell us what we should or shouldn’t be doing.”

    Seriously, that’s exactly what she’s doing with her COVID mandates, telling others what they should or shouldn’t be doing.  She obviously doesn’t get it or doesn’t care.

    1. David Greenwald

      Meanwhile 2000 people a day continue to die (I guess you were wrong about the Delta variant not being deadly).  1 in 500 people in this country have died from COVID overall.  And only 55% are vaccinated.  Yes, but it’s Breed’s fault for being maskless and dancing while vaccinated.

      1. David Greenwald

        It is easy to make fun of hypocrisy and fine, have a ball, but the fact remains that unvaccinated people are 29 times more likely to get COVID than vaccinated ones.  That’s the problem!

        1. Ron Oertel

          Apparently, “these guys” aren’t much of a threat, anymore.

          I’ve long-ago realized that it’s pretty difficult to control the behavior of others. Even outright criminal behavior.

          One can’t even ensure that the Vanguard follows its own rules.

          1. David Greenwald

            That’s a cop out. People are dying because we don’t have the collective will to force the issue.

        2. Ron Oertel

          People are dying because we don’t have the collective will to force the issue.

          It’s difficult to accomplish in totalitarian societies, let alone the United States of Freedom.

          But if you don’t want to die, get vaccinated, wear masks, and engage in social distancing.  Something that YOU and your guests apparently did not do, at your fundraiser (per the photos).

          1. David Greenwald

            Why is it then that the US has one-quarter of all the new cases and fatalities in the world yesterday? You’re making excuses.

        3. Ron Oertel

          Again, I’d refer you to the photos surrounding your own fundraiser.

          I’m not making “excuses”, I’m making an observation (not just related to you).

          You can conduct a totally “maskless ball”, for all I’d normally say about it.

      2. Keith Olsen

        Are you seriously defending her?  It’s up to her to send out the message that people need to wear masks but here she is defying her own rules.  What kind of example is she putting forward?  And what kind of response is that?

        “don’t need the fun police to come in and micromanage and tell us what we should or shouldn’t be doing”

        David, are you defending that response?  Do you seriously hear yourself here?

        1. David Greenwald

          No I specifically said: “It is easy to make fun of hypocrisy and fine, have a ball,”

          Rather, I’m attacking you for pointing out this rather than the real problem which is the 45 percent of people who have not gotten vaccinated. That’s the real problem. Breed is stupid, but that’s a fake issue.

        2. Keith Olsen

          So the person who makes the rules goes out and makes a mockery of the rules THAT SHE MADE and it’s a fake issue.  Come on David, take off your blinders for a minute.  She supposed to set the example otherwise it’s let them eat cake.

          1. David Greenwald

            The person who is vaccinated is not the problem in September of 2021. The person who refuses to get vaccinated is. Talk about blinders. Unvaccinated people are 29 times more likely to get and spread COVID. Any blame that focuses anywhere but there is blind.

        3. Ron Oertel

          The person who is vaccinated is not the problem in September of 2021.

          My understanding is that those who are vaccinated can still be carriers (spreading the disease to others).

        4. Keith Olsen

          Even though COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rapidly declining in San Francisco County, the city has not set a timeline for when it may modify or lift its indoor mask mandate, which requires all individuals — regardless of vaccination status — to wear masks indoors.

          David, why are you dodging this? Because she’s a Democrat?

          1. David Greenwald

            I just think the people who refuse to vaccinate are more stupid and more culpable here. And I have never seen you call any of them out.

        5. Ron Oertel

          I briefly “Googled” it, and still haven’t found support for David’s claim.

          I did find this:

          It also found no significant difference in the viral load present in the breakthrough infections occurring in fully vaccinated people and the other cases, suggesting the viral load of vaccinated and unvaccinated persons infected with the coronavirus is similar.

          High viral loads suggest an increased risk of transmission and raised concern that, unlike with other variants, vaccinated people infected with Delta can transmit the virus,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC’s director, said in a statement Friday.

          It might also be interesting to see if the risk increases over time, as the effectiveness of vaccines diminishes.

          Personally, I believe that we need another Vanguard article dispensing medical advice. 🙁

          1. David Greenwald

            “Personally, I believe that we need another Vanguard article dispensing medical advice. ”

            You are so tasked with that job.

        6. Alan Miller

          If that’s true about the viral load, sounds like those with it, since they’d also not be as sick, might be more at risk of transmitting as they would think of themselves as ‘healthy’ but still ‘carry the load’.  That makes Breed’s actions even more vile.

          My very healthy friend who got it was vaccinated, got it from a vaccinated person, and gave it to several vaccinated people.  I don’t believe the numbers because of this — I think this ∆ variant is spreading like a tempered wildfire among the vaccinated – however, I do very much believe that it greatly reduces symptoms and the likelihood of death – this is borne out by the numbers of cases vs. deaths worldwide, now that enough time has passed to show the death numbers, a lagging indicator.

      3. Alan Miller

        Yes, but it’s Breed’s fault for being maskless and dancing while vaccinated.

        Yes it is . . . Lordy DG, you are such a hypocrite and a very poor arguizer.   There was massive criticism for Trump being a poor example by not wearing a mask, and being a poor example to those that were on his side politically.  Breed is vaccinated, but so what?  There are mask laws in place to prevent the spread, and she is flaunting them.  If the difference is spread rate is correct, why have mask laws?  Why is it OK for a person setting an example for the mask laws, in place for a reason, to flaunt them and set a bad example for those on her political side.  And if the rates are so low, why have the law?  The worst is her comments: about the ‘fun police’ ?  That is the right-wing argument against the left; and regarding it being OK because she’s vaccinated?  She clearly doesn’t know those vaccinated can spread the disease especially indoors, and is perpetuating the myth that the mask is for her, when in fact it’s for everyone else.  The inability of someone to not process that basic fact shows a very, very low intelligence level, like the ability to process basic realities. Unfortunately shared by a huge number of people on both sides of the political rectum.

  3. Ron Oertel

    Hey Ron, maybe you and I will be included in tomorrow’s Morning Newsletter?

    You know, where things get written about us and there’s no way to respond.

    I’ve found a way, but it requires more “digging up” of prior articles.

    You’d think that there’d be something more interesting to write about than what some commenter said (in regard to an article that was repetitive in the first place – in regard to the topic covered). 

    (Even though in our case, our comments were indeed “literary gold”.)  🙂

    1. Keith Olsen

      Geez, you’d think that there’d be something more interesting to write about, than what some commenter said.  (Even though in our case, it is indeed “literary gold”.)  

      My thinking is topics are getting harder and harder to come by.  I mean how many times can you write an article about DISC, Measure J/R/D or student housing?  So writing about what some comment is indeed “literary gold”.

  4. Ron Oertel

    And I don’t like London Breed.

    I was wondering why I kind of like her, in regard to general reasonableness.  Now I know.

    Though I didn’t much like her comments when a Senate seat arose, as I recall. As if it was owed to her (at least my impression).

    I haven’t seen enough of her dancing ability to make a comment regarding that. But yeah, she (as a political leader) should be following the rules that she implements/supports, based upon science. And yet, she seems to be defending her actions, from what I gather.

  5. Keith Olsen

    Now let’s talk about the EMMY’s last night and the maskless attendees down in L.A. where they also have indoor mask mandates.  Somehow they classified the attendees who were in the audience as performers so they didn’t have to follow the mask rules.  Let Them Eat Cake.

    Here’s Seth Rogan about the maskless event:

    “Let me start by saying there is way too many of us in this little room,” Rogen said during his speech.
    “What are we doing? They said this was outdoors. It is not. They lied to us,” he said incredulously.
    The 73rd Emmy Awards ceremony, which took place on Sunday (US time), was held in what’s been described as a “decorative tent” by the Los Angeles Times, situated on LA Live’s ‘event deck’, just outside the usual venue, the Microsoft Theatre.
    “We’re in a hermetically sealed tent right now. I would not have come to this. Why is there a roof? It’s more important that we have three chandeliers than to make sure we don’t kill (Schitt’s Creek star) Eugene Levy tonight. That has been decided.”

    “This is insane,” Rogen quipped. “I went from wiping groceries to having (WandaVision star) Paul Bettany sneeze in my face.”

    1. Alan Miller

      I don’t get it, as I don’t watch Hollywood drivel shows.  Was this meant to be a joke or serious?  It sounds like he’s making comedy, but is actually really pˆssed.  But if he were pˆssed, why didn’t he just leave?

      1. Keith Olsen

        It sounds like he’s making comedy, but is actually really pˆssed.

        I think that’s where he was coming from.  He’s a comedian but he was also making a point.

  6. Keith Olsen

    “San Francisco’s mayor blasted for dancing maskless at a crowded club. She called her critics the fun police.”

    “Elected officials have a greater responsibility to model the behavior that’s necessary to control the pandemic,” John Swartzberg, an infectious diseases expert at University of California at Berkeley, told the Chronicle. “Any time the elected officials behave like this, it undermines public confidence in them and that translates to people saying, ‘Well, if the mayor can do this, I can.”

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