“Studies in the US and around the world have found that student learning suffered when classes were remote, and many teachers were no fan of the system either, with educators ranking the challenges of virtual instruction among their top pandemic stressors in one recent study. At the same time, some fear that in-person school during omicron may simply become untenable. Sheikh’s school has one nurse for 2,500 students, making it nearly impossible to do any real contact tracing. “There’s no way to contain these Covid cases,” she said.”
“The coronavirus pandemic has fully exposed the flaws in the US health care system and deepened many of its disparities. Yet there is a serious possibility, now that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has rendered the current version of the Build Back Better Act dead, that the current Congress will not pass any long-term provisions to cover more people, make health care more affordable, or better prepare the nation for the next pandemic.
Though they have not attracted as much attention as other parts of the legislation, Democrats had written a wide-ranging health care section in Build Back Better. They were planning to patch up holes in the Affordable Care Act, extending assistance to middle-class families as well as people in poverty; to reduce drug costs for millions of Americans; and to make investments in the country’s health care infrastructure, with the goal of better preparing the US for the inevitable next pandemic.”
“Last week, the CEOs of American Airlines and Southwest Airlines told Congress that they do not think mask requirements make much sense on airplanes, where the air filtration systems are superior to what is typically found in an intensive care unit.
“I think the case is very strong that masks don’t add much, if anything, in the air cabin environment,” said Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest. “It is very safe and very high quality compared to any other indoor setting.”
Unwilling to let anyone undermine the case for keeping a government mandate in place, White House coronavirus advisor Anthony Fauci threw cold water on the idea.
“You have to be wearing a mask on a plane,” he said bluntly on television Sunday.
When ABC News’ Jon Karl asked Fauci specifically if he thought we would ever reach the point where we did not need to wear masks on planes, he responded: “I don’t think so. I think when you’re dealing with a closed space, even though the filtration is good, that you want to go that extra step when you have people—you know, you get a flight from Washington to San Francisco, it’s well over a five-hour flight. Even though you have a good filtration system, I still believe that masks are a prudent thing to do, and we should be doing it.”
This is Faucism distilled down to its very essence. For the government health bureaucrats who have given themselves sole authority over vast sectors of American life—from travel to education to entertainment to housing—it doesn’t matter what the CEOs of these companies think. It doesn’t matter what their customers want. It doesn’t matter if maskless air travel is, for the most part, quite safe (especially for the vaccinated). It doesn’t matter if the mask mandate makes air travel impossible for families with young children. All that matters is the calculus of the most risk-averse people: unelected public health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Like Fauci, NIH Director Frances Collins said this past weekend that air passengers should be masked—and should think twice about large gatherings, and even about going anywhere at all.”
“OSHA’s ETS, which it published on November 5, demands that companies with 100 or more employees require them to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or wear face masks and undergo weekly virus testing. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit stayed the ETS on November 6, citing “grave statutory and constitutional issues.” The 5th Circuit extended that stay a week later, when it said the mandate is “fatally flawed” because it “grossly exceeds OSHA’s statutory authority.”
After that ruling, the many lawsuits challenging the mandate were consolidated and assigned by lottery to the 6th Circuit, which the Biden administration asked to lift the 5th Circuit’s stay. In doing so, the 6th Circuit majority criticized the other appeals court for reaching hasty conclusions unsupported by precedent and for failing to properly consider the evidence that OSHA presented in favor of its mandate.
An emergency standard allows OSHA to circumvent the usual rule making process by publishing regulations that take effect immediately. But to avoid the public notice, comment, and hearing requirements that ordinarily apply to OSHA rules, the agency has to identify a “grave danger” to employees “from exposure to substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful or from new hazards.” It also has to show the emergency standard is “necessary to protect employees from such danger.”
In her 6th Circuit majority opinion, Stranch has little trouble concluding that COVID-19 qualifies as an “agent” that is “physically harmful.” Citing the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, she says “an ‘agent’ is ‘a chemically, physically, or biologically active principle,'” while “a virus is defined, in part, as ‘any [of a] large group of submicroscopic infectious agents.'””
“Larsen opens her dissent by chiding Stranch for misrepresenting reality. “The majority opinion describes the emergency rule at issue here as permitting employers ‘to determine for themselves how best to minimize the risk of contracting COVID-19 in their workplaces,'” she writes. “With respect, that was the state of federal law before the rule, not after.”
Larsen also suggests that Stranch has pulled a bait and switch. “The majority opinion initially agrees…that an emergency standard must be more than ‘reasonably necessary’; it must be ‘essential,'” she writes. “But then that word, and the concept, disappear from the analysis. What starts as a demand for an ‘essential’ solution quickly turns into acceptance of any ‘effective’ or ‘meaningful’ remedy; and later, acquiescence to a solution with a mere ‘reasonable’ ‘relationship’ to the problem. The majority opinion never explains why ‘necessary’ undergoes such a metamorphosis.”
As Larsen sees it, OSHA “has not made the appropriate finding of necessity.” She notes that “OSHA’s mandate applies, in undifferentiated fashion, to a vast swath of Americans: 84 million workers, 26 million unvaccinated, with varying levels of exposure and risk.” OSHA has the burden of explaining “why the rule should apply to a large and diverse class,” she says, but the agency “does not do so.””
“In some respects, Larsen thinks, OSHA’s judgments are inconsistent with the numbers it cites. “OSHA has determined that no vaccinated worker is in ‘grave danger,’ whereas all unvaccinated workers are,” Larsen writes. “But the government’s own data reveal that the death rate for unvaccinated people between the ages of 18 and 29 is roughly equivalent to that of vaccinated persons between 50 and 64. So an unvaccinated 18-year-old bears the same risk as a vaccinated 50-year-old. And yet, the 18-year-old is in grave danger, while the 50-year-old is not. One of these conclusions must be wrong; either way is a problem for OSHA’s rule.””
“Outgoing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is urging the Biden administration to send help as the Covid-19 Omicron variant rises dramatically in the city’s five boroughs.
The variant’s lightning-fast spread in the city forced the cancellation of Radio City Music Hall’s annual “Christmas Spectacular” over the weekend and led Saturday Night Live to broadcast without a live studio audience and with a smaller cast.
De Blasio said the White House should invoke the Defense Production Act to help provide a larger number of at-home tests as well as monoclonal antibody treatments. He also said the Biden administration should fast-track approval of an antiviral pill from Pfizer.
“We need help now … and we need a surge of support in terms of monoclonal antibody treatments,” de Blasio said at a briefing on Sunday. “We need more made available for New York City.””
“One hospital being overwhelmed isn’t a one-hospital problem, it’s an every-hospital problem. Even if your community is not awash with Covid-19 or if most people are vaccinated, a major outbreak in your broader region, plus all the other patients hospitals are treating in normal times, could easily fill your hospital, too. That makes it harder for the health system to treat you if you come to the ER with heart attack symptoms or appendicitis or any acute medical emergency.”