Jun 5 2021
04:01 pm
By: R. Neal

Is it safe to resume normal activity? Without a mask? Without distancing? If you've been vaccinated?

I've been trying to figure out a metric or set of metrics that I can put in a formula.

Testing positivity rate isn't much help any more. Not many people are getting tested. The rate is about 2% to 4% in Knox and Blount Co. That's a lot better than before, but still concerning.

What about new reported cases? They are very low. That's encouraging. But the CDC (and states) only seem to be counting hospitalizations and deaths, which are way down. It appears that people recovering at home aren't being counted, even if they've been diagnosed? Don't think you can go by this statistic any more. But on the other hand, if you get it and don't go to the hospital or die then...? Personally, I don't want to be a rounding error.

But, hospitilazions (and deaths) are hard, real, probably reliable numbers. So how low do they need to be before we can say it's over?

Then there's the vaccination rate. Still around 40%. Not enough. And the 60% unvaccinated are probably the ones going about their business without masks. Not sure how we convince people to get vaccinated, but this is troubling.

The most hopeful metric is R (the reproduction number, or rate of transmission from one infected person to others). Latest reports estimate that it is less than 1 (.91 in Knox Co., .85 in Blount), which means the spread is slowing. This is potentially good news.

So I don't know. It's probably 90%+ safe. Except for those who are older, immunocompromised, or in other some higher risk category. I'm still not ready to be a rounding error. Especially with weird outbreaks involving variants.

I'm getting more comfortable, though, especially around others who I know have been vaccinated. But how do you know who is vaccinated? If you see strangers without masks in public places, it's probably a good bet they haven't been vaccinated and have no intention of doing so.

Not sure what the magic numbers are that will make me comfortable going back to "normal." I guess some combination of hospitalizations, deaths, R, and vaccination rates, which are the only things being tracked, and R appears to be only an estimate.

But it also appears that we can't trust information or policy from our dysfunctional state and local county governments. Guess we are all on our own to figure it out. This is probably a reliable source of information.

fischbobber's picture

Thanks for this.

Save a trip to Harby's, I stayed home this weekend. I'm practicing distancing and counting minutes and I'm vaccinated so I don't have the same concerns from late last year, and I screwed up when I got my glasses so the reading part stays in smudgedom, but I find myself freezing up when leaving the house. I simply don't trust the way Glenn Jacobs is handling this, and I'm slowly weening myself back into society.

I'm liking not feeling guilty if I miss some days writing and frankly, being outraged and producing essays that may convince one or two people to consider something with the sort of outrage that I thought was the niche that needed filling, was exhausting at times. I worked essentially two jobs for a year, missing very few public meetings on the internet and following numbers on a day to day basis. It was nice to fix the back light on my bicycle without feeling like a day of slack would get someone's grandma killed. I often wondered if I was doing any good at all.

I'm hoping it's over. We've had enough death. We need to come back together and I'm just grateful for the Vols baseball run. I can't overemphasize how much our community needed that. Really though, I don't see much hope for this County as long as Glenn Jacobs is County Mayor. We knew we would lose people.We knew we could lose a hundred of our neighbors, maybe two hundred, two fifty if everything went wrong. But the 640 we lost could have only been lost by incompetence and malfeasance at the highest levels of our county political decision making process. My family moved to Knoxville in 1968. In all that time, this is the first time I've ever seen a County Executive/Mayor make knowing and willful effort to kill constituents for political gain. Mayor Jacobs rejection of mask wearing, his ongoing undermining of the Board of Health and his divisive speeches and terrorist video divided our county and was responsible for way too many deaths. He has literally spent the last year doing everything he could to drive up the death count. And he was good at it.

So I'm wondering if perhaps, for the time being, between those of us that are vaccinated and those that , both knowingly and unknowing , had covid, we could be at a point in our community where we have a lull at 70% immunity from both groups. I don't know. But I do know I haven't wasted the last year and regardless of how this works out, the next twelve months will be better than the last. Your ongoing coverage of this issue, along with a few others in this community, helped keep the death rate down. I believe that. Everything pointed to us overwhelming our hospitals, but we never got there. It got close, and could have gone a different way, but the people that were working on messaging to keep this under control stepped up. That would be you Randy. Thank you for stepping up. Thank you for handling "The Situation" like you did. It made referencing a timeline workable. Thank you for all you've done. It was a lot over the last year. I hope we're coming out of the woods.

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