Ugh. Another Covid presser, another spin around the same closed orbit. Despite recent record case numbers, Gov. Phil Scott remained unmoved. He believes his policy is the right one, and he ain’t buying any evidence to the contrary.
It’s getting ridiculous, really. He continues to push the same “common sense advice” that hasn’t been reaching enough Vermonters to keep the Delta variant at bay: Vaccination, booster shots, and indoor masking. Well, the latter is a slight nod to reality; he used to say that vaccinated people didn’t need to mask indoors unless it made them feel better.
And he did is best to piss all over the wretched “compromise” he offered to the Legislature on Monday. You know, come back for a special session in December to consider one idea and no others: A bill to allow communities to enact their own mask mandates — but only if they renew the mandates every month and end them entirely no later than April 30. I really wish legislative leaders had the sense to reject the proposal out of hand. It’s a trap; whether they enact the measure or not, it gets the governor off the hook.
“The Legislature thinks further measures are needed. I disagree but I offered an olive branch,” he said. Later, he added “The mask mandate isn’t my idea. Legislative leadership has asked for it. I don’t want to go there.”
So it’s 100% on them. He doesn’t want the thing, and will accept no consequences from here on. As far as I’m concerned, Scott can take that olive branch and stick it where the sun don’t shine.
About the only entertaining parts of the presser were the occasional hints that Scott’s policy is at variance with the science and data he claims to abide by. At least a couple times, Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine kinda let the cat out of the bag. I hope he’s not in trouble with his political masters.
Levine was asked about the efficacy of the kind of “patchwork” mask mandate that would inevitably be the result of the governor’s “olive branch.”
“There’s actually evidence in the literature to show even that, as opposed to a nationwide or statewide approach, can be successful,” Levine said. “The literature supports the fact that in those places where there were mandates, they had better impact than in places where they didn’t.”
Let’s replay that last sentence in case you missed it: Mask mandates have been shown to be more effective than no mandate.
Butbutbut the governor insists that a statewide mask mandate would make no difference! Huh.
A milestone in journalism was reached today: For the first time I can recall, someone actually asked a question about the impact of long Covid. Huzzah!
“The rate that has been given for most has been around 10-30%, which is a pretty wide range,” Levine responded. “But if you think about the number of cases of Covid, that’s a tremendous number of people. I often look at that and talk about the next pandemic is managing people who have suffered with long Covid.”
Wow. That ought to be a powerful argument to do everything possible to limit total Covid cases. I mean, take that day last week when we had almost 600 new cases. From that single day, we’re likely to see close to 200 cases of long Covid. To put it bluntly, Scott’s policies are contributing to Levine’s next pandemic.
And it may be a lot worse than that. A paper released last month studied more than 250,000 people who survived the virus. It found that 54% had at least one symptom of long Covid one month after infection, 55% did so at 2-5 months, and 54% had one long Covid symptom or more at six months.
Those symptoms, the researchers noted, include neurologic disorders, mental health disorders, functional mobility impairments, chest imaging abnormality, difficulty concentrating, generalized anxiety disorder, general functional impairments, and fatigue or muscle weakness as well as cardiac, dermatologic, digestive, and ear, nose, and throat disorders.
That’s a hell of a lot of bad stuff. It sounds like Levine’s feared post-pandemic pandemic, and it ought to be extra incentive to limiting the spread of the virus as much as possible.
But not in Phil Scott’s world.
And unfortunately, we’re all living in it.