Tag Archives: Delta variant

Pivoting As Fast As He Can

This week’s Covid briefing was devoted to moving the conversation toward that long-sought-after pivot from pandemic to endemic. There were the usual rote reports of vaccination, school policy, forecasting, mask and test distribution &c., but the administration’s heart wasn’t in it.

The big tell came right at the beginning, when Gov. Phil Scott announced he had nothing to say about Covid-19. Instead, he pivoted to a brief repetition of his favorite policy points — workforce, technical training, how to spend federal Covid relief money and the surplus in the Education Fund (TL;DR: “not on public schools”).

I realize the numbers are coming down, as they inevitably had to. But isn’t it just a little bit early to start the George Aiken process of declaring victory and going home? After all, ICU admissions have yet to decline and deaths are still on the increase. Perhaps the briefest of pauses would be wise.

Of course, it’s almost certain that hospitalizations and deaths will decline within a few weeks. But let’s not get carried away. We’re returning to a decidedly unhealthy baseline. The positive view of our numbers is that we are getting back to, ahem, the bad old days of the Delta variant. That’s no cause for celebration.

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I Think I Can See a Little Smoke Coming Out His Ears

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Things are gettin’ a mite testy chez Phil Scott these days. His weekly Covid briefing for September 28 was an exercise in statistical diversion, gaslighting, word salad and straw man punching.

Oh, and the usual journalism FAIL. The reporters get the governor for two hours every week and they rarely take the opportunity to ask probing questions on the biggest immediate challenge we face. The reporting on Scott’s briefings is often more like stenography than journalism. The beginning of this week’s Question Time featured several consecutive questions that weren’t about Covid at all. The end of the sesh came early, after a number of reporters who’d signed up to ask questions decided that, well, actually, they didn’t have anything to ask.

It wasn’t an entirely dismal parade, but it was largely a missed opportunity to quiz the gov and his top officials on, for example, their policy stubbornness, statistical sleight-of-hand, failure to help the schools fight Covid, or the growing chorus of criticism from the medical and public health communities.

There was also, as discussed previously, an almost complete dearth of follow-up when some official evades an inquiry, fumbles an answer, or spews some serious bullshit. Which happens a lot. This is mainly an issue with the format, but it also reflects an unwillingness to abandon prepared questions in favor of follow-up, a lack of advance research, and probably attention spans too short to listen all the way through.

There was one solid journalistic exchange that got a bit too hot for the governor’s taste. It produced a lovely bouquet of evasion, misstatements, verbal stumbles and filibusters. Details after the jump.

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