Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Australian Chief Health Officer: Take personal responsibility to save lives

This is a refreshingly moderate official warning but, even so, it is heavily faith-based. His faith in vaccines is surprising, given that there is no evidence that vaccines protect against Omicron. We are in fact largely at the mercy of how good our innate immune systems are. I seem to have born lucky in that -- even though I am well into the age-based high-risk group. I turn 79 this week but have had no hint of Covid

It has been 2½ years since I treated the state’s first coronavirus case.

In that time, more than 1330 people in Queensland have died with the virus and we’ve recorded more than 1.3 million Covid-19 cases.

We’ve endured two waves and a third is still at least a month away from peaking.

Our hospitals are under immense pressure – the number of Covid-19 patients has risen by 140 per cent just in the past month because of the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

It’s tragic how something so minuscule (a SARS-CoV-2 virion is roughly half the size of a light dust particle) can wreak so much devastation.

Despite the passage of time and our mighty fight to suppress this disease, Covid-19 is still a major health threat that requires us to remain cautious and sensible.

That said, public health directions and mandates have served their purpose.

They helped us keep cases to a minimum, slowed transmission, and allowed us to vaccinate as much of the population as possible.

There is still a need for some health directions to remain in place, mainly to protect vulnerable people such as the elderly and immunocompromised, but we are no longer dealing with a novel virus.

Now is the time to adjust our measures to reflect this, to responsibly transition away from mandates towards taking personal ­responsibility.

By now Queenslanders are accustomed to the precautions and measures that have protected them against Covid-19. We should all be well-versed in wearing masks when we need to, physically distancing in public, staying away from others when we’re ill, and self-testing.

I have every confidence in the ability of Queenslanders to do this.

Being responsible also means making sure you and your family are vaccinated. The latest ATAGI advice recommends that people aged 50 and older get the winter booster dose.

Sadly, 97 per cent of Queenslanders who have died with Covid-19 were over 50 years old. About 91 per cent were older than 65.


British hospitals to enforce mask wearing as Covid hospital infections rise 100%

Dangerous hospitals

The NHS will enforce mask wearing again amid huge increases of Covid infections in hospitals, a leaked letter reveals.

Staff, patients and visitors will be asked to wear masks within all NHS hospitals, GP practices and dentists in the Midlands, according to the letter seen by The Independent.

The letter, sent on 7 July to NHS chiefs in the Midlands by NHS England said: “It is apparent that we have entered the next Covid-19 wave. Across the last seven days we have had a 97 per cent increase in our nosocomial Covid-19 cases in acute trust settings and a 25 per cent increase in out mental health settings, this has also included a rise in the numbers of patients who have been admitted into critical care beds. In addition, we have also observed an increase in Covid-related staff absences.

“As a result of this, we are advising that, in line with [UK Health Security Agency] UKHSA guidance, all providers review their mask wearing guidance with a view to moving back towards universal mask wearing for staff. This includes colleagues in primary care settings.”

NHS directors in the Midlands, which covers almost 60 hospitals, were also told to encourage patients and visitors to wear a mask but warned as there was no mandate to do so they may decline.

The national guidance comes after hospitals around the country have already begun to reintroduce mask mandates just weeks after dropping the measures.

During a board meeting on Thursday, NHS medical director Stephen Powis said Covid hospital admissions were likely to reach 15,000 in the next few days. The last time figures were this high was in April during the peak of the fourth wave.

During the January 2021 Covid wave the number of patients in hospital beds hit a high of more than 34,000.

Data from the ZOE Covid app recorded 325,337 Covid infections on 4 July. Around one in 10 hospital beds in England is currently taken up by Covid positive patients, more 11,000 beds occupied.


‘Hopeful Sign’: 72% Still Proud to Be American, Poll Finds

A new poll finds that patriotism is alive and well among most Americans, with nearly 3 in 4 saying they are proud of their country despite divisive domestic issues and the findings of other recent surveys.

The poll results come amid nationwide controversy in recent months over issues such as record-high gas prices, mass shootings, the House’s ongoing Jan. 6 investigation, and the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“Although national sentiments are far from uniform, our survey’s results display that most Americans, regardless of political affiliation, share feelings of patriotism and national pride,” a summary of the poll says.

The poll, conducted in May by FixUS, found that 72% of those surveyed agreed with the statement “I’m proud to be an American.” That number included 91% of Republicans surveyed and 62% of Democrats.

Also, 73% of those surveyed agreed that they would “prefer to live in the U.S. than in another country.”

The FixUS poll asked 2,000 participants a series of questions to determine the current climate of American patriotism. FixUS is part of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

The poll contrasts with others released before Independence Day, including a Gallup poll finding that only 38% of adults surveyed say they are “extremely proud” to be an American—although 65% say they are “extremely” or “very proud.”

Similarly, a Fox News poll of registered voters found that only 39% said they are “proud of the country today,” echoing a poll by The Economist and YouGov America finding that 40% considered themselves “very patriotic” and 53% agreed that Americans are becoming less patriotic.

Most participants in the FixUS poll agreed on fundamental ideals such as America being a land of opportunity, equality, justice, and limited government. Participants rated each ideal as “highly important” on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being “extremely important.”

Americans typically gave each ideal a rating over 8, the poll found, “with no notable differences by party.”

The poll also found that 85% said they agree that progress has been made to achieve these fundamental ideals and that it’s patriotic to criticize and strive to perfect the country.

Partisan disagreements surfaced with more specific statements.

One was “People who do not wholeheartedly support America should live somewhere else,” to which 59% of Republicans surveyed agreed and 63% of Democrats disagreed.

A total of 65% of Democrats and 23% of Republicans said they agreed with this statement: “For the most part, people who protest and demonstrate against U.S. policy are good, upstanding people and valued members of our society.”

Similarly, 94% of Republicans agreed that seeing the American flag flown or hearing the national anthem sung makes them feel good or very good, while only 49% of Democrats agreed.

Another large disparity between the two major parties was seen in response to the question of whether American life and culture has changed for better or worse since the 1950s.

Although 50% of Democrats said the nation’s culture has improved in the past 70 years, fully 75% of Republicans said it has deteriorated.

On related questions, 85% of those surveyed agreed that they are concerned about national polarization and 59% agreed that that they feel unheard by politicians.

Although some findings are concerning and should be openly discussed, the overall findings should be encouraging, said Michael Murphy, chief of staff for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

“While it would be na├»ve to disregard the country’s deep divisions, it’s encouraging to discover that most Americans share fundamental beliefs about American values, history, and ideals,” Murphy said.

“A majority of Americans are patriots who value the American experiment and what it represents, and at a time when it has never been more important to put citizenship over partisanship, that’s a hopeful sign,” he said.




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