This past Wednesday morning health and biology research scientists joined National Public Radio reporter Rob Stein for an interesting discussion on the Omicron variant, its explosive ability to spread, and what that might mean going forward. I am adding emphasis to part of the interview that really stuck with me, as so much of the public’s “get it over with” attitude has pervaded the approach to this variant. You can listen to or read the entire interview here.
STEIN: Now, this might make some people think, well, sounds like I’m going to get it, and it could boost my immunity without a lot of risk, so why not just get it over with? But [Jeremy] Kamil [virologist at Louisiana State University] and others say, don’t even think about it [readily contracting Covid]. Get vaccinated and boosted. Even if omicron’s milder, it still can be really nasty – even deadly. And don’t forget about long COVID. Omicron’s going to inflict enough carnage. And many scientists caution it’s way too early to conclude with any certainty that we’ll be on the right road after omicron.
Michael Worobey studies evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona.
MICHAEL WOROBEY: I want to actually get away from any kind of narrative that omicron is some sort of silver lining. It’s irresponsible to suggest that there’s some sort of preordained progression of viruses like this toward becoming benign.
STEIN: The next variant could just as easily be nastier and even better at outsmarting our immune systems. And any immunity we get from omicron could fade.
And Jeffrey Shaman [environmental health sciences] at Columbia says, just because something is endemic doesn’t always mean it’s easier to live with.
JEFFREY SHAMAN: It’s very difficult to say, well, it’s going to settle into a seasonal pattern, be much milder, and we’re not going to have to worry about it; we’ll be able to get back to our lives. I would love that. That would be great. But I just don’t know if it will happen.
STEIN: So in the meantime, says Harvard epidemiologist William Hanage, the country needs to double down and do everything possible to blunt the damage as omicron tears across the nation.
Newly inaugurated South Carolina’s Governor Nikki Haley didn’t have time for two minutes of poetry written for her second swearing-in yesterday. Marjory Wentworth, South Carolina’s poetry laureate, has written poems for the last three gubernatorial inaugurations. This year Haley decided that two minutes couldn’t be spared for an original poem written by Wentworth.
In the past, according to NPR, Wentworth chose themes of nature and animals for previous ceremonies. For Haley’s second ceremony Ms Wentworth penned a poem focused on elements of South Carolina’s history, including its ports where slaves were shipped in for sale. And where the Confederate flag still flies next to the state’s flag at the state capital.
Wentworth is invited to read her poem at a ceremony organized by the state’s NAACP chapter on Martin Luther King, Jr Day next Monday, which she will do. In the meantime, U. S. Rep James Clyburn, who represents South Carolina’s 6th Congressional District, read the poem yesterday from the floor of the House of Representatives. Wentworth’s poem is included in NPR’s coverage.
At the end of August I posted a Friday Photo and report by Ari Shapiro on NPR’s Morning Edition which included comments about the Obamas made by Bobbie Lucier, a veteran’s wife. Her comments came across as poorly veiled racism directed primarily at Michelle Obama (although she couldn’t manage one kind word for the President either). The report sparked a slew of comments via social media and NPR’s Ombudsman addressed the report and listener comments too.
As chance would have it Shapiro ran into the Luciers and got to ask some follow up questions. Mrs. Lucier’s answers did nothing more than convince me more firmly that in fact the reason she dislikes the Obamas so vehemently is due to her own racist views.
Lucier said Jacqueline Kennedy and Laura Bush knew how to dress like First Ladies, specifically saying that wearing sleeveless dresses and shorts, or emphasizing strong muscles are not what a First Lady should do. Really Mrs Lucier?
While Mrs. Lucier was busy digging her racist hole even deeper, she had to make excuses for the way she had dressed to attend Romney’s event.