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“Texas Is Open 100%” – Texan Businesses Banned from Requiring Vaccine Passports

All government entities and private businesses in Texas are now banned from requiring proof of vaccination as a condition for service or entry, with Governor Greg Abbott declaring that the state is “open 100%”. The Epoch Times has the story.

“Texas is open 100%, and we want to make sure you have the freedom to go where you want without limits,” the Republican Governor announced in a video post on Twitter.

The Lone Star state in March ended its statewide mask mandate and allowed all businesses to open at full capacity after having implemented mandates and restrictions due to the pandemic.

Abbott announced on Monday with the signing of the legislation that “no business or government entity can require a person to provide a vaccine passport or any other vaccine information as a condition of receiving any service or entering any place”.

The new law SB 968 covers many aspects of the public health disaster and public health emergency preparedness and response. It was approved unanimously in April and was passed by a vote of 146-2 by the state House in May.

Effective immediately, Texas businesses “may not require a customer to provide any documentation certifying the customer’s Covid vaccination or post-transmission recovery on entry to, to gain access to, or to receive service from the business”, the legislation states. State agencies in charge of different business sectors can require that businesses comply with the new law as a condition to be authorised to conduct business in Texas.

Furthermore, businesses that don’t comply with the law will not be able to enter any state contracts and will be ineligible to receive a grant.

Businesses can still implement their own Covid infection control protocols “in accordance with state and federal law to protect public health”.

Abbott had signed an executive order in April that banned government entities from requiring vaccine passports as a condition to receive services or gain entry to premises. The order included any private businesses that receive public funding. But the executive order did not apply to entirely private businesses, which the new law covers with regard to vaccine passports.

Worth reading in full.

“No One is Talking About Covid Here. It’s Over, Life is Normal” – Report From Texas

Government advisers in the U.K. have been out in force in the past week stressing that the unlocking of society will be a “gradual process” (even more gradual than taking four months?) and that face masks and working-from-home may stay after June 21st.

You can certainly see the need for this extreme level of caution. If you look at the states in America that have lifted restrictions then they have suffered extraordinary levels of infection and deaths and are really regretting their “Neanderthal thinking” and quickly getting back to normal. Oh, er, hang on, that’s right – there’s been no new surge at all.

I put this point to a lockdown fanatic friend (yes, we are still on speaking terms) and his response was a feeble “you can’t assume the virus will behave the same in different countries”. Right, well that’s handy, isn’t it? We can’t learn lessons from what happens elsewhere because every country is different. American states might have been able to re-open without suffering hospital overload or mass death (Texas reopened in full at the start of March), but that doesn’t mean we won’t. Better safe than sorry, eh? Happily, lockdown has no downsides so there’s no problem with just carrying on with it indefinitely, just in case…

Another friend, whose father lives in Texas, said his father told him this week: “No one is talking about Covid here. It’s over, life is normal.”

There could of course be another surge of Covid in re-opened states and countries, especially in the autumn or winter. But since Florida and South Dakota (among other states) were open throughout last autumn and winter, we also know there’s nothing to fear about that either, even less so now so many in the population are vaccinated.

But since when did our political leaders and their “scientific” advisers let evidence get in the way of a good lockdown, especially if it preserves for a little longer their reputation, status and power?

When Will the Evidence From Florida and Texas Break Through the SAGE Groupthink?

The latest model of doom from Government advisory group SAGE appeared yesterday, predicting a ludicrous 10,000 hospital admissions a day in mid-July in a vaccinated population (nearly three times the January peak) because of the Indian variant – and that’s the central scenario. Furthermore, the researchers don’t even think the Indian variant is more deadly or particularly good at evading vaccines. So how do they conclude it will precipitate such a calamity?

Professor Adam Kucharski, a SAGE modeller from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), explains their reasoning:

The issue is that many people have a mental image that we’ve [already] had the biggest possible epidemic waves, whereas we’ve actually had ones that are relatively small compared to what could have happened without control measures in place. Because of these controls, only a fraction of the people who could have got infected in the past year or so have been infected, so they’re still out there. Of course, for many of these people vaccines have now decreased their risk substantially. But a very large number of infections that come with a very small individual level of risk can produce a similar outcome to a smaller epidemic that carries a larger individual level of risk.

Maths whizz Glen Bishop, writing for Lockdown Sceptics, has shown why SAGE’s assumptions are so unrealistic as to produce these highly implausible scenarios. In their central scenario, for example, their assumptions imply that up to half of the UK will be simultaneously infected in one week in mid-July. This is despite the January peak only having around 2% of the population infected at one time, according to the ONS.

Another of the models’ big assumptions, prominent in what Prof Kucharski says above, is that lockdowns and social distancing have successfully suppressed the virus and that it is only because they continue in some form that the flood of infections, hospitalisations and deaths is held back. The latest modelling starkly shows how, even with a high vaccination coverage as in the UK, such an assumption can produce predictions so dire they send twitchy Governments reaching for the lockdown order.

As the SAGE briefing says:

At this point in the vaccine rollout, there are still too few adults vaccinated to prevent a significant resurgence that ultimately could put unsustainable pressure on the NHS, without non-pharmaceutical interventions. … It is a realistic possibility that this new variant of concern could be 50% more transmissible. If [the Indian variant] does have such a large transmission advantage, it is a realistic possibility that progressing with all roadmap steps would lead to a substantial resurgence of hospitalisations.

In fact, there is no evidence (outside models, which are not evidence) that lockdown measures or social distancing have any significant impact on reducing Covid infections or deaths. This is why the states in America which removed their restrictions in March (Texas) or last autumn (Florida) or never imposed them (South Dakota) are doing no worse, and often better, than many states which maintained strict restrictions throughout the winter (see the graph above). Sweden demonstrates a similar point in Europe.

The depressing truth, though, is that sceptics have largely failed to get this basic point across to those in charge and their scientific advisers. It’s not as though the evidence is not there. There are numerous peer-reviewed articles in leading journals that set out the evidence on this, and more keep appearing. Leading scientists have raised their heads to make the evidence-based case.

Graphs like the above, which should by themselves undermine the entire lockdown edifice, are easy to produce. Leading journalists such as Fraser Nelson, writing in one of the leading Tory newspapers, the Telegraph, has pointed repeatedly to the evidence on this. The data is plain for all to see and the voices highlighting it are not marginal or lacking in credibility.

Yet here we are again, with another model built on dubious assumptions and a presumption of lockdown efficacy once more imperilling our liberty. Freedom has never felt so fragile as in these past 14 months, when access to basic liberties has rested on the evidence-free assumptions made by a small group of mathematical modellers whose word seems to be taken as holy writ by those in charge.

Adam Kucharski is on Twitter. So why not ask him (politely!) why, if so many people remain so susceptible to this virus and its variants as to produce such dire predictions, Florida, Texas and South Dakota have fared no worse than places which have imposed or maintained restrictions? I’ve put the graph as the featured image to make it easy to share – just put a link to this article in the tweet and the graph should appear. If you get any answers from him, why not email them to us here.

We Need to Hear Much More About Florida and Texas and Less About the Latest Covid Hotspots

Would that journalists and broadcasters paid as much attention to places with no restrictions doing fine as they do to the latest places experiencing a Covid surge.

All eyes are currently on India and especially Delhi where, after a year of little impact, the virus is making its nasty presence felt. But as Ivor Cummins points out, India for whatever reason has a long way to go to catch up with countries in Europe and the Americas when it comes to Covid deaths. The country is not a good comparison for the UK where the virus is endemic and substantial population immunity is now present.

If only our media would spend as much time telling the population about how Florida lifted its restrictions back in September, how South Dakota never had any, and how Texas and Mississippi reopened in full at the start of March, as they do telling us about how many people are in hospital in Delhi. The latest positive-test data for these open states is in the graph above, along with two other light-restriction states, South Carolina and Georgia. Note the conspicuous lack of surge despite being basically back to normal. What more evidence do our politicians and scientists need that the threat from the virus is overblown and does not warrant social restrictions or emergency measures? Is the Government interested in data which contradict their preferred narrative?

The Telegraph today is reporting that as of June 21st – another seven weeks away – Brits will be permitted once again to attend large events without anti-social and uneconomic distancing requirements and hug one another. Our ultra-cautious scientists are advising that these things might just be okay by then. Though in case you might have thought they would then end the seemingly endless state of emergency, they have said measures such as staggering entries to venues accommodating large groups and good ventilation will still be required. What part of normal don’t they understand?

Nor is there any indication of a move to return international travel to normal, as the country faces more limitations on travel this summer – when most of the country is vaccinated – than last summer – when nobody was. What this has to do with following the science is, as ever, unclear.

What’s strange is that even in America where parts of their own country are living free and showing that the measures aren’t needed, state governments, with popular support and backed by federal agencies, just carry on with their restrictions, lifting them only very slowly and with no obvious commitment to bringing them finally to an end. It’s as though people don’t want to know. Too much has been invested in the lockdown narrative, it seems, for people to be able to cope psychologically with the trauma of facing the truth that it is fundamentally false. Too many reputations are at risk. Too many interests coincide.

Are we doomed to live forever in this Covid state of emergency? I confess it is hard to see what will prompt governments to bring it to an end, now that we live in permanent fear of the appearance of variants and believe we must continually top up the whole world’s antibodies through rolling annual programmes of vaccinations. One of the most depressing thoughts is I find it almost impossible to imagine Boris Johnson facing the camera and announcing: “My friends, our ordeal is over. The data is clear. The virus is now one among many hazards with which we daily must live. Vaccines are available to the vulnerable, as are effective treatments, and we will continually strive to find the safest ways to protect those at risk from this and other illnesses. It is time to resume our old lives. I declare the state of emergency to be over.”

Will we ever reach a point where we no longer even think about whether some activity is “Covid secure”? Where we no longer see our fellow human beings as sources of infection? It would be good to hear much more often from the Government that this is where it believes we are headed, sooner rather than later.

Anthony Fauci Tells Congress Texas Has a Lower Infection Rate Than Michigan Because People are Ignoring Lockdown Rules

President Biden’s Chief Medical Adviser Dr Anthony Fauci has claimed the reason Michigan and other states which have maintained restrictions have a higher infection rate than Texas, which ended all Covid restrictions at the beginning of March, is because people in lockdown states are ignoring the rules. He did not attempt to explain why his prediction from March of a “very troublesome” surge in Texas had not materialised. When Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) attempted to press him on the feeble answer he had given to the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, the Committee Chair Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) cut him off and said he’d had his answer. Breitbart News has the story.

Jordan said to Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, “You said when Texas ended their lockdown, ended their mandate, that this was quote ‘inexplicable and would lead to surging cases’. Texas is near the bottom of the 50 states, but all the states, all the states at the top are lockdown states.”

“That guess didn’t seem to be too good,” Jordan added.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on March 2nd lifted his state’s mask mandate and capacity restrictions on all businesses and facilities. Fauci responded to the move on March 3rd in a CNN interview:

“I don’t know why they’re doing it but it certainly from a public health standpoint is ill-advised. … We’ve been to this scene before months and months ago, when we tried to open up the country and open up the economy. When certain states did not abide by the guidelines, we had rebounds, which were very troublesome. What we don’t need right now is another surge so just pulling back on all the public health guidelines that we know work, and if you take a look at the curve, we know it works. It just is inexplicable why you would want to pull back now.”

Michigan topped Jordan’s list with a seven-day average case rate of 551 per 100,000 people. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has issued mask requirements and set a 50% capacity limit on many businesses, including retail and food establishments, as well as entertainment venues.

Jordan demanded an explanation from Fauci on why Texas, which, per his list, had a seven-day average case rate of 77 per 100,000 people, was “so darn low compared to the rest of the states”.

Fauci replied, “There’s a difference between lockdown and the people obeying the lockdown.”

“You know you could have a situation where they say, ‘We’re going to lock down’, and yet you have people doing exactly what they want –”

Jordan interjected to ask Fauci to clarify if he was suggesting people in states with the highest case rates were not obeying those states’ coronavirus-related orders.

Subcommittee Chair Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) then informed Jordan his speaking time had expired, but Jordan objected, arguing Fauci had not yet answered his question.

“I think the gentleman answered you quite clearly,” Clyburn said. “There’s a big difference in being a lockdown state by order and being a state that obeys orders. That answered the question in my opinion.”

Source: CDC

Even if Michiganders are ignoring the lockdown (and good for them if so), that doesn’t explain why restrictions must be maintained if removing them makes things no worse. There’s certainly no evidence Texans are voluntarily staying home very much at all.

The architects of lockdown aren’t even trying to give answers to why lifting restrictions does not trigger a devastating surge as their models unfailingly predict. Neither have they explained why Florida or South Dakota, which stayed open all winter, did not experience a worse outcome than states which imposed severe restrictions. Is this a sign that their ideology is crumbling? How much longer can lockdownism survive if its leading proponents cannot give answers to basic questions?

Read the article and watch the video here.

Meanwhile in Texas…

While go-slow BoJo talks about keeping masks and social distancing in place for another year (at least) and bringing in vaccine passports for large events (just for starters), this was the scene in Texas today, tweeted by Sam Gannon, a sports reporter for KDFW Fox 4. A packed stadium for a baseball game, no vaccine passport required, not a mask in sight.

Texas ended all restrictions and mask requirements at the beginning of March and since then has seen positive cases drop to their lowest level since last summer.

Doubtless Covid is still around and they will see it return at some point to a greater or lesser extent. But Texans no longer live in fear of it or allow their lives to be governed by often fruitless efforts to avoid it. Texas, like a number of other states, has decided that the risk as a society is manageable, and as individuals they have decided it is a risk worth taking to be free and live their lives. The land of the free and the home of the brave indeed.

How long will countries like the UK be able to keep up the draconian emergency measures when their people see Americans back to living normal lives and no medical catastrophe unfolding? When will we have a report from SAGE on the experience of states in America like Texas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Mississippi that have lifted restrictions? When will the Government’s modellers show us how accurately their models predicted the outcomes in those states?

How long until our Government ministers and MPs start questioning the self-serving advice they’re getting from scientific advisers up to their necks in lockdownism and start standing up for freedom?

“If You Were to Release at this Point in Time, it Would Lead to a Lot of Death.” Texas, Florida and Mississippi Would Beg to Differ, Professor

There follows a guest post by second year maths student and Lockdown Sceptics contributor Glen Bishop.

Having listened to an interview on talkRadio with Professor Jeremy Brown of the National Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which advises SAGE, I thought I would offer a critique of some of the points he made. 

Firstly, Professor Brown stated: “If you were to release at this point in time, that is a mistake, and it would lead to a lot of death and illness.” This has not been the experience elsewhere and so as far as I am concerned is an unscientific claim. Florida released all restrictions in September and still has a significantly lower death toll than the UK. Texas released all restrictions over three weeks ago and cases have continued to fall sharply. In Mississippi, all restrictions were lifted four weeks ago. In the subsequent four weeks, the seven-day average case numbers have more than halved. This is despite these states being behind the UK on vaccines and the Kent variant making up a significant proportion of cases. If it has not happened elsewhere in the world, in places with lower population immunity from prior infection and worse vaccine progress, what makes Professor Brown so sure it will happen here?  

What is happening in Europe now is not relevant to the UK as, judging from our death rate, we have built up more population immunity from prior infection than most of Europe and are miles ahead with inoculations. 

Secondly, Professor Brown enlightened listeners with his thinking on the pandemic’s path, albeit conceding it is “a little simplistic”. He describes how the pandemic has hit in three waves, each causing 50,000 deaths and suggests another wave – a fourth wave – could lead to a similar death toll and scenes akin to the January wave. This is a poor representation of the epidemic to put it mildly, but I will run with this logic. Assume a fourth wave hits that, without vaccinations, would kill another 50,000 people. Around 95% of vulnerable people – the people who would be killed in Brown’s scenario – have actually had a vaccine, which trials show reduces deaths by 95%. That means a fourth wave would in theory claim, not 50,000, but 4,875 deaths. How do I get that figure? First, it would infect 5% of the vulnerable who haven’t been vaccinated and 5% of 50,000 is 2,500. Second, it would still kill 5% of the remaining 95% of the vulnerable population who would have died but have been vaccinated, since the vaccines only reduce death by 95% – so 0.05 x 0.95 x 50,000 = 2,375. 2,500 + 2,375 = 4,875.

So 2,375 will die in the fourth wave in spite of not being vaccinated – roughly 10% of the number of the 22,000 influenza deaths during the 2017 to 2018 winter. Certainly not a number worthy of any response beyond sensible advice. Anyone advocating anything other than sensible public health advice for this scale of viral death is just being hysterical and illogical. If they haven’t been advocating the same things for influenza every previous winter, what makes them do it now? Is it because they are caught up in the hysteria and groupthink gripping SAGE and the country? Why treat this differently just because the media enjoy talking about it? 

Of the other group in this hypothetical scenario of Professor Brown’s – the 2,500 unvaccinated deaths – it is their choice not to take a vaccine and they should accept the consequences.

Professor Brown should feel free to lock himself away for the rest of time if he wants to make sure he isn’t putting the ‘vaccine hesitant’ community at risk, but he shouldn’t advocate forcing the rest of sane society to do so. What next? A ban on car travel because some people refuse to wear seat belts and it puts them at risk of dying? A ban on ‘do not resuscitate’ wishes from patients? Do SAGE want to ban sex outside of committed relationships because some people do not use condoms and could spread STDs? What about “a circuit breaker on sex” whilst we do mass testing for STDs and make everyone get a “coitus passport”, so the plebs can only fornicate if they have tested negative for chlamydia, herpes, and HIV? If Professor Brown insists on advocating one set of restrictions, it is illogical not to advocate the others.  

If it is acceptable to restrict other people’s civil liberties because some people aren’t sensible with their own health, then I suppose Professor Brown will be getting to work advocating the banning of cigarettes, alcohol, chocolate, and junk food. Eradicating them from society may lead to a far greater increase in QALYs than eradicating Covid will, now that we have very effective vaccines. 78,000 die from smoking each year alone. Perhaps I ought not be giving Professor Brown these ideas. If you read this Professor, please don’t suggest them in your next JCVI meeting. You’ve done enough damage to civil liberties as it is. 

Covid Numbers Continue to Fall in Texas More Than Two Weeks After State Returned to Normality

There is some great news from Texas today: Covid cases and hospitalisations continue to fall more than two weeks after the state lifted its mask mandate and allowed businesses to reopen to full capacity. President Joe Biden dismissed this return to normality as “Neanderthal thinking”, but it appears as though it has not been the “big mistake” he claimed it would be. Let’s hope that it stays this way. The Mail has the story.

On Saturday, Texas’ seven-day Covid positivity rate reached an all-time low of 5.27%, while hospitalisations fell to their lowest level since October, according to the latest state data.

The state recorded 2,292 new coronavirus cases, about 500 fewer on average from last week, and 107 new deaths.  

The number of people hospitalised with coronavirus, meanwhile, dipped to 3,308. 

The latest figure marks a significant decline in hospitalisations in the state which had seen levels soar past 14,000 for a couple of days in January. 

The drop comes 17 days after Republican Governor Greg Abbott ended the statewide mask mandate and other Covid safety measures.  

Abbott took to Twitter on Saturday to celebrate the state’s progress, saying: “Today Texas hit an all-time recorded low for the seven-day Covid positivity rate: 5.27%. It’s been below 6% for 5 days & below 10% for an entire month.

“Covid hospitalisations declined again – now at the lowest level since October 3rd. Vaccinations continue to increase rapidly.”

Our leaders could certainly learn some lessons from what is happening on the other side of the pond.

Worth reading in full.

Why Are Sweden and India Not Seeing a Covid Surge?

Why are some countries surging this autumn but others aren’t, at least not yet? Much of Europe is now seeing sharp rises in reported infections. In some it appears to be a delayed Delta surge, but in others like France, Netherlands, Norway and Finland it comes after an earlier summer Delta ripple that looked like it had gone away. Yet India, which had (quite literally) the mother of Delta surges, has not seen any new rise despite only 29% of its population being double-vaccinated, and despite the festivals of Diwali and Durga Puja, widely warned about as a transmission risk, taking place in the autumn.

Sweden, meanwhile, has somehow so far managed to avoid Delta surges altogether, after being hit relatively hard in spring 2020 and winter 2020-21. The country famously imposed only light restrictions (no stay-at-home orders, school or business closures or mask mandates at any point). Similarly, few restrictions were imposed in India in 2021, and there is also doubt about how far Indian citizens have followed any restrictions that were brought in; in any case, high population antibody rates were subsequently reported. Are India and Sweden benefitting from a more robust immunity owing to greater exposure prior to this autumn? What happens this winter will help to clarify this question.

The U.K. meanwhile is experiencing a strangely drawn-out Delta epidemic. Beginning in June, it has now been simmering away at around about the same level for five months, neither exploding as the models predicted, nor dropping off again back to low levels, as earlier waves have done.

Will the U.K. Face a Winter Covid Surge?

I’m slightly surprised to be writing this post as to my mind the answer is obvious – of course the U.K. will face a winter Covid surge. It’s winter. That’s what happens in winter; the dominant respiratory virus surges and, most years, taxes the capacity of the health service. The only question is how big it will be – unusually large like 2020-21, or unusually small like 2019-2020 before Covid hit? It’s worth remembering that more people died in England and Wales per head of population in 2008 (once adjusted for age etc.) and every year prior to it than died in 2020 or 2021, many of them succumbing during the winter flu season, as the chart below from the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries shows. In other words, there’s a winter surge in deaths-by-virus every year, and I see no reason why 2021-22 will be any different.

Standardised mortality rates (SMRs) in England and Wales

As I see it, the only realistic way there would not be a Covid surge on some scale is if another influenza-like virus takes over, which seems unlikely right now as flu is almost nowhere to be seen.

Nonetheless, I am writing this post, and that’s because some people seem to think that this year it’s not going to happen. Dr Sebastian Rushworth argues that places hit hard already, such as Sweden, New York and Lombardy, have developed enough immunity to avoid “another big wave” altogether. Andrew Lilico in the Telegraph maintains that owing to “infection saturation” and vaccine third doses, “for us, the Covid crisis is over”. Even the usual doom-mongers at SAGE are predicting a decline in hospitalisations and deaths in December, according to new modelling released on Friday. A decline in flu-like hospitalisations and deaths in December? Whoever heard of such a thing?

I freely admit that the winter surge may, because of acquired immunity, be relatively small in places like the U.K. which have already faced widespread exposure. Perhaps that’s all that Sebastian Rushworth and Andrew Lilico mean, and in which case our positions are not so far apart. But will it really be a non-event, as SAGE at least appears to be implying, so that Covid deaths decline during the winter and don’t put any further pressure on the health service?