America

Governor Ron DeSantis Stands Firm Against Lockdowns as Covid Surges in Florida

The summer surge, driven by the Delta variant, is now underway in America, including reopened states like Florida, Texas, Mississippi and Georgia.

It is very welcome, therefore, to see Florida Governor Ron DeSantis standing firm against those calling on him to impose restrictions. He said:

If anyone is calling for lockdowns, you’re not getting that done in Florida. I’m going to protect people’s livelihoods. I’m going to protect kids’ rights to go to school. I’m going to protect people’s right to run their small businesses. …

We’re going to lift people up, We’re not locking people down.

Moment of Truth for Open U.S. States as Delta Surge Arrives

It’s been relatively easy since March for the open U.S. states to stand by their decision to roll back Covid restrictions as infections have defied the doom-mongers’ models and stayed low.

However, that is about to change for at least some of the states. The arrival of the Delta variant (see below) is now causing surges in infections in a number of states, including some which have reduced restrictions to a minimum, such as Florida and Arkansas (see above).

Delta variant is in green (CoVariants)

Short-lived surges driven by new variants come and go – the Delta surge is already peaking in the U.K., at least among the unvaccinated and in Scotland, showing there is nothing to fear.

The open American states will need to hold their nerve in the coming weeks as infections rise and they come under pressure to “do something” once again.

Joe Biden Announces Door-Knocking Campaign to “Get Americans Vaccinated”

The Joe Biden administration has announced it is “intensifying efforts” to increase the take-up in its Covid vaccine roll-out by sending “outreach” teams to knock on doors and pressure people to “get Americans vaccinated”. The Epoch Times has the story.

Because millions of Americans are unvaccinated and due to the so-called ‘Delta’ Covid variant that’s spreading, Biden said that his administration will attempt to ramp up vaccination efforts.

“Do it now,” said Biden during a White House press conference, referring to getting vaccinated.

The President said that people will be “knocking on doors” to get “help to the remaining people” who aren’t vaccinated. It’s part of a community outreach program, he said, that is being set up as mass vaccination sites are being phased out.

Biden also spoke about how his administration plans to make the vaccine available in more healthcare settings.

Those initiatives include providing more assistance to thousands of pharmacies, doctor’s offices, and other medical facilities so they can distribute vaccines, Biden said. Vaccines will also be doled out at sporting events, summer events, and religious activities, he added.

“We’re intensifying efforts to meet people out where they are,” the President said.

Younger Americans, Biden added, seem particularly reluctant to get the vaccine. The President argued they’re more at risk of contracting the Delta variant and that the strain is responsible for most new Covid cases.

“Seems to me, it should cause everyone to think twice,” Biden said.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the administration’s efforts will include “targeted by community door-to-door outreach to get remaining Americans vaccinated.” It’s not clear how the administration plans to accomplish this, and neither she nor Biden provided any more details.

The administration will first target communities with lower vaccination rates, she added. The door-to-door outreach efforts will get information about vaccines to people who haven’t received them yet.

The plan is part of the Government’s Covid response after the White House fell shy of its self-imposed July 4th deadline to get 70% of American adults at least one vaccination shot. According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 67% of American adults have received at least one shot and more than 157 million are fully vaccinated.

Worth reading in full.

“Equal Opportunity Employer” Las Vegas Police Department Will Not Accept Unvaccinated Recruits

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD), which brands itself as an “equal opportunity employer”, has announced that it will not accept new recruits who have not been vaccinated against Covid, with just a few limited exceptions. The Epoch Times has the story.

“LVMPD is requiring all new hire employees to be vaccinated and to show proof of vaccination for Covid prior to being hired,” their application page reads.

At the end of the announcement, they style the Department as an “equal opportunity employer”.

“All appointments to the competitive service shall be made without regard to race, colour, religion, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, genetic information, military service or political affiliation, and shall be based on merit and fitness only,” the statement reads.

There are some limited exemptions in cases such as health and allergies or religious exonerations…

The Employment Diversity Office will have the religious exemption cases forwarded to them for approval, and the health and allergy cases will be sent to the Health and Safety Section for approval…

More than half of U.S. states have banned [vaccine] passports, asserting they present serious privacy concerns and disparate treatment of the unvaccinated.

The President of the largest union of health care workers in the United States says the organisation will fight against companies requiring mandatory Covid vaccines for employees.

Meanwhile, in the U.K., care home workers have been told that they will have to choose between getting vaccinated or losing their jobs. The same rule is also likely to be applied to healthcare workers in other settings, according to reports.

The Epoch Times report is worth reading in full.

America is Open, So Why Aren’t We?

Lockdown Sceptics received a fantastic response to our call for news from the reopened states in America with which to shame our own timid Government as it delayed reopening for yet another month. We published the first as a taster on Wednesday. Now we bring you the rest.

A Road Trip to Florida and Texas

Mark – a Brit who lives in Connecticut and recently visited Florida and Texas – writes:

I spent the start of the pandemic in Manhattan, NY, where the initial response mirrored the U.K.’s. It was frightening, and to me seemed possibly OTT, but given the explosion of terrifying news and the predicted Armageddon I definitely didn’t consider myself a lockdown sceptic. There was no particular turning point, more just the steady stacking up of evidence that whether or not lockdowns ‘worked’ in terms of a non-zero reduction in R, they very clearly didn’t justify their extreme costs. By the time we got to May and police would harass me for not wearing a mask walking alone down a near-empty street while politicians across the world were getting exposed on a daily basis flouting their own rules, I was a resolute sceptic and found your site one of the few places that would keep me sane while L.A. was filling skateparks with sand the Spanish were disinfecting beaches.

My first trip to Orlando, Florida early in 2021 felt like I’d entered a parallel universe – it was hard to believe I was in the same country as the Northeast, coming from a micromanagement regime that treated me like a leper even once restaurants had their ‘opening’ with the full Monty of plexiglass, 25% capacity, digital menus/ordering and drink-only bans. To be clear, some Covid theatrics remained in Florida, particularly with corporations, but they were largely unenforced – think masks in hotels, six-foot queue marks in banks etc. Although there were no legal restrictions on mass gatherings, there weren’t a huge number of gigs or comedy shows, and the basketball was at pretty limited capacity. Although I didn’t agree with it, I still appreciated what it showed – if individuals or a business took a different view of the risks to me, they were free to limit their own behaviours or capacity without arbitrary rules forcing them to, and I could spend my money in busy venues with a better atmosphere.

Possibly the biggest difference was the attitude of people. In Connecticut and New York many people feel Covid entitles them to a level of rudeness about non-conformists that would’ve been unimaginable pre-pandemic, and even more, like the U.K., seemed to almost enjoy the constant discussion of Covid news. In Florida it certainly wasn’t ignored, but people treated one another like regular humans, and Covid was an aspect of life rather than the aspect. I felt welcomed and had a great trip.

If the above is a good example of how much better life can be when Covid is still very prevalent and other countries imprison people in their homes, my experiences on my recent trip, with Texas and Florida’s approaches now fully justified and cases far lower, highlight the absurdity of the current state of the U.K.’s lockdown-lite when Covid levels are extremely low.

In Texas we enjoyed packed nightclubs, unrestricted baseball games, and had an amazing night in Dallas on May 8th watching the sold-out boxing in front of 70,000 fans (see snap above).

Masks aside (more on that later), in most places Covid effectively didn’t exist. People with symptoms isolate and get tests, and if positive they warn their recent contacts – everyone else gets on with their lives and from my perspective is far happier because of it. Florida – theme parks excepted – was much the same. I challenge anybody who supports anything close to the U.K.’s current approach to visit Texas or Florida and still defend it.

News from the Free State of Florida

Answering the call from Lockdown Sceptics for news from the reopened states in America with which to shame our own timid Government, Julian Boulter sent us this dispatch from Florida. More stories will follow.

We are a family of three Brits – although my wife was born South Korean – living in Naples, Florida for the past six and a half years.

Florida, in line with most other states, issued a Shelter-at-Home order (lockdown) in April 2020, but in Florida this only lasted for one month; eight states followed South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem’s lead in not locking down at all, preferring to share the data with their populations and only making recommendations on behaviour. Governor Noem has eloquently pointed out that all businesses are essential to those who own them and it is not the Government’s place to decide otherwise.

Between May and the end of August 2020, Florida gradually re-opened (against the wishes of President Trump), although schools did not resume in-person learning until the start of the 2020/2021 year in August, and then with masks in classrooms. In September Governor Ron DeSantis met with the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration (Sunetra Gupta of the University of Oxford, Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University and Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University) and took their advice about a focused protection approach rather than any continuing restrictions.

He has subsequently issued Executive Orders that strengthen Floridian’s rights to decide for themselves on mask wearing and taking the vaccine, and has banned vaccine passports. At the same time he ensured care homes and the vulnerable were protected – witness a death per million rate that ranks around 26 of 50 states – and is better than the UK, despite having some similarities with the UK (same average age of population, same urban density and worse metabolic health).

I returned to the office in June 2020 (no masks) and have been working there ever since. We had our first two cases of COVID-19 in May this year; both have recovered and are back at work. My daughter has had to wear a mask to class, but that is all. The school averaged four to five cases a week but did not shut down any classes at any time; testing was not required. Her High School Graduation was at the local Concert Centre, who insisted on reduced numbers and masks; by contrast, the graduating students and parents’ dinner at a local country club earlier in the week had 300 people with no masks, and a packed dance floor. We’ve been eating in restaurants for months. Last year we went to the Florida Keys diving twice, and drove up to St Augustine for a few days earlier this year. We had friends drive across from Texas to stay with us for a few days back in May.

We’ve been back in church and singing in the choir since well before Christmas, although we also had a separate service for those who wished to wear masks. In May we moved to a combined service, and we also had international opera star Jeannette Vecchionne-Donati performed a charity benefit concert to a packed Church, no masks (video here).

It’s also worth noting that politics is very polarised here and many are sceptical of President Biden, Dr Fauci and Bill Gates, and are reluctant to take the vaccine, so take-up appears to have stalled; infections and deaths however have continued to decline. In fact, I think I know more people who will not take the “experimental gene therapy” than have had the vaccine. Governor DeSantis’s current mantra is that Florida chose “Freedom over Faucism”.

16% of Pregnant Women in U.S. Have Been Vaccinated Against Covid

Just over 15% of pregnant women in the U.S. have had at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Black and Hispanic mothers are up to four times less likely to have been vaccinated than white and Asian mothers. The CDC believes that vaccine hesitancy (or refusal) is likely caused by there being limited safety data available on the new vaccines. The MailOnline has the story.

Vaccination rates diverge significantly by race: 25% of Asian pregnant women and 20% of white women were vaccinated compared to 12% of Hispanic women and only six per cent of black women…

The CDC researchers expect vaccination coverage among pregnant women to increase as vaccine access continues to improve and more information on the shots’ safety becomes available.

When Covid vaccines went through clinical trials, they were not tested in pregnant or breastfeeding women despite their increased risk of severe illness or death.

Such a practice is common in clinical trials because researchers don’t want to risk the health of expecting women.

But it left these women with limited information on safety risks that the vaccines may have posed. 

Regulators said the evidence on these vaccines did not raise safety concerns, yet without data specifically on pregnant women, they could not make guarantees.

Despite the limited data, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorised the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use in early December, the agency said that pregnant women could choose to get vaccinated.

At the time, some scientists saw this as a major step forward for pregnant women – they could make their own healthcare decisions…

But the new data from the CDC suggest that many pregnant women in the U.S. chose not to get vaccinated, at least, not in the early months of the vaccine roll-out…

Why the low vaccination rate? The CDC researchers suggest that pregnant women may have been hesitant to get vaccinated due to the limited safety data available on the new Covid vaccines as well as potential access issues.

Older pregnant women were more likely to get vaccinated than younger women. Pregnant women between the ages of 35 and 49 had a 23% vaccination rate, compared to just a six per cent rate for ages 18 to 24.

Worth reading in full.

Calling All Readers in the Reopened States in America – We Want to Hear From You

At Lockdown Sceptics we want to hear from our readers in the United States of America, and particularly those living in reopened states like Texas, Florida, Mississippi, South Dakota and so on. As the U.K. Government is set to announce yet another month of socially destructive, economically ruinous restrictions – and suggestions of restrictions continuing for another year or even permanently have been voiced by Government ministers and advisers – we want to tell the stories they don’t want people to hear, of Western regions where life is back to normal and people don’t live under Government-induced fear and endless restrictions on basic freedoms.

Tell us about what life is like for you now, when restrictions were lifted, and what people’s attitude around you is to the virus. Do you have a video of a large crowd you were in recently that we could put up – maybe a sports stadium or a concert?

Email us here. If you have footage to share that’s too large for an email maybe tweet it so we can link to it. I imagine many people in these states have stopped keeping up-to-date with the latest Covid nonsense, but if you are still reading Lockdown Sceptics and have a story to tell of living free please get in touch. We’ll publish as many as we can.

Moderna Hopes Its Covid Vaccine Will Be the Second to Be Authorised for Use in American Children

Moderna has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to extend the emergency use of its Covid vaccine to American children aged 12 and over. The FDA approved the use of the Pfizer Covid vaccine in children a month ago on Thursday, and earlier this month the U.K.’s medicines regulator did the same for British children. The MailOnline has more.

When the [Moderna] vaccine was originally authorised for use by the FDA in December 2020, it was only for those aged 18 and older. 

However, recent Phase Three clinical trial data showed no children who were given the immunisation fell ill with the virus within 14 days of their second dose, while four children given the placebo later tested positive.

According to Moderna, this is “consistent with a vaccine efficacy of 100%”.

It comes exactly four weeks after Pfizer received approval from the FDA to administer its vaccine to children between ages 12 and 15. 

As of Thursday, more than seven million U.S. children between ages 12 and 17 have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Still, only about one in three parents said they would immunise their children right away.

Although children can contract Covid and pass the disease on to others, they tend to not get very ill and make up about 0.1% of deaths.

“We are pleased to announce that we have submitted for an emergency use authorization for our Covid vaccine with the FDA for use in adolescents in the United States,” said Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel in a statement

“We are encouraged that the Moderna Covid vaccine was highly effective at preventing Covid and SARS-CoV-2 infection in adolescents.”…

Moderna’s study included 3,732 adolescents from ages 12 to 17 enrolled at sites across the U.S….

Side effects were mild or moderate with the most common being pain at the site of injection, similar to adults in the clinical trial last year.

Other common symptoms were fatigue, headache, muscle pain and chills, but no serious side effects were reported. 

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?