Covid, Cornwall, and the G7 meeting

 

Cornwall’s had a low Covid rate throughout most of the pandemic, but it now has the fourth highest Covid growth rate in England. That’s not the highest number of overall cases–that’s still relatively low. It’s the rate of growth, which went from 12.2 cases per 100,000 people to 99.5 per 100,000. 

Did that happen because the G7 met here? Or is it because the county’s a tourist center and we’re visitors have flooded in–more than usual, since going abroad’s a gamble just now? County councilors (which I initially misspelled as counselors, as noted in a comment; councilors is British for politicians, not for mental health professionals) are arguing both sides, but heavy Covid concentrations have shown up in Falmouth, St. Ives, and Newquay, where assorted people associated with the summit stayed, and in Carbis Bay, where the meetings were held 

Most other parts of the county haven’t seen spikes. That argues for the G7 as a superspreader event. 

Irrelevant photo: honeysuckle

On the other hand, the spikes started three weeks after what we’ve learned to call hospitality venues–those place we might once have called cafes and pubs and things like that–opened back up. Staffed heavily by young (by which you can understand largely unvaccinated) people, and customered at least in part by people visiting from parts of the country with higher Covid rates, many of them accompanied by children (by which you can understand smallish unvaccinated people). 

Also on that second hand, some spikes point toward a local university campus at Penryn.

Those points argue for reopening hospitality venues as a superspreader idea.

The national government’s announced that the spikes have nothing to do with the G7. It’s also announced that it’s not about to publish its summit risk assessment and anyone getting themselves into a state about reading it should go have an ice cream cone and settle down.  

Someone may manage to untangle the threads in the next week or three, but until then you can take your pick of the causes.

My small patch of the county is still fairly Covid free, but we’re full of visitors and the cafes, pubs, and restaurants are open. We’ll see what happens next. 

 

Covid transmissibility

A study of two Covid variants–the one first found in South Africa and the one first found in Britain–looked at why they’re more transmissible and found that the people they infect don’t have increased viral loads, which a person might logically think would be linked to high transmissibility. But nope, that doesn’t seem to be it.

People with the variants are less likely to have asymptomatic cases, though. And although they’re not more likely to die of Covid, they are more likely to be hospitalized. 

I can’t draw any conclusions from that. All I can do is toss it on your doorstep and hope you find something useful to do with it. 

 

Covid test effectiveness

Not long ago, the US FDA–that’s the Food and Drug Administration–urged the public to stop using the quick Covid tests that Britain relies on to test asymptomatic people. To which Britain said, “What do you know anyway?” and extended its emergency use approval. 

One of the problems with the tests is that when the number of Covid cases drops below a certain point, they produce more false positives than genuine positives, turning them from a not terribly accurate but possibly useful tool to an outright pain in the neck. Other tests are available and better supported by test data. But we like our lateral flow tests and we’re not about to abandon them. I have no idea why. 

 

Stay safe: avoid birthdays

A study in the US found a link between the spread of Covid and–guess what–birthdays. Yes indeed, gathering data from 45 weeks in 2020, a study found that in areas where Covid was circulating heavily, a birthday was 30% more likely to be followed by a Covid diagnosis in the household than a non-birthday. If it was a kid’s birthday, the rate was higher. 

The study was designed to look at the impact of small gatherings in spreading the disease. It didn’t specifically look at whether the household had a party–it drew its information from insurance records–but it is suggestive.

But don’t worry. If you don’t have a birthday in any given year, you should be safe enough.

32 thoughts on “Covid, Cornwall, and the G7 meeting

  1. An excellent, informative and entertaining post, as usual, Ellen :)

    County counselors (counselors being British for politicians

    Just to nitpick here (I can’t resist, it’s in my nature, I’m a pendant):
    1. ‘counselor’ is the American spelling of the word that refers to someone who gives others advice; Brits would tend to add an extra ‘l’ (ie making it ‘counsellor’)§
    2. ‘councillor’ is the way Brits spell the word that means ‘a member of a council’; some Americans would tend to remove an ‘l’ (ie making it ‘councilor’), but, interestingly, it seems that more don’t than do (I found this link to be chucklesome) though that’s probably just me)
    § … unless they’re the kind of Brit who doesn’t know how to configure MS-Word so that it uses the British English dictionary instead of the default American English one (and then believes the dictionary because they don’t know how to spell anyway) of which I believe that there are a great many, simply judging by the number of Word documents I see crossing my desk that feature the default settings (including that horrible Calibri font which MS decided in its infinite wisdom to set as the default in place of the equally horrible Times New Roman font a while back) and I imagine you’d like to see a full stop (‘period’) here, so, just for you (and, naturally, anyone else who happens to be reading this drivel), here ’tis.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, hell, I hate it when you’re right. Or half right. I stick to the American system of double and single Ls, (more about that below) but you’re about council being the base of the word and me therefore being wrong. I knew something bothered me about that but didn’t bother to ask myself what and why.

      In my defense, it was 5 a.m. and Fast Eddie got me out of bed by depositing a near-dead vole on the foot of the bed. I wasn’t at my best. I’m still not, although it’s no longer 5 a.m.

      Although the American system of doubling consonants (or not) depends on where the accent falls, most of us haven’t a clue about how the system works, so we’re kind of random about it.

      I don’t suppose you’d care for a dead vole, would you?

      Liked by 1 person

      • most of us haven’t a clue about how the system works

        Agreed. I blame a faulty education system that doesn’t value the ability to communicate (some might claim it’s just another thread in the conspiracy to keep us all arguing so that we get distracted when Those In Power do something stupid).

        As for the vole: don’t let Fast Eddie know that you’re attempting to pass on his loving gifts to random folk you meet on the innerwebz. The big question is: is it honey-coated? (If not, I’ll pass, thanks).

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Our Covid numbers are rising again with the new Delta variant. Pretty announced last night in the middle of our watching POSE that she is going to start wearing a mask again which, in translation means, I am also to wear a mask again everywhere.
    I’m ok with it. Our granddaughter has begun a summer camp at the school where she will be going for real in August. This is her first experience outside the bubble of her parents and assorted grandparents who have taken care of her for almost 2 years. We understand she will bring more than her new words home with her when we pick her up.
    We shall see. To quote the always poetic Garth Brooks in The Dance, “I’m glad I didn’t know the way it all would end…I could have missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss the dance.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is a good quote. And a good thought. So far, being doubly vaccinated is fairly good protection against the Delta variant. I wish it were better than fairly good, but these days fairly good is–well, it’s not bad. I hope she loves her camp–and that y’all stay safe.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Does that mean birthday parties need to be banned? I wish I’d known that before one of the neighbours had an outdoor party for their kid’s 16th. OK, they were abiding by regulations by having it outside so they could have more than 30 people, but I could have lived without the terrible music blasting out until half 11. If it’d been decent ’80s music, I wouldn’t have minded …

    Liked by 1 person

  4. In other words – pick which ever you want to blame for the Covid spike because – really – nobody knows a damn thing Were there lots of protestors (or fans) at the G7, thereby trotting in even more visitors who probably weren’t terribly well-regulated ? And sometimes bad things just happen.

    I spent some time this morning (much less than I’d anticipated, thankfully) in an auto repair place…I started with a mask but the place was even emptier than the laundromat I frequent, so I abandoned it to drink my coffee. Amazingly normal. The guys working on cars all wore masks, but the cashier and the few people coming in to drop off cars did not. Catch (or avoid) as catch can…

    Liked by 1 person

    • There were protesters. The protests themselves were outside, but the people probably were indoors at various points. I’m not sure about the numbers. They may end up being able to trace the origins of the spikes. I’m not sure, and I’m not sure how much good it does. Except maybe to remind us of what we shouldn’t do (if anyone’s listening).

      Over here, we cling to the illusion that having a plexiglass barrier in front of you means you can take off your mask, so in small shops people behind the counter often take theirs off for a break. Don’t get me started. The illusion of normality is so seductive.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. My brother went to a party thrown for someone celebrating a birthday in a given year, thereby contracting Covid. So the statistics did include this instance. Beware of the instance is what I shall now believe.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for an informative summary of everything I should care about….I am not putting away my mask any time soon, I don’t care if I have been double vaccinated, my version of the jab (AZ) is only 60% effective against the Delta Variant.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Good to see this again. I still experience confusion responding. Not worrying about it anymore. I’ll email if I have something useful or (of course) amusing to say. Mardi

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wish I knew what to do to make comments easier to leave. My best guess is the WordPress is built on the assumption that no sane person other than another blogger would read this trash. So if you’re not a WP user, what are you doing here anyway? So yeah, sent me an email and I’ll see if I can figure out how to transfer it to the post and blame it on you.

      I’m glad you’re back.

      Like

  8. When I read this in the news, I thought of you. I’m more inclined to blame G7, because well… I find it easier chucking blame at BoJo than ordinary folk who are doing what he & his mob have said it’s safe to do (regardless of whether it is or not).

    Interesting info on the new variants. As you say, I’ve no idea what to do with it but go on making my own (overly cautious) risk assessments & decisions. I am starting to join the “I’m tired” brigade, which I’m rather judging myself for.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know. The illusion of normalcy’s creeping up on me too. It’s so tempting.

      It’s entirely possible that the spikes have two causes, so we still get to blame Johnson. For both of them, actually, since they’ve reopened schools and colleges without anything in the way of sensible preparation.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Oy, I am starting think as the acute crisis has been averted in some places, we are probably being a little more careless than we used to be. Since I’m fully vaccinated I feel much more comfortable to go out and about. I also know there are a number of people who are unmasked AND unvaccinated. And viruses continue to evolve quickly (like bacteria) and the more contagious and virulent ones are the forms that will be “selected” for as the potential hosts are decreasing. This is certainly not our last brush with major contagions and many scientists were warning for the past decade that something like this (though they speculated on flu pandemic) was predicted.

    Not sure about the answer, but I hope we can remain kind and patient with the ways in which some folks must be more cautious because of underlying conditions. I also know that a lot of restaurants here are in Minnesota having trouble with hiring. The fact that servers must interact with so many people makes their jobs much more risky. While this was always the case, depending on the responses of their employers and the lack of “hazard pay” that these jobs provide, I can understand why…

    Be well and stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can understand why people hesitate to take those front-line jobs, and people who criticize them for it can go do the work themselves.

      So there, she said in her kindest and most understanding manner.

      I do worry about that sense of safety that the vaccinated (and that includes me) are starting to feel. Because as you say, this beast will evolve, and even without that our immunity isn’t 100%. I’m very much afraid that we’re nowhere near the edge of the woods yet.

      I’ll stay safe if you will.

      Liked by 1 person

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