Madison School Administration Takes Unhealthy Stand On COVID, Students

This is one of those times when logic has been tossed so far afield one wonders if we have just read the story wrong. (But we have not.) The Madison School District seems most unsuited to make the weighty decisions for children and parents relating to the COVID pandemic.

Here is why we can make that statement.

Madison Metropolitan School District staff will not be required to roll up their sleeves and get the COVID-19 vaccine before the upcoming school year, district officials confirmed Tuesday.

MMSD spokesperson Tim LeMonds says neither vaccinations, nor regular COVID-19 testing, will be required of staff.

The announcement comes amid Dane County health officials ordering a new mask mandate Tuesday for all people ages 2 and older indoors. That order will go into effect on Thursday.

The first day of school for MMSD students is a little more than two weeks away.

How do I honestly comment and also not undo the family-friendly atmosphere on this blog? Let me give it a try, as this development is simply asinine.

The news from MMSD is breathtakingly stupid.

Last year school was virtual, and teachers, rightfully, balked at in-classroom sessions. BUT with vaccinations PROVEN to be effective….this news is an absurdity and places children who can not have shots in danger. To double down on the severely misguided policy there will not be a requirement for testing of the chuckleheads who fail to get vaccinated.

I have stated, repeatedly, that getting vaccinated should be considered an investment not only in one’s own personal health, but also with society’s health.  When one works with a vulnerable population, such as children who can not as of yet have the vaccine, means adults need to ACT LIKE ADULTS.

I am sure there were enough squishy-minded teachers and staff who pressed and demanded of the administration that their anti-vax stance was somehow of such high-mindedness that policy must bend to their unscientific views. That an entire school system would fold to the lowest common denominator alerts this blogger that there are legitimate reasons to fault the administration.

The next step is clear. The Madison School Board needs to step in and correct this health problem.

And so it goes.

Republican Governors Promote Pandemic, Editorial Cartoons Show Their Culpability

Can any of my readers, be they preparing for college or Medicare, ever imagine watch politicians going out of their way to further a pandemic? No one who stops here on the internet highway, and looks back 10, 20, 50 years (or ever) can list one aspiring politician who undertook efforts for the spreading of a pandemic. And did so because it was viewed as a means to propel one to office, retain an office, or seek higher office.

If that level of insanity, which we have watched play out for months in states like Florida and Texas, does not make you most aware of what has happened to our politics, nothing will.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is clearly the poster child of dysfunctional Republican leadership concerning COVID-19. He also is awarded the prize for saying or doing anything that brings him closer to the under-educated base of his party. The same segment of the nation who refuses to be vaccinated, take preventive measures to stem the spreading of the virus and is therefore feeling the brunt of the fourth wave of the virus’s sweep.

DeSantis is willing to play a game of chicken with the deadly pandemic, using his state residents as poker chips. He wants his party’s 2024 presidential nomination and thinks holding to his unscientific positions, playing to the base, and mouthing buzzwords will allow him to come out on top.

Meanwhile, his state is spinning out of control. The virus spike has led to a record number of Covid-19 hospitalizations that have undone some of Florida’s economic and public health gains following the ravages of the virus during 2020.

These types of bizarre behavior extend to another red state. Texas Governor Greg Abbott also opposes mask mandates and other aggressive measures to combat the spread of the virus. He wishes to push personal responsibility, but as the data shows in his state that message to his conservatives base works as well as trying to breed a mule.

Republican governors like to tout their fondness for nurses, the ones on the front lines who again are needing to don protective gear to head into hospital rooms filled with the COVID virus. But if DeSantis and Abbott truly valued the sacrifices of these men and women they would do everything in their power to stop the spread of the virus, use all the tools in their work chest to make sure masks are worn, vaccines mandated, lives protected, and the economy not further harmed.

But Potomac Fever and the most vilest form of politics has taken priority for these men. The public be damned.

Congressman Glenn Grothman Is Part Of COVID Pandemic Problem

The fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is raging across the nation, due to the lack of personal responsibility too many individuals are exhibiting concerning the vaccination. If ever there was a time for all hands to be on deck in a helpful manner, for the sake of public health, this would be the time.

Right?

In what can only be labeled a galling example of partisan politics Wisconsin Republican Congressman Glenn Grothman declined to answer a reporter’s question about whether he was vaccinated. In a most disgusting display, the conservative stated he would not answer as he didn’t want to be seen as “taking sides.”

As I watched the moronic words slip from his mouth I wondered if Grothman also feels that the required shots for kids to attend our public schools should also be undermined in a partisan fashion so as not to offend the weaker-minded parents who have not yet determined their efficacy.

If one looks at the base of the Republican Party–the very ones that Grothman was playing to– it is clear to see these are not armchair epidemiologists. They should not be treated as if they are wiser than the medical professionals and the scores of scientists who labored in a short time span to produce a vaccine that WORKS.

The need in this nation is for everyone with a platform, voice, or position of power to speak plainly and directly to the ones not yet vaccinated and alert them as to why they need to get the shots. Now.

While Grothman will gladly prattle on about his love for the unborn, and his ‘pro-life’ positions it must be noted that when he had a chance with a television news crew to really make a difference by speaking about the best way to prevent a deadly virus from spreading he opted for the shallow end of the pool.

He played politics with what has claimed over 600,000 lives in this nation. While this blog is called Caffeinated Politics, and there are many issues that get heated and pointed, I readily admit, prior to this pandemic, that I never would have fathomed that a vaccine to prevent deaths would be controversial. I never would have thought it possible that a political party or individual members thereof would opt to play with, for partisan reasons, the health and well-being of the citizenry during a pandemic.

Glenn Grothman failed his constituents, his state, and a moral calling to help during a pandemic.

Local Paper Editor’s Breakthrough COVID Case Underscores Vaccination Issue

There are no mincing of words from this desk concerning the vaccination shots to stem the tide of COVID-19.

Take the shots and thank the powerhouse minds who, in a very short window of time, created this wonderful vaccine.

This week a woman told James and me about her son, who after getting his vaccine shots, pulled over to the side of a road and broke down in tears. The stress of the last year, the emotion of the moment when the shots had been administered, being on the other side of the mountain, and alive all welled up inside him.

I suspect many others have had similar experiences.

The emotions, however, are not limited to the ones registered upon getting vaccinated. They also can appear, and appropriately so, when a vaccinated person has to endure the fear and trauma of contracting the virus due to the ones who still refuse to get vaccinated.

Dave Zweifel, the 81-year-old editor of the Capital Times, wrote about his medical issue without pulling any punches. He took his vaccine shots, but contracted the virus from one who had not cared enough to get vaccinated.

By Monday I was a hurting 81-year-old. X-rays at urgent care revealed that at the least I had a severe case of pneumonia. And then, after an impromptu ambulance ride to St. Mary’s Emergency Room, finally a test revealed the hard-to-accept verdict: My pneumonia was caused by COVID. Within minutes I was whisked to St. Mary’s eighth floor, the COVID ward, and attached to oxygen. All I could think of was, “God, I hope it doesn’t get any worse than this.”

What angers me is that we could be well beyond this seemingly endless crisis if as a nation we would have pulled together and put an end to this awful crisis by using the tools that are available to us.

Instead, a smug cadre of charlatan politicians, think tanks that conclude our “constitutional rights” to get sick and infect our families and neighbors are somehow paramount, and just plain American stupid stubbornness has allowed a variant like the delta to emerge and once again create havoc. And as the doctors warn, if we don’t get our act together this isn’t the end.

I felt very safe returning to “normalcy” earlier this summer — ball games, restaurants, lunch with friends — but have been rudely awakened.

It didn’t have to be, nor should it continue to be. For God’s sake, get your shots.

Anti-Vaxxer And 4th Pandemic Wave With Editorial Cartoons

It is not a surprise that the lowest common denominators in the land have placed our nation into the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The best way to sum up the astonishing display of ignorance is through the editorial cartoons from the nation’s newspapers.

Local Rent Assistance Programs Underscore Wariness Over Large Relief Bills

It seems fair to say that no matter what transpires during the rest of our lives the memory of the COVID-19 pandemic will remain as a sharp and defining event. It was the reason that far too many people died, others got sick and some have lingering effects that now can be listed as a disability.

On Monday Health and Human Services along with the Justice Department rolled out guidance making clear that symptoms of “long COVID-19” could qualify as a disability under the federal civil rights law. Such health concerns are one of the continuing consequences of the virus.

From business slowdowns, supply disruptions, and unemployment people have faced an array of side effects from the pandemic other than just the medical ones. In large metropolitan areas, like Madison and Dane County, one of the highlighted needs over the past year is the lack of funds some people need to pay for rent.

The federal government took action in 2020 to place a federal moratorium on evictions, and over time extended the action. I suspect the prevailing sentiment across the nation was supportive as most everyone grasped the enormity of the virus. The large federal relief measures also found strong public support, including from the desk of this blogger.

The nature of the average citizen is one of empathy and care and that was reflected in the federal funds sent to the states and local communities. A need was presented and a program was constructed, as an example, to allow for assistance with rental payments.

So why do I suspect that some taxpayers and citizens are concerned about what was reported in today’s Wisconsin State Journal? I encourage a full read, but here are some snippets that I suspect many subscribers found to be unsettling.

Reporter Chris Rickert wrote that about a third of $15 million in federal funds set aside for rental assistance in Madison and Dane County is yet to be spent and there’s another $28 million on the way.

Later this year, renters still needing help more than a year after the pandemic shut down the economy will also no longer have a single portal for applying for funds because the contractor responsible for the current countywide program is bowing out and the city and county are coming up with their own separate programs administered through several different vendors.

On July 8, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced that the county was contracting with the Madison nonprofit Urban Triage to administer $12.5 million in eviction-prevention funds …”

TRC’s selection in January as the sole provider of the funds was controversial among some Black activists who complained that the city and county were cutting minority-led organizations out of competing for the contract, saying that such organizations were more familiar with the communities most in need of rental help.

Urban Triage called the city’s decision a case of “anti-Blackness” and “white supremacy in action,” …”

The other part of the story which reaches out to shake confidence in the foundations for the funding and programming has to do with the unknown need in our area for continued rental assistance.

There’s no good estimate for how many households continue to need help given those two earlier rounds of assistance — and as the unemployment rate has plummeted in the Madison area to 3.1% as of May.

“It’s really difficult to know” how many households continue to need assistance, Madison Community Development director Jim O’Keefe said. “There are households that received assistance with (overdue rent) through CORE and may have since fallen behind again. And there are surely renters who haven’t accessed the program yet but may be motivated to do so with the expiration of the moratorium.”

What bothers many rank-and-file folks is what appears to be such a disconnect from what was presented as a pressing need for assistance with rents–with the upfront acknowledgment now as to no idea how many people locally are still needing the program. Add in the millions not yet spent, the almost double amount of that to yet be reaped for the rent program, along with the way funds can be so easily moved around with providers if there is enough whining, and it becomes more clear as to why empathy among the electorate can be eroded.

This is always the problem with large government programs, and it should bother all of us. As a liberal, I fully appreciate the power of government to act for the needs of the moment. Such robust legislative actions do have a real meaningful impact. Many needed and received rent assistance. I fully acknowledge there is a continuing issue for some people.

But it is also clear that large funded programs often are marred by bureaucratic problems, and when that happens it makes for a lack of confidence among the populace for future moments when needs arise. That is why it is essential for those of us who align with an active and robust central government to then demand the implementation of programs be as reflective of the original goal as can be attained.

With that as a desire, why do I feel the county and city missed that mark?

And so it goes.

Anti-Vaxxers Causing Economic Woes, 4th Wave Of Pandemic Strikes Nation

The alarm bells are ringing again about the economy due to another wave of COVID-19. It goes without saying that economic downturns will result from any pandemic wave. But it also needs to be stated this 4th wave was totally and absolutely preventable as the cause of it is totally related to those who refuse to follow science and get the vaccines shots.

Mind-boggling, though it is, we hear from Republicans and conservatives that they care about economic growth. They tout tax cuts as growth measures, and cuts in regulations to stir business creation. But when it comes to the easiest and obvious measure to stop a pandemic and ensure a robust economy and stabilized markets those same people in places all over the nation refuse to get the vaccine.

The negative impact of their decisions is now showing up in business reporting.

“When companies began announcing tentative return-to-office plans this spring, there was a sense of optimism behind the messages. Covid cases were dwindling in the United States as the vaccine rollout picked up pace. Employers largely hoped their workers would get shots on their own, motivated by raffle tickets, paid time off and other perks, if not by the consensus of the medical community.”

“In recent days, that tone has suddenly shifted. The Delta variant, a more contagious version of the coronavirus, is sweeping through the country. Fewer than half of Americans are fully vaccinated, exacerbating the situation… It all adds up to a difficult calculation for America’s business leaders, who hoped the country would already be fully on a path to normalcy, with employees getting back to offices. Instead, individual companies are now being forced to make tough decisions that they had hoped could be avoided, such as whether to reverse reopening plans or institute vaccine mandates for employees.”

The recovery that was juicing upwards is soon to face limitations.

Coronavirus cases have been rising nationwide and are back to their highest level since early May as the highly contagious variant spreads across the country. The sharp uptick has reignited fears of the pandemic, particularly as cases rise among young children who are unable to get a vaccine and even among those who have been fully vaccinated.

“If people don’t feel safe, they’re going to close schools. If people don’t feel safe, they’re not going to go back to work,” said Claudia Sahm, a former Federal Reserve economist. “The recovery — it’s going, but it’s still vulnerable.”

Getting vaccinated should be considered an investment not only in one’s own personal health, but also with society’s health. That includes the nation’s ongoing economic recovery efforts. State data from around the nation shows that when vaccination rates increased, the share of people working also rose.  More money in the engine of the country allows for more people to buy what they put off during the pandemic year.

Policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels must redouble their efforts to increase vaccination rates in order to secure these benefits and build on past successes. But for them to succeed the chuckleheads who thus far have acted liked petulant children need to step up and begin to act like an adult.

And so it goes.

Fourth Wave Of Pandemic Was Preventable!

My dad’s brother in Wisconsin was impacted his whole life by contracting polio. My mom, who grew up as a youngster in Arkansas, spoke of the dread families would experience when bouts of disease would spread through a community. Protecting children and loved ones was the obvious priority, but without preventive measures, such as vaccines, there was only so much that could be done.

So when I read the news reports of people refusing to accept science and advice from medical professionals about the COVID-19 vaccine I think of those who knew what it was like to truly have no options to fight certain viruses. I think of those in the family who have shared their stories long before this pandemic struck. As a lover of history, I think about the diseases which impacted those who resided in the White House.

Diphtheria claimed the lives of children from Presidents Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, and Grover Cleveland. Garfield also lost a child to pertussis. The story of Franklin Delano Roosevelt being diagnosed with polio at age 39 is well known. Lincoln became ill with smallpox a few days before delivering the Gettysburg Address. George Washington had bad luck for sure, contracting diphtheria, malaria, and smallpox, all during his teenage years.

But I also am aware of the ones who knew, over 200 years ago, that personal responsibility for the greater good mattered.

In his younger years, John Adams conducted a lot of business in Boston. During the 1760s, a smallpox epidemic broke out and he did not want to risk infection so he was intentionally inoculated with smallpox. That was a very common practice at the time. Called variolation, the virus was taken from a pustule of one person and inoculated into another.

His rationale for being brave was the process of inoculation was “preferable to living in fear of the disease.”

Today Adams’ logic is lost on a whole segment of the nation. So we must ask a most obvious question of those chuckleheads in our nation who refuse logic and science.

The unvaccinated are making for a very bad situation in a burned-out healthcare system. Is it proper if those unvaccinated who refused the shots then demand urgent expensive emergency room care? It is a hard burden on our nation, on both our health and economic fronts. 

Meanwhile, in 2021, from Springfield Missouri, comes this story.

Springfield is beginning to face shutdowns and quarantines again.

Alarid said one of the recovery homes his church manages experienced a Covid outbreak in recent weeks, requiring residents to quarantine. On Tuesday, the church had to cancel its Festival of Hope for the second year in a row, after holding it for the previous nine years. On Wednesday, Alarid said a fundraising banquet for the recovery home that was scheduled in two weeks will now take place online, instead of in person as planned.

These choices, along with his decision to get vaccinated and follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance in his church, has led to pushback from members within the congregation. Some people have left the church, and he said he’s heard theories ranging from the vaccine containing alien blood to it being “the mark of the beast.”

The level of absurdity among our citizenry can be found in countless news articles.

Most Americans who haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19 say they are unlikely to get the shots and doubt they would work against the aggressive delta variant despite evidence they do, according to a new poll that underscores the challenges facing public health officials amid soaring infections in some states.

Among American adults who have not yet received a vaccine, 35% say they probably will not, and 45% say they definitely will not, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Just 3% say they definitely will get the shots, though another 16% say they probably will.

What’s more, 64% of unvaccinated Americans have little to no confidence the shots are effective against variants — including the delta variant that officials say is responsible for 83% of new cases in the U.S. — despite evidence that they offer strong protection. In contrast, 86% of those who have already been vaccinated have at least some confidence that the vaccines will work.

And.….

Working in a nursing home became one of the “most dangerous jobs” in America in 2020, according to an analysis of work-related deaths by Scientific American.

Yet seven months after the first vaccines became available to medical professionals, only 59% of staff at the nation’s nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are fully or partially vaccinated — with eight states reporting an average rate of less than half, according to CMS data updated last week.