Wednesday wasn’t a particularly good day on the COVID-19 front.

Coming off Tuesday’s report from the South Dakota Department of Health (DOH) — which, Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon warned on Twitter, covered a five-day period over the long holiday weekend, therefore figured to have a lot of big numbers — I was expecting more of a return to what we’ve been typically seeing from the DOH in recent weeks.

But that didn’t happen. South Dakota opened December with 15 new COVID-related deaths, including one in Yankton County. Also, new infections in the state numbered over 900, and active cases and current hospitalizations were also up significantly.

This was notable on Wednesday, the first day of December and the first day of meteorological winter, a season usually filled with respiratory and viral issues anyway. Some medical experts worry about a winter COVID surge, especially with the unknowns surrounding the new Omicron variant.

In December 2020, South Dakota saw its deadliest month in the pandemic with 542 deaths. I was actually thinking about that when I clicked on the DOH portal, and the new number felt like a nervous echo.

Wednesday was also notable because the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) held a press conference in which it noted that a vast majority of the COVID hospitalizations in that state were among unvaccinated people, particularly younger adults.

However, the underlying story line there is that the DHHS even acknowledged the pandemic at all. During the last few months, Nebraska’s official COVID-19 stance appears to have been that it’s a thing of the past; you could barely find any mention of COVID on the DHHS website. Thus, for the state to hold a press conference on the coronavirus was a notable occurrence and perhaps an ominous marker of where things really are at the moment.

One place where things AREN’T, however, is at the same level the pandemic was at a year ago. I’ve thought a lot lately about the fall surge in 2020 and the misery that came with it: About 45% of South Dakota’s total COVID fatalities (as of Thursday) occurred in November and December last year. This autumn hasn’t been anywhere near that level.

Nevertheless, the current trend isn’t encouraging.

While the pandemic keeps mutating and marching on, COVID resistance has become entrenched in our politics, in our rhetoric, in our relationships and in our actions. This week, while we coped with rising numbers and news of the Omicron variant, several states — including South Dakota and Nebraska — have been in court fighting vaccination mandates being deployed in an effort to keep the pandemic in check. That defiant definition of freedom, it seems, overrides everything, including life itself in some cases. The freedom to, among other things, infect those around you — either by not vaccinating and/or by not masking — is becoming adamantly nonnegotiable in the middle of a global plague.

Meanwhile, the rhetoric of COVID resistance continues to ratchet up. I’ve read about anti-vax mandate protesters in New York, Kansas, British Columbia and elsewhere using yellow stars to compare their perceived victimhood to the plight of the Jews during the Holocaust. This is such an abhorrent comparison that it suggests these people understand history only as far as it serves them and not a syllable further.

An unfortunate case in point is Fox News personality Lara Logan, who this week compared infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci to Josef Mengele, the notorious Nazi doctor (known as the “Angel of Death”) who performed brutal experiments on Jewish concentration camp inmates during World War II. Logan immediately came under withering criticism, so on Twitter, she began blocking some of her critics. It was reported Wednesday that this included blocking the Auschwitz Museum’s memorial site, perhaps one of the most important and essential sites in all of Twitter-dom. It regularly posts photos of people who were transported to Auschwitz and, in a vast majority of cases, died. (In the very rare instances when the site posts a survivor, it feels like a moral victory for civilization.) The site serves as a reminder of the need to never, ever forget this monstrous past. Logan blocked the site because it condemned her Fauci-Mengele comparison as “shameful.”

But that’s how the COVID war is working these days on some fronts. It appears that it’s best not to know too much about history, lest the truth gets in the way of some screaming hyperbole. This certainly doesn’t apply to everyone who opposes vaccines or masks, mind you, but it does seem to fit a few of the loudest, most high-profile resistors.

Wednesday left me feeling tired and a little discouraged by the news and, particularly, by us. It’s a battle that must go on, but it also seems that a lot of people will likely suffer along the way for no good reason, frankly, other than to make a point.

Follow @kelly_hertz on Twitter.

(26) comments

VoiceforAll

When 220,000 Americans had died of COVID while Trump was president, Biden said “Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as President of the United States.” Now over 350,000 have died under Biden. By his own definition, Biden should not be President of the United States.

A study from Israel found that the rates of SARS-CoV-2 breakthrough infections in vaccinated individuals, while very low (highest rate = 1.5%), were significantly higher than the rates of reinfection and hospitalization in previously infected individuals. Let's just call this natural immunity.

In the first half of the year, Pfizer Inc. PFE and Moderna Inc. MRNA reported collective sales of $17.2 billion for their vaccines, but both are expected to report higher third-quarter totals in the coming week, a collective $18 billion. Pfizer collected revenue of $11.3 billion in the first half of the year from its COVID-19 vaccine and analysts project third-quarter sales of $11.86 billion.

Fauci - "if you are criticizing me, you are really criticizing science, because I represent science." - The know all, follow me no matter what I say ego is starting to get to him.

Biden jokes that Fauci is the real president. Was it really a joke, we've been wondering who was actually running things in the White House and now we know.

Biden's vaccine mandates are losing in court case after court case as being unconstitutional.

Psaki says "nothing is off the table" when asked about additional mandates and controls.

More people getting shots, numbers continue to climb, more boosters are going to be mandated, more shut downs are coming, inflation is going to continue going up, our economy is going to continue to suffer, people are going to continue to see costs rise, taxes are going to go up, spending is out of control, all because of the incompetence of this administration. Covid is not going to be stopped by a shot, even Fauci is starting to say Covid is never going away, so are you going to get a shot every 3 months for the rest of your lives, are you going to wear a mask for the rest of your lives?

SoDakD

More of the same from you anti-vaxxers, Voice.

You guys indulge in nit-picking misinformation and ignore the fact that the unvaccinated are dying at the rate of 11 to 1 compared to folks who’ve gotten their shots.

You folks are like Groucho Marx, telling us, “Who you gonna believe? Me or you’re lying eyes?”

SoDakD

Abe, Voice and Larry give us the best illustration of how the anti-science “political correctness” of the Trump era dooms us to endure the unnecessary death and devastation this plague brings upon us.

No doubt they’ll tell us why as they reply.

No cost is too high to “own the libs.”

Abe

Ha! Doom and gloom despite a 99.9% survival rate, cheap prophylaxis and herd immunity. I'd say it is your side that wants to drag this on forever.

SoDakD

Mr. Hertz, surely you are aware of all the debunked Covid misinformation that appears on this feed.

Isn’t it time for you to meet this head on? Or might it cost you your job?

If so I can understand your caution.

But expecting your rational essays alone to counter these half-truths and falsehoods may be expecting too much from a large subset of American politics driven by a popular movement.

Especially since its many media purveyors are relentlessly driving home its anti-science message.

Please consider this.

Abe

A thorough search online reveals that news sources like NPR, The Guardian, Reuters and more, have continued to promote the notion that vaxxed people are doing better than the unvaxxed. My estimation is that these URL's account for around 25% of the sampling I retrieved from Duck Duck Go. The majority of the reports claim that the vaxxed are actually dying at a much higher rate, that they are enabling the mutations/variants (which aligns with previous vaccine experiences) and that the CDC, NIH and others have lied about the official numbers continually.

You can deride our warnings all you want, but herd immunity and common sense have allowed us to remain healthy without accepting an "injectable operating system" that has not been proven effective or safe.

Just wait... you'll see.

Abe

It costs advertising dollars. The P&D must match along with the "official story" or lose huge inches of valuable space.

VoiceforAll

SoDakD makes my point each time he responds to my comments, if anything anyone says goes against whatever "truth" the democrats own, it must be censored. Free speech, free thought, any freedoms the democrats don't think you should have anymore have to be taken away, regardless if the constitution and the laws allow it, the democrats want you silenced. I thank the Press & Dakotan for allowing an open conversation on topics like this, as a republican I believe in this, but SoDakD and other democrats don't, they want to silence people that oppose their view, and they will claim to own that truth, they will claim to own that science even though there is plenty of evidence out their to be had that says different. But when you control the media including the social media, this is what happens, they believe every opposing view should be silenced because it makes it easier for them to tell you what you should know, and think, and what you should know is what they tell you it should be. And SoDakD even points out one of the problems in today's media, SoDakD is concerned the author might lose his job, really, when did our press start having to worry about losing their jobs over saying something that opposes other peoples views, isn't it their job to bring the facts and not just opinions to everyone? This is the democratic view of the media, they should be the mouthpiece of their party, Nancy Pelosi and Jen Psaki have said as much, "the press isn't doing a good enough job selling the infrastructure bill", it's not the presses job to sell bills to the American people!!! It's not working SoDakD, your socialist views come out blaring when you say things like this. It's still America, at least for now. Thank you Press & Dakotan for your forum.

suess52

In response to you. I would like know what is your level of education? Have you ever conducted a double blinded study? Do you have any idea what it takes to have the level of education and experience that it takes to be a physician or an epidemiologist? What qualifies you to have the audacity to make these false claims of knowledge?

SoDakD

Ah… who’s trying to silence you, Voice? Not me.

Seems unnecessarily paranoid. Or is this just your favorite rhetorical device? Why are you repeatedly setting up this “straw man” argument instead of confronting reality?

In truth, I think you, Abe and Larry are providing a service by exemplifying the widespread disinformation campaign that’s prolonging this pandemic.

I just continue to point out that it’s mainly the unvaccinated that are dying.

That’s the one fact that matters to those of us trying to survive this pandemic by rationally reading the numbers.

Abe

You just continue to point out the MSM lies that get you to submit. Pfizer has you by the throat.

SoDakD

🙄🥱

SoDakD

Actually, Mr. Voice, I overlooked another service you, Abe and Larry are providing.

Your contribution to our understanding of the Trumpster worldview isn’t just limited to the denial that it’s overwhelmingly unvaccinated people who are dying from Covid.

You fellas also illustrate for us the stance Republicans are taking on the insurrection on January 6th by Trump supporters.

These criminals broke into our nation's Capitol seeking to overturn a free and fair election their leader still falsely insists was “stolen.”

Yet you risibly tell us “nobody cares,” and Abe and Larry studiously avoid mentioning it at all.

VoiceforAll

But SoDakD, if it is mainly the unvaccinated dying, why are you worried about surviving this, if you are vaccinated you are protected, wait, after you get your booster shot, you are protected, wait, after you wear your mask the rest of your life you are protected, wait, after all our children from birth to whatever age are vaccinated you will be protected, wait, while the government locks you down you will be protected, wait, after you get your booster shot every 3 months, you are protected, wait, when Fauci says you are protected, you are protected, wait.... Get my point now. No matter what they tell us to do and no matter how many times Biden promises to get this pandemic under control, it doesn't get better, it hasn't gotten better, it isn't going to get better no matter how many jabs Biden and Fauci tell you to get, the good news for you is that according to your data, if it is the unvaccinated dying, eventually we will run out of unvaccinated people and you will be totally safe, wait, the vaccinated are able to expose other vaccinated people, so maybe that won't work either. And you are wrong, the left does nothing but try and silence anyone that goes against their "truth", and you denying that only shows how far you and everyone else that watches CNN and MSNBC that talks every day about "shutting down" anti-vaxxers, have gone, because those people should not have any rights to discuss any of this because they don't follow every word coming out of Fauci and Biden. Again, go do some reading on natural immunity against this virus, I am guessing you won't because it might open your eyes, but you will have to do some digging, because a lot of this information has been buried by the socialist left media.

SoDakD

Voice, you misunderstand the epidemiology.

No vaccine is 100% effective. For example, with the flu - which we have learned to live with - we have to create new vaccines every year.

So even if it is mostly the unvaccinated who are dying, there still always will be a smaller percentage of vaccinated folks who are dying as well.

Even when (and IF) enough people get vaccinated to enable us to reach herd immunity, there will still be occasional deaths for both unvaccinated, and to a lesser extent, vaccinated people. Again, the flu is an excellent example of this reality.

The epidemiology underlying vaccines is simply playing the odds according to the scientific data.

And we need to learn to do this well, because the globalization that has occurred in our lifetimes means that there will be more and perhaps worse pandemics in humanity's future.

VoiceforAll

Oh that's right SoDakD, because at the top of everyone's minds is Jan. 6th, that is what is driving inflation, that is what is driving the continuous onslaught at the southern border, that is what is driving higher taxes, higher spending by a liberal government, that is what is forcing people to quit their jobs because they don't want to be forced to take an unproven "vaccination". Again, it's you and a few other democrats that keep talking about Jan. 6th, I get it, there is nothing good to talk about after almost a year in office for Biden, so you have to keep bringing up Trump and Jan. 6th, again, it's you and MSNBC and CNN that keep talking about it. I still find it remarkable that you thought our democracy was so weak that a few people were going to overthrow it in one day, now under Biden I can see that happening as he has weakened us to that point, but worst yet, your party isn't just trying to do it in one day like you supposedly say happened on Jan. 6th, your party is doing it systematically with all your liberal policies, your defund the police, your saying the constitution is an outdated document, your mandates that take away people's freedoms, your democratic representatives that say capitalism is dead and needs to be replaced by socialism. One attack by a few people one day in January is not and never will be a real threat, but what your party is doing is destroying this country from the inside out, your party is financially trying to bankrupt this nation with it's trillions and trillions of dollars of unfunded spending, your drive to increase inflation, that is your party SoDakD, not Trump's, not the republicans, this is the reality you are creating, and it's just you few that think it is ok and this is what America should be, so keep trying to distract people, it's not working, no one cares about Jan. 6th, but they do care about America, more than you SoDakD.

Abe

And if these crazy mandates aren't enough for us to fend off, wait until the world must contend with VAIDS!

VoiceforAll

Oh yeah, so let's talk about CNN and MSNBC, from Forbes: "The Fox News Channel prevailed in the November cable news ratings, easily beating back the competition from CNN and MSNBC. According to ratings data compiled by Nielsen, Fox News delivered an average prime time audience of 2.578 million viewers in November, followed by MSNBC (1.091 million total viewers) and CNN (654,000 viewers). In the key demo of adults 25-54—the demographic most valued by advertisers—Fox finished first with an average audience of 420,000 viewers. CNN was second (148,000 viewers) and MSNBC (140,000 viewers).

No one is watching MSNBC and CNN, because they are tired of the lies and hate that pour out of those "news" organizations, no one is watching.

Also, in case you didn't see it, Chris Cuomo was fired from CNN for protecting his brother, democratic governor of New York, during his sexual misconduct accusations and now Chris has been accused of the same and CNN could not protect him any longer, CNN's most watched program, now without a host. CNN host Don Lemon has also been named in a lawsuit that he sexually assaulted another man in a bar, that happened a year ago and is ongoing. This is your all powerful, all knowing, CNN, these are the people you sit down in front of and watch for your information, CNN is a mess, they are a mouthpiece for all that is wrong in this country, they stand by people accused of sexual assaults yet will be the first to tell you that they are the most respected news organization, what a joke.

SoDakD

Voice, you’ve done an excellent job of disproving that “at the top of everyone's minds is Jan. 6th.”

And though you're right, that’s not actually what I’ve ever said. This is another iteration of your “straw man” polemics. But it gives you yet another opportunity to repeat your diatribe against your generic political enemies, which apparently includes me.

However, you again leave undisputed my actual contention that you can’t seriously contend that “nobody cares about January 6th.”

Not when that insurrection has produced by far the very largest federal law enforcement investigation in all of US history.

So instead I’ll just repeat that you’d be more accurate to declare that “REPUBLICANS don't care about the January 6th insurrection.”

Abe

The only thing about January 6th that the Right/Conservatives should be concerned with is the Left's inability to see it for what it truly was: a planned False Flag event that was coordinated by the Dems and BLM/Antifa. I know this to be true and pity those who cant realize how corrupted our highest levels of government have become. We ALL should be worried where this may lead and stay strong together to fight the Marxist regime that's been cultivated in America.

SoDakD

🙄🥱

SoDakD

Abe, you forgot to mention that “deep state law enforcement” is enabling this dastardly cover-up by bringing charges against over 700 insurrectionists - none of whom are being identified as Black Lives Matter or antifa.

VoiceforAll

SoDakD, I think we will have to agree to disagree on the Jan. 6th debate, I understand your side of it but I do not agree that it is just republicans that do not care about it. Anyways, so it looks like we agree that Covid is never going to go away, I have made reference to the flu several times in this forum and how they are similar, but unlike with Biden's mandates, people have the option of getting the flu shot and the option only comes around once, as we know with the Covid shot, it is being forced and each time a new "strain" comes out, we are told more boosters are needed. That is the problem people are having, people are being forced, which is the actual meaning of Biden's term mandate, to get the shot, wear a mask, shut down our schools, shut down our businesses, limit travel. The forced shots are unconstitutional, Biden side stepped this by using OSHA to enforce his forced shots in the work place knowing all along it was unconstitutional, and using OSHA has also been determined to be unconstitutional. How are we supposed to trust a president that works around the constitution to get what he wants? His and Fauci's stories about the shots effectiveness changes almost weekly, yet they tell everyone to follow the science, the only thing they are following is control and money, not science. Please read about how this virus is mutating, it is mutating around the systems of people that are getting vaccinated, it has been proven and the more and more that get vaccinated, the more mutations there are going to be, this explains why there are more 'breakthrough' cases all the time. I will say it again, the more that get vaccinated the worse the pandemic is getting, the numbers are not dropping. There is no leadership in any of this, only mandates, they silence people, they force people to do things, they attack those that don't, they threaten fines, the pandemic is getting worse yet they are still saying the same thing and people are seeing these failures and they are creating more and more doubt. Their decisions, their lies, their mandates, their ineffective leadership is why this pandemic is getting worse, but they will never own up to it, they only know one path, force their way out of it, and that is not working. If you are so inclined, go try and find out what is happening in Australia right now, look what that country has become, no one reports on it because it looks bad for mandates, but it is scary, very scary, and what is happening there is what people are afraid of happening here, and nothing is there to stop Biden and Fauci from doing it.

VoiceforAll

Remember a couple weeks ago when the Omicron variant came out in the news and travel was restricted by Biden to South Africa, Democrats were shouting from the rooftops that more mandates had to be put in place to prevent this "lethal" variant from spreading throughout the world, they spread fear without having any knowledge of what this variant meant to anyone, they threatened more lockdowns, more mandates, and now just read what is being said about it, this is exactly why Fauci, Biden, MSNBC and CNN can't be trusted, they did not follow the science, they followed nothing more than wanting more control over everyone, Americans are done taking orders from these people:

"Researchers at Steve Biko/Tshwane District Hospital Complex, a major hospital complex in Pretoria, South Africa’s capital and the center of the omicron outbreak, reported last week that the majority of patients in the COVID-19 ward there were asymptomatic. Their findings reflect similar trends at hospitals across the province as a whole, leading some infectious disease experts to be cautiously optimistic that omicron may manifest in a milder form of illness."

SoDakD

Voice, I do a pretty good job of staying on top of what the right wing media is saying, since most of my friends and relatives are part of your political ecosphere.

Yet somehow I’ve missed the declaration you recently made that “it has been proven the more and more that get vaccinated, the more mutations there are going to be.”

I’d appreciate it if you’d point me in the direction of an explanation of this putative cause and effect.

I’m always curious about how people I care about have reached their unique conclusions about the deadliest global plague in the last hundred years.

Trying to understand you is a window into TrumpWorld that doesn’t risk familial acrimony. (After all, we'll all still be here after the Trump era comes to a close.)

And, of course, some 30-40% of TrumpWorld (including my relatives) are refusing to get vaccinated. So if this won’t change, we may never reach Covid herd immunity as we have with the flu.

(Yes, I know - even with the yearly flu vaccine boosters we still lose some 30,000 Americans yearly to this disease.)

But still, losing lives by the tens of thousands is so much better than by the hundreds of thousands with no end in sight

Abe

You are really delusional. Is Jussie innocent, too? Is Michael a real woman? Did Fauci help save lives? It may be just a fleeting thought, as I'm trying to be forgiving and kind, but will we all be better off if those jabs take your lot out of existence?

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