Everyone knows what happens when Lucy, of the “Peanuts” comic strip, convinces Charlie Brown to try to kick the football. The results are predictable, but Charlie Brown never seems to learn.

In some ways, America might face the same scenario with COVID conditions. And we should learn from Charlie Brown.

While many would like to kick the ball — or the battle against the COVID virus — many in the medical community are flashing warning flags through the uprights. Their concern is that by taking our eyes off the ball of continued safe practices, virus infection rates will get away from us again, resulting in us landing flat on our backs again in the fight — just like poor old Charlie Brown.

Galveston County is showing remarkable progress in its vaccination rates. With more than 50 percent of the population over 16 now carrying at least one round of the vaccine, we should be proud.

Few Texas counties can point to rollout more successful than Galveston County. At the time of this writing, health care workers were vaccinating people at a rate of 500 to 600 an hour at the Walter Hall Park vaccination site alone.

We, as a community, owe teams from the University of Texas Medical Branch and the Galveston County Health District deep appreciation for the hard work and keen organizational skills it took to make that happen.

During the week of March 21, 371 positive COVID cases were reported in the county.

About 10 percent of COVID tests reported so far from that week have come back positive.

That’s a big difference from a month ago. During the week of Feb. 21, 666 new positive cases were reported and about 14 percent of local tests were coming back positive.

Four weeks before that, the week of Jan. 24, 1,193 new positive cases were reported and the positivity rate was about 15 percent.

The number of people being treated for COVID-19 in local hospitals each day has more than halved since in the middle of January.

As of Thursday, 20 percent of local ICU patients were being treated for COVID. In January, more than 40 percent were, according to the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council.

While these numbers are good, they’re still higher than rates we saw before the November surge began.

Let’s not let Lucy lull us into a complacent state of over-confidence. The COVID virus is a nasty, mutating and potentially lethal opponent. Each day seems to bring reports of yet another variant on the move. And although vaccines are proving effective, the rate of spread creates increased opportunities for new mutations.

The danger is, the more virus cases in the Petrie dish of our population, the higher the risk for this virus to get away from us again.

This week the United States will cross the 100 million mark of people vaccinated. Roughly speaking, this is approaching 1/3 of the 330 million U.S. population. A good start.

Also heartening is news of studies showing vaccines are effective against spreading COVID.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in clinical and real-world environments the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are proving highly effective in preventing recipients from getting the virus and from spreading it to others.

First shot numbers suggest 80 percent protection against spreading the virus; the rate jumps to 90 percent after a second dose, according to the CDC.

That’s great news and reason for cautious optimism.

We have a chance to wrestle this virus to the ground if we can keep our wits about ourselves. Keeping our eye on the ball means remaining vigilant about wearing masks when not around people in your normal circle, washing your hands regularly and socially distancing when possible.

Let’s not take our eyes off the ball just yet. A bit longer with the good practices, and we may very well be kicking this virus through the uprights. Not staying focused, on the other hand, could put us flat on our backs again. Or as Charlie Brown, says “Aaugh, not again!”

• Leonard Woolsey

Leonard Woolsey: 409-683-5207; leonard.woolsey@galvnews.com.

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(27) comments

Bailey Jones

There were 50,000 more COVID cases in the US in the last 7 days than the previous seven days - an increase of 13%. Infections, which had a huge surge after the holidays and then a huge decline, are rising again. We've seen this pattern before - Americans try harder and the numbers go down. Americans get "tired" and the numbers go up.

We've lost over 550,000 American lives to this virus, over 200,000 in just the past 3 months, and we will lose many more before the vaccinations take effect. How many more lives we lose depends entirely on how seriously each of us continues to follow the COVID protocols.

Last week we learned of a horrific event where an elderly woman was beaten in the street, and witnesses stood by and did nothing to stop it. This is no different. Will you stand by and do nothing while more people sicken and die?

Carlos Ponce

"50,000 more COVID cases in the US in the last 7 days than the previous seven days" How many of those are attributed to the spread from illegal immigrants? Our USCBP agents are getting infected.

Bailey Jones

You tell us, Carlos. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 8,000 agents have been infected during the entire last 12 months of the pandemic. How many agents got infected last week? You must know the answer - surely you're not just mindlessly parroting Tucker Carlson and your YouTube prophets.

The February operational update was released on March 10. Presumably, the March numbers will be released in the next week or so. If you can manage the math you should be able to determine the increase in total CBP cases between February and March. Please get back to us with your answer. And don't forget to show your work.

https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/national-media-release/cbp-announces-february-2021-operational-update

In the meantime, enjoy these statistics on the great job that US CBP is doing to protect Americans from COVID fraudsters:

Since the pandemic began until the end of February, CBP had seized more than:

177,500 FDA-prohibited COVID-19 test kits in 414 incidents,

30 million counterfeit face masks seized in 611 incidents,

37,000 EPA-prohibited anti-virus lanyards in 118 incidents,

38,000 FDA-prohibited chloroquine tablets in 229 incidents,

6,000 tablets of antibiotics, such as azithromycin in 108 incidents, and

300,000 containers of hand sanitizer in 36 incidents.

Now, back to my question - will you follow the COVID protocols or just continue to stand idly by and watch more people die?

Carlos Ponce

"How many agents got infected last week?" I don't have up to date numbers but a month ago "Brownsville, Texas Mayor Trey Mendez said that out of 1,800 migrants who tested for COVID-19, 108 migrants tested positive for the virus after entering Brownsville, a positivity rate of 6.3%." And that's just Brownsville. As to how many CBP agents were infected, that number is not reported except by relatives of those agents.

Jim Forsythe

How many? "Our USCBP agents are getting infected." Do you have numbers, or are you just blowing wind.

Carlos Ponce

Let me repeat:

As to how many CBP agents were infected, that number is not reported except by relatives of those agents.

If you listened to KTRH you would hear them.

Jim Forsythe

So you have no clue as to how many CBP agents were infected. The one's infected stayed on the job 24/7 and did not get infected from someone else?

If they did not stay on the job 24/7, it is possible that they got it at the store, church, or other places they go.

Did they wear mask 100% of the time?

Carlos Ponce

According to their (USCBP) wives or husbands each wore a mask.

Jim Forsythe

So you have no clue as to how many CBP agents were infected.

Carlos Ponce

Jim, the number they give are for the entire United States, not just the border area. And they only give a cumulative sum. But based on interviews the number is in the hundreds.

Carlos Ponce

This isall they give, cummulative data for a year:

"The safety of our workforce, our communities, and those in our care is a top priority. CBP personnel put themselves and their families at risk with every encounter at the border. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 8,000 CBP employees have tested positive for COVID-19, and 27 have died."

https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/national-media-release/cbp-announces-february-2021-operational-update

They do not give a week by week summary as you request. Why? The Biden administration does not want the information out. But relatives of CBP agents report hundreds.

Gary Scoggin

This is another of those silly rabbit holes Carlos creates whenever he knows he can’t make a salient point.

Carlos Ponce

"8,000 CBP employees have tested positive for COVID-19, and 27 have died" is NO rabbit hole, Gary Scoggin.

Wayne D Holt

"We've lost over 550,000 American lives to this virus, over 200,000 in just the past 3 months, and we will lose many more before the vaccinations take effect."

No, beyond a shadow of a doubt, we have not lost anything like 550,000 American lives to this virus. Bailey, with all due respect, what you continue to do is repeat a narrative that even the CDC has effectively repudiated. That number is 100% meaningless as to providing a statistical metric we can rely on. The reasons are simple, in plain sight and have been aired many times but once more seems to be called for.

That number was greatly inflated by the CDC's acceptance of PCR tests that were wildly miscalibrated, as even the WHO and CDC warned recently. The inventor of that process himself said it was not suitable for use in diagnostic treatments. But that didn't stop the CDC from using it, nor for attempting to correct the grossly outsized numbers that conveniently were used to terrorize America. And just days into the Biden Residency, that number started to drop like a rock.

Add to that a generous financial advantage to declaring someone who died WITH Covid as dying FROM Covid and you have a healthcare system that was geared to finding the greatest number of Covid cases...even when it have to strain its eyes to find it. When money is involved, it's amazing how possible the improbable becomes.

I have no problem with distancing as that is something most of us have done since childhood when we encounter the affilcted dribbling all over their clothes or hacking like Acqualung (hat tip to Jethro Tull fans). Wearing an N95 mask in a crowded environment you can't avoid sounds reasonable to me. Sporting a vintage Cisco Kid bandana in your car with the windows rolled up and no one else aboard, not so much.

Your equating a refusal to become involved in a felonious assault on a senior with not goose stepping along with whatever Big Pharma BS wafts down from Mt. Fauci is overwrought, even for you. Please try to limit the appeals to motherhood and apple pie in the future.

"Will you stand by and do nothing while more people sicken and die?" If this is posed as a question re the Covid experimental gene therapy injection, my answer is "without a doubt!" It is becoming a daily occurrence now to find news tidbits regarding horrendous reactions, including death, that result from being part of the inoculated troupe. People are being told it is their patriotic duty to roll up their sleeve for a new biological agent with ZERO long term data on side effects, that Big Pharma demanded a 100% liability shield for their handiwork, and that has the most absurd claims of efficacy imaginable. Historically, if a viral immunization for a respiratory disease/flu had a 40% efficacy rate it was considered super successful...this after six to 10 years of research, development, testing and data gathering. Operation Warp Speed did it in nine months, with a never before mass use case agent, with more than double that success rate, right? Sure it did.

I am all for folks making the health decisions they feel appropriate to their own constitution and level of information. After all, at one point doctors administered mercury cures so we know they never get things wrong.

But in the instance, please spare us the appeals to whatever misplaced patriotism requires us to inject an experimental agent into our bodies because governments--the greatest mass murderers of all time--tell us we need to trust them.

Norman Pappous

Hard to tell just how many real Covid cases there are/were. It's pretty plain that the tests are not reliable. People who received the vaccine months ago are testing positive for the disease - notably the President of Argentina.

Wayne D Holt

[thumbup][thumbup]

Bailey Jones

Actually Norman, it's not hard to tell at all. One need only look at the total number of deaths. The number of people who die in the US annually is very constant and ticks up a little each year as the population grows - ask any insurance actuarial. You seem like someone who can understand numerical trends. I posted this the other day:

It's easy to see the effect of COVID by looking at the year to year changes in the number of deaths from all causes in the US over the last few years:

2017 total deaths = 2,813,503

2018 total deaths = 2,839,205 - an increase of 0.9%

2019 total deaths = 2,854,838 - an increase of 0.6%

2020 total deaths = 3,358,814 - an increase of 17%

Can you spot the anomaly? 2020 deaths were up 17% over 2019. In a typical year, the increase would be around 1%. To what can we attribute this massive (17X) increase in US deaths? Hmmm ... well, there was that pandemic, maybe that has something to do with it?

I accept the reports of COVID deaths as being COVID deaths (within the margin of error that testing allows.) To believe otherwise I would have to have an equally likely explanation for a 17% increase in deaths in 2020. I have none. Do you?

Carlos Ponce

The number you use for 2020 was a PROVISIONAL number based on speculation from CDC given before the year was over but "On 31 December 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 2,913,144 total deaths, which was based on data from 30 December."

https://healthfeedback.org/claimreview/the-cdc-reports-more-than-2-9-million-deaths-in-the-u-s-in-2020-at-least-377000-more-deaths-in-2020-compared-to-previous-years/

Now remember, "according to the CDC only 6% of all deaths labeled as COVID deaths are solely related to the virus. The remaining deaths have on average at least 2 – 3 comorbidities present."

Bailey Jones

Well, thank you Carlos for that link which says exactly what I've been saying - that there were excess deaths in 2020 that can only be attributed to COVID. From the article you cited: "On 31 December 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 2,913,144 total deaths, which was based on data from 30 December. Furthermore, this is only a provisional figure. The true figure is likely even larger, given that the death count available on 31 December is incomplete due to a time lag in reporting." (The article is from January 7. The latest data I presented from the CDC is from three days ago.)

The earlier number that you quote is low, because there is a delay in reporting deaths. It takes a couple of months for all the death certificates to get counted. And it normally takes 11 months for the millions of death certificates to get read and categorized, however, due to the importance of quantifying the COVID pandemic, the CDC has sped up the process this year:

"CDC’s National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) collects and reports annual mortality statistics using data from U.S. death certificates. Because of the time needed to investigate certain causes of death and to process and review data, final annual mortality data for a given year are typically released 11 months after the end of the calendar year. Daily totals reported by CDC COVID-19 case surveillance are timely but can underestimate numbers of deaths because of incomplete or delayed reporting. As a result of improvements in timeliness and the pressing need for updated, quality data during the global COVID-19 pandemic, NVSS expanded provisional data releases to produce near real-time U.S. mortality data."

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7014e1.htm

The comorbidity argument is specious, as I've proved here before. A spike in excess deaths beyond anything seen in recent history requires a cause. And the only cause around is COVID. Attributing the excess deaths to other causes is provably false simply because the number of deaths from all other causes is remarkably stable from year to year to year.

But you know all of this. It's in the article you cited: "The COVID-19 pandemic led to more deaths in the U.S. than usual in 2020. So far, more than 2.9 million deaths in the U.S. were recorded in 2020, exceeding the total number of deaths in the U.S. in 2019, which is currently estimated at about 2.85 million. It is important to keep in mind that reports of death counts experience a time lag, hence the current death count for 2020 is incomplete and will likely grow as records are completed. The larger number of deaths than usual observed in 2020 is consistent with reports of excess deaths in 2020. Excess death is a measure of how many more deaths occurred over a period of time compared to the same time period in previous years."

You're usually not this helpful. Thanks again.

Carlos Ponce

That article says your number for 2020 is not accurate.

Jim Forsythe

Bailey you are right, as the article you used was March 31, 2021 and a updated story about how many deaths occurred.

As you said, it takes months for all the death certificates to get counted.

Carlos Ponce

Did Jim Forsythe BOTHER to read the title on Bailey's data????

"Provisional Mortality Data — United States, 2020"

Provisional - Provided or serving only for the time being. synonym: temporary

It is based on extrapolated information, in other words - A GUESS. The number comes from November provisional data. They were thinking more people would die. The number from December 30, 2020 is more accurate.

Bailey Jones

Wow - the Easter bunny is bringing me presents today. What sort of idiot would believe that a count of death certificates from 3 months ago while certificates are still trickling in would be more accurate than the latest count? What sort of idiot posts an article debunking the myth that "the number of deaths in America in 2020 was not greater than that in 2019" in order to "prove" the self-same myth? This is hilariously ignorant, even for you, Carlos. I can always count on you to not only prove my point but to slather your side of the argument with stupidity and pigheadedness. You do progressives a great service, and I thank the Great Trumpkin for it.

Carlos Ponce

You're right when you write "trickle". But it looks like we have another gaslighter who has no understanding of the word PROVISIONAL.

Bailey Jones

And Norman, this isn't the first time we've discussed the number of excess deaths caused by COVID.

https://www.galvnews.com/news/article_4ee7a0dd-a0c8-534c-ae70-db7aba80f9dd.html

Back in November, I analyzed the mortality statistics for the first 9 months of the year and found that not only did the number of excess deaths track the number of reported COVID deaths, but the increases in excess deaths week by week accurately tracked the reported COVID deaths for the same weeks. Back in November, only data through September was available - since it takes a few months to collect and analyze all of the death certificates. Now - four months into 2021 - we have a very good picture of all 12 months of 2020.

The data was indisputable then and it's indisputable now. Anyone who has an honest interest in discovering whether this worldwide pandemic is "real" or not, can analyze the data themselves, and they will come to the same conclusion as I did - because the data is clear - there was a huge and anomalous increase in deaths in 2020 that can't be explained by any existing cause except the pandemic. Links to the CDC mortality data are in the previously cited column.

Of course, then as now, the data can only persuade people who live in a fact-based reality. It makes for a really good litmus test of the intellectual honesty of commenters in this forum.

Norman Pappous

I never mentioned that the death figures were inaccurate. Hard to say that excess deaths are not largely attributable to Covid. But the 'positive for Covid' numbers are highly suspect. Britain's NHS at one point estimated the false positives to be north of 40%.

Bailey Jones

"Positive cases" isn't a great metric because it depends on how many tests are being given - and their accuracy. I give them more credence than you might because there are so many different tests and different types of tests with different technologies and levels of accuracy that all tend to say the same thing. "Percentage testing positive" is a better metric. Even better is hospitalizations and deaths - since 100% of those are recorded. Even so, case numbers, and especially percent positives, have tracked both hospitalizations and deaths, so they are a reliable indicator of the spread of the virus even if they may be lacking in absolute numerical accuracy.

This is why we look at the excess hospitalizations and excess deaths to corroborate the test results. If people aren't getting sick and dying from COVID, there's no reason for those numbers to increase. But they have increased - dramatically. And the curves of both mirror the curve of positive cases. Another bit of evidence is that hospitalizations and deaths always lag positive case numbers - in other words, positive case numbers predict hospitalizations and deaths. It's unlikely that testing data could predict hospitalizations and deaths if it wasn't somewhat reliable.

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