Public Health Crimes: Due to the CDC’s complete abdication of its responsibility and funded role to protect our freedom to live healthy lives, we no longer have accurate data on the transmission levels, variants, hospitalizations, and deaths throughout the US. Now we expect that some states will stop reporting altogether, while others will have significant delays in reporting. The CDC website itself no longer reports a transmission map, which is profoundly dangerous and irresponsible and just straight up disrespectful to all of us considering we are still in the middle of a pandemic.
The variant data is being reported biweekly yet based on such incomplete data now that at present we do not feel comfortable sharing it in further weather reports. We will keep close track of this data and if it seems like things change we will report on it in future weeks.
Due to these factors, we are unfortunately no longer able to produce a People’s CDC COVID Weather Map. In lieu of our regular weather reporting, we will transition to doing crime reporting–reporting of the public health crimes of our public health institutions. We hope that our pseudo-forensic analysis of the CDC’s and other public health institutions’ malicious and harmful policies will provide a good substitute for the weather map while we fight to get better data reporting back from the CDC. The first major crime to report, of course, is their lack of reporting transmission data–and we have many more crimes to report on in both future reports and our External Review of the CDC!
Wins: Our protests at hospitals are working! Protestors in Massachusetts have successfully gotten MGH (Massachusetts General Hospital) hospitals to drop their illegal policy banning patients from asking for masking protections. The hard work of many people protesting both in person and online, calling legislators and the governor, and complaining to the DOJ and Massachusetts Attorney General has led to this win. We still have many more fights ahead of us, not least the actual reinstatement of universal masking in hospitals, but this win shows us that we have a clear path to victory for a safe healthcare environment.
This past week was the National Week of Action to Keep Masks in Healthcare, with many of us protesting outside hospitals to get back universal masking, from the Center for Independence of the Disabled New York (CIDNY) to Raging Grannies protesting outside Sutter Health at Palo Alto. This successful national week of action is itself a major win that sends a message that we will not go quietly, and we hope that continuing these protests outside hospitals will bring more pressure to bring back COVID safe policies back.
Local Happenings: Soon, local Chicago residents will be coming face-to-face with outdoor portraits of their disabled neighbors who are being forced out of public life. Photographer Megan E. Doherty has created a new work called “Compromised” that includes over a dozen portraits and letters from immunocompromised Americans from across the U.S. trying to live their lives while pushed to the periphery of society due to the removal of indoor masking protections. This art installation will prove not only important for the historical record but will also highlight how our public health institutions are sacrificing the health and lives of disabled people for profit and convenience.
Wastewater Monitoring: Wastewater monitoring at the very least remains somewhat reliable for now. Wastewater trends continue to remain relatively similar to the previous week, leveling off. The West coast remains highest while the Midwest has now dropped to below the other regions. Even with levels at what they are now, they remain 2-5 times higher than they were at the low point in summer 2021.
Long COVID: COVID is a disease of blood vessels. It causes damage to the endothelium, or the lining of blood vessels, resulting in a variety of issues from blood clotting to reduced blood flow. Many cases of Long COVID from fatigue to neurological symptoms to increased strokes stem from COVID’s attack on our blood vessels.
This is especially pressing considering that 12-16% of Omicron infections are in children, whether it be first-time infections or reinfections, result in Long COVID. There is little reason to believe that the odds are significantly different for adults, and the fact that this is by infection and not children means every reinfection is a whole new dice roll for getting Long COVID.
After all, our public health institutions are finally telling us what many of us already knew: that repeat COVID infections are dangerous. Once again, by dropping COVID protections and pretending the pandemic is over, our public health institutions are telling us that they want us to get blood vessel damage and heart attacks and that they want our children to suffer.
Protections: A recent study highlights just how important it is that masking remains in healthcare–there are high rates of presenteeism or coming to work while sick amongst healthcare workers. In fact, at one institution over 50% of healthcare workers appeared to exhibit some kind of respiratory symptoms. Masking seems imperative in such a space where disease transmission is amplified by both high proximity of sick patients and healthcare worker culture.
This is especially so given that a recent rigorous meta-analysis has shown that masking reduces community transmission. Masking protections are therefore key to policy to protect not only patients in hospitals but also all of us in society at large.
Forecast: We should watch out for outbreaks of other diseases besides COVID if COVID protections are not brought back. A new study directly demonstrates that COVID contributed to the RSV infection outbreak in children back in Fall 2022. It found that children with prior COVID infections were more likely to contract RSV than children without, driving the spike in RSV cases. This adds to the crimes of our public health institutions: they are causing our kids to get sicker and sicker with other diseases too as they encourage our kids to keep catching COVID, over and over and over again. Once again, COVID protections and COVID data monitoring must be brought back to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
Take Action: Massachusetts Coalition for Health Equity has created a printable poster that you can pass around at your hospital, share with your friends, and share with your community. It calls for universal masking in hospitals in Massachusetts and includes an action item for calling the Massachusetts governor to demand this. You can even make a copy of it and edit it to fit your own community via Canva! This broader strategy of printing posters and showing them to your community is an excellent way to reach those who may otherwise be outside your internet bubble.
For example, see these excellent posters by BIRCH (Black, Indigenous, Racialized Peoples experience with Covid-19, Post-Covid, Long Covid & Post-Viral Illness) that you can print and put on your bus stop, telephone polls, community hubs, and libraries. Very recently, these posters have been translated in other languages for more universal use. In this way, we can bring to light the realities of COVID to help turn the tide of public opinion back to protecting our freedom to live healthy lives.
An excellent guide to talking to your loved ones about COVID has recently been written by a multiracial, multiethnic and international group of queer, disabled, chronically ill, and neurodivergent writers, workers, artists, and organizers from various socioeconomic backgrounds and different sets of lived experiences. We encourage you to read and share this guide to help move forward crucial conversations about COVID to normalize COVID-safe behaviors and hopefully change minds and change lives.
As the CDC and our Public Health Institutions ended data reporting to gaslight us all into thinking the pandemic is over, please be assured that we at the People’s CDC will not only have your back, but will also have these public health institutions watching their own backs as we track down their public health crimes and reveal them to you all, week after week. We will not stop fighting until COVID safe policies and data monitoring are restored and we all have the ability to live freely in society again, without being pushed to the peripheries for fear for our lives as the current policies are forcing us to do.
Notes: 1) The numbers in this report were current as of 5/17/2023. 2) As the CDC is no longer updating data accurately, numbers and graphics from the CDC are by-and-large not included in this report. 2) Check out the links throughout & see our website for more! https://peoplescdc.org