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Blaine County’s Risk Assessment, Burning Man Mulls Vaccines
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A Syringa Mountain School student wears a mask while helping with composting at the Hope Garden this week as part of an Earth Day project.
 
 
Friday, April 23, 2021
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

GRAPH BY PAUL RIES

Blaine County’s new coronavirus cases were down by half this past week, as was its test positivity rate.

But the risk level for catching the coronavirus remains high, meaning gatherings are still limited to 50 people at a time.

Blaine County averaged 11.8 new cases per hypothetical 100,000 residents during the week of April 11-17, compared with 23.6 new cases the week before.

The county had a COVID test positivity rate of 3.35 percent, compared with a 7.14 percent positive rate the week before.

Seventy-one percent of Blaine County residents 16 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine. About 51 percent of the county’s residents are fully vaccinated, and there are no outbreaks in local  long-term care facilities.

Three people tested positive for the virus in each of the following age categories: 50-59, 40-49, 30-39, 18-29 and 11-13. Two each tested positive among those 60 to 69 and 5-10. There were no new cases among those 70 and older, 14- to 17 years of age and 0-4.

BURNING MAN WAFFLES ON VACCINES

If you’re headed to Burning Man, it wouldn’t hurt to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Organizers of the week-long August spectacle in the Nevada desert are mulling requiring vaccinations of all attendees.

That said, they reaped such a backlash that they may rethink it. The event attracts 80,000 people from around the world to the Black Rock Desert 100 miles north of Reno. And many of the international attendees have not had an opportunity to get vaccinated yet.

The San Francisco Giants have required fans to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test result to be admitted, similar to what the Sun Valley Writers Conference will require in July.

Compulsory vaccination is American as apple pie and as old as the Revolution, according to Alternet reporter Mia Brett.

Compulsory vaccination policies in this country began during the American Revolution, Brett writes. Smallpox was a huge threat to the Continental Army and word of the disease was actually halting enlistments. In order to protect soldiers and the war effort, General Washington ordered all new recruits receive an inoculation to protect them from smallpox in 1776.

The policy was successful at eradicating smallpox among soldiers, which helped the Continental Army defeat the British invasion at Saratoga.

The first law that required the general population get vaccinated was passed in Massachusetts in 1809. The state empowered local boards of health to require free vaccinations of people over 21. If a person refused, they had to pay a $5 fine--about $100 in today's money. States across the country followed with their own compulsory smallpox vaccination laws.

FLU SEASON CANCELLED

We’ve heard over and over that the virus has killed 15 times as many Americans as the flu in an average season.

Masking and distancing has also severely curtailed flu season this year. We have had just five flu cases in Idaho this year. And there has been just one pediatric flu death in the United States this winter, compared to 196 in the 2019-20 season.

 But health officials warn that the ebb in flu cases this winter could backfire next winter, as the low number of cases could make it harder for experts to predict which flu strains will dominate next winter. That means next year’s flu vaccine could be less effective than normal.

That said, the flu vaccination was happily effective in 2012, following a year flu in 2011.

PLANT-BASED COVID VACCINE

A Nampa firm—Advanced Specialty Research—is researching the effectiveness of a plant-based COVID-19 vaccine called Medicago. The vaccine has passed safety phases and is now in efficacy testing.

TRAVELING? THINK AGAIN

The State Department has issued a global advisory warning against visiting 80 percent of the world’s countries due to risks from coronavirus. Assessments are based on infection rates and the availability of treatment and local testing.

TIPPING POINT—AND WE’RE NOT TALKING ABOUT YOUR WAITER

Forty percent of Americans have received at least one dose and 26 percent are fully vaccinated. But health officials warn the country could reach a tipping point in the next few weeks as vaccine supply outstrips demand.


 

 

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