Tuesday, March 9, 2021

CDC Loosens Mask

Mandate. Zero Hedge with the story, CDC Says "Fully Vaccinated" People Can Stop Wearing Masks, Distancing In Private

As federal health officials including Dr. Fauci chide states for easing COVID restrictions, the CDC has just released new guidelines proclaiming that fully vaccinated people can spend time together indoors without masks or social-distancing.

The CDC's highly anticipated report cites early evidence suggesting vaccinated people are less likely to have asymptomatic infections, and are less likely to transmit the virus to other people.

This is huge news for grandparents who have refrained from seeing children and grandchildren for the past year, as those who are presumably under the protection of a vaccine may now safely visit indoors with unvaccinated people from a single household, so long as none of the unvaccinated household members are considered a severe COVID risk. This means older individuals may visit with their younger, unvaccinated peers, so long as they visit with one family unit, or one individual, at a time.

 Woohoo, only five more weeks to go!

For the record, according to the CDC guidelines, an individual is considered person is “fully vaccinated” two weeks after receiving the final dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna jabs, or the single-shot vaccine from J&.J. Fully vaccinated people should continue exercising standard precautions while in public, the agency said.
“While the new guidance is a positive step, many more people need to be fully vaccinated before everyone can stop taking most COVID-19 precautions,” the CDC wrote in its report. "It is important that, until then, everyone continues to adhere to important mitigation measures to protect the large number of people who remain unvaccinated."

 Although, with the Moderna vaccine reaching 72-95% effectiveness after a month, before the second dose is given, I might be willing to 

Summarizing the contents of the report, those who are fully vaccinated are now allowed to...
  • Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.
  • Visit indoors with unvaccinated people from a single household who are considered low risk for severe disease without needing to wear masks or practice social distancing.
  • Vaccinated individuals no longer need to quarantine or seek a test following a confirmed exposure to the virus (unless symptoms develop).
  • However, they should continue to avoid large or medium-sized gatherings, though the CDC didn't offer specific gathering-size numbers.
  • Individuals should continue following all guidance from employers, whether vaccinated or not.
  • Even those who have been vaccinated should still get tested if experiencing COVID symptoms.
Public Health Recommendation for Fully Vaccinated 3-7-21 3 Pm Clean by Joseph Adinolfi Jr. on Scribd

And CDC admits that masks only make a 2-3% reduction in the disease spread: Association of State-Issued Mask Mandates and Allowing On-Premises Restaurant Dining with County-Level COVID-19 Case and Death Growth Rates — United States, March 1–December 31, 2020

County-level data on state-issued mask mandates and restaurant closures were obtained from executive and administrative orders identified on state government websites. Orders were analyzed and coded to extract mitigation policy variables for mask mandates and restaurant closures, their effective dates and expiration dates, and the counties to which they applied. State-issued mask mandates were defined as requirements for persons to wear a mask 1) anywhere outside their home or 2) in retail businesses and in restaurants or food establishments. State-issued restaurant closures were defined as prohibitions on restaurants operating or limiting service to takeout, curbside pickup, or delivery. Allowing restaurants to provide indoor or outdoor on-premises dining was defined as the state lifting a state-issued restaurant closure.* All coding underwent secondary review and quality assurance checks by two or more raters; upon agreement among all raters, coding and analyses were published in freely available data sets.†,§

Two outcomes were examined: the daily percentage point growth rate of county-level COVID-19 cases and county-level COVID-19 deaths. The daily growth rate was defined as the difference between the natural log of cumulative cases or deaths on a given day and the natural log of cumulative cases or deaths on the previous day, multiplied by 100. Data on cumulative county-level COVID-19 cases and deaths were collected from state and local health department websites and accessed through U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Protect.


Associations between the policies and COVID-19 outcomes were measured using a reference period (1–20 days before implementation) compared with seven mutually exclusive time ranges relative to implementation (i.e., the effective date of the mask mandate or the date restaurants were permitted to allow on-premises dining). The association was examined over two preimplementation periods (60–41 and 40–21 days before implementation) and five postimplementation periods (1–20, 21–40, 41–60, 61–80, and 81–100 days after implementation).

Weighted least-squares regression with county and day fixed effects was used to compare COVID-19 case and death growth rates before and after 1) implementing mask mandates and 2) allowing on-premises dining at restaurants. Because state-issued policies often applied to specific counties, particularly when states began allowing on-premises dining, all analyses were conducted at the county level. Four regression models were used to assess the association between each policy and each COVID-19 outcome. The regression models controlled for several covariates: restaurant closures in the mask mandate models and mask mandates in the restaurant reopening models, as well as bar closures,** stay-at-home orders,†† bans on gatherings of ≥10 persons,§§ daily COVID-19 tests per 100,000 persons, county, and time (day). P-values <0.05 were considered statistically significant. All analyses were weighted by county population with standard errors robust to heteroscedasticity and clustered by state. Analyses were performed using Stata software (version 14.2; StataCorp). This activity was reviewed by CDC and was conducted consistent with applicable federal law and CDC policy.

Look, it's the CDCs job to make health recommendations, and they tend to be very conservative, and not consider economic or society consequences, at least not well. Since when do we take their diet, salt and liquor recommendations seriously

During March 1–December 31, 2020, state-issued mask mandates applied in 2,313 (73.6%) of the 3,142 U.S. counties. Mask mandates were associated with a 0.5 percentage point decrease (p = 0.02) in daily COVID-19 case growth rates 1–20 days after implementation and decreases of 1.1, 1.5, 1.7, and 1.8 percentage points 21–40, 41–60, 61–80, and 81–100 days, respectively, after implementation (p<0.01 for all) (Table 1) (Figure). Mask mandates were associated with a 0.7 percentage point decrease (p = 0.03) in daily COVID-19 death growth rates 1–20 days after implementation and decreases of 1.0, 1.4, 1.6, and 1.9 percentage points 21–40, 41–60, 61–80, and 81–100 days, respectively, after implementation (p<0.01 for all). Daily case and death growth rates before implementation of mask mandates were not statistically different from the reference period.

During the study period, states allowed restaurants to reopen for on-premises dining in 3,076 (97.9%) U.S. counties. Changes in daily COVID-19 case and death growth rates were not statistically significant 1–20 and 21–40 days after restrictions were lifted. Allowing on-premises dining at restaurants was associated with 0.9 (p = 0.02), 1.2 (p<0.01), and 1.1 (p = 0.04) percentage point increases in the case growth rate 41–60, 61–80, and 81–100 days, respectively, after restrictions were lifted (Table 2) (Figure). Allowing on-premises dining at restaurants was associated with 2.2 and 3.0 percentage point increases in the death growth rate 61–80 and 81–100 days, respectively, after restrictions were lifted (p<0.01 for both). Daily death growth rates before restrictions were lifted were not statistically different from those during the reference period, whereas significant differences in daily case growth rates were observed 41–60 days before restrictions were lifted.

I have to confess that reading this made me think my ability to read through scientific bullshit, and figure it out is being diminished in retirement. I can imagine two different ways to interpret a 2% reduction in COVID growth rates. First one, the logical one, is that reducing it 2% leaves 98% of the growth rate in the absence of masks, which while maybe statistically significant, is not of much practical importance.  The second is, if the growth rate is expressed as a percent (say percent per day), and the growth rate in the absence of the mask mandate is small, say 5%, a 2-3% reduction would be huge. Some more data on how this was done, or the raw data actually showing the reductions would clear this up quickly.

Wombat-socho has Rule 5 Sunday: Kalinka Fox ready for your digital amusement at The Other McCain.

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