Covid Memorial Day 2021

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

In February, 2021 the death toll from Covid-19 of over 500,000 in the United States was compared to all of the Americans killed in World War II, Korea and Vietnam combined. An Associated Press (AP) article said, “The U.S. recorded an estimated 405,000 deaths in World War II, 58,000 in the Vietnam War and 36,000 in the Korean War.” When this FSB post was written on Memorial Day 2021, 594,000 lives in the United States had been lost to Covid-19.

USAToday‘s Steven Vargas and Elinor Aspegren reported that for the holiday that “restrictions have been lifted at the nation’s cemeteries dedicated to veterans for vaccinated individuals.”

But many concerns about the impact of Covid-19 on the 2021 Memorial Day holiday had been expressed.

An USAToday article by Elinor Aspegren and Ryan W. Miller included this warning.

With coronavirus cases dropping and 50% of American adults fully vaccinated, Memorial Day weekend figures to be a test of whether the U.S. can avoid the spikes in infections and hospitalizations that occurred amid, and after, the winter holidays before vaccines were widely available. 

Suzanne Judd, epidemiologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health was interviewed by Yahoo!Finance. Judd said that by June 10th any consequences from the Memorial Day holiday would become evident.

That is the day. That’s where we’re going to know what happens from all these people getting together. If cases stay where they are– flat or decrease– that will tell us that we’re in good shape, that we may be nearing the end of this pandemic. The other alternative is that people aren’t jumping out of their houses to break out of the isolation they’ve been in. And I doubt that’s going to be the case, just given what we’re seeing already. People are starting to mix more. They’re going out. They’re going out to eat. And we know it’s a holiday weekend.

Dr. Karen Landers, assistant state health officer in the Alabama Department of Public Health, bemoaned the lack of vaccinations in Alabama in an AP article. Landers said that, with only 28% of Alabamians fully vaccinated, “It’s very distressing because we have vaccine and we have it in every corner of Alabama.”

A Washington Post article by Dan Keating and Leslie Shapiro was reprinted by several newspapers, including The Day. Keating and Shapiro wrote, “The country’s declining COVID-19 case rates present an unrealistically optimistic perspective for half of the nation – the half that is still not vaccinated.”

The Washington Post reporters said that the “rosy national figures showing declining case numbers” were misleading. They wrote:

The adjusted rates in several states show the pandemic is spreading as fast among the unvaccinated as it did during the winter surge. Maine, Colorado, Rhode Island and Washington state all have covid-19 case spikes among the unvaccinated, with adjusted rates about double the adjusted national rate. The adjusted rates of Wyoming, West Virginia, Oregon, Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania are slightly lower than the highest states.

They wrote that vaccines were about 90% effective in preventing cases among people who have received the shot but there had been a steady Covid-19 death rate among un-vaccinated people.

UniversityBusiness‘s Chris Burt reported about a new study from Seton Hall University about the concerns of college football fans about reopening stadiums at full capacity. Burt wrote that the University of Alabama was “among a confident group of institutions that have promised full capacity for athletic events in the fall.”

Burt added “in the states where they plan to host football games at their sizable stadiums – with upwards of 100,000 guests – none has more than 35% of their populations fully vaccinated against COVID-19.”

A majority of the fans who participated in the study favored policies that include COVID-19 vaccination for entry. Social distancing, masking, and limiting attendance, as well as vaccination, would be considered necessary for a safe college football experience for fans.

During the college softball NCAA regional and super-regional games in May, 2021, at the University of Alabama‘s Rhoads Stadium the stadium was packed with 4,000 wildly cheering, unmasked fans. During the 2021 SEC Tournament, which had been held a week earlier, the stadium was at only 50% capacity, as reported by Bama Central’s Tyler Martin.

Of course, a full capacity at Bryant-Denny Stadium would involve over 100,000 fans. By the time of the new football season in September, there should be little likelihood of having a significant number of fully vaccinated people in the state of Alabama. Of course fans will come from far and wide. Also vaccinations for students at the the university will not have been mandated.

An article in The Conservation by Sanjay Mishra was not optimistic about the efficiency of vaccinations in preventing the spread of Covid-19:

  • Vaccines can be great at preventing you from getting sick, while at the same time not necessarily stopping you from getting infected or spreading the germ.
  • Preliminary evidence seems to suggest the COVID-19 vaccines make it less likely someone who’s vaccinated will transmit the coronavirus, but the proof is not yet ironclad.
  • Unvaccinated people should still be diligent about mask-wearing, physical distancing and other precautions against the coronavirus.

Even if Mishra had been wrong about vaccinations, by the fall there should be a huge influx into T-Town of un-vaccinated people who will join its vaccine hesitant residents. Some may have felt that, since they have been vaccinated, any consequences of having huge numbers of un-vaccinated people in T-Town is not their concern. No matter what the aftermath of the Memorial Day weekend in May had been, the fall might be a time even more potentially fraught with the spreading of Covid-19.

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