Variation in the Potential Geographic Impact of Omicron

Very tentative (non-clinical test) indications are that vaccination helps reduce incidence and severity of infections from the omicron variant. If this proves true, then we should expect vaccination rates to be critical to impact. Here’s the map, county-by-county.

Source: NYT, accessed 12/6/2021.

No data available at county level for Texas, Georgia and Hawaii, so here is the Mayo Clinic’s map.

Source: Mayo Clinic, accessed 12/6/2021.

Texas at 55-60%, Georgia at 50-55%, for total population (as far as I can tell). So, it would appear the South generally, and rural areas, are most at risk.

Returning to aggregates, Goldman Sachs knocked 1.5 ppts (at annualized rates) off of Q1 forecasted growth, and 0.5 ppts off of Q2 (the latter on the basis of supply chain impacts in other countries). Applying these adjustments to the Survey of Professional Forecasters November forecast (red line) yields the following projection (teal line).

Figure 1: GDP reported (black bold), potential GDP (gray), Survey of Professional Forecasters (red), and Survey of Professional Forecasters subtracting 1.5ppts in Q1, 0.5ppts in Q2 (teal). NBER defined peak-to-trough recession dates shaded gray. Source: BEA 2021Q3 2nd release, Philadelphia Fed Survey of Professional Forecasters (November), and author’s calculations.

Of course, all these forecasts constitute educated guessing given the many unknowns about omicron (except we are pretty sure being vaccinated likely reduces the severity of symptoms). The Goldman Sachs pre-omicron forecast was for above consensus growth, so even with the downgrades, the GS forecast is still above the SPF mean forecast.)

Update, 5:15 pm, Pacific:

In their recent article, Andrew Foerster, Nick Garvey and Pierre-Daniel G. Sarte provide the following picture of leisure and hospitality employment recovery and vaccination rates, by state:

Source: Foerster et al. (2021).

Foerster et al. write in their December Economic Brief (Richmond Fed):

By ‘excess’ recovery, we mean the recovery in employment over this time span over and above that predicted by the initial fall in employment, as in the regressions highlighted in Figures 4 and 5.

Highlighted in red are the top 10 states again, and in green the states that make up the Fifth District of the Federal Reserve System.

In general, the magnitude of the 2021 employment recovery is increasing with vaccination rates. The fact that the relationship within these two sectors is statistically significant makes intuitive sense: These sectors involve frequent contacts with the general public, and vaccines may provide both prospective employees and consumers with the freedom to interact with less fear of catching or transmitting the virus.

81 thoughts on “Variation in the Potential Geographic Impact of Omicron

  1. Anonymous

    In addition to the benefits of vaccination, it is appearing (early indications) that Omicron is mild, with many cases confused with colds or even completely asymptomatic (people in hospital for other reasons, being tested and having Omicron-id). Of course, it’s still not clear how governments (and populations) will react. But decent chance that we continue moving forward in terms of return to work.

    1. Anonymous

      There is even a chance (note the caveat, not saying it is likely, just TBD) that Omicron becomes a helper for herd immunity.

      1. Moses Herzog

        If a person is under age 50 or has a relatively strong immune system, I’m not totally sold on the booster yet. I’m still thinking about whether to get it or not, and i’ve pretty much decided I’m going to wear a mask in most places and wait until early spring to make a decision on the booster.

        If someone is over 60 or has reasons to believe their immune system is weak, then I would for sure get the booster. I’ve seen too much salesmanship from drug companies, and government workers who might be looking at the revolving door quoting drug company research to “buy into” the booster as of yet.

        1. rjs

          there is a movement afoot to change the definition of “fully vaccinated” to include the booster…

        2. baffling

          if you received the modern shot, you probably can hold off on the booster for a short while if desired. but the evidence is pretty clear that pfizer and j&j lose a bit of protection after 6 months, so those should get a booster. i debated (had pfizer) but went ahead and got the booster after about 6 months mostly to protect my family (young and old). had about the same side effects as after the second dose. took the day off. my view is for people to do everything in their power to eliminate or minimize the impact of covid on society, so we can get back to some semblance of normal soon. those that don’t are basically acting antisocial. i get a flu shot every year. i see no reason why that would be a problem for the coronavirus, either.

          1. pgl

            I got my booster back on April 12. I guess I should have waited a day to make it the one year anniversary of that “beautiful Easter” (2020) that Trump told us would be the day this virus would magically go away.

          2. Moses Herzog

            @ pgl
            That’s kinda weird, I didn’t even think the boosters were even available until September 2021. You are an “amazing individual”.

          3. CoRev

            PGL “I got my booster back on April 12.” Even Moses called him on it. At least he didn’t call him a liar just an “amazing individual”. 😉

          4. pgl

            Correction. Second shot April 12. Third shot October 12. OK – this whole thing has screwed my calendar even if I would like to say I am ahead of time!

          5. pgl

            December 7, 2021 at 1:12 pm

            Just in case you are wondering who Econned has been dating – mystery is solved as CoRev has moved in with him!

          6. EConned

            PaGLiacci – I still that I’m occupying your mind. You sound jealous. Put away your clown nose. HonkHonkHonk

        3. Ivan

          There is no downside to getting the booster. The upside is a considerable increase in protection against the virus – whether for the sake of your own health or that of others (that you may infect).

          1. pgl

            Precisely! Now one could say let others get their 1st shot but in my city there are health professionals walking around hoping to put a shot in a willing arm.

          2. Ivan

            I should add that I got my 3 shoots AND I am wearing a N95 mask indoors in public places. These precautions are additive. So its not either or – its both.

        4. Barkley Rosser

          Uncle Moses,

          Take it from Barkley Junior, even though everyone knows he is senile. Just go and get that bloody booster shot. Please. Stop kvetching and just do it.

          1. Barkley Rosser

            If you don’t, I’ll sick Copmala Harris on you, who will put you on a bus to go have a date with Nancy Pelosi, who will make you publicly eat some fancy ice cream, :-).

          2. Moses Herzog

            @ Professor Rosser
            I am taking abundantly more precautions than most people. One could even argue a good quality mask gives more safety than the booster on variants. I’m under the age range which would increase the risk. So my only risk factors would be roughly 5 years of smoking maybe 3-5 cigarettes per day many years ago, and some drinking, which I would say over the last roughly 9 years I have cut back on, only drinking about once very 2 weeks. I take roughly 400-800 IUs of vitamin D per day, which I think would help if I did actually ever acquire the virus. I also slightly suspect I may have got the actual Covid-19 around February of 2020, but am not sure. I will most likely take the booster around March, if the amount of people going to get the booster is low in my state.

            It’s kind of you to say that though. I would actually prefer the carrot of a date with AOC vs the swatting stick of Pelosi, if I was certain the woman didn’t have certain litmus tests on looks and ability to converse intelligently when in the vicinity of super-attractive women.

          3. Barkley Rosser


            Seriously, there is unpleasant evidence that masks really are not all that effective, while the serious surgical ones are better than the most widely used simple cloth ones. It also appears that those are more useful for old folks like me, not young whippersnappers like you.

            What looks to be better than masks by a huge margin? Vaccines. And the evidence is pouring in that one needs boosters to maintain their relatively superior effectiveness. And while the evidence on omicron is not fully in, some of the initial reports suggest that having a booster will be even more highly recommended for protecting against getting this apparently much more contagious variant than any we have seen so far.

            Bottom line remains, it really is highly recommended you get that booster shot, unless you only got yourself your second shot quite recently. This really is for your own health, Moses, really.

          4. Barkley Rosser


            I shall modetate my doubts on masks. They certainly help, and there are some studies showing them highly useful. One is a study done in Kansas comparing infection rates in counties with mask mandated and those without (a study done and publicized by Lee Norman, the now fired Health and Human Secretary). This study does show substantially lower infection rates in the counties with the mask mandates than in those without. Hey, I wear my surgical masks in all enclosed places.

            But it remains that vaccines are still even more effective. I know it is odd that I would genuinely give what I fully mean as good advice to somebody who has been so down on my case, but I am. Just get that booster, sooner than later, again with the caveat that this holds only if it has been quite a few months since your second shot, but maybe sooner even that the much recommended six months wait.

        5. Ulenspiegel

          “If a person is under age 50 or has a relatively strong immune system, I’m not totally sold on the booster yet.”

          The last UK data are clearly in favour of a booster. Always keep in mind that the SA data come from a population in with almost all adults have been infected at least once.

    2. macroduck

      Excellent link.

      Since Delta infection doesn’t confer immunity from Omicron, the speaker’s optimism that Omicron will confer general Covid immunity and bring about the end of the pandemic is just that – optimism. Fingers crossed.

      1. pgl

        Thanks for saying this. Here is a question which probably does not have an answer to it. Can one contract both Delta and Omicron at the same time? That sounds scary but then I’m not a scientist.

        1. Ivan

          It is possible to be infected with more than one respiratory virus at a time. But you would have to be exposed to them almost at the same time. As soon as you are exposed to a virus, all the non-specific immune defenses get activated. That makes it much harder for another virus to “join the party”, whereas the already established virus is already past some of those barriers and will continue as “planned”. We would expect that the adaptive (specific) immunity to infection by one variant would confer at least some protection against the next one. However, how long and how strong that protection will be, is up for debate. Preliminary and limited data from South Africa suggest that people previously infected with Delta and other variants are being diagnosed as having been infected with the new Omicron variant. So Omicron appears to have some immune evasion for natural infections – evasion from vaccinations “is still being studied” (= we really don’t know).

      2. Ivan

        Define immunity. The problem is that we know a lot of people have been diagnosed with Omicron even thought they had been diagnosed with other variants at an earlier time. However, we also know that most Omicron infections appear to be mild). What we still don’t know yet is whether that is connected.

        We need more cases, and a few months more of data, to get final outcomes on the cases. It is still possible that previous infections (at least within 3-6 months) confer some level of immunity against severe outcomes, but not against mild (diagnosable) infections. Same goes for the vaccines. South Africa has low (25%) uptake on vaccinations so its more likely that Denmark (77% vaccinated) will give us the first good insights on vaccines vs. Omicron.

        If Omicron infections for vaccinated people (regardless of risk status) is like a cold, then I may relax my personal restrictions. At this point I would not restrain and inconvenience myself only for the sake of those who are too stupid to follow the science and get fully vaccinated.

        1. baffling

          pfizer just released data from a blood plasma study. it shows omicron has the advantage with only two pfizer shots. however, with a pfizer booster the response appears to be much better. another reason to seriously consider the booster, especially if you have the pfizer shot.

      3. Ulenspiegel

        “Since Delta infection doesn’t confer immunity from Omicron, the speaker’s optimism that Omicron will confer general Covid immunity and bring about the end of the pandemic is just that – optimism. ”

        You work with a strawman. Immunity is not the goal, low number of severe cases is. And here the omikron variant offers for some countries like the USA and UK an exit scenario. As long as vaccinated or previously infected people get an omikron infection without a severe courese of desease it could be a game changer. Think about flu.

    3. Barkley Rosser


      Omicron is not completely harmless. Apparently at least 10 people have died from it in South Africa, 5 of them over 69, but one of them a child. Not sure what the vaxx status of any of them was.

    4. Ulenspiegel

      ” it is appearing (early indications) that Omicron is mild”

      The SA data are from adults who all have most likely have been infected in the past. The higher number of young children (only group without infection in SA) in hospitals tells most likely a higher risc for unvaccinated people.

      So, only if you have already been infected or vaccinated then the omikron variant is mild, if you are immunologically naive then omikron may be more severe than delta.

      (See Drosten podcast 105)

  2. Moses Herzog

    Lincoln Riley leaving the reddest state in the nation Oklahoma for blue state California. The entire state of Oklahoma is acting like a small child that just found out his/her parents are getting divorced and Dad has found a new girl. Like college football coaches have never hopped one job for a better one. This is something that “has never happened before in the annals of major college football”. It’s a laugh riot watching large numbers of adults acting like they didn’t get what they wanted for Christmas. Lincoln Riley is one of the sharpest minded football coaches out there who kept Oklahoma in the CFB playoffs conversation during all the 5 years he was HC at OU. Oklahoma was lucky to have him as long as they did. I hope he and his family do well in California and I’ll be rooting for Coach Riley and USC in all their upcoming games. OU and the state of Oklahoma (the smarter residents anyway) will miss him.

    1. baffling

      i don’t blame him for leaving for california. most red states offer a level of opportunity that is offset by the undesirability to live there. people did not move to california because of liberal politics. they moved because of the weather. texas has tried to be a tech magnet for a couple of decades, with limited success. why? the weather sucks compared to california. texas has to pay tech people to move there. california taxes them and they still keep coming. some things are simply beyond the control of politics.
      “Oklahoma was lucky to have him as long as they did.”
      they are lucky. and i am glad he left before the locals turned on him, which they eventually would in those crazed football towns.

      1. Moses Herzog

        I don’t agree with all of your thoughts here, but the part about “crazed football towns” is pretty accurate. There were rumors (non-verified) he was offered the LSU job before Brian Kelly was. They were put out there by a relatively well respected NFL “expert”. Now that guy is not a college football guy. But he was pretty vehement that the LSU story was true. Why would a guy who is making his bread by telling insider NFL stories going to risk his reputation throwing out a false story about the LSU job?? To me, it gave a lot of credence to the LSU rumor.

        Why do I bring this up?? Because I think the culture issue (not weather) played at least a part in Lincoln Riley’s choice of USC over LSU (i.e. that USC would extend more patience on the rebuilding process). There has been conjecture that Brian Kelly will have something similar to “culture shock” making the immediate jump from Notre Dame to LSU. I think Brian Kelly is more malleable (or maybe the more accurate word is pragmatic) than people imagine. If he has some Black coaches on the staff familiar with the Louisiana/Mississippi/ East Texas high school recruiting area I think he will flourish there. If he doesn’t have those guys on the coaching staff he will die a very quick death.

        As far as Lincoln Riley is concerned, I see him winning the Pacific Football Conference within a 4 year time frame, possibly sooner.

        1. baffling

          I agree on the culture issue, just did not clarify that. the red state culture does not attract the brightest, and if you have not lived in it, you probably think its not that bad and are willing to try it out. but when you couple that with the weather in Texas (or Oklahoma, take your pick), then it is easy to see why somebody would leave. the culture is not bad enough alone to make you move out (although if you lived it once you may not move back). but if you are going to be miserable in a job for 5 years, its nice to live in 80 degree sunshine year round.

          I do not see brian kelly fitting into Baton Rouge. New Orleans is a better place to be in louisiana. Brian Kelly is 60 years old. I see this as a $10 million dollar a year retirement fund. lsu was desperate and throwing around money.

      2. noneconomist

        Bad News/Good News
        The weather here in the Sierra foothills has been spectacular for the last few days: high 60’s, low 70’s, mid 40’s at night. For residents, that’s the bad news because we desperately need rain and snow, especially in the mountains.
        Had it not been for the “atmospheric river” mid October that dumped about 16 inches locally in a couple of days, we’d be in more trouble than we are.
        Better news: rain the next two days and possibly an extended system next week with snow in the mountains.
        Interestingly, the pandemic has sent more than a few Bay Area residents inland with increasing numbers flocking to the foothills.
        Re: Texas. My very conservative retired Marine brother in law quickly passed on it as a possible residential destination. Arizona was much more to his liking.

    2. pgl

      Riley did a head fake when he declared he would not leave OK State for LSU. Question – is one of the reasons he is moving to Southern Cal the desire to stay out of the SEC?

      1. baffling

        the west coast lacks a current powerhouse. he can dominate west coast football for the next decade. he was not afraid of the sec, but the west coast is set up for easier and greater success. smart choice by him.

      2. Moses Herzog

        The only way to know that last question, which is a fair question, is to enter inside of Lincoln Riley’s mind. And while I consider myself very perceptive about people, even people who I have not met in person, I cannot enter into Lincoln Riley’s mind. What I think I can say though, is that OU entering into the SEC “didn’t hinder” Riley’s decision to take the USC job.

        1. baffling

          in my mind, coach of usc is more prestigious than coach of oklahoma. both have a rich history. but the glamour is in la. i think the ceiling for riley is much higher at usc. recruiting against other sec schools would be more challenging, but i don’t think riley is afraid of that. he had to recruit against the texas schools at ou, and did so successfully on a national scale. but usc simply offers advantages that few other schools offer. this was an easy call for a young successful coach who excels at offense and recruiting.

          1. Moses Herzog

            The USC job has the potential to be a better job than OU is right now. As you stated well, the ceiling is higher. So does the UCLA HC job for that matter. The tradition and relative consistency is what makes the OU job a better job at this moment. Which is why OU has lorded it over Texas for the last 50 years when this should never be the case, but OU has had better sports administration/management than the Texas boosters who have meddled and murdered their own program, But I think Riley will change that. In the final analysis, with all the life experiences one can have in LA vs Norman Oklahoma, and how much higher NIL payments/contracts would be for players in LA.

            What is the future for OU football?? I keep thinking of Nebraska after they went/moved to the Big Ten Conference. Suddenly all those years of joking about Iowa, Wisconsin, and the Minnesota Gophers (who, yes, the Cornhuskers lost to this year) went out the window, and the jokes weren’t funny to Nebraskans anymore. I think the sharper OU fans are very fearful of a very similar scenario playing out with OU in the SEC. If recruiting doesn’t pick up with lightning speed, that scenario is very likely.

          2. baffling

            your comparison to nebraska is spot on. even i have been very surprised at how far they have fallen since the days of osbourn. ou and nebraska require the continuity of a multi decade coach who is excellent and willing to live in the sticks long term. that limits the acceptable solutions. coaching turnover is a disaster for these middle of the nation states because it impedes your ability to recruit nationally. if you cannot recruit nationally in today’s big time football environment, you cannot compete for a title.

  3. pgl

    I saw two mobile vaccination trucks within 2 blocks of where I live. De Blasio is upping NYC’s game on vaccine mandates. Now some people see this move in the last 3 weeks of his 2nd term as a political move. Fine but could we see more political leaders making these kind of political moves for the good of everyone?

    1. Ivan

      Businesses desperately want politicians to do this. They are losing productivity when their employees get sick (even worse if they get long Covid). But it is much better for the CEO if he can blame a politician for the mandate than if he has to take the bad PR and grumbling employees for having made the decision himself and only applies to his own company. This will not help De Blasio get into any elected office again, but I would not be surprised if he gets a nice corporate job after this.

      1. pgl

        I may be one of the few who thought he was a good mayor but you are right – he really should avoid running for higher office. Our new governor strikes me as having a lock on winning a full term and no way De Blasio is ever going to be President.

        1. Moses Herzog

          @ pgl
          Aside from the special connection you’ve always felt to Andrew Cuomo and low NY state nursing home death counts, you have a way of picking “winners”

          Nothing spells out “a man of the people” more than sleeping at the office or going home in the early afternoon. Now we know why it’s called “the city that never sleeps”~~the mayor stole their couch. Next you’ll be telling us Chris Cuomo should be public spokesperson for the U.S. Army on gender barriers.

  4. ltr

    December 6, 2021

    China to cut reserve requirement ratio by 50 bps from December 15
    By Yang Jing and Huo Li

    China’s central bank announced on Monday that it will cut reserve requirement ratio (RRR) by 50 bps from December 15 to bolster the real economy.

    The cut, the second such move this year, will release 1.2 trillion yuan ($190 billion) in long-term liquidity and will lower capital costs for financial institutions by around 15 billion yuan each year, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said in a statement.

    The weighted average RRR for financial institutions would be 8.4 percent after the new cut, and the cut will not apply to financial institutions with an existing ratio of 5 percent, said the PBOC.

    The decision is made to keep liquidity reasonably ample and to step up cross cyclical adjustments in a bid to better support the economy, the central bank said.

    China will not resort to flood-like stimulus and will keep the prudent monetary policy, according to the statement.

    Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said last Friday that the country will cut RRR at an appropriate time to strengthen support for the real economy, especially for small- and medium-sized enterprises.

    Lowering RRR is in line with market expectation, Wang Dan, chief economist at Hang Seng Bank (China), wrote in a note to CGTN….

  5. macroduck

    Covid original recipe was first detected December 2019
    The Delta variant was first detected in December 2020.
    Omicron was first reported in November 2021.

    If the pattern holds, we have about a year before the next “variant of concern” rears is ts head. Oh, boy!

      1. pgl

        I need a program to keep up with the list of COVID-19 variants. Delta here was the big bad witch with a B.

  6. rjs

    everything i’ve read suggests to me that Omicron is blowing right past the vaccines currently in use…the first US case, in CA, was fully vaccinated; the next one, in Minnesota, also had the booster…the first case in Hawaii was in someone previously infected by another Covid strain…

    an early story from Norway is instructive: Norway Christmas party may have sparked largest omicron variant outbreak outside of South Africa

    A recent Norwegian omicron outbreak at a Christmas party provides early anecdotal evidence on how the variants spreads between vaccinated people and the severity of its symptoms, according to a recent report.

    A renewable energy company in Norway made sure all necessary safety precautions were implemented before hosting their annual holiday party, including only inviting vaccinated employees and requiring rapid testing the day prior the party, according to Stian Tvede Karlsen, a company spokesman. The party was held at an upscale Oslo restaurant for approximately 120 people, including several who recently traveled to South Africa, where the company has a solar panel business.

    Over 50% tested positive for COVID-19, with 13 confirmed to have the omicron variant, but none of the people have severe symptoms, according to the Wall Street Journal.

    The outbreak, which appears to be the world’s biggest omicron outbreak outside of South Africa, is noteworthy because it occurred among vaccinated people in a country where more than 80% adults are fully vaccinated, the Journal added.

    * * *

    also, from the Moderna CEO: Vaccine efficacy for Omicron has likely dropped: Moderna CEO – Vaccine efficacy for the “highly contagious” Omicron variant has likely dropped — but the full data won’t be available for at least two weeks, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel warned on Monday.“We need to wait for the data to see if it’s true and how much it is going down,” the drugmaker boss told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”  Omicron already appears to be “much more infectious” than the Delta variant and is on track to become the most dominant strain in southern Africa in a matter of weeks, according to Bancel.  “It took four months for Delta variant to overtake Beta variant. Omicron is overtaking Delta in South Africa in a few weeks,” he said. “We believe this virus is highly contagious. We need to get more data to confirm this but it seems to be much more infectious than Delta, which is problematic.” Bancel added, “[There is] a lot of mutations in the spike protein, which is important for the vaccine. I don’t believe many people would have predicted such a big jump in evolution in one variant.”   The drugmaker predicted that the majority of countries with direct flights from southern Africa within the last seven to 10 days would already have Omicron cases — even if they haven’t been detected yet.

    1. pgl

      Vaccinations were not supposed to be a guarantee that one would never catch the virus. They were supposed to be ways to make sure the body can fight the virus before severe symptoms. Now I do not even want a mild case of this damn virus but the main thing is to stay healthy without clogging up the medical system. But social distancing and wearing a mask is still something we all should be doing even if we have received the vaccinations and bolster.

      1. Ivan

        Exactly. Be vaccinated, get your booster and take all the precautions you can to avoid exposure (or exposing others).

      2. rjs

        i agree; after all, 99% of our cases are still Delta…but it appears we’ll need a little bit more stringent social distancing protocols for this variant than for the previous strains..

        The Omicron variant appeared to spread between two fully vaccinated people in separate hotel rooms in Hong Kong, early research suggests The Omicron variant of the coronavirus appears to have spread between two fully vaccinated people who were staying in separate rooms across the hall from each other in a Hong Kong quarantine hotel, researchers say. The early findings raise concerns about how transmissible the new variant may be. Researchers at the University of Hong Kong announced the findings in in an online research letter, which has not been finalized, in the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal on Friday. According to the research letter, one of the individuals arrived in Hong Kong from South Africa on November 11, while the second person arrived in the city from Canada a day earlier. Both men were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with Pfizer’s two-dose shot and had tested negative for the virus within 72 hours before arrival in Hong Kong, the report said. "On arrival at the Hong Kong airport, both case-patients stayed in the same quarantine hotel and had rooms across the corridor from each other on the same floor," according to the research letter. According to the research, which cited closed-circuit television camera footage, the individuals infected with Omicron never left their hotel rooms during the recent quarantine period. "No items were shared between rooms, and other persons did not enter either room," the report said, noting that the only time the two people opened their hotel doors was to collect food that was placed outside of each door.

    2. pgl

      “Vaccine efficacy for the “highly contagious” Omicron variant has likely dropped — but the full data won’t be available for at least two weeks, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel warned on Monday.”

      Bancel is the CEO – not a doctor. He clearly is trying to pump up the share price of Moderna.

    3. pgl

      “The party was held at an upscale Oslo restaurant for approximately 120 people, including several who recently traveled to South Africa, where the company has a solar panel business.”

      Just wow! That is one gathering I would have definitely skipped. In fact I’m staying away from all holiday parties until next year at least.

  7. Barkley Rosser

    It is my understanding that there are people dying of omicron, but they seem to be unvaxxed. So it is somewhat like the other variants in that you can catch it if you are vaxxed, but that helps make it that one has only a mild case. But, frankly, it is still too soon to know for sure. Some of the recent market optimism may be overdone.

  8. rsm

    《Of course, all these forecasts constitute educated guessing》

    Did you misspell “noise I wouldn’t bet a quarter on”?

    1. Barkley Rosser


      Not many here are making forecasts. People are just trying to find out what the emerging data is about this new variant. Most of us, including me, have noted that it will be several weeks before we really know what the details are regarding both severity and transmissability. That is what Dr. Fauci has said, and I take him seriously. But maybe you think he is spouting noise and should report the standard errors for his statements.

      Again, just how totally insane are you?

      1. Ivan

        And educated guesses are a lot better than whatever Tucker, Hannity or some other ignoramus pulls out of his dumb fat ass. You always try to guess where the enemy is and what he is going to do next. Waiting until you know for sure would be extremely stupid.

  9. Ivan

    At this time I have no doubt that Omicron will burn through the US like a fire in a waterless city. I got a haircut yesterday so at least that interaction can wait until after the pandemic burnout – without me ending up looking like a caveman. The number of whining paranoid idiots and weak politicians in this country, were barely able to put up any resistance to the delta variant. For a more infectious variant there will be so much dry timber of stupidity and paranoia that Omicron will barely notice our futile national/state level efforts of slowing it down. It will be every man/woman for himself. Get fully vaccinated, reduce your exposure and wear N95 mask (produced by reputable US companies). Give it 3-6 month until we know how bad the infections are for vaccinated people and whether it appears to produce long-Covid, then reevaluate. Also get your Omicron specific booster as soon as it becomes available to your risk group.

  10. Ivan

    Just a warning about how to interpret todays data from Pfizer.

    A 25-fold lower level of antibodies against Omicron compared to levels against a “previous” variant in vaccinated people doesn’t mean 25-fold less protection against being infected. T-cells are still perfectly good and they are more important for protecting against severe infections invading your brain and other organs. However, this is good lab level indication that you need to get that booster shot now if you haven’t gotten it yet. It will give you much higher levels of Omicron reactive antibodies – and that’s a good thing.

  11. pgl

    Pfizer is really pushing folks to get that booster. Of course I did that about 8 weeks ago. But then it was asked would we need an Omicron tailored booster and their executives said perhaps by April. OK! When it is ready – sign me up.

    And yes – I’m still socially distancing and wearing my mask when anywhere near others.

  12. joseph

    Well, this can’t be good for omicron. The Senate passed a bill vetoing Biden’s vaccine mandate, with Manchin and Tester voting with all of the Republicans, 52-48.

    Curiously, it seems that the filibuster rule can only be used by Republicans. Schumer or any other single Democrat could have stopped this by invoking the filibuster, the cowards. Biden stuck his neck out on what he knew to be a political risk but did it for the good of the country, to save people’s lives. And the Senate Democrats sat on their hands instead of covering his back.

    This bill won’t get past a Biden veto, but why put him in that position? How can he argue that this policy is for the good of the country when his own party won’t stand behind him?

    I thought the Republicans were all cowards for failing to stand up against a Trump insurrection. But the Democrats are cowards for failing to stand up against a deadly virus.

    We are all doomed.

    1. baffling

      “This bill won’t get past a Biden veto, but why put him in that position?”
      well he can veto it and argue rational democrats are not going to let legislation pass that lets a dangerous virus proliferate. I don’t see how Biden vetoing the bill is a negative for him. two defectors do not define the Democratic Party.

  13. pgl

    “This bill won’t get past a Biden veto, but why put him in that position?”

    This bill has not yet been taken up in the House. Pelosi needs to put the hammer down and kill this stupid idea.

  14. joseph

    “This bill has not yet been taken up in the House.”

    But the damage is already done. Republicans are already crowing that even the Democrats think vaccine mandates are bad. It’s being challenged in court and this certainly doesn’t help Biden’s case when even Democrats think its a bad idea.

    Schumer could have simply refused to bring the bill to the floor. Senate Majority Leader has the power to set the agenda, as McConnell did when refusing to bring the Merrick Garland nomination to the floor. Or Schumer or any single Democratic senator could have invoked a filibuster. And how the hell did this even get out of committee? It was discharged from the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee chaired by Patty Murry and with Bernie Sanders.

    What a bunch of cowards.

  15. joseph

    Okay, some background in fairness to the Democrats. Republicans seek to revoke Biden’s vaccine mandate under the rules of the Congressional Review Act, CRA. Under these rules, an executive action can be revoked within 60 days by a simple majority vote. It can be discharged from committee if the committee refuses by a petition signed by 30 senators. So this is the route Republicans took, a petition of 30 to discharge from committee and then a simply majority vote on the floor.

    So I was incorrect to blame Schumer as his hands were tied by the CRA. Instead the blame lies entirely on two Democrats who voted with Republicans, Manchin and Tester. It will be up to Pelosi to see if she can hold her caucus together. The odds are long. She can only afford to lose 4 Democratic votes and there are a lot nervous Blue Dogs in the House.

    The CRA goes back to Newt Gingrich days. It has rarely been invoked, only once in 2001, but 16 times by Republicans immediately after Obama left office in 2017 to reverse Obama directives. Then again by Republicans three times since Biden took office to reverse Biden directives.

    Like the filibuster, the CRA seems to be one of those rules Congress has inflicted on itself to the advantage of Republicans.

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