Monday, December 20, 2021

COVID Ignorance, Masks and Boosters: Errors in Policymaking

Dear Policymakers,

I am a scientist and I do not feel like it is safe to let people go without masks right now, especially at the holidays. It was way too early to make any assumptions about the safety of gathering maskless with people one does not live with under any context indoors. Initial estimates are saying that the vaccines made last year are only 33% effective against omicron infection. It is too early to say how omicron is going to affect people in terms of long-haul symptoms, as well. Moreover, encouraging boosters without paying attention to the fact they do not stop the spread is also encouraging people to leave their homes and gather.

I have a family of four and we were being poisoned for at least six years by a partially-backdrafting water heater, which we had removed while under strict quarantine in October 2020. My daughter met a friend for trick or treating outside, masked, and caught COVID. My son, husband and I developed long haul COVID. We have not been able to get effective healthcare for our symptoms. My son, husband and I had reactions to both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which we got as soon as it was available to us. We have been extremely careful for the last almost two years now, rarely leaving our home in Loveland. I have been blogging extensively about my experience.

My physician tells me the referrals for the neurology department at UCHealth are very far out. My sister is a family care physician at Denver Health as well and she said that after Christmas she started getting lots of women like me with long haul cardiac and neurologic sequelae, and nobody knows how to treat this.

We had a breakthrough infection in early October 2021, and it was the straw that broke the camel's back. We did not renew our work contract because life is too overwhelming just trying to live. The people around us who fare better with infectious disease are not being very careful because of the policies Governor Polis and Anthony Fauci are making. People do not understand that their social networks are too large to be having dinner parties with other couples on a weekly basis. We caught our breakthrough infection at an outdoor gathering in mid-September where nearly everyone was vaccinated but not masked. I am now at the tail end of another breakthrough infection, I think of omicron.

Right now there is no help for people with long haul, and there is no evidence that vaccination protects against long haul. The only thing that protects against long haul is not being exposed to COVID. The UN Secretary General stated very clearly that we need vaccination AND masks, and frankly he seems more trustworthy. I feel like it is important to clarify what that means, because these important details are getting lost in the booster and holiday hubbub.

I'm sorry, but "not dead" is not good enough for me. Our lives have been ruined by this thing, and well as a partially-backdrafting water heater (which may be more common than we know because of the current insufficient building codes regarding fresh air intake in residences). We have no recourse for either. I lost three months to infection and vaccine reaction. We are staying afloat, but it isn't because of any help we got from our local, state or federal governments.

I grew up in Colorado hoping to find Sesame Street, and I haven't been able to find it here. Instead I found a lot of entitled people worried that they won't get to go on vacation or have their blitzkreig holiday. I feel like we are focusing on the wrong part of personal responsibility in the picture of spread. We don't have to totally isolate, but we need to be mindful of our very human desire to gather over the holidays, even in small groups. People need to understand that exposures to people where mouths and noses are exposed need to be infrequent. That it has nothing to do with people being "strangers" or the "public." People need to understand that even vaccinated grandma can still transmit COVID she got while having tea with her friend a week before to her unvaccinated grandchildren. I don't know why this is so difficult for people to understand, but I am surrounded by highly educated people who have so much faith in vaccines because of how our politicians are handling this situation that they are spreading illness to me and my family because they are not properly informed.

It is really discouraging, and I don't know what to tell my kids about the world anymore.

And I'm trying to fill out the Medicaid forms online and it will not allow for a single error... this does not bode well.

How many breakthrough infections does a person need to have native immunity?

Don't shoot the messenger.

Amy Lewark, MS

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