Today's end-of-workweek stories:
Finally, today is the 157th anniversary of the surrender of the traitors and the end of the white rebellion in America. (Sounds different these days, doesn't it?)
Getting my first Pfizer-Biontech SARS-COV-2 vaccine today comes on the heels of Chicago setting a new one-day record for vaccine administration:
The 7-day daily average of administered vaccine doses is 112,680, with 154,201 doses given on Wednesday. Officials also say a total of 6,707,183 vaccines have now been administered.
Illinois next week will make 150,000 first-dose appointments for coronavirus vaccinations available at 11 state-run mass vaccination sites in the Chicago suburbs and at area pharmacies as Illinois opens eligibility to everyone 16 and older, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Thursday.
Also, two weeks after my second dose, I'll be on an airplane for the first time since 12 November 2019.
I got my first Pfizer Biontech jab this morning, and will get the second one in three weeks. So far, no side-effects. And Cassie seemed to enjoy being with me for the portions of the morning involving the car, though she didn't seem all that pleased with the car itself.
In related news, I've booked a flight for mid-May.
I feel better already.
As the US approaches 4 million Covid-19 jabs per day, I finally got my place in line. I get my first dose on Thursday morning, and the second dose three weeks after. If all goes according to plan, I should have maximum resistance to SARS-COV-2 by May 13th.
For those of you keeping score at home, that will be 419 days after Illinois first locked down on 20 March 2020.
Via Josh Marshall, Pfizer has halted vaccine shipments to Israel because political chaos there has made the company worry about getting paid:
Pfizer has halted shipments of coronavirus vaccines to Israel in outrage over the country failing to transfer payment for the last 2.5 million doses it supplied to the country, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Senior officials at Pfizer have said they are concerned that the government-in-transition will not pay up and the company does not want to be taken advantage of. They said that they do not understand how such a situation can occur in an organized country.
Army Radio reported that Pfizer called Israel a “banana republic.”
A shipment of 700,000 doses was expected to arrive in Israel on Sunday but was delayed until further notice.
Marshall puts this in wider context:
After a number of delays, a prosecutor began his opening statement today in the corruption trial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu was in court today, with the jarring images you would expect from such a moment going out over the news wires.
The issue is the paralysis of the government and the breakdown of the deal Netanyahu used to hold on to power after election number three last spring. Last week, the cabinet was supposed to meet to approve the payment. But the meeting was canceled because of infighting between Netanyahu and his rival Benny Gantz. The two had agreed to form a power-sharing government in which the two would trade off as Prime Minister, with Netanyahu holding the job until later this year when he would hand the job over to Gantz. (This was last done in Israel in the mid-1980s in a deal between Yitzhak Shamir and Shimon Peres.)
It's a common story: corruption, right-wing governments trying to retain power at any cost, corruption, a popular right-wing leader who really only cares about himself, and corruption.
This photo came up in my Facebook memories this morning:
This struck me for a few reasons. First, as I noted when I posted it on Facebook the morning of 13 March 2017, we hadn't gotten any snow for almost three months that winter. No snow in January; no snow in February; no snow the first 12 days of March; then this crap.
Second, four years later, Metra still hasn't finished constructing the new inbound platform at the Ravenswood station. Construction began in 2014. Then it stopped, partially because they needed to build a new inbound track between the new outbound track and the old inbound track, which meant they had to replace all the inbound bridges from Grace to Winnemac. But all of that construction halted in early 2015 when then-governor Bruce Rauner (R-of course) stopped spending state money. So we've had to endure five winters from the inbound platform's projected completion in fall 2015 until now out of an ideological tantrum by one of the best examples of how business CEOs make terrible politicians. Construction finally resumed, uncoincidentally just after governor JB Pritzker (D) took office, and we should have a new platform this summer.
Finally, look at all those people! A year ago this week, those crowds thinned out to nothing. When I went into the office yesterday, four people got on the train with me. A year ago, plus or minus a few days, Ravenswood had the third-largest passenger numbers of any station on Metra.
Has this really been a full year? March 11th and 12th seem to be the days when everyone realized this was not a drill. John Scalzi:
I was on the JoCo Cruise at the time and had intentionally avoided news up to that point, but then two things happened. One, people came up to me wanting to tell me about Tom Hanks contracting the COVID virus (people knew that I know him personally), and two, my editor Patrick sent me a cryptic email telling me that I should call him immediately. After reminding him I was on a cruise and the ocean does not have cell phone towers, he told me via email that my book tour was cancelled and that plague was everywhere. I gave in at that point and caught up with the news from the world, all bad.
As evidenced by what I tweeted on March 10, 2020, our last day in the New York team’s Manhattan office, I and a lot of my colleagues didn’t expect this to last a full year and longer. We sipped some whiskey as we locked things down for what we expected to be a month or two away. We were naive to the severity. We didn’t expect the catastrophic loss or the debilitating fear or the deep ineptitude of the previous administration’s handling of the virus.
What an exciting 24 hours.
President Trump made a statement from the Oval Office last night about the COVID-19 pandemic that completely failed to reassure anyone, in part because it contained numerous errors and misstatements. By announcing a ban on travel from the Schengen area of 26 European countries that applies to non-US residents, he enraged our European allies while doing nothing to stop the spread of the virus for the simple reason that the virus has already spread to the US. Not to mention, having a US passport doesn't magically confer immunity on people.
Meanwhile, historian John Barry, who has written a book about the 1918 influenza pandemic, points out the grave dangers in giving up masks right now:
There is no reason to expect that this virus will suddenly turn into 1918. There are limits as to how far it can mutate. But the more people who abandon masks and social distancing, the more infections can be expected — and the more variants will emerge.
In gambling terms: If you roll the dice once, yes, there is only a 2.77 percent chance you will hit snake eyes. But if you roll the dice 100,000 times, it is virtually certain snake eyes will come up several thousand times.
We know masks decrease transmission. Lifting a masking order not only means more people will get sick and die. It also gives the virus more rolls of the dice. That is a fact.
We're close to the end of this tunnel. But what a long year we've had.
President Biden just signed the largest relief bill in history:
Doug Mills/New York Times
President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package into law Thursday, his first legislative achievement since taking office less than two months ago, a measure to infuse billions into the U.S. economy and bolster funding for vaccines, testing and school reopenings.
The package, which was unanimously opposed by Republicans in Congress, will also provide millions of Americans with $1,400 stimulus checks that are set to go out by the end of the month. The White House is planning a victory lap tomark the achievement with the president, First Lady Jill Biden, and Vice President Kamala Harris hitting the road next week.
The signing from the Oval Office comes just hours before Biden is set to mark one year of coronavirus pandemic shutdowns with his first prime-time address since taking office. The remarks are expected to both look back at the scale of loss over that time and peer ahead at a post-pandemic future.
The law provides immediate payments of $1,400 per person, including dependents, for individuals making less than $75,000 per year or families making less than $150,000; a $3,000 tax credit for every child under 18 ($3,600 under 6); subsidies for child-car costs; an expansion of the Affordable Care Act; and money for pensions, among many other provisions.
Remember when we thought Biden would be just, you know, OK? Or that the Democratic Party would once again cower in fear of the other guys yelling about bipartisanship and deficits?
Welcome to 2021.
Chicago got up to 21°C yesterday, tying the record for March 9th set in 1974. It's already 20°C right now, close to the record 22°C set in 1955.
In other news:
And now that I've finally gotten a .NET 5 application to deploy onto a Microsoft Azure Functions App, I will take a well-earned walk.
The CDC just released guidance on how vaccinated people should behave. It doesn't seem too surprising, but it also doesn't suggest we will all go back to the world of 2019 any time soon.
In other news:
And now, I have to wait for IT to unlock my work account, after fat-fingering my password once too often.