1. Science isn’t handed down from on high fully formed. It’s a process of figuring things out based on what you know so far and what you discover. Like trying to determine the picture on a puzzle when the pieces are still scattered around the house. You look for more pieces, you figure out where they fit, you set aside the ones that turn out to be from a different puzzle, and you get a better idea of what the picture is as you go along.

2. Tactics change with the terrain. When a tool is in short supply, you save it for those who most need it. When it’s widely available, you can use it more. When a risk is both high and widespread in your area, you take more precautions than when it’s lower and rarer.

3. News and advice should be looked at through the lens of “Based on what we know so far, under current conditions.” As we learn more, and as conditions change, that will change. That’s how science works, how learning works, and how time works.

4. Nothing in life is certain. But a 90% reduction in your chances of something awful happening is pretty damn good when you compare it to the baseline instead of that ideal 100%.

Of the two Omicron-variant cases found in the US so far, one of them is a breakthrough case in a patient who hadn’t traveled internationally, but had just been to an anime convention in New York.

With 53,000 people.

That only required attendees to have gotten their first dose of the vaccine.

And struggled with crowding.

Chances are pretty good he’s not the only one who caught it there. A long time spent in a poorly-ventilated indoor crowd is this virus’ ideal environment.

One of the commenters on that article points out that New York Comic Con happened in early October, but had strict mask enforcement and required full vaccination courses for adults or a negative test for kids. I haven’t heard about any outbreak linked to NYCC and it’s been almost 2 months, so either they got lucky or they did something right there.

But one thing’s for sure: If an outbreak is tied to Anime NYC, it needs to be called Omi-Con.

We’ve both gotten our Covid vaccine boosters, and the kid’s had both initial shots now that a dosage has been approved for his age range. No side effects to speak of for either of them, and while I had a day of brain fog, I think that’s just as likely to be because the shoulder I usually sleep on was sore and I couldn’t freaking get to sleep that night.

It’s been interesting to compare the process for each visit, though.

The initial roll-out back in April and May was a long but very efficient queue run by a local health provider, directing patients through the halls of their office to whichever of a dozen rooms was up next.

For the kid’s shots, we went with another local health group that’s been running clinics at local schools after hours for the last few weeks. It was similar, but a lot of the directing was being done by volunteers, and the people administering the shots weren’t staff nurses but drawn from firefighters and the like. They set up check-in tables and partitions and chairs in some of the classrooms, and they made an effort to put the kids at ease. They even had a service dog available for anyone who wanted to hug a dog during their shot. The timing wasn’t as well-arranged, though, and both times we got sent to someone who was still waiting for the next batch of loaded syringes.

For the boosters, we just made appointments at the local CVS pharmacy. It was like getting a flu shot, plus adding the record to the Covid vaccine card.

(Amusing: Between my first and second pass through the scheduler, the CVS website dropped the eligibility question. California had already approved boosters for all adults, but CVS must have had the change ready to go as soon as the CDC’s approval came through. Of course I still had to enter all the same insurance information both times.)

So we’re all up to date on the best biological protection against Covid available!

Just in time to find out whether and how much Omicron can get around it. *sigh*

I could not believe how many kids were out trick-or-treating in our neighborhood this year. Or how many households were handing out candy. There were more kids even than a normal Halloween, through fewer houses active than usual.

We weren’t even sure of our plans as late as Sunday afternoon. We’d carved pumpkins on Saturday, we’d put the skeleton in the big hole in the floor (not that anyone but us could see it), but we weren’t sure whether we’d be taking the kid trick-or-treating, or whether anyone would be knocking on our door.

Toward the end of the afternoon we set up a table on the front lawn with our jack-o-lanterns and two trays of goodies (one candy, one party favors as an allergy-friendly alternative). We put on masks as a precaution, and took turns taking the kid trick-or-treating.

We ran out of candy.

We ran out of toys.

There were so many groups of kids, some as big as a dozen, and they kept coming for several hours after sunset.

I figure it’s probably a reaction to last year’s locked-down holiday.

Covid-19 hasn’t gone away. The pandemic isn’t anywhere near over. But cases in Los Angeles County have been trending downward from a peak way back in August, and our area has around 80% vaccination coverage among those 12 and up. Schools have gone back to in-person instruction, with masks indoors, distancing guidelines, and quarantine rules for students and staff who are exposed. The elementary schools even brought back their Halloween parade, though they split it by age group and only allowed staff and students onsite to reduce crowding.

The coronavirus isn’t gone. It’s still a constant presence. But for the moment, it feels more manageable than this time last year. At least here.

So people handed out candy, and kids went trick-or-treating, and parents went along with them. Maybe a third were wearing masks.

But we’re getting tested later this week, just in case. Outdoors or not, it was still a crowd.

Update: We didn’t catch Covid from trick-or-treating! (or from the plumbers for that matter)