[guest post by Dana]
The coronavirus is mutating, and scientists say that the new strain is three to nine times more infectious:
The novel coronavirus strain tearing through the United States is a new mutation which is much better at spreading from person to person, an international team of researchers has found. “It is now the dominant form infecting people,” Erica Ollmann Saphire of the La Jolla Institute for Immunology and the Coronavirus Immunotherapy Consortium told CNN, adding: “This is now the virus.” However, although the mutant strain has become better at spreading itself, it doesn’t seem to be making people any sicker or more likely to die when compared to the original. “We do know that the new virus is fitter. It doesn’t look at first glance as if it is worse,” Saphire told the network.
If you think this will compel more mask-wearing, you would be wrong. President Trump is in South Dakota today for a pre-Fourth of July spectacle, where ardent Trump supporter Gov. Kristi Noem has told the 7,500 expected attendees that they will not be required to wear a mask or practice social distancing:
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem says the thousands of people who attend the July 3 celebration for Independence Day at Mount Rushmore with President Donald Trump will not be required to practice social distancing despite an increase in coronavirus cases across the country.
“We will have a large event at July 3rd. We told those folks that have concerns that they can stay home, but those who want to come and join us, we’ll be giving out free face masks, if they choose to wear one. But we will not be social distancing,” Noem, a Republican, said in an interview Monday night on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.”
State officials have told the people of South Dakota “to focus on personal responsibility,” said Noem, adding, “Every one of them has the opportunity to make a decision that they’re comfortable with.”
A website detailing information for the July 3 event says that “attendance will be limited” through an online lottery that occurred in June “to around 7,500 participants.”
While the website for the celebration makes no mention of social distancing or providing face masks, the National Park Service says “We ask the public to be our partner in adopting social distancing practices when visiting parks.”
Like Trump, Noem wants people to make the decision that they’re comfortable with. Obviously, the problem with that thinking is that the disease is indiscriminate and doesn’t care about your comfort level. This would be a great opportunity for the Lone Ranger to actually make an appearance wearing a mask, and appeal to attendees to also mask-up to protect their neighbors. You know, lead by example… But we all know that’s not going to happen. At least the event is being held outdoors, so hopefully that will help reduce the rate of possible transmission.
You can see a current map of coronavirus numbers in South Dakota here.