The WYOFile story with the picture of the maskless congressional members is reproduced on my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/edith.cook.127--and on a lighter note, here is a guitar duet Landon Peck and I recorded for my church to use:
Dear Governor Gordon:
Variants of Covid-19 have been on the march since November. In late December several Covid-19 mutations appeared in the US. These are highly transmissible, much more so than the original. Stringent measures are necessary.
1. Covid and its variants are contagious long before a virus-shedding individual realizes he or she is infected. Indeed, some “spreaders” remain asymptomatic, i.e., unaware they acquired the virus and are passing it on. Science tells us that wearing a well-fitting mask and practicing social distancing are effective means of limiting the spread.
2. Brazil was the first country where a city was overwhelmed with a Covid variant with super-spreader capacity. First detected in mid-December 2020, the mutation, P.1, is seventy percent more transmissible than its original. It has reinfected survivors and seems less amenable to vaccine control. In South Africa a similar problem has cropped up.
3. Mutations have been reported in Colorado, California, and Texas. In January, Teton was the first Wyoming county to report a case that, health officials have determined, was locally transmitted to an adult male. This means there are others we don’t know about, possibly an entire cluster. The Teton mutant is B.1.1.7.
4. This is the variant that has overwhelmed England. Its Prime Minister recently warned that B.1.1.7 is more deadly than its original, if only because of its rapid spread— B.1.1.7 has been found 70 percent more contagious than the original Covid. The explosion of new cases has crashed England’s public health-care system. Since mid-December, B.1.1.7 and its 17 mutations have driven England’s daily infection and death rates to record highs.
5. Teton County health officials have pleaded with the public to adhere to social distancing and face covering. Its Covid-19 cases are rapidly increasing, and its health-care system is close to collapse. The Wyoming Department of Health confirms this. The CDC warns this highly transmissible variant will become dominant in the US by March. “MORE SPREAD — MORE CASES — MORE DEATHS.” In worst-case scenarios last year’s outbreaks will look like child’s play.
6. Denmark has experienced a 70 percent increase per week of B.1.1.7 cases since the mutation showed up in that country, although a strict lockdown was in effect and has continued. The country’s scientists sequence all its coronavirus cases. Without sequencing, a Danish official testified, the country would be lulled into “a false sense of confidence” because Covid-19 cases were on the wane.
7. The US does little gene sequencing of its coronaviruses. The lack of genetic surveillance leaves scientists in the dark. The slight decline of Covid-19 has lulled us into a false sense of security.
8. That false sense was on display at the opening of Wyoming’s legislative session. WYOFile reports that on January 12, most congressional members defied the mask mandate and appeared without face covering. In a press briefing, Senate President Dan Dockstader and House Speaker Eric Barlow said it was inconvenient to enforce the mask mandate. They had more important things to do.
9. It is more urgent than ever before to take Covid seriously. This means using properly fitted masks, social distancing, staying home if at all possible, and avoiding crowds. Our legislators have the option to work from home or office via Zoom, but few are doing so. WYOFile ran a photo of six Representatives huddling in a circle, every one of them maskless.
10. If legislators go on with “business as usual,” before long Wyoming’s capital is likely to be overrun with B.1.1.7 Covid cases.
Please enact strict measures immediately. Security must turn away anyone, vaccinated or not, who attempts to enter the Capitol or a chamber—or any other state building or office, for that matter—without face covering. What is Security for if not to protect the public from harm?