Despite what you may read elsewhere in this issue and beyond, I’ll double my optimism from last week’s column: I’m increasingly convinced that we are past the worst time of the COVID-19 pandemic, even if the coming weeks still require our vigilance and our emergency care.
So, by all means, read and heed these public health advisories; now is not the right time to get sick, as hospitals and healthcare workers are stretched again. Meanwhile, events, shows and other fun social activities are being canceled one after another, either out of caution or because of COVID outbreaks (see “Faster Than Sound”). It’s boring but we can live with it. Because in the longer term, there is more and more evidence that the Omicron wave can back off as quickly as it came, and leave us in much calmer waters once we get to the other side.
Last week I compared COVID to spanish flu – a mass killer in 1918-19 who evolved in a few years into what we now call the seasonal flu. (I apologize for exaggerating the Cut of this mass; the Spanish flu has killed around 50 million people, not 500 million as I wrote, but still more than the current COVID toll of 5.5 million.) Since then, data from the current pandemic continues to emerge. rack up to suggest that Omicron may well be COVID-19’s next big evolutionary step – succeeding by becoming more prevalent, but less toxic, than its evolutionary ancestors. South Africa and other areas that have been hit by strong early outbreaks of Omicron have seen hospitalization rates rise, but then drop almost as quickly as they have risen, with relatively few deaths in the together and perhaps generalized collective immunity in its wake. And it looks like Omicron is crowding out Delta and other more virulent strains – since it thrives in the bronchi, not the lungs, it outshines its nasty cousins ââby spreading more easily, while keeping its host (we ) desire. Isn’t the evolution grandiose?
The five finalists of Chief of Emergency Medical Services, including the interim leader Brown Jasper, will appear at a public âcommunity contribution meetingâ in the Town Hall council chamber from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 13.
Today, Thursday January 6, Epiphany Day, the 12th day of Christmas, also marks the first candidates forum of the year! The city’s Ethics Review Commission and the League of Women Voters Austin Area are hosting a forum for Candidates for District 4 City Council (find out more) – from 6 p.m. on ATXN-TV on cable or online, on KAZI 88.7FM, or by phone in English, Spanish and Vietnamese (855 / 756-7520 x78384 # for English, x78385 # for Spanish or x78390 # for Vietnamese).
The next public meeting on the Project connection construction of transit, oddly enough, is the Waller Creek Boathouse Relocation Workshop: PARD and the Project Connect team discuss its future as it is currently where the Downtown tunnel will surface, for the Blue Line connection to the airport. The meeting is via Zoom at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday January 12; all Project Connect meetings are open to the public, but you must register at capmetro.org/get-involved.
Send gossip, dirt, innuendo, rumors, and other useful material to nbarbaro at austinchronicle.com.