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flitcraft

OBS Chief
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Jan 10, 2018
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612
We need a cure
A cure is extraordinarily unlikely. We don't have cures for smallpox, rabies, polio, measles, the flu, the mumps, pertussis, German measles, and well, you get the idea. Cures for viruses just aren't in our arsenal yet, and there is none on the horizon for COVID or any other viral scourges. What we do have, in many of these cases, is an effective and safe vaccine. I believe that this is what we will have for COVID too, though we may not know for some time for whom it is most effective and what the side effects may be. I know enough about vaccines to have confidence that an effective vaccine is likely to be helpful--either by making it very unlikely that a vaccinated person will come down with the disease or else will get a much milder case. At the moment, we have a large number of candidate vaccines in development, with quite different mechanisms to create purported effectiveness. That is why I won't be first in line--as an older person living with an even older spouse who is immunocompromised, I'll be waiting for data on which of the candidate vaccines promotes the most robust immunity among the elderly. But, once the data is in, I won't care whether the pharmaceutical company took government money or not. Science is science...
 

me_little_me

Conductor
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Jul 16, 2010
Messages
3,366
Thinking like this has allowed the virus to surge out of control here, some estimates now are 400,000 dead by the end of the year. It’s not a Biden or Trump issue it’s a life/death/economic issue facing us all as Americans.
Please don't use the "some estimates" numbers. They are often the extremes (in both directions) used by both politicians and media commentators to push their points. The death rate of deaths vs cases is going down as the weakest of us die off, the treatment gets better and the detection by better tests gets more accurate.

It's like "Joe Smith committed a crime. He faces up to 60 years". Yeah, if he is convicted on all counts, gets the maximum on each one, gets them consecutive instead of concurrent, has no mitigating factors, the worst lawyer, no friends or family to beg the judge, and the prosecutor has no other cases and really hates him. Otherwise, it will be settled for 6 months confinement and two years probation.
 

Jean

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Mar 3, 2009
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87
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Blue Mts, Australia
It seems to me that some sort of estimates or educated guesses will be necessary if the US is to prepare in any sort of useful way for what is to come. Maybe we get all the wrong news here in Australia, but just today I read that about half of all COVID tests in (I think) South Dakota are coming back positive, and that the total daily number of new cases in the country is increasing alarmingly all the time. I also read that refrigerated trucks are again being used to hold bodies. These are not signs that things are getting better, even if treatments are improving.
Even if the deaths vs cases figures are improving and I’d love to see them, being one of the “weakest”, if the total number of new cases is growing at such a steep rate, then tens of thousands more will certainly die this year. Just multiply 46 x 1,000 to give a minimum number of deaths from now until the end of the year, using today’s figures. Maybe these huge numbers stop us realising that each number in that terrible death toll was a real person, with a real grieving family.
I have spent a lot of time in the US, my daughter and son in law lived there for five years and we all loved the country. But what has happened and continues to happen just leaves us open mouthed. A disease has become political.
 

Ferroequinologist

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Joined
Jan 18, 2016
Messages
206
A cure is extraordinarily unlikely. We don't have cures for smallpox, rabies, polio, measles, the flu, the mumps, pertussis, German measles, and well, you get the idea. Cures for viruses just aren't in our arsenal yet, and there is none on the horizon for COVID or any other viral scourges. What we do have, in many of these cases, is an effective and safe vaccine. I believe that this is what we will have for COVID too, though we may not know for some time for whom it is most effective and what the side effects may be. I know enough about vaccines to have confidence that an effective vaccine is likely to be helpful--either by making it very unlikely that a vaccinated person will come down with the disease or else will get a much milder case. At the moment, we have a large number of candidate vaccines in development, with quite different mechanisms to create purported effectiveness. That is why I won't be first in line--as an older person living with an even older spouse who is immunocompromised, I'll be waiting for data on which of the candidate vaccines promotes the most robust immunity among the elderly. But, once the data is in, I won't care whether the pharmaceutical company took government money or not. Science is science...

Like you, I am going to wait to see what adverse effects occur among those who take the vaccine. Unfortunately it will be hard to wait a year or more. Getting Covid from the vaccine however is not my greatest concern. I'm much more worried about the possibility of paralysis which is what happened to my neighbor after taking the Swine Flu vaccine promoted by the Ford Administration in 1976. Incidentally, Covid mortality is very low and primarily affects those with compromised immune systems, the very old and those in nursing homes. By being careful you are very likely to avoid contagion. I'm sure you know all of this but it needs to be stressed. Taking a vaccine that has limited testing exposes one to the possibility of grave side effects that would never occur if one had avoided crowds, washed hands, used a mask when necessary and generally taken precautions. The point is that TAKING a new vaccine poses risks, rather than eliminating risks. Health care professionals don't like talking about this. I am sure the vaccine promoted in 1976 was touted as safe but it wasn't.
 

Ferroequinologist

Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 18, 2016
Messages
206
It seems to me that some sort of estimates or educated guesses will be necessary if the US is to prepare in any sort of useful way for what is to come. Maybe we get all the wrong news here in Australia, but just today I read that about half of all COVID tests in (I think) South Dakota are coming back positive, and that the total daily number of new cases in the country is increasing alarmingly all the time. I also read that refrigerated trucks are again being used to hold bodies. These are not signs that things are getting better, even if treatments are improving.
Even if the deaths vs cases figures are improving and I’d love to see them, being one of the “weakest”, if the total number of new cases is growing at such a steep rate, then tens of thousands more will certainly die this year. Just multiply 46 x 1,000 to give a minimum number of deaths from now until the end of the year, using today’s figures. Maybe these huge numbers stop us realising that each number in that terrible death toll was a real person, with a real grieving family.
I have spent a lot of time in the US, my daughter and son in law lived there for five years and we all loved the country. But what has happened and continues to happen just leaves us open mouthed. A disease has become political.
What is your point? What are you advocating? I am aware of the draconian lockdown in the state of Victoria and the strict regulations throughout Australia. A friend who lives in Australia has been trapped in England since March, unable to return home and unable to pay for the two week hotel quarantine required on return to Australia. I don't know that Americans will be willing to cooperate with severe restrictions on freedom of movement, curfews, arrests and heavy fines for violating the terms of such regulations etc. I am not arguing for or against, merely observing. I wonder how many people on this forum would be willing to submit to such regulations - and would they be constitutional? There would certainly be legal challenges.
 

tricia

Conductor
Joined
Aug 23, 2011
Messages
1,144
Location
Spring Creek, NC
How's this for reasonable accommodation for the anti-vaxxers and folks who want to delay getting a vaccine:

Every business, school, and other public-access entity in this country (including Amtrak) needs to require that EVERYONE at that place of business wear a mask at all times when they're in the same room as other people, and that social distancing and other disease-prevention protocols be consistently implemented for all customers and employees. (Yes, this will mean take-out only for restaurants until the pandemic is under control.) Failure to enforce this for customers should result in the business being shut down, and failure to enforce it for employees should be punished as a serious OSHA violation.

When a vaccine becomes widely available, the protocol should shift toward proof of vaccination being required for entry to all businesses--boarding an Amtrak train included.

All the above needs to be consistently implemented and enforced until public health scientists determine, state by state or region by region, that the infection has been suppressed there and some or all of these measures can be relaxed. When hot spots flare, the same measures will need to be re-implemented. Providers of long-distance travel services (Amtrak included) will need to be among the last businesses to back off from stringent disease-prevention protocols.

Folks who don't want to wear masks or get vaccinated will need to seek out businesses willing to deliver to them curbside or by mail--no entry allowed. Your right to refuse to wear a mask or be vaccinated should NOT be allowed to infringe upon everyone else's right to avoid exposure to a dangerous infectious disease that's killed a quarter of a million people in this country.
 

gwolfdog

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Joined
Mar 27, 2020
Messages
178
I would put you as the Head of the next Biden Virus Task Force. I'm a little skeptical regarding if this could happen in the Good Old USA. I think it could start here in NY but would be a tough sell in Some Red States. Then again, if the Refrigeration Body Trucks keep rolling out and they start burning piles of bodies in the streets and ringing Church Bells the Yokels might wake up. JMHO 🤔 😷
 

Seaboard92

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Dec 31, 2014
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South Carolina
One thing that me and several close associates have been talking about is how to distribute the vaccine in the most efficient matter as possible. The big problem the Pfizer drug has is it has to be kept at -90 something degrees F. One thing we were talking about was acquiring as many of the Heritage Baggage Amtrak sold off either by lease or outright purchasing. Then once we had the rolling stock to install cryogenic freezers inside the cars that could keep the vaccine at the appropriate temperature point to allow for rural distribution. One of the greatest problems facing the American healthcare system is the fact that rural hospitals are closing everywhere in the nation. And many other rural hospitals can't afford to buy all of the modern technologies needed to save lives.

So in this scenario I would propose using two CryoBags, two former sleepers to be exam cars, and a crew dorm for the traveling crew. Then utilize some of the many idled P42s or P40s that are currently displaced either by chargers or by short sighted tri weekly service to pull said trains. Of course this would probably require a congressional mandate to force Amtrak to allow usage of their P42s, and for the host railroads to give up track space for a rolling hospital train.

It has been proven however in Mexico, Russia, and India that hospital trains work well in rural areas. My theory is by operating rolling hospital trains it will allow rural areas to be vaccinated efficiently without having to worry about the temperature of the vaccine, or hospital systems that can't afford the freezers.

Naturally I would volunteer to lead this effort because I want an end to the pandemic.
 

Rasputin

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 17, 2019
Messages
768
Please don't use the "some estimates" numbers. They are often the extremes (in both directions) used by both politicians and media commentators to push their points. The death rate of deaths vs cases is going down as the weakest of us die off, the treatment gets better and the detection by better tests gets more accurate.
I believe the reference to an estimate of 400,000 U.S. virus deaths was based on a previous prediction from the model developed by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. Their model had previously predicted 400,000 deaths by December 31, 2020 and 511,373 deaths by February 28, 2021. Since then they have revised their figures downward. On November 12, their figure was 438,941 deaths by March 1, 2021. I don't know their current estimate for December 31.

According to my notes, around July 9 the Institute model predicted that the U.S. would reach 200,000 virus deaths by November 1. That estimate proved to be quite conservative and the U.S. reached that point around September 22.
 
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Ferroequinologist

Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 18, 2016
Messages
206
The more this gets mired down in rhetoric and legal challenges the more people will die. It’s time to let scientists and health professionals lead the fight. We are in uncharted times. We all need to put on our big boy pants and act for the common good.
Which scientists? There is not uniformity of agreement. Take this, for example: Great Barrington Declaration and Petition
 

Ferroequinologist

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Joined
Jan 18, 2016
Messages
206
How's this for reasonable accommodation for the anti-vaxxers and folks who want to delay getting a vaccine:

Every business, school, and other public-access entity in this country (including Amtrak) needs to require that EVERYONE at that place of business wear a mask at all times when they're in the same room as other people, and that social distancing and other disease-prevention protocols be consistently implemented for all customers and employees. (Yes, this will mean take-out only for restaurants until the pandemic is under control.) Failure to enforce this for customers should result in the business being shut down, and failure to enforce it for employees should be punished as a serious OSHA violation.

When a vaccine becomes widely available, the protocol should shift toward proof of vaccination being required for entry to all businesses--boarding an Amtrak train included.

All the above needs to be consistently implemented and enforced until public health scientists determine, state by state or region by region, that the infection has been suppressed there and some or all of these measures can be relaxed. When hot spots flare, the same measures will need to be re-implemented. Providers of long-distance travel services (Amtrak included) will need to be among the last businesses to back off from stringent disease-prevention protocols.

Folks who don't want to wear masks or get vaccinated will need to seek out businesses willing to deliver to them curbside or by mail--no entry allowed. Your right to refuse to wear a mask or be vaccinated should NOT be allowed to infringe upon everyone else's right to avoid exposure to a dangerous infectious disease that's killed a quarter of a million people in this country.
And if the vaccine turns out to be not so safe after all? And how will such a rule be imposed on citizens? Will Congress pass a law? Will it be by executive fiat? And if the latter, won't it be challenged in court?
 

Ferroequinologist

Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 18, 2016
Messages
206
I would put you as the Head of the next Biden Virus Task Force. I'm a little skeptical regarding if this could happen in the Good Old USA. I think it could start here in NY but would be a tough sell in Some Red States. Then again, if the Refrigeration Body Trucks keep rolling out and they start burning piles of bodies in the streets and ringing Church Bells the Yokels might wake up. JMHO 🤔 😷
Maybe NYC but not upstate New York! And where is the proof of these refrigeration vans full of bodies? Could someone supply a credible link please?
 

AmtrakBlue

Conductor
Gathering Team Member
Joined
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Messages
11,888
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Delaware
Maybe NYC but not upstate New York! And where is the proof of these refrigeration vans full of bodies? Could someone supply a credible link please?
 

Barb Stout

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
564
How's this for reasonable accommodation for the anti-vaxxers and folks who want to delay getting a vaccine:

Every business, school, and other public-access entity in this country (including Amtrak) needs to require that EVERYONE at that place of business wear a mask at all times when they're in the same room as other people, and that social distancing and other disease-prevention protocols be consistently implemented for all customers and employees. (Yes, this will mean take-out only for restaurants until the pandemic is under control.) Failure to enforce this for customers should result in the business being shut down, and failure to enforce it for employees should be punished as a serious OSHA violation.

When a vaccine becomes widely available, the protocol should shift toward proof of vaccination being required for entry to all businesses--boarding an Amtrak train included.

All the above needs to be consistently implemented and enforced until public health scientists determine, state by state or region by region, that the infection has been suppressed there and some or all of these measures can be relaxed. When hot spots flare, the same measures will need to be re-implemented. Providers of long-distance travel services (Amtrak included) will need to be among the last businesses to back off from stringent disease-prevention protocols.

Folks who don't want to wear masks or get vaccinated will need to seek out businesses willing to deliver to them curbside or by mail--no entry allowed. Your right to refuse to wear a mask or be vaccinated should NOT be allowed to infringe upon everyone else's right to avoid exposure to a dangerous infectious disease that's killed a quarter of a million people in this country.
I'm all for getting vaccinated, but I think your proposal will lead to a lot of civil strife. We don't require other types of vaccinations (except if you're a health care worker). I think enough people will want to get vaccinated ASAP against Covid19 to put a dent in the disease. Furthermore, now that I have a stash of homemade masks, I intend on wearing them when traveling or in crowded places even after Covid19 is tempered because there are plenty of other respiratory diseases. I'm getting vaccinated so I can play flute again in my bands and orchestra. I do understand the caution some people feel about the mRNA-type vaccines as they are new approaches, but I feel confident in the regulatory process and am planning on getting the first one I can be it a mRNA-type vaccine or one of the more conventional ones. But I do have an immune system that heretofore has behaved as it's supposed to (for the most part), unlike some of my other body systems.

Edit: My concern is about requiring proof of vaccination to be allowed entry into various venues. I agree with a mask mandate though.
 

gwolfdog

Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 27, 2020
Messages
178
Maybe NYC but not upstate New York! And where is the proof of these refrigeration vans full of bodies? Could someone supply a credible link please?
It's gotten so bad here in Syracuse, their closing the Bar's at 10 rather then recently at 12. 🤔 We are at our highest levels ever and Cuomo is getting concerned. They have bodies piled up in these trucks in many other State areas, on the fake news, or can Goggle it.😷
 

jebr

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Incidentally, Covid mortality is very low and primarily affects those with compromised immune systems, the very old and those in nursing homes. By being careful you are very likely to avoid contagion.
The mortality rate with COVID-19 isn't the only thing to be concerned about, though. There's a number of people who live through it, but have yet to make a full recovery, even some who had infections in March and April. It's also unknown what the long-term effects of COVID-19 are, both for those that recover fully and those that so far have not fully recovered. From The Mayo Clinic:

COVID-19 symptoms can sometimes persist for months. The virus can damage the lungs, heart and brain, which increases the risk of long-term health problems.

Most people who have coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) recover completely within a few weeks. But some people — even those who had mild versions of the disease — continue to experience symptoms after their initial recovery.
While people are weighing the risks of getting COVID-19 (in light of what preventative measures or future vaccinations they're willing to take,) it's worth remembering that it isn't a binary of "you get it and die, or you get it and make a full recovery." There's some research that suggests that over half of COVID-19 patients have some sort of medium-term lingering effects, though since it's a novel virus, we simply don't have a clear picture yet of what percentage that looks like, how long-term those effects are, etc.
 

Barb Stout

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
564
One thing that me and several close associates have been talking about is how to distribute the vaccine in the most efficient matter as possible. The big problem the Pfizer drug has is it has to be kept at -90 something degrees F. One thing we were talking about was acquiring as many of the Heritage Baggage Amtrak sold off either by lease or outright purchasing. Then once we had the rolling stock to install cryogenic freezers inside the cars that could keep the vaccine at the appropriate temperature point to allow for rural distribution. One of the greatest problems facing the American healthcare system is the fact that rural hospitals are closing everywhere in the nation. And many other rural hospitals can't afford to buy all of the modern technologies needed to save lives.

So in this scenario I would propose using two CryoBags, two former sleepers to be exam cars, and a crew dorm for the traveling crew. Then utilize some of the many idled P42s or P40s that are currently displaced either by chargers or by short sighted tri weekly service to pull said trains. Of course this would probably require a congressional mandate to force Amtrak to allow usage of their P42s, and for the host railroads to give up track space for a rolling hospital train.

It has been proven however in Mexico, Russia, and India that hospital trains work well in rural areas. My theory is by operating rolling hospital trains it will allow rural areas to be vaccinated efficiently without having to worry about the temperature of the vaccine, or hospital systems that can't afford the freezers.

Naturally I would volunteer to lead this effort because I want an end to the pandemic.
-90 F =-68 C. -70 C freezers (as we call them) are ubiquitous in clinical laboratories and biomedical research facilities both in Universities and private companies. When I was working in a University research lab, I was involved in the purchase of several of -70 C freezers and was surprised that they weren't as expensive as I would have thought. I purchased several for around $5000 each. That was back around 2006-2009. Prices for almost anything for research institutions are usually jacked up pretty high, so I was pleasantly surprised with the prices we paid. I would imagine that this Covi19 situation and the need for -70 freezers will cause the price for such freezers to increase due to the "law" of supply and demand.
 

Barb Stout

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Messages
564
It may be a living creature because technically cells are a living creature but it's not an intelligent one. It is not capable of thoughts, opinions, or the ability to move on it's own. And in my opinion science denial is one of the biggest viruses around and it's just as large of a pandemic as Covid-19. It just took Covid-19 to bring it to the forefront of peoples minds.

As far as the original post. I see that leisure travel will recover at a faster rate than business travel as teleworking, and zoom conferences have become common place. We are used to that now so I don't see where that's going to truly recover, and when it does it will be at a far lower rate. So the national network trains will do better than the corridors.

Be safe everybody, wear a mask (properly please), get vaccinated when it comes out, and be kind to your fellow man. We will get thru this.
I agree with your post; however I would like to correct one thing you wrote. Viruses are not cells. They are a package of DNA or RNA with a coating of protein. They cannot do ANYTHING at all, (such as replicate) without being inside of a host cell of a human or bat body in the case of Covid19. They are totally inactive until air puffs them into our respiratory passages (in the case of Covid19) and their spike protein part of the coat touches the ACE2 receptor of a human (or bat) cell. Once they get into a cell, they hijack the cellular machinery to make proteins and DNA/RNA to make more of themselves. They are molecular parasites. For the most part biologists do not consider them to be living organisms because they cannot replicate on their own, although it was a subject of debate at one time (whether they were "alive" or not).
 

jis

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For the most part biologists do not consider them to be living organisms because they cannot replicate on their own, although it was a subject of debate at one time (whether they were "alive" or not).
This has always intrigued me. Clearly viruses have a lifecycle. The state of their lifecycle that is outside a cell as a Viron is clearly a "non-living" one, like spores of certain other life forms, or even seeds in some sense. Until they find themselves in a suitable environment they are not really alive. Once the Viron manages to enter a cell it becomes able to replicate. So I am not sure how the biologists arrive at the "not life form" conclusion. Just because seeds cannot replicate until planted does not make plants be not a life form. Maybe I have been reading too may science fictions, but I certainly find the bilogist's argument not very convincing on the matter of life form-ness.
 

tricia

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Joined
Aug 23, 2011
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Spring Creek, NC
I'm all for getting vaccinated, but I think your proposal will lead to a lot of civil strife. We don't require other types of vaccinations (except if you're a health care worker). I think enough people will want to get vaccinated ASAP against Covid19 to put a dent in the disease. Furthermore, now that I have a stash of homemade masks, I intend on wearing them when traveling or in crowded places even after Covid19 is tempered because there are plenty of other respiratory diseases. I'm getting vaccinated so I can play flute again in my bands and orchestra. I do understand the caution some people feel about the mRNA-type vaccines as they are new approaches, but I feel confident in the regulatory process and am planning on getting the first one I can be it a mRNA-type vaccine or one of the more conventional ones. But I do have an immune system that heretofore has behaved as it's supposed to (for the most part), unlike some of my other body systems.

Edit: My concern is about requiring proof of vaccination to be allowed entry into various venues. I agree with a mask mandate though.
Vaccinations for various illnesses (rubella, smallpox...) have long been required for children to attend school. What I'm suggesting is pretty much the same thing, for the same reason, with the same expectation of effectiveness in stopping epidemics--except that for COVID adults will be required to immunize also.

Immunization requirements work when nearly everyone accepts that they have a duty to accept a small risk of adverse reaction in return for community health and safety. We can see the effect of self-centered opting out right now with measles outbreaks in this country. I don't recall there being any "opt out" options when I was a kid, except for narrow religious objections. Without our past history of nearly universally accepted vaccination for polio and smallpox, we'd still be having outbreaks of those today in this country.

At minimum, if anyone wants to opt out of COVID vaccination (once we have a vaccine that's reasonably safe and effective and widely available), they should accept responsibility for that choice, and therefore accept not being allowed into stores and schools and other settings where they might spread infection.

In the current poisonous political climate, I wouldn't bet on this actually happening. Nonetheless, I do believe that a policy like what I'm suggesting would avoid many, many deaths and greatly expedite getting our economy and society back to more normal ways of living.
 
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Barb Stout

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Messages
564
This has always intrigued me. Clearly viruses have a lifecycle. The state of their lifecycle that is outside a cell as a Viron is clearly a "non-living" one, like spores of certain other life forms, or even seeds in some sense. Until they find themselves in a suitable environment they are not really alive. Once the Viron manages to enter a cell it becomes able to replicate. So I am not sure how the biologists arrive at the "not life form" conclusion. Just because seeds cannot replicate until planted does not make plants be not a life form. Maybe I have been reading too may science fictions, but I certainly find the bilogist's argument not very convincing on the matter of life form-ness.
I believe it's because they are totally reliant on the host cell's molecules to do anything. However, it is in the field of biology where they are studied, not engineering or chemistry or sociology.
 
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RichieRich

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Joined
Dec 2, 2016
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328
At minimum, if anyone wants to opt out of COVID vaccination (once we have a vaccine that's reasonably safe and effective and widely available), they should accept responsibility for that choice, and therefore accept not being allowed into stores and schools and other settings where they might spread infection.
So you must be indicating that Police or Military will be assigned to the entrance of every store, restaurant, school, etc. etc to "check your papers" before entry?? Sounds like something that happened once in History before.
 

tricia

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Spring Creek, NC
So you must be indicating that Police or Military will be assigned to the entrance of every store, restaurant, school, etc. etc to "check your papers" before entry?? Sounds like something that happened once in History before.
Don't be silly. We enforce public health and safety regulations ALL THE TIME--sanitation rules for restaurants, maximum occupancy for public assembly spaces, ID required to purchase alcohol and tobacco, traffic ticket if you run a red light.... The mechanics for enforcement vary, but those are details, not some big scary new thing.

In the case of Amtrak, conductors might ask for a vaccination ID card at the time of boarding, when they check tickets.
 
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