Washington State Now Has Confirmed Cases Of Faster-Spreading COVID-19 Variant B.1.1.7

A year ago on January 20, 2020 the first case of COVID in the United States happened around 50 miles from where we live.

At the time it seemed like something medical professionals would deal with and dispatch, not lead to something that spread like fire in the woods with a heavy wind. And yet here we are a year+ later, locked down with tons of people sick and many dead from this virus.

Now, apparently, new strains of the virus are being detected. This crap just won’t go away.

The strain, sometimes called the “B.1.1.7 variant” or “SARS-CoV-2 VOC 202012/01” was first detected in the United Kingdom back in September. The variant is especially worrying, as studies have found that it spreads much more easily and quickly than the first COVID-19 strain. It does not, however, cause more severe illnesses or further increase the risk of death.

Fast-Spreading COVID-19 Variant Confirmed In Washington State | Puyallup, WA Patch

Not good news to read, no.

Another story, completely unrelated I just read was about a Tacoma police officer in an SUV running over a pedestrian in the midst of a gathering group of protestors, caught on camera and beamed out to social media.

Saturday night, glad we stayed home. We almost always stay home these days.

Not bragging, but we feel extremely fortunate to have been working this entire time, essential workers we are deemed in the industry we work in (not related in any way to this website), and not having been infected. We wear our masks, wash our hands, and try to follow most recommendations. I’d say all, but in that case, we wouldn’t go out anywhere, would pretty much go under turtle shell. Yet we’ve gone to the casinos, gone out to eat, and to the movie theaters — when they were allowed to be open, anyway.

Our position has been if we can work, if we can take that risk being out, then we might as well continue to enjoy whatever social activities in public that are allowed. That might be a bit haphazard thinking, I’d agree in retrospect, but you risk many things that can kill you just getting out of bed. Life is at least somewhat about risks.

One of our most favorite activities — going to the movies — hasn’t been available since mid November.

So much for movie theaters being able to open in January — the date has been pushed back to “at least” February 1 — now we have to worry about an even faster, easier spreading COVID-19, that first appeared abroad.

In a couple weeks, health willing of course, we’ll be traveling back to Las Vegas. We enjoy visiting the Nevada area at least once a year, but some years we’ve skipped. We are traveling to get away for a small few days. Last time we were down there was in March 2020 — once was for a vacation, the other was for Kara’s work as she was helping to train opening a new store down there believe it or not — movie theaters were closed down there as well as all casinos the second trip. The governor shut everything down except for fast food. It was an odd sight seeing the Las Vegas strip essentially like a zombie apocalypse.

So, we huddled up in a hotel, one of the few that were left open. I took her back and forth to her work and hung out in a hotel room, playing games, streaming movies and TV and reviewing them. Pretty much what I do every day 😉

Life goes on. This virus will pass in time. The vaccines are getting out there. Maybe it’s going to take awhile, but we’ll beat this thing. Please, friendly readers, stay safe out there. Do what you can to stay safe, but also keep living.

Large Amounts of Frontline Workers are Refusing To Take Vaccine, Citing Various Concerns

Scooby snacks often motivated Scooby Doo to overcome his fear

Those of us who have been working in essential businesses might receive the opportunity to take the vaccine sooner, thanks to skepticism by frontline workers.

The New York Post reported Friday that health care works in California, New York City, Ohio, and Texas are refusing to take the vaccine in large numbers. The workers are citing skepticism that the vaccine would work without side effects given how quickly it was developed and approved.

High Percentage Of Frontline Workers Refusing To Take The COVID-19 Vaccine, Many Citing Political Reasons | The Daily Wire

It’s a little unsettling that health care workers, the ones we would expect to most likely participate, are rejecting vaccines in large numbers. As soon as I have the opportunity to get the vaccine, I’m getting it. Can’t speak for others, but anything that can significantly reduce the chance of infection seems worth getting.

Movie theaters reopening and attendance depends in some part on the pandemic getting under control — at least perception. I’d argue that movies that people really want to see in theaters will continue to have the largest impact on movie theater attendance.

We’re approaching a year with this pandemic in our lives. With an over 99% survival rate, I think many people are ready to get back to a more normal life than what we’ve had over the last year. Safety should be a heightened concern, which includes vaccinations when available.

Will you be getting the vaccination when it’s available?

Amidst 5,000+ pages of COVID Stimulus bill, a 10 year prison sentence for streaming piracy

The 1:24:13 mark in Airplane II: The Sequel features a fitting sign to this post

When people talk about long novels, War and Peace often comes up. War and Peace is 1,225 pages long.

Ha, that’s nothing compared to what follows. If’s not even 1/4 the size.

One of the biggest problems with the United States government is that nothing is ever simple like it should be. The second COVID Stimulus package can’t be simply about getting checks out to people in need, it must be — seriously — 5,000+ pages long and include completely unrelated legislation just to garner votes.

Everything in a bill is about pork. More pork = more votes. They can find all the ways to insult the American people by giving them less than they did in the last stimulus bill ($600 instead of $1,200) but they can find some way to give more to others, including legislation for streaming piracy.

For the record, we don’t care about the money for us personally. We are doing fine without any money from other American taxpayers. That is, after all, where any money from the government ultimately comes from.

Get Marty McFly’s Delorean, because this is robbery from the future to pay the present. When the trillions of debt blow up the value of the U.S dollar, well, that’s when the bill comes home to everybody living in America.

I doubt this will happen in our lifetime, but the debt clock continues to horrify (see: No, Taxpayers Should NOT Bail Out Cinemas, Sorry Patty Jenkins and Other Millionaire Hollywood Directors).

Don’t even want to update the debt clock two months later, but, sadly, here it is …

In October 2020 debt was at just over 27 trillion. We’ve added another 500 million in the last two months and this new stimulus bill will add another trillion.

Rand Paul is getting slayed for his comments on the Senate floor. It’s gone viral.

Rand Paul lampoons the “deficits don’t matter disaster”

He was one of a small few who voted against the mammoth stimulus bill, loaded with garbage and a $600 kicker for the American people just, well, because.

Yes, streaming piracy simply must be a major priority in America right now (major eyeroll).

The “Protecting Lawful Streaming Act,” which was introduced earlier this month by Senator Thom Tillis, a Republican from North Carolina, doesn’t target casual internet users. The law specifies that it doesn’t apply to people who use illegal streaming services or “individuals who access pirated streams or unwittingly stream unauthorized copies of copyrighted works.” Rather, it’s focused on “commercial, for-profit streaming piracy services” that make money from illegally streaming copyrighted material.

10 years in prison for illegal streaming? It’s in the Covid-19 relief bill – CNN

We’re not condoning streaming piracy. We pay for all the streaming channels we have, but this issue is a very small priority right now. How it squirrels its way into a stimulus bill is disturbing at best.

No, the image at the top of this post is what it was. A sign from a comedy movie nearly 40 years ago is screaming “logic, people!” at us in 2020.

It’s no wonder many people despise politicians and the job they’re doing.

They should have had a stimulus bill passed months ago following the last one that addressed the people who truly needed the help. I liked the one that gave $2,000/month to people until the pandemic was over, because that seemed like actual, meaningful help directly to the American people. It would have been nice to see the American people for once be the recipients of help since debt is just fine to pile on for businesses galore. If we’re going to pile on the debt, then give the money to the people directly, not to more businesses and industries.

But no, the American people are worth half what we were six months ago. Sigh.

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee announces another lockdown for 30 days, movie theaters closing again

Harley Quinn’s expression is perfect to sum up how we all feel in 2020

This morning, we started with a map showing Washington state was among the lower risk states (see: COVID-19 Real Time Map Shows Risk Of Encountering Infected People At Events, Yes, Including Movie Theaters), but by noon today the Governor ruled that another lockdown will take place, closing nearly every business — including movie theaters — except essential services.

Starting Monday at 11:59 p.m. local time, indoor social gatherings with people from outside the household are prohibited unless the guests have quarantined for 14 days or they have quarantined for seven days and received a negative test result 48 hours before the event. Outdoor gatherings should have fewer than five people from outside the household, Washington state officials said. Indoor dining at restaurants and bars will stop but outdoor dining and takeout remains unchanged. Gyms, movie theaters, bowling alleys and museums are closed, and weddings and funeral receptions are prohibited.

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee announces new restrictions amid ‘third wave’ of COVID-19 cases – ABC News

There weren’t many new movies planned the next month, as most studios had delayed or bailed titles for streaming release, but this ends our ability to see any more new movies in this state for the next month. Bummer.

Doubtful we will travel, because only essential travel is allowed, as well. This means we’re back to covering only the streaming new movies as we did for 5+ months during the first lockdown.

Throughout 2020, we’ve managed to see 44 new movies in theaters. In 2019, we only started tracking new movies in theaters from September to the end of the year and saw almost 70 movies in theaters during that six month period. Quite the contrast, as we might not even crack 50 new movies in theaters for the entire 2020 year.

More important than movies — although it does provide us a mental sidetrack — are people’s health and well being, so we hope nobody reading gets sick and if you do get sick or know somebody who does, that recovery goes well. This all makes us want and need that vaccine more (see: Bring On The Anti-COVID-19 Vaccine that’s 90% Effective, And That Nasal Spray, too, if It Works)

Let’s just fast forward to 2021. Be safe everybody!

COVID-19 Real Time Map Shows Risk Of Encountering Infected People At Events, Yes, Including Movie Theaters

COVID-19 risk assessment tool is located here: https://covid19risk.biosci.gatech.edu/

If you are thinking of watching a movie at a theater in North Dakota as of this writing, you might want to hold off or exercise extreme caution.

It’s worth noting that there have been no cases reported of people contracting COVID-19 while attending a movie at a movie theater in the United States. Not yet, anyway.

The risk highlights the probability that one (or more) individuals may be infected with SARS-CoV-2 in events of different sizes. —By integrating real-time information aggregated via state health departments nationwide along with a simple statistical model, the website is able to capture, calculate and disseminate information relevant to decision-making by the public that could help reduce risk and new transmission. —The risk model addresses the probability that an infected person is present at events of different sizes rather than estimating the likelihood that someone will become infected at that event.

This interactive tool will show you the risk level of COVID-19 anywhere – pennlive.com

A COVID-19 risk assessment real time map is available showing your risk level wherever you are at, linked at the top of this post.

We were pleased to learn that as of this writing our county is listed as “only” having a 33% chance of encountering a person infected with COVID-19. Our neighboring south state of Oregon is going back into lockdown starting November 18, 2020.

Even with multiple vaccines coming soon (see: Bring On The Anti-COVID-19 Vaccine that’s 90% Effective, And That Nasal Spray, too, if It Works) we are far and away not out of the pandemic woods.

Bring On The Anti-COVID-19 Vaccine that’s 90% Effective, And That Nasal Spray, too, if It Works

We interrupt regular programming here for an update on a vaccine that many are reporting is 90% effective in early testing. We’re heading deep into the flu season and the President promised some kind of vaccine possibly by as early as the end of 2020, beginning of 2021. That time is coming fast.

With a new president coming, so perhaps might be a new strategy to combat the virus. Will have to wait and see what’s there.

My research has revealed several promising vaccines underway. At the bottom of this post are the details, but first something a bit more wishful thinking to check out.

If what works on ferrets as well as 3D models of humans actually works effectively on, well, real human beings to combat contracting COVID-19, we’re all noses. Er, I mean ears, eyes, you know.

Columbia University researchers have developed a nasal spray that has successfully prevented COVID-19 infections in tests with ferrets as well as a 3D model of human lungs. The lipopeptide (that is, a lipid and peptide combination) prevents the coronavirus from fusing with a target cell’s membrane by blocking a key protein from adopting a necessary shape. It should work immediately and last for at least 24 hours. It’s also affordable, lasts a long time, and doesn’t need refrigeration.

Nasal spray might prevent COVID-19 infections | Engadget

Nasal sprays are less invasive than shots, as many people dislike needles. More people dislike dying, so a vaccine however it is delivered will be widespread accepted.

And now for an update on the two most realistic vaccines:

Only two coronavirus vaccine candidates have a realistic shot at winning EUA before the end of the year. BNT162b2, the experimental vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, probably has the best chance. If all goes well in late-stage testing, the two drugmakers think they’ll be in a position to file for EUA for BNT162b2 by the third week of November.

What Are Your Chances of Getting a Coronavirus Vaccine by Year-End?

Seems like Pfizer is on the fastest track to a vaccine — they are the one with the 90% effacy — but if they are approved by the FDA they’ll only be able to vaccinate at best a very small percentage of the population. We’ve been first line workers since this began, so we should be higher up the list, but neither of us are in the health care space, so my guess is we won’t be able to receive the vaccination until some time in 2021, like the rest of America.

A lot of ifs, ands and buts in this post, but there appears to be good news on the horizon.

“Facing situation where it is better to be closed than to be open,” says Cineworld/Regal CEO – Could be 1-2+ months before they reopen

As mentioned Saturday (see: Cineworld To Close All 543 Regal Cinemas After No Time To Die delay, says Variety sources), Cinemark is closing all Regal Cinemas. This has been confirmed by the company and is scheduled at the end of business this Thursday 10/8/2020.

“Might be a month, might be two months (before we’ll reopen),” says Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger in CNBC interview (see video interview for full context below).

Mooky gave an interview this morning explaining why they chose to close all the theaters in the United States and James Bond being delayed is only one of the problems. It’s not being able to open theaters completely in the two biggest movie theater states: New York and California. This is a main driver in the decision because studios want those major markets more fully open before they release their biggest budget movies (Black Widow, No Time To Die, Wonder Woman 1984, etc). California is about 50% open and New York is still shuttered, despite indoor dining, bowling alleys, casinos being allowed to open.

After hearing what Cineworld main man Mooky has to say, credit two state government for not determining it’s safe enough to allow them to reopen. Maybe it’s not safe enough in those two states, but we’ve made the same observation before that casinos clearly are at least equally as high risk as movie theaters — and yet they’ve reopened.

On the subject of new movies, this is more complex and deserved some better interview question than the interviewer was informed enough to ask. I mean, talk about lobbing clueless softballs.

Yes, they aren’t getting the big budget movies because studios are delaying those titles. We’ve pointed out specific movies Cineworld/Regal should have shown recently while they were open like Bill and Ted Face The Music, but chose not to do so because it was a day and date release. I wish more news articles and reporting would highlight this important detail, but it’s continually left out as if it’s almost completely the fault of the studios and government for why movie theaters don’t have more new movies playing.

It’s not. It’s part of the theater chain’s fault, too, why they don’t have more new movies.

What about Mulan? Why wouldn’t Mooky and his team talk with Disney about Mulan? It was released internationally, but only on Disney+ plus an additional $30 in America. A few weeks later, it doesn’t require the Disney+, it can be watched on PVOD. This should have had a US release as well. Doesn’t sound like the movie performed that well, but certainly Regal could have worked out a deal with Disney to screen that movie. Somehow, some way — and I’m betting it’s because it was day and date release — that they didn’t.

I just wish somebody else in all this reporting and interviewing would ask the logical question, “if you temporarily ignore the theatrical window and embrace more direct to streaming titles you can show plenty of new movies, so why won’t you try that?”

Maybe some day someone with a microphone will ask execs like Mooky these hardball questions. Cineworld/Regal is the same company who has vowed never to show movies that don’t respect the theatrical window and yet he is whining about being like a grocery store without groceries? Terrible analogy for those who deep dive the facts.

Again, they don’t have to stick by whatever the temporary decision they make with the theatrical window once the pandemic is over. They seem to feel if they violate their principles, if they make an exception during these times they won’t be able to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

Putting all that aside, it seems like Cineworld/Regal might have hung in there, if they could have gotten New York theaters open and more like the 90%+ theaters they wanted in California. That would have given studios more incentive to stick with the November releases. That’s all spilled milk we can’t cry over. Now we’re looking at them more realistically reopening around Christmas.

Stick a fork in 2020 at the movie theaters in the United States. It’s game, set and match — for you know what.

Amazon Sales Up 40% During Pandemic, Prime Day Oct 13 and 14 – How Much Shopping Do You Do Online?

It seems odd to talk about some businesses doing better during the pandemic, but the reality is that some are. Amazon is one of them.

Amazon has thrived during the pandemic as consumers buy more goods online and limit their visits to stores. Amazon reported $88.9 billion in sales during its latest quarter ending June 30, up 40% from the same period a year earlier. Net income doubled during the quarter to $5.2 billion.

Amazon Prime Day set for October 13 and 14 – CNN

Those that like to shop online for deals, October 13 and 14 will be this year’s latest Amazon Prime Day. They are a little late with their Prime Day.

Other retailers are talking about moving up Black Friday sales and offering additional Cyber Monday type deals to try and entice customers that aren’t going to physical stores as much to buy.

Am not sure how this year’s holiday season is going to go sales-wise. There are more people back working now, but until we get back to pre-COVID employment numbers, I’m not sure the holiday season will be any kind of historic normal.

We still shop locally for most things. Groceries we don’t buy online, although I do admit some interest in that, my wife is less interested. She likes to pick out what she’s buying by looking at it and pictures on a website — particularly for fresh foods — just isn’t the same. The last TV we bought, and it’s been years, was online. It really just depends on what it is.

An Amazon Prime membership for us was attractive for free shipping, yes, but we sped more time with Amazon Prime Video, which is included as part of the service. I remarked in another article that Walmart+, their new service might have benefitted from keeping Vudu, instead of selling that off to Fandango (see: Walmart Plus launches September 15, maybe they should have kept Vudu)

Of course we do a lot of business online, particularly with entertainment websites, but we still are what some might refer to as “old-fashioned” with the rest. We still enjoy going out somewhere. Outside. The movie theater experience is part of that. Sure, we like watching movies and TV shows at home, too, but getting out of the house is part of our regular interest and flow.

How much shopping do you do online vs. offline?

Doctor Strange director says if you are going to movie theaters in America “you are selfishly prolonging this crisis” – Agree or Disagree?

Those comfy theater recliner seats — with social distancing in place will be back in action soon…

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve maintained the position that people should only return to the theater when they feel safe. There are way too many variables for any other person to judge whether or not it’s a good decision for you in your home area and individual circumstance to advise one way or the other. More importantly, who wants to take personal safety advice from a movie and TV review website?

We need to make our own decisions in life and limit outside influence. If the theater is open and you feel safe, we say more power to you. Enjoy yourselves!

If you don’t, however, that’s cool, too.

Unfortunately, the director to Doctor Strange, Scott Derrickson, has decided to take a more critical path on current moviegoers. Some might use the word “attack” when reading his quote below (emphasis is ours):

Derrickson also retweeted the following from Twitter user @mangiotto: “If you go see a movie in a theater right now, you are selfishly prolonging this crisis while endangering yourself, your family, and every stranger who may occupy a space you’ve vacated anywhere you go once you’ve been infected. You don’t care about others. You suck.”

Yet another Hollywood director is warning fans – don’t go see ‘Tenet’ – BGR

In fairness to Mr. Derrickson, Twitter is a cesspool of critical thinking and it’s almost always extremely out of context, due to the text limitation. Still, if we play devil’s advocate, it’s really hard to put a positive spin on his own words.

This hyperbole from someone who doesn’t have, know or seem to care about all the facts is ignorant, at best. Who does this guy think he is, anyway telling me, you or anybody else that wants to go see a movie that we’re “selfishly prolonging this crisis.” Where are his facts to support this hypothesis? Besides his directorial prowess, he must also have a minor in biochemistry, yes?

Here are some facts, Mr. Derrickson.

We have been working alongside people this whole time in public in essential jobs, just as susceptible — maybe more — to being infected. Thankfully, neither of us have caught the virus, but our feelings are if we can catch the virus while working, we can catch it going to the grocery store, out to dinner or going to a movie. You can wake up this morning, walk outside and be struck by lightning or hit by a car walking down the street. Your chance of being killed in an automobile accident just commuting to and from work is high.

Risks are everywhere and we can’t live 100% risk adverse.

If you don’t want to see a movie in a theater, then don’t go. That’s totally cool and we’ll never complain about your decision. If someone wants to disrespect and again, that word, attack moviegoers without knowing anything about them or their situation, then no, we don’t suck, that person sucks.

Movie theaters are no less high risk than grocery stores or casinos and both of those are open, too. If you use Mr. Derrickson’s logic, everywhere you go outside interacting with other people you’re “prolonging” the crisis. I’m not saying throw COVID-19 parties to intentionally infect others (we’ve written about that insanity, see: COVID-19 Parties? Proof That Not All Human Life Is Intelligent).

Idiots are everywhere. Some, apparently, have directed Marvel movies.

I saw The New Mutants in IMAX Thursday (Kara wasn’t interested in seeing — and she was right) and we’re planning to see another movie tonight. Maybe — gasp — two! Probably catch at least one of the classic reissues in the theater over this weekend as well. We’re going to keep watching movies in theaters — until/unless they close again or we simply decide for whatever reason we don’t want to watch movies in theaters any more. It’s not likely to be because we believe our attendance is prolonging the crisis.

Does Mr. Derrickson’s — and probably some others agree – opinion that moviegoers are prolonging the crisis sit well with you? Do you agree or disagree? We’re open to discuss all viewpoints below.

List of AMC theaters reopening for 15 cent movie day on August 20 – Any reopening near you?

AMC is pulling out the stops to get moviegoers back to their theaters when some are reopened next Thursday on August 20 in the United States.

Contrast this to Regal, that start reopening one day later Friday. Kara and I received email notification from Regal that we will both receive a free month of Regal Unlimited ($44+ tax value), with charging for the service to resume on/after September 21, 2020.

The 15 cents per movie deal at AMC isn’t as good as free, but it’s pretty close. Their similar program called A-List is available for $5 for the first month, but that only allows 3 movies per week. Regal doesn’t have a limit, except that you can only see the same movie once per day.

To think that in 1920 the ticket price to see movies was only 15 cents is an eye-opener for inflation considering the cost is more like $12 now.

The company, which was founded in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1920, is also offering discounts on concessions like popcorn for $5 through the end of October. “We are thrilled to once again open our doors to American moviegoers who are looking for an opportunity to get out of their houses and apartments and escape into the magic of the movies,” Adam Aron, AMC’s CEO, said in a statement on Thursday.

AMC is reopening its theaters this month with 15-cent tickets – CNN

The list of AMC theaters reopening on August 20 at AMC website is located here:
https://www.amctheatres.com/amc-safe-and-clean?rel=safe-and-clean_reopening_hp_hero#locations

Bummer for those of us in Washington State. Here’s the message we get on AMC website:

“Will reopen when local guidelines allow”

Doesn’t appear any AMC theaters will be reopening in Washington state on August 20

This is because in our area we’re in a phased reopening: phase 2, which does not allow reopening. Phase 3 is available in some counties in Washington state. The list of counties for other Washington state residents or tourists is here:

https://coronavirus.wa.gov/what-you-need-know/county-status-and-safe-start-application-process

The state capitol is in Olympia, which is Thurston county. That’s in Phase 3 which allows movie theaters to reopen with less than 25% capacity. Unfortunately, we’re not seeing any theaters located in Thurston county, which is like 30 minutes away from us. Bummer again. Maybe we’ll find an AMC theater located there somewhere.

We’ll be checking next week and maybe in our state it will be allowed for AMC to reopen. Kara and I already talked about it. If the theaters are reopened, we’ll be there on Thursday August 20, 2020 watching at least one movie, probably more.

Is your state listed with theaters in your area reopening on August 20?

If you can go, does 15 cent movie ticket prices entice you any further to return? Or maybe the reduced concession price of $5 popcorn? Or do you still want to wait to feel safer? Tell us in the comments area how you currently feel. There are no right or wrong answers for how you personally feel about when it’s a good time to return to the movies. Just curious if others will be going as soon as they can.