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Welcome to a new phase of the pandemic
Aug 11, 2022
Episode 729

Welcome to a new phase of the pandemic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is out with looser COVID-19 recommendations.

Timing is everything. While Kimberly Adams is working from home with COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new guidelines for quarantines, social distancing and testing. Does this mark a turning point in the pandemic? Kimberly and guest host Meghan McCarty Carino discuss. Then, private companies use consumer data often without permission, and the government wants to know how you feel about it. Plus, look up at the sky before you go to bed tonight. Oh, and do spiders dream?

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Join us tomorrow for Economics on Tap! We’ll be livestreaming on YouTube starting at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time, 3:30 p.m. Pacific time.

Make Me Smart August 11, 2022 transcript


Note: Marketplace podcasts are meant to be heard, with emphasis, tone and audio elements a transcript can’t capture. Transcripts are generated using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting it.


Kimberly Adams: Hello, everyone. I’m Kimberly Adams, welcome back to Make Me Smart where we make today make sense.


Meghan McCarty Carino: And I am Meghan McCarty Carino, in for Kai Ryssdal. Thank you so much for joining us this Thursday.


Kimberly Adams: It is Thursday indeed. We are so close to the end of the week, and we are going to talk about the news, and end in some make me smiles. But let’s get started with a news fix. Meghan, why don’t you go first?


Meghan McCarty Carino: Okay, so I have been watching this change that the CDC made to its guidelines. I’ve been seeing a lot of response from folks on my timeline, people texting me. Some people are pretty upset about it. Some folks think it’s reasonable. So I thought I’d just, you know, get into it. Have a little chit chat about it, see what people think. So, you know, it’s not, there aren’t any huge changes in these revised CDC guidelines for COVID that affect school policies, they might affect some businesses. Obviously, CDC guidelines are not law, and a lot of states and counties are sort of doing their own thing anyway. But I think, you know, a lot of school districts, businesses, they look to the CDC, counties look to the CDC and setting their policies. So this is, of course, important. And it’s just signals to everyday people, I think, you know, kind of what to pay attention to. So they have changed quarantine guidelines for unvaccinated folks with a known exposure to be the same as vaccinated folks, which is that you do not have to quarantine at all, unless you test positive. So if you know you have some sort of contact with someone who has COVID, you don’t have to quarantine if you’re unvaccinated, which brings it in line with what the guidelines have been for those who are vaccinated. And that is recognizing, you know, that so many people, the majority of people in the country and probably the world, at this point, have some sort of immunity to COVID, either through vaccination, or natural infection or some combination of both. So this distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated has kind of lost a lot of meaning. They no longer recommend asymptomatic screening for most workplaces, for schools. So that’s, you know, kids were testing in order to go to school, or if you are getting tested in order to go to work, they no longer recommend that. You know, just sort of like screening every week or every few days or that kind of thing. Might recommend it for… exactly, sort of surveillance testing, I guess is what – screening, surveillance testing, don’t recommend that. No more six-foot rule, six-foot rule is taken out of their guidelines. I think for a lot of us this feels like, yeah, duh, you know, six foot is not the magic thing. But you know, a lot of schools have still kind of been having to apply this.


Kimberly Adams: To space out desks.


Meghan McCarty Carino: Yeah, exactly. Spacing out desks, having these specific cohorts and lunch and everything like that. So it could be kind of more of a big deal for schools. In general, this is just, you know, kind of a shift to more individual responsibility, away from institutions, like workplaces, like schools, like the government, you know, as kind of a recognition that we are in a different phase of the pandemic, if you want to still call it a pandemic. I know that term gets thrown around and debated in a lot of ways. Greta Massetti, who sort of announced some of these changes at the CDC, was quoted saying this guidance acknowledges that the pandemic is not over, but also helps us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives. So it does feel like a bit of a – it feels like a little bit of a turning point.


Kimberly Adams: Sorry.


Meghan McCarty Carino: You’re laughing because you clearly…


Kimberly Adams: I have COVID right now, disrupting my daily life.


Meghan McCarty Carino: I love that you have not – I mean, I kind of do not love that you have not let it disrupt your daily life in quite the way that I would hope that you would, i.e., you know, taking some time off from your Marketplace duties.


Kimberly Adams: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, I know. I know. I’m a terrible example. Anyway.


Meghan McCarty Carino: I mean, of course, I’m never gonna say, Kimberly, go away. We don’t want you here. But I just, yeah, you know, people can rest. It’s okay. It’s okay.


Kimberly Adams: I rested today. I rested a lot. I slept for like 15 hours today.


Meghan McCarty Carino: Very good. Very good. Yeah. Yeah, but you know, I’ve been getting, I’ve been getting text messages from friends who are really upset about this, you know, that it’s signaling the wrong things. I mean, my personal sense is that this guidance is following what I sort of see happening in the world, kind of people determining their own personal risk profiles and the risks, you know, for their families at an individual level more at this point, exercising kind of their own judgment around these things. And I think it can be a good thing for institutions, for the official guidance to just feel like it’s in step with what’s happening in the real world. But I understand that there are some very legitimate concerns. You know, obviously, we haven’t reached a point in this pandemic where we have reached a stable state of things. You know, there’s just one curveball after another in terms of variants and their effects. I mean, thankfully, we are at a point now, you know, we’re seeing the BA.5 wave. Each subsequent wave that we have seen as the immunity builds up in the population, we are seeing more of a decoupling with severe disease and death, which is a very good thing. But of course, you know, I mean, there are still huge concerns, there are concerns about what long COVID means for folks infected, there are concerns about, you know, just having these huge waves hit over and over and over again, and what it means for the workforce and people being able to go to school and, you know. So, sort of feeling like, Oh, we’re giving up on any sorts of controls. I understand people have strong feelings about that. And of course, we don’t know what’s, you know, what’s coming next in terms of what the fall and the winter is going to look like, whether there’s another variant that could sort of change the game. And, you know, I think we talked on Tuesday to Dr. Celine Gounder, who brought up all of these issues with our public health infrastructure, and whether we’ve actually learned the lessons from COVID, whether, you know, whether we’ve put in place the things that would be helpful for institutions to put in place that individuals can’t do on their own. You know, all of these policies around things like ventilation and indoor air quality and surveillance for variants, paid sick leave, all these kinds of things that do have a big effect. Which, you know, I’m not sure if, if – I mean, Celine gounder was pretty clear that those things have not happened.


Kimberly Adams: But I mean, this is what we’ve been talking about all along. That eventually, we’re gonna get to a place where we all figure how you’re going to live with COVID, that it was never going to go away. There was just going to get to – we were all going to get to a place where we were going to find a way to live with it, whether we have to do regular vaccinations, whether or not everyone developed some kind of immunity, that we are all going to find a way to have to live with COVID. And I think this is just the CDC acknowledging, okay, we’re at the place where pretty much everybody has been sick. I mean, I was one of the holdouts, I mean. And, you know, trying to get out in the world and…


Meghan McCarty Carino: One of our last people on planet Earth, and I attribute it to just my vast privilege that I have somehow, you know, avoided it, but…


Kimberly Adams: And so I think it’s just this point of like, okay, now that the vast majority of people have either had it or been vaccinated, how are we going to live with it? And how are we going to move forward as a society – as a society and as an economy? And I think this is just the CDC acknowledging that it’s scary. It was scary being in airports, on the way back from a conference and just no one wearing masks. No one wearing masks on plane.


Meghan McCarty Carino: It’s just jarring. Yeah.


Kimberly Adams: More than likely how I got COVID in the first place, but that’s okay. But, you know, like, this is where we are and hopefully, you know – thankfully, I feel very blessed that I got COVID at a time when I was able to be vaccinated and boosted and have access to services, and know that if I get really sick, I can probably still go to the hospital. But I was able to get like, all of the meds and the vaporizers and, you know, pills and, you know, eucalyptus scented bath bombs that I need to make myself feel better. You know, that I may not have been able to do had I gotten sick in 2020. So yeah, I think this is just us – we’re moving into this next stage, it’s still really scary. One of the people who I was hanging out with at the conference I was at, you know, recently had an organ transplant, and it was terrifying contacting her and letting her know that I tested positive. Because we’ve been hanging out in the same spaces. And so, you know, that doesn’t make it any less dangerous for certain populations. But hopefully, this new guidance won’t make people be silly about it anyway.


Meghan McCarty Carino: Right. So. I mean, let’s hope, let’s hope for the best. All right, what’s your news?


Kimberly Adams: Maybe I’ll be able to keep this bass in my voice for the foreseeable future, which might be cool. All right, so my story takes a little bit of background in terms of how the government sets rules and regulations. And that is the federal government will often – if the government agencies think that something needs attention, and they have a legal authority to do so, which usually ends up getting debated in the courts later on, the first thing they’ll do is they’ll put out a notice for comment, saying, Hey, we, government agency, think that we need to maybe write some rules and regulations on this topic. We’re giving you a heads up that we’re gonna start working on it. Anybody who’s interested, let us know what you think about it. All of that. And so once they get all those comments, then they usually issue a draft regulation or draft rules, then they get more feedback, and they issue final rules, and then there’s legal fights and whatever. Anyway, the Federal Trade Commission put out a new notice calling for input on how tech companies handle consumer data. Basically, the way that they just suck up all of this information about us, package it, sell it, use it to market to us, all of these things that are sort of the default in the way that the internet operates today? They’re, they’re starting to look at it. It’s called an advance notice of proposed rulemaking. This is my medicine head talking, I can’t speak. Anyway, they’re looking for comments on data collection, algorithmic discrimination – something that we’ve covered quite a bit on Marketplace and Marketplace Tech – and commercial surveillance, also something we’ve really covered. And you know, there’s a public hearing on it coming up on September the eighth, and people can give testimony. I anticipate there’s going to be a flood of public comments, public interest on this, because this is something that affects everybody. Anytime you feel like, hey, how does, you know, Instagram know that I was just talking to somebody about this topic and now I’m seeing an ad. Or, you know, I was searching for a pair of shoes and now all I can see are those shoes everywhere on the internet. Or I use my, you know, grocery store rewards card. And now, somehow, you know, the Target thinks I’m pregnant or whatever that is. You know, all of those things have to do with consumer data and consumer surveillance. And you know, the ring doorbells that keep an eye on the entire neighborhood whether you want to or not. All of these things have to do with private companies taking consumer data, often without our permission, and the government is starting to have a look at it. And so anyway, it’s just worth noting. And if you feel strongly about it, you can definitely comment and weigh in and help the government shape the rules. It’s one of the ways that our government functions. So anyway, just wanted to flag that. Let’s go ahead and move on to some smiles.


Meghan McCarty Carino: All right.


Kimberly Adams: Okay, I will go first, because one of the upsides of sleeping in a very, like not organized way the last few days is that I tend to be up in weird hours. So I’m hoping that I will be up late enough tonight to see the sturgeon moon, which is supposed to hit peak illumination at 9:36pm Eastern tonight, which is going to be a beautiful Supermoon. It’s a sturgeon Supermoon, and according to CNN, it’s named by the Native American Algonquin tribe after the sturgeon fish that were more easily caught in the Great Lakes and other bodies of water during this time of year. But beautiful Supermoon, which unfortunately will wash out the Perseids, but I still want to, at some point, see some of those before they go.


Meghan McCarty Carino: That’s this weekend, right?


Kimberly Adams: I think so.


Meghan McCarty Carino: Well, it might be different depending on where you are. But yeah, I think…


Kimberly Adams: Well, the problem is that the full moon being bright is gonna wash out the Perseids, so you’re only gonna see the brightest.


Meghan McCarty Carino: Stealing the thunder of the Perseids.


Kimberly Adams: So I’m looking at the – this year’s barely visible peak will happen at 11pm Eastern on Friday. A … sky, but that’s okay. You know, you get a beautiful moon as well. So, you know, that’s a small thing. Assuming I’m awake. What about you?


Meghan McCarty Carino: All right. Well, yes, speaking of being asleep, I have a little item that some research was recently published and written up by Scientific American, about the possibility that perhaps spiders may dream. So there was a German behavioral ecologist, who, during the pandemic, you know, she studies jumping spiders in Germany, she couldn’t go to the lab. So she caught some jumping spiders at home and she was getting ready to start doing some of her experiments on them. And she started noticing some interesting things about their behavior at night. It seemed like they were all suspended from the roofs of their boxes, and they seem to be sleeping. And so she got a night vision camera to watch them at night. There’s a video of this at Scientific American if you really would like to watch sleeping spiders. But she noticed that they had these distinct bouts of twitching, much like what we see with humans with REM sleep, you know? If you have a dog, you know when the dog is in REM sleep and they’re kind of twitching, at first it seems a little bit alarming. But REM sleep is the, you know, the part of sleep that is linked with dreaming, which sort of begs the question, do spiders dream? And if they dream, you know, there was, they quoted a philosopher at San Francisco State University, “As clues that non-human animals dream continue to accumulate”, because I guess REM sleep has also been observed in birds and reptiles and zebrafish. He says this has philosophical implications that are potentially huge. Dreaming offers an entry point into questions of awareness in other animals. It is difficult to imagine that even a simple dream is possible without something like an ego or an “I” experiencing it. So it’s pretty – gets pretty deep. Spiders dreaming. What do you think spiders dream about?


Kimberly Adams: New web designs?


Meghan McCarty Carino: Yeah, like beautiful fractal web designs? Bad dreams are like people coming in…


Kimberly Adams: Somebody walking through it. That’s cool. No, I I’ve seen some research about octopi dreaming and I think that’s –


Meghan McCarty Carino: Oh, that is not surprising. Octopi, they’re amazing. They’re extremely smart.


Kimberly Adams: And yet we still eat them. Anyway, that’s it for us today. That’s a deep dive for another day. Okay, so that’s it for us today. We will be back tomorrow for economics on tap. You can join us on the YouTube livestream, starting at 6:30 Eastern, 3:30 Pacific. We will have more news, drinks, and play a round of half full half empty.


Meghan McCarty Carino: And please do keep sending us your thoughts and your questions, our email is makemesmart@marketplace.org. Or leave us a message at 508-U-B-SMART.


Kimberly Adams: Make Me Smart is produced by Marissa Cabrera. Our intern is Olivia Zhao.


Meghan McCarty Carino: Today’s episode was engineered by Charlton Thorp. Bridget Bodnar is the Senior Producer. Donna Tam is the Director of On Demand.


Kimberly Adams: Yeah, I was very entertained by that CDC guideline today. I was just like, huh, nice timing there, friends.


Meghan McCarty Carino: Yeah.

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