Gas station without pumps

2022 February 7

First COVID test

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 12:00
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I took my first Covid test on Thursday (Feb 3) around noon, and I just got the email this morning (about 92 hours later) telling me where to get my results.  The results claim “2/3/2022 12:42 PM” and “Reported2/4/2022 9:50 PM”, which is only about 33 hours, but I did not know where to find the report, so I can’t confirm that the report was actually available then.

The testing was the UCLA-SARS-CoV-2-SAL test, which is a saliva PCR test run out of the UCLA labs (they got to continue their testing, but UCSC’s permission to test expired on Jan 1, and the campus has had to scramble to find replacements).  The switchover from in-house testing to two different external testing services (Fulgent and UCLA) has been awkward and expensive, but convincing whatever Federal agency it was that decided not to renew UCSC’s permission to use their own test appears to be impossible.

The saliva-based test from UCLA is an easy one to administer—after checking in, they scan the barcode on a tiny vial and hand it to you with a funnel.  You drool about a milliliter into the tube, cap it, wipe the outside, and stick the vial in rack, which they ship to UCLA with some cold packs.  It only took a couple of minutes from getting to the site until being done.

My wife found it amusing that this was my first test, as she’s been tested at least twice a week at work (so probably over 50 times now).  I’ve not been in places where I was likely to be infected (grocery stores being the most dangerous places I’ve been and then always thoroughly masked), so I figured that I didn’t really need to get tested unless she got a positive result (which has not happened yet).  I happened to be on campus on Thursday, and the saliva test was free, quick, and easy, so I figured it was worth stopping to get it on my way home.

My test came out negative, as expected.

2021 October 1

Vaccination rates in Santa Cruz County

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 15:48
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I’ve been watching the vaccination rates in Santa Cruz County for some time, and I remain confused.  The CDC site shows


Sorry about using an image for a table, but CDC’s web page made getting the raw data difficult.

What confuses me is that they have been reporting 99.9% of us old folks having at least one dose, but only 90.1% have full vaccination.  I have great difficulty in believing that they have reached and convinced all the old folks to get their first shot, and even more difficulty believing that 10% of those who got their first shot never got their second shot.

I think that there are record-keeping errors.  Two possible errors occur to me: one is that a lot of the second shots were recorded as first shots, which would inflate the first-shot number and deflate the second-shot number; another is that many of the first shots went to people who were properly in a different county (Monterey, perhaps), which would inflate the first shots considerably.

Statewide shows 92.5% of 65+ folks having at least one dose and 73.7% as being fully vaccinated.  Again, this is a huge gap.  Either California has been doing an absolutely terrible job of delivering second doses, or they’ve been doing a bad job of keeping track of who has had both.

I suspect record-keeping errors in the early days of the vaccination campaign, before they figured out how to handle the paperwork, as younger groups are showing much smaller fractions of the population being only partially vaccinated (other than teens, many of whom one would expect to still be between shots).

It might be worth some time from Public Health in Santa Cruz County to track down the ≈5000 people that are 65+ that they believe are only partially vaccinated and offer them a second shot.  If the old folks have already had the second shot, then the records can be corrected.  If not, we could close the gaping hole in immunization.

2021 March 24

Santa Cruz County hits 200 Covid deaths

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 20:04

A while back, I posted about the Santa Cruz County Health Department’s COVID-19 dashboard.  Yesterday, 2021 March 23, the county hit 200 COVID-19 deaths, so I thought I would update the post.  We have been doing a little better in the nursing homes—now only 51% of the deaths are there (102/200) instead of 66% (79/120). The four big outbreaks are the same, with a couple more deaths at Watsonville Post Acute, and on more at Hearts and Hands, but Sunshine Villa is close behind with 7 deaths and many of the other nursing homes now have 1–4 deaths.  Statewide, the fraction of deaths from nursing homes is about 23% (down from 33%), so we are still way overloaded with nursing-home deaths.  Or, more cheerfully, we’ve been better about keeping down deaths outside the nursing homes.

As before, most of our positive tests are in young adults, but most of the deaths are in older adults—the case fatality rate starts going up somewhere in the 60s and really soars in the 80s and 90s:

age range cases deaths case fatality rate
0–9 1085 0 0%
10–19 1865 0 0%
20–29 3122 0 0%
30–39 2649 4 0.15%
40–49 2232 6 0.27%
50–59 1878 5 0.27%
60–69 1269 27 2.13%
70–79 611 42 6.87%
80–89 339 61 17.99%
90+ 195 55 28.21%

The case fatality rate is very slightly higher in each age category, which may be due to the California strain that circulated in January and February being a bit more deadly.

I’ve been looking at the lagged case fatality rate (dividing the number of deaths by the number of cases 2, 3, or 4 weeks earlier) on  The 4-week lag seems to give the most constant case rate, but even it shows a pretty big increase in California in the last month—the cases now seem to be more deadly.

Although the case rate still indicates that more Latinx people are getting infected than their share of the population (55.98% of the cases are Latinx vs. 33.49% of the population),  the death rates match the population statistics (35.5% of the deaths are of Latinx people).  Most of the old people in the county are white, and age is a much stronger predictor of who will die than race is.

I can’t check the number of hospital beds, because the state moved the page and the county has not updated the link.  The forwarding link provided on the state page goes to Alameda County, not Santa Cruz County, and I don’t see how to fix that.  From the information that is available, we seem to have hit peak usage around January 16, with about 85 hospitalized, and we are now down to around 5 hospitalized—so we’re pretty much out of this spike.  Let’s hope that a large enough fraction of the population is vaccinated before we get hit with another spike.

2021 March 23

Vaccine vested!

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 13:41
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Last Friday marked two weeks since I got my second shot of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, so I’m now as immunized as I’m going to get against the SARS-COV-2 virus. My wife got her second shot of the Pfizer vaccine, so we are both fully immunized.

We can now go wild! We’re planning to take public transit! to Berkeley! Our current plan is to take the Highway 17 Express (currently half price), then the 500 Express light rail to Berryessa, then BART to Berkeley. I was just getting used to Warm Springs as the bus connection, instead of Hayward BART, and now Berryessa is the transfer point. Who knows—before I die BART may get all the way to Diridon station!

If we somehow miss the 500 express, we can take the Amtrak Capitol Corridor to Berkeley instead, but Amtrak does not take the Clipper Cards (though the supposedly sell them on the Capitol Corridor).  The scenery along the Amtrak tracks is a bit more interesting than along the BART tracks, though.

I got my grading for Winter quarter done last night (two days before the grading deadline), so I finally get a “weekend” after 10 weeks of working 7 days a week.  I do have to put together my syllabus and set up Canvas for my two classes that start on Monday, though, so I can’t get a full week of break.

For my “weekend” I started by putting a new bike computer on my bike.  The old Cateye Enduro 8 finally failed (replacing the battery didn’t fix it), and I bought a new Cateye Velo 7 to replace it, as the closest current equivalent.  The cables and brackets seem cheaper and flimsier than the old ones, so I don’t expect this bicycle computer to last as long.  Most of the bicycle computers on the market seem to be wireless ones, but I really don’t like the idea of having twice as many batteries to replace, shorter battery lifetimes, and lower reliability of wireless units.  I considered getting a cheap Chinese bicycle computer that had a fancier display than the Velo 7, but decided to stick with a name brand that I know has been pretty reliable.

I also took apart the lawn mower to see it if is fixable.  As always, it took me a long time to clear out the grass packed into the recessed screw holes to get the cover off, and a long time to vacuum all the grass out of the interior of the mower.  When I did finally get access to the motor and electronics, I determined that the bridge rectifier had failed again—this time with a short circuit instead of an open circuit.  I’ll buy another GBPC5010-G‎ 50-Amp bridge rectifier, and see if this one lasts a little longer.

2021 February 9

First dose!

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 21:12
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My wife and I have both gotten our first doses of vaccines against SARS-CoV-2.

I got the Moderna vaccine last Friday through my employer (UCSC), who have started inoculating staff and faculty who are 65 years old or older (after first inoculating all the health-care workers and first responders).  My shoulder was a little sore for a couple of days, but it was less uncomfortable than the old-folks’ flu shot I got last September.  (Speaking of which, I wonder how they are going to choose strains for next year’s flu shots—flu is so suppressed this year that they don’t have clear dominant strains to predict from.)

My wife, who is younger than me, was thinking it would be weeks before she would be eligible, but she got her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine from the county today, because she is teaching an in-person kindergarten class—they had a one-day clinic just for Pre-K and K teachers.  Because she got the Pfizer vaccine, which has a 21-day interval, while I got the Moderna vaccine, which has a 28-day interval, she’ll be getting her second dose before I get mine.

Both of us should be as protected as a vaccine can make us by the end of exam week Winter quarter.  But my Spring course will still be online, as not enough students will have gotten even the first dose by then to make in-person labs reasonable from a public health standpoint.  In any case, I plan to continue social distancing and wearing a mask outside the house for the next 6 months, or until it becomes clear that herd immunity has been achieved (which might take a really long time if we get a lot of crazy anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers).

We are the first in our extended family to get vaccinated, I believe, except for my aunt in England, who has had both doses of the Pfizer vaccine—being over 90 in England was a very high risk category!


On another note: last Friday I hosted a virtual bread-and-tea event again, baking the sourdough focaccia again. I made this one with all bread flour and had it rise longer, but it did not come out with quite as much of the “old-dough” flavor, though it rose more impressively than the earlier batches.  I think that my sourdough starter may be growing mainly yeast now, with little of the bacteria that give the sourdough flavor.  I may reinoculate it with some mother of vinegar and some live yogurt the next time I feed it.

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