Link Roundups & LinkDumps

5 Things: COVID-19, Crows, the End of the World, & Some Good News

Any mask is better than no mask. Surgical masks are better than cloth masks. N95s and KN95s, assuming they fit well, are better than surgical masks. The Omicron variant is unbelievably contagious. Get the best masks you can, and wear them religiously when outside your household.

If you need to buy better masks, hop on Amazon and snag yourself a big package of surgical masks, or use this website to get yourself some (genuine, since knockoffs are a problem) N95s or KN95s.

Double-masking will improve the fit of any mask you decide to wear. A hospital or cloth mask over an N95 or KN95 will help keep the fit tight to your face, which will keep you and the people around you safer.

🦠 CNN: Covid-19 patients at this hospital are dying ‘at a rate we’ve never seen die before’ — and it’s taking a toll on health care workers

This story is about a hospital in Lansing, Michigan, about 2 1/2-3 hours south of where I grew up. This is happening because Michigan is hip deep in Trump-loving, vaccine and mask-hating Republicans.

My friends and relatives who live there tell me they hardly ever see anyone wearing masks, and Michiganders seem to have decided to just ignore COVID-19. The Republican-controlled state legislature stripped the governor’s powers to order mask mandates and lockdowns, so COVID’s running wild in the state. They reported about 14,000 new cases in Michigan for Dec. 17.

🏫 Oregonian: Friendly, foul-mouthed crow befriends entire Oregon elementary school before state police are called in

Crows are extremely smart and very awesome, and if it weren’t for the fact that all birds (except for owls, which are actually just cats with feathers) hate my boyfriend, I would make friends with all the crows around my apartment complex.

👔 Vox: The world as we know it is ending. Why are we still at work?

I mean, my bills still need paying even if the whole planet is burning down. But I do have to wonder how much farther we’ll make it before we get to the point where people are just like, “Why bother?” and stop showing up to work. Spoiler: It’ll be all those low-wage, no-escape “essential workers” we crapped on and sacrificed to the pandemic for the last two years who hit that point first, and when they do, everything else will rapidly fall apart.

🦠 AP: Omicron sweeps across nation, now 73% of new US COVID cases

We first learned about Omicron barely a month ago, and in that time, it has completely overtaken every other variant. We still aren’t sure if it causes milder disease or not. And it’s worth pointing out that even if it does, it will still carve a swath of death across the country because it’s so frickin’ contagious. That means you’ll be dealing with numbers at scale – when you’re dealing with percentages of population, the numbers get real big, real fast.

“All of us have a date with omicron,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “If you’re going to interact with society, if you’re going to have any type of life, omicron will be something you encounter, and the best way you can encounter this is to be fully vaccinated.”

😄 Mashable: 21 really good things that happened in 2021

I feel like some of these are stretching the truth just a wee bit in search of good news, but JFC, after the year we’ve had, I’ll take it.