More COVID-19 Mutations are Coming

Y'all remember when I said back in February 2020 that you need to start masking and self-isolating, and there was a group of folks on Twitter (whose names I still remember) that tried to tell me I was wrong, that my advice was going to kill people, and it wasn't necessary to mask?

They weren't alone. I've been making fun of my husband for years now for not believing me. When I told him I thought we should start masking in March 2020 he said, and I quote, "You have a better chance of being killed by Lori Vallow than dying from corona virus in Idaho."

Well, I'm here to bring you a similar warning that is going to be equally unpopular that no one wants to hear. And before you reject it outright, remember that just because nobody believed Cassandra didn't make her wrong.

If you haven't been following what's going on in China with COVID-19 currently, here's what you need to know.

There are new variants of COVID-19 going around in China that are going to spread, infect, and kill people faster than any of the COVID-19 variants we've seen so far. With Omicron, the cases were doubling about every 3 days. With these new variants, the cases are doubling after only a few hours.

They're expecting these variants to spread to 10% of the global population by March 2023.

Depending on the sources you read, you'll get all kinds of contradictory explanations as to why it's only going to be that bad in China, but the rest of the world will be fine. They're already trying to blame China's zero-COVID response because even though the Chinese have some of the highest vaccination rates in the world, they don't have sufficient immunity from becoming infected. Nevermind that we've already determined over and over again already that infection doesn't provide lasting immunity anyway, and reinfection comes with increasing risks of serious illness the more times it happens.

At the same time China is telling the world they have zero COVID deaths, they have hearses lining up outside crematoriums in Beijing.

With hospitals already brimming to overflowing with kids with RSV, there is no room for what COVID-19 is about to unleash on the world. Health care systems are going to be overwhelmed, with fewer nurses than we had the last time this happened. And all we know so far is that the vaccines they've been receiving in China aren't protecting people from it.

So if you have any kind of travel plans, cancel them. If you have holiday plans to visit with anyone or have anyone at your house, don't. If your kids have the option of going remote at school again, do it. If not, make sure they're masking and social distancing as best they can at school. If you're not masking in public, you need to get your hands on the best quality masks you can find and wear them, without exception. If you have the ability to self-isolate again, do it now. Update your vaccines if you haven't yet. And for the love of God, stay home from church.

Things are about to get really dark. There are going to be a lot of conflicting messages because public officials are going to conceal, lie about, and minimize all of this. The same folks who lied to us and said that masking wasn't necessary in 2020 because of the PPE shortage are going to be the same ones minimizing the impact of this wave of COVID-19 and the precautions we need to take to protect ourselves from it. Use your own best judgment to take as many precautions as possible.

Racism in the Student Body at BYU-Idaho

In 2002, BYU-Hawaii celebrated the second largest graduating class in the school's history. The Church News wrote a story about that day. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland spoke, saying "This should be one of the greatest days of your life. But take time to remember again what so many have sacrificed and done for you in order that you could be here today."

One of the graduates featured was Bernard Balibuno, from the Republic of Congo, with his wife Yaya and their son, Steven. Steven was an infant at the time. They are pictured in the article, which I've included here for a very specific reason. Photos like this are why the Church tries so hard to engage in educational outreach across its global membership. Church leadership wants to be able to point to photos like this as an accomplishment and say to the world, to themselves, and eventually to the Lord, "this is what we did with what we had."

And to be clear: I don't think there's anything wrong with celebrating the inclusion and diversity in education that Brigham Young University campuses, especially when the point is to highlight the excellence of black, indigenous, and other non-white international students. But a necessary part of that is also how these campuses engage in racial justice when these students are made to feel unsafe and unwelcome in these settings. The Church can't have the former without having tangible plans in handling the latter.

Where is Steven Balibuno today?

He's a student at BYU-Idaho. And two days ago, he shared a story with the BYU Idaho Scroll about the racism he is experiencing on that campus.

Steven Balibuno, a BYU-Idaho student studying computer science, was walking down the street toward Broulim’s when he heard monkey noises. He was confused but assumed someone was just joking around with a friend. He didn’t want to believe that those noises were being made at him.

Balibuno continued his journey, but the monkey sounds didn’t stop. Still puzzled, he looked up to find himself face-to-face with a white boy who was in the window of the NorthPoint apartments.

The stranger and Balibuno looked at each other for a moment. He put the pieces together and knew those noises were being directed at him.

Balibuno shouted at the boy in the window to stop it.

The boy in the window continued with the monkey noises while still looking directly at Balibuno.

Balibuno was not happy. He changed his course and went back to his apartment to tell his roommates what had happened to him. He was determined to find this boy.

After Balibuno and his roommates knocked on three doors, they were able to find the boy from the window. Before anything was said to him, the boy began to apologize. Balibuno asked why he chose to make monkey noises at a black man who was passing and did not stop when told to.

The boy in the window had no explanation beyond saying, “I only do it when the sun sets.”

The cached article, written by Candy Zillale, is linked here because the original is currently unavailable. I encourage everyone to read the experiences of Steven and other students on the BYU-Idaho campus who have also been on the receiving end of racial slurs and prejudice in Rexburg, Idaho. This isn't something that should ever be swept under the rug.

I only knew to go looking for this article from the Scroll because of appeals from BYU's Black Menaces page on Instagram. In a video whose intent is to bring attention to issues of racism at BYU-Idaho, there is a clip of two white students brazenly filming themselves saying the N-word racial slur. Sebastian from Black Menaces is asking for help from the student body to identify the students so they can be reported and held accountable by the Honor Code office and university administrators.

BYU-Idaho is a small campus. It won't be difficult to identify the two students in the video if students, faculty, and church members make the effort to identify these individuals. Anyone with information is encouraged to report these, and any other students engaging in racist behavior, to the Student Honor office at 270 Kimball Building, Rexburg, ID 83460-1686. Their phone number is (208) 496-9300, email address at

As Candy Zillale stated in her article for the Scroll, "No one, regardless of their race, deserves to feel unsafe in their own community."

If these are the values we want to uphold, we need to hold accountable any student who introduces animosity to students of color on campus, regardless of whether the intention was to cause harm or not. Nothing that is harmful can ever be funny when an inclusive, diverse community is what we're striving to create.

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