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Coronavirus: Where are all the dead Americans?

Let’s say that Town A has a case of ebola and Town B has a case of chicken pox.  You put them both under lock down.  When it is all said and done, neither ebola or the chicken pox escape their respective towns.  The measures were successful–but then, that’s a rather trivial observation if the whole question is whether or not the town should have been locked down in the first place.  The success of the lock down tells you nothing about the danger of the particular disease.  This seems to me to be self-evident, but apparently we need to point it out.

Consider another scenario.

Salesman Bob comes into town selling “anti-comet juice.”  He produces expert testimony to the fact that a comet is heading straight for the town, and unless everyone in the town hunkers down in their basements–first purchasing the anti-comet juice, of course–EVERYONE IS GOING TO DIE.  Let us imagine that people (a word I use in the context of this post here) generally believe him.  They impose a tax to pay for the juice, close down businesses, schools, post guards outside of the houses of skeptics to prevent them from leaving, and so on.  When someone objects, proponents argue:

“Months from now, if we’re lucky, the extreme measures being taken now to prevent the arrival of the comet may seem like they were an overreaction, because relatively few people died.  That’s the point.  That’s why we’re doing it.”

But people wouldn’t buy such reasoning, would they?

It should be apparent from my two analogies that, in point of fact, there are two options for why “relatively few people died.”  Option 1:  the ‘apparent overreaction.’  Or, Option 2:  ‘the threat wasn’t as acute as presented and/or feared.’

My question for this post is…. just how would one tell the difference?

When you have a novel disease, it is one that, by definition, doesn’t have an exact precedent.  That means that, by definition, we have to make estimates and guesses on its impact.  How many times have you heard draconian measures defended on the basis of “Well, we have to prepare for the possibility…” ?  If you’ve heard it once you’ve heard it a thousand times.  This, as the much bandied about term, the CFR, has dropped from 3.4 (breathlessly stated as:  “34 times more deadly than the flu!”) to 1 (breathlessly stated as “10 times more deadly than the flu!”), to the number I’ve only heard whispered (shhhhhhh.  No one tell the people!)…

In the weeks that followed, the CFR declined. The WHO reports that “the standard of care has evolved over the course of the outbreak”. The CFR fell to 0.7% for patients with the onset of symptoms after February 1st.

The reliable site, run by John Hopkins, I believe, adds:

The CFR is not only reflective of the disease itself, but specific to where and when people are diagnosed with the disease. It’s therefore incorrect to report it as a single point value for the disease, and instead requires us to also report the time and place.

So, people are frantically pointing at Italy (CFR of 7.3) while in the meantime they could also be looking at Germany (CFR of .2).   Yes, that’s right, .2 (as of 3/16/2020).

Is there some reason I’ve not been told as to why we should be expecting the US to resemble Italy and not Germany?  Or is it just not sexy enough to say “COVID-19 is only 2x more deadly than the flu!”

With these numbers all over the place, it begs the question:  had it been our understanding that the CFR of the Wuhan Virus was .2, would there now be a national panic?  They are literally–not figuratively, not metaphorically, not symbolically–literally winding down the entire nation, closing schools, businesses, transportation, etc, etc.  All for a disease which may be only twice as deadly as the flu, a disease which to be blunt, kills tens of thousands of Americans every year with nary a word about shutting down the World.  Be honest.  Would there be?

Of course, it is possible that the CFR in the US could have rivaled Italy’s.  Could have.  But now, unless there is mass incompetence on a scale unknown outside the Federal government, we’re not going to see a CFR like Italy’s.  We’re just not.

And to that, proponents of all the shut downs will say, “That’s the point.”

But remember Town A and Town B, above.  A national shut down comes with a price.  The longer it goes on, the more bitter it will become.  Most people would agree that if its Ebola, you shut it down.  If it is Chicken Pox, you target your measures, but society generally goes on as normal.  We already know that when its the flu (CFR .1) society goes on as normal.  Is it our collective opinion that the price we will be paying is justified on a CFR of .2?

This is a hypothetical question today with serious import for the future, because you just know how this is all going to go down.  In a few more years, another disease will escape China because, in the interim, there will not be the political will to give China its comeuppance.  People will look back and say, “REMEMBER COVID-19!”  One group will point out that the CFR was massively over-estimated.  The other group will point out that the CFR was only lower precisely because we enacted massive lockdowns, which is why, naturally, they will want to do the same thing again.  (Also in the interim:  50,000 deaths/yr to the flu)

Neither of these groups have any ground to stand on unless somehow we had an idea of what the CFR was independently of the measures taken.

I have to believe that the experts have some way of ascertaining that, or at least estimating that, but I can assure you, they aren’t going to tell us what that figure is!  The last thing in the world they want the general public to think is that the government’s response was wildly out of line with the actual threat, even if they know full well it was.  Their line is already getting traction:

“If you just leave the virus to its own devices, it will go way up like we’ve seen in Italy. That’s not going to happen if we do what we’re attempting to do and are doing,” Fauci told CBS’s Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation.”

“The way you get ahead of it is that, as I try to explain to people, that I want people to assume that … we are overreacting because if it looks like you’re overreacting, you’re probably doing the right thing,” he added.

The first paragraph is obviously not true.  The virus has not been left to its own devices in Italy, and yet it has still killed many, many, many more people, compared to other countries.  The virus would not have been left to its own devices in the US, just as I’m sure it was not left to its own devices in Germany, or South Korea.

In fact, statements like that actually make one wonder if the testing fiasco was really a blunder.  The higher number of confirmed cases would radically diminish the CFR, making the CDC’s ‘overreaction’ even more glaring.   It would be in their best interest, from an institutional point of view, to keep the number of confirmed cases low.  That would be a neat trick, right?  (“If you don’t look, you won’t find cases.“)

Notwithstanding that unlikely scenario, we expect such people to make such statements and can disregard them completely.  Only pay attention to the things they say to each other in the months and years after this, when they acknowledge things like the 2009 H1N1 flu being over-estimated (originally at 7-10, but finally at .1.  Ooops).  Let us therefore consider the question on our own.  I believe we can do better than you might think, and I believe it is imperative that we talk about this NOW, if only for future, practical considerations.  Oh, and accountability.

Now, we are greatly hamstrung when evaluating this question because the CDC’s massive foul-up regarding testing has not given us a clear idea of how many cases there are in the United States.  That means that there are potentially hundreds of thousands of people out there, already, with the disease.  As I write, the US’s CFR is 1.8, but that’s with only 3,770 confirmed–with only about 15,000 tested to date.  Obviously, if there are 100,000 cases and the deaths are at… um… what is that massive number again… let’s see, where is it again… ah, here it is 69… the CFR would drop significantly… to .07.  That’s less than .1, Jim.

Since we don’t have actual tests to look at, we are forced to look at estimates.   I’m not talking about estimates of how many people are expected to eventually be infected, I’m talking about how many are infected already.  (Be sure to read this) I’ve read estimates between 14,000 to 100,000 or more.  Here is one:

A medical professor at Johns Hopkins University urged Americans not to believe low numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States, warning the actual number of people walking around with the virus could be “between 50,000 and half a million.”

Please don’t misunderstand me.  I think these higher numbers are actually pretty likely.  But, being likely, it actually undermines the argument for “over reaction.”  If there are already 500,000 cases but only about 70 deaths, the CFR drops like a rock.

Literally as I write, some chick on the telly is saying “there is no permanent damage to overreaction.”  I assure you, many, many, many more than 70 people will be permanently harmed by the measures we’ve taken.  I’ve probably already seen 70 people on my FB alone express grave concern about their future well-being.  But its nice to not have to take responsibility for your positions, right?

Let me give you some of my reasons to believe the higher numbers of infected people.

First of all, it is almost certain that COVID-19 has been circulating in the US for months already.  They may have found Patient 0 in China, and he was not infected in December of 2019, but rather November 17.  All signs are that this has been moving far earlier than we were told.  China didn’t give us much of a heads up at all until the first week of January.  The travel ban did not kick in until Jan. 30th.  That means that likely infected people have been coming to the US, in the hundreds, if not the thousands, for weeks before things really ‘hit the fan.’

If this were the case, it would explain, for example, the curious case of Patient Zero in Washington State, and, as I understand it, the United States.  He is a man, we are told, who did everything right in protecting himself from others.   And yet, they conclude, they must have ‘missed’ one of his contacts.  Or, perhaps there were other people in the area already infected besides him, but since they were only then becoming alert to the presence of a new disease–which may have been among us all for some time–these people went undetected.  It is worth remembering, in this context, that Patient Zero is not known in Italy at all.

But more to the point, the man believed to be Patient Zero in Washington arrived on Jan 17th, 2020.

Let us now consider and compare ourselves with Italy.  When did they detect their first cases?

January 30th.

People keep saying, “Look at Italy!  That is where we are going!”

Apparently, they are unaware of the FACT that the coronavirus was confirmed in the US two weeks earlier than in Italy.  It is we who had the head start.  It is we who are ahead in the process.  Isn’t that interesting?

Let’s look a little deeper into the Washington state case.  Note the date:

By Feb. 25, Chu and her colleagues could not bear to wait any longer. They began performing coronavirus tests, without government approval.

What came back confirmed their worst fear. They quickly had a positive test from a local teenager with no recent travel history. The coronavirus had already established itself on U.S. soil without anybody realizing it.

It must have been here this entire time,” Chu recalled thinking with dread. “It’s just everywhere already.

Again, note the date.  For further perspective, consider the fact that it was March 9th that it was announced that Italy would lock down their country, effective for the 11th.

Ok, people.   When did Chu determine the coronavirus had already established itself on US soil?  Right about Feb 25.  That’s about 2 full weeks before Italy shut down their country.

So, not only did the US have it two weeks earlier than Italy, but it appears very likely it was “already established” two weeks earlier.  So we ask the obvious question:  why is it that Italy is off the charts, whereas in the state of Washington, there are only about 40 dead, the bulk of which were from a single nursing home?

These 40 deaths are 4/7 the national total to date, and they are all in one place.  Why isn’t it 1,500 deaths in Washington alone?

Remember, we’re talking about a disease which infects people for up to 14-20 days without anyone knowing they are even sick, and we’re told that it has an exceptional ability to transmit itself from one person to another, comparable to SARS and the 2009 H1N1, higher than MERS .  If this is true–and I don’t doubt it is–please note WE ARE NOW EXACTLY TWO MONTHS FROM WHEN THE FIRST CASE WAS CONFIRMED IN THE UNITED STATES.  8 full weeks!  (ok, minus 1 day, for you super pedantic types).



You can have hundreds of thousands of undetected infected people out there, test or no test, and continue on that way for almost forever.  These can hide in plain sight.  What you can’t hide are thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths.

If COVID-19 is such a vicious disease, with characteristics as described above, and an Italian-like experience was inevitable for failing to LOCK DOWN EVERYTHING, then that is something we WOULD ALREADY KNOW.  Indeed, it is more reasonable to think it would have happened to us FIRST, before Italy, rather than later.   All the things we are being warned ‘could’ happen would have already happened.

But where are all the dead Americans?

Where is the overwhelmed health care system?

Is the state of Washington overwhelmed?  Nope.

No one appears to be overwhelmed.  And why would it?  We have a health care system which had little trouble coping with the flu season of 2017-2018, when some 60,000 people died from it and almost a million were hospitalized–800,000 to be exactish.

We have obviously been given the clear impression that the coronavirus poses a unique threat and because of that unique threat, we should prepare for the very real possibility that it will overwhelm our health care system, thus the need, at minimum ‘to flatten the curve.’


I’m not disputing the possibilities of such things “if we left the virus to its own devices.”  But in actuality, the virus has indeed been largely’ left to its own devices’ up to this point.  Today, this very day, is the first day that many of the school closing are in effect.  Businesses are just now being forced to shut their doors.   Social distancing has only recently, within the last week at the latest for sure, been implemented, even if only via public shaming on social media and elsewhere.

You can hide hundreds of thousands of undetected cases.  You can’t hide a million hospitalizations and you certainly can’t hide half a million dead (one of many projections I’ve seen).  And these things we would have already seen, if it were going to happen.

It is called logic.  IF all the other things they say are true, then it necessarily follows that with all the time the disease has had to propagate, with a CFR of even 1.0, let alone 3.4 or 7.0, these things would have already manifested themselves, weeks ago.  IT IS CALLED LOGIC.  It may be time, perhaps, to revisit some of those conditionals, eh?

Now, with all these shut downs, extending for 3-4 weeks, well into April, and even more draconian measures to come (if you can believe it!), there is nothing but the tiniest chance that we’re going to see anything near what Italy has experienced.   That tiny chance is connected only to the possibility that it may mutate in a way which is especially pernicious.   Because, if you shut down the entire country right now–and it is darn near shut down right now–you ain’t going to have Italy.  You won’t even have South Korea.   And if, with all these things in effect, you DO have South Korea or Italy, there are almost certainly other problems, having nothing to do with the coronavirus.  But you ain’t.

I will put one caveat on all of this.

Supposedly, things are far worse than we have been led to believe.  I can only go by what is put out into public, and if there is information they are holding back which leads them to believe otherwise, that’s on them.  By the same token, it appears that this week will be the first week they really start testing.

This week is also the first week after the last week in which there were no precautions implemented on a mass scale.  I’ve heard that while there is a range, people tend to manifest within about 5 days.  Thus, anyone who was infected last week will only now just reveal themselves.  (God only knows why the other people 5 days before that, and the people 5 days before that, and the people 5 days before that, and the people 5 days before that, [do this about 4 more times to get back to Jan. 17] haven’t already manifested in force).

So, if I’m wrong in this analysis, then we will know that by the end of the week, two weeks, tops.

In the meantime, ask yourself two questions:

  2. Do I want ol’Sntjohnny to be wrong?










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    • Stathei on March 16, 2020 at 10:02 pm

    SJ, I really wish that for once you were speaking the truth but as usual you are speaking from your arsehole. Please stick to what you know, like imaginary sky fairies and homophobia, and leave the science to someone else. This is real, this is happening, and thousands of Americans will die if we are lucky.

    Please, SJ, take this seriously and stay safe – this is not about your personal freedom to be a dick it is about you minimizing the biggest threat to humanity since the second world war and literally killing other people with your wilful ignorance and stupidity. Readers should know that you have no knowledge or experience of any scientific subject of any description beyond what you have read on Google, and have a complete disregard of all science that places doubt on your belief that the old testement is a historical document (yes, he really thinks the earth was created in seven days and is a few thousand years old). Ad hominem, yes, but it is important to know where this complete nonsense is coming from.

    • Anthony on March 17, 2020 at 8:44 am

    OMG, it is Stathei!

    Yes, that’s right. Your comment is a complete ad hominem, which is a grade A logical fallacy. So, readers should know that here we have a commentator who knows full well what she is saying is logically and rationally unsound, but still said it anyway!

    And that, my friends, is atheism in a nutshell!

    “This is real, this is happening, and thousands of Americans will die if we are lucky.”

    So, in answer to the question, “Do I want ol’Sntjohnny to be wrong?” the answer is “Yes.” You prefer thousands of Americans to die. Got it. Ok… that’s probably not what you meant to communicate by the ‘if we’re lucky’ line.

    Good to know you’re still out there!

    And thanks for going on the record with your belief (now I’m trying to be interpret your ‘lucky’ comment charitably) that notwithstanding all of the measures going into place right now, thousands of Americans will still die. If we’re lucky. LOL

    We will know in a week or two which of us was right, as I said right in the post. But, if I’m wrong, it will be because of incomplete data thanks to the CDC’s failures, but if you’re wrong, it will be because you believe that 100% logical fallacies make for good arguments. LOL

    Move along, Stathei! See you in another year!

    • rareairpug on March 17, 2020 at 2:24 pm

    Stathei! Good to see you!

    I’m curious —- is there a flaw in Sntjohnny’s reasoning or do you think that we don’t have all the information?

    • Stathei on March 17, 2020 at 7:43 pm

    Yes, it is I! Readers should also know that SJ and I go way back and say very mean things to each other to express our love. That said, I’m going to completely ignore his “reply” which seems to convert my statement of fact into some sort of competition for who wins the debate. This is not a debate, although it resembles many of SJ’s “debates” (spoiler alert – there is actually no debate about evolution, there is actually no debate about the age of the world, and there is no debate over this virus. There is only science, and science doesn’t give a fuck about what anybody debates. Even SJ).

    Rare good to see you again too – it has been a very long time!! I only checked in because I was pretty sure SJ would be spreading some doomsday nonsense for my entertainment but was appalled to see him spreading some nonsense which terrified me instead lol! SJ has all the information but none of the ability to process that information as usual. We are VERY early in the evolution of this situation. There are many infected people out there who have not yet “declared” themselves, but when they do the number of cases will go through the roof and so will the fatalities, particularly among the elderly and those with underlying conditions.

    It is going to be truly awful and will mark our generations forever in the same way previous generations were marked by the World Wars. Full disclosure, I am a doctor and I am close enough to the front line to know exactly what is going on without needing to do a Google search. I am deeply invovled in making policy to protect my patients, my staff and my colleagues.

    SJ clearly thinks that knowing what you are talking about is a negative quality. Calling someone out for ad hominem is a debate strategy, Correcting someone who doesn’t know what the fuck they are talking about is the truth.

    • Anthony on March 17, 2020 at 9:36 pm

    • Anthony on March 17, 2020 at 9:41 pm

    • Anthony on March 17, 2020 at 9:42 pm

    “I was pretty sure SJ would be spreading some doomsday nonsense”

    Ironic, isn’t it, that I was doing the opposite, and it is you spreading the doomsday (nonsense?).

    • End Bringer on March 20, 2020 at 7:13 am

    “Full disclosure, I am a doctor and I am close enough to the front line to know exactly what is going on without needing to do a Google search. I am deeply invovled in making policy to protect my patients, my staff and my colleagues.”

    If this is true, then it’s why people may feel better off taking their chances on their own, given you have and continue to display the kind of fundamental irrationality that no one should feel comfortable putting their well-being under.

    • Stathei on March 20, 2020 at 9:03 am

    Well yes, EB, it is true – and believe me it is much easier to spout off on the internet than it is to actually make decisions that affect people’s lives. We have cancelled appointments, made people work from home and even sadly had to lay off staff, hopefully temporarily.

    This isn’t just about death rate, it is about the ability of our medical facilities to cope with the vast numbers of seriously ill people who are coming. My hospital has about 200 ventilators at a push. We may need thousands and certainly will if we don’t flatten the curve. Our ethics committee have already met to discuss the grim choices that will have to be made.

    Fundamental irrationality? Minimizing this situation is just that. Shame on you.

    • Anthony on March 20, 2020 at 10:20 am

    The problem, Stathei, is its clear that you have not actually read the post above, and if you didn’t read those, you probably didn’t read my others. I was kind when I focused only on your ad hominem. You also engaged in strawman argumentation—eg, at no point have I argued we shouldn’t take the matter seriously, and this post in question is not relevant to that, anyway. Which, if you had read it, I mean, ACTUALLY read it, you would know.

    If you respond to the facts in hand the way you responded to my post, I can see why EB is wary about being a patient under your care.

    Basically, you just spouted off a bunch of nonsense which had nothing to do with the post, based on your perception of what you thought I’d be saying. That then led you to engage in yet another logical fallacy, an appeal to authority.

    No one is minimizing the situation, so you can just shut the hell up about that.

    There is one thing you may not have caught if you haven’t been following my blog of late, and that is my lack of patience for ignorant and arrogant trolls who don’t even have the decency to respond to what is actually written.

    So, this is your warning. If you’re just going to be a dumb ass, I will ban that dumb ass of yours. I take special pleasure in banning stupid people. If you want to be included, all you have to do is refuse to engage what is actually written here.

    Now, either engage with what is written, or STFU.

    • Anthony on March 20, 2020 at 11:04 am

    “This isn’t just about death rate”

    Exactly the point I’ve been making. You’d know that, if you had bothered to read what was written.

    ” it is about the ability of our medical facilities to cope”

    And, if you had bothered to read what I’ve written elsewhere on this topic, you’d know it isn’t “just about that”, either. However, I did make a statement related to this, which, naturally, you chose not to respond to. Probably because you didn’t read it, and not because you have no substantive response to it–although that seems likely, too. Here is what I wrote above:

    “No one appears to be overwhelmed. And why would it? We have a health care system which had little trouble coping with the flu season of 2017-2018, when some 60,000 people died from it and almost a million were hospitalized–800,000 to be exactish.”

    If at sometime you wish to stop being a pompous ass and explain, using facts and argument rather than drool from your authoritarian mouth, why the evidence suggests we were poised to exceed this, and not, say, fall well below that threshold (eg, like Germany), feel free.

    For the lurker–not for stathei, who probably just needs to be written off as a crank–note that this post did not address the merits or demerits of our response at all, and I certainly did not advocate for not taking things seriously.

    What it does is lay the conceptual framework for answering another question, to be posed in retrospect: is it possible to determine whether or not COVID was, actually, as serious in the US as it was feared, to justify against some of the OTHER things beyond the death rate; eg, lost jobs, lost incomes, lost savings, lost homes, lost businesses, etc, etc, etc, etc.

    And, because people choose to be illiterate, let me spell it out more directly: THIS POST DOES NOT ANSWER THAT QUESTION. It merely lays out the framework for HOW that question can be answered after the dust clears.

    • Stathei on March 20, 2020 at 1:55 pm

    You are very clearly minimizing the situation (yes I have read the article) in order to criticize the response to it as an overreaction. This is not the flu – no one is vaccinated or otherwise immune, it is much more contagious and has a higher death rate. Germany is likely a special case because they are testing wider than anyone else and increasing the denominator, or the population is younger or they obey rules better who knows for now? Either way, they are an outlier which is why we should not expect to be so “lucky”. Even if Germany remain “lucky” they will see thousands of deaths – we are very early in the process.

    I agree that only retrospect will tell us if all these draconian measures were worth it – it is to the family of the individual whose life is unknowingly spared by staying home from work but is it worth it for the population as a whole? No one knows prospectively but time will tell I suppose.

    Being called fundamentally irrational by EB and authoritarian, arrogant, a crank and a pompous ass by you – is this National Pot/Kettle Day? Ban away if you want, SJ, but please don’t pretend you think I’m a troll.

    • End Bringer on March 20, 2020 at 2:29 pm

    “Being called fundamentally irrational by EB and authoritarian, arrogant, a crank and a pompous ass by you – is this National Pot/Kettle Day? Ban away if you want, SJ, but please don’t pretend you think I’m a troll.”

    Given it took you 4 posts to move beyond ultra-childish arguments of “Me right, you stupid!” to something that resembles substantive, SJ’s assessment seems to be right on the money.

    Especially if in one breath you make absolute assertions of ‘Thousands shall die!’ to ‘we’ll see in retrospect’ in the next.

    Not jumping on the ‘End of the World’ band wagon as you seem to whole heartedly have, is not minimizing a situation. It’s simply not allowing oneself to be lead by the nose in disproportionate panic.

    • Anthony on March 20, 2020 at 3:32 pm

    EB is right. You had a chance, in your very first post, to say something substantive. Instead, you chose to be an ass, making your contribution nothing more than one long insult, addressing nothing in the post.

    Now, I know that you probably haven’t had a chance to see that my patience has run thin with asses. You’ll note that I went relatively easy on you in my reply to you. But if you double down on being an ass at this point, understand that I’m not going to put up with it.

    Don’t misunderstand, I couldn’t care less what you or anyone thinks about me. I’m happy to stand by my reasoning and argumentation and people can do with it what they please. However, I am tired of people being pompous buttheads and never being held accountable. At least in this one tiny corner of the universe, on sntjohnny.com, I can make them pay. It’s not much, I grant, but it brings me pleasure anyway. 🙂

    As far as substance…

    “Even if Germany remain “lucky” they will see thousands of deaths – we are very early in the process.”

    It is hard to read such things without coming away thinking that you WANT it to be the case that there will be many, many, many deaths? Maybe Germany isn’t lucky. Maybe they’ve done something right? Maybe its Italy that has done something wrong? You say that Germany is the outlier, but a better case can be made that it is Italy that is the outlier.

    Yes, Italy, Iran, and Spain seem to be having troubles, but Germany, South Korea, and the United States seem to be holding their own to such an extent that it raises questions that the virus itself is the least important part of the analysis about its relative dangers.

    “I agree that only retrospect will tell us if all these draconian measures were worth it – it is to the family of the individual whose life is unknowingly spared by staying home from work but is it worth it for the population as a whole? No one knows prospectively but time will tell I suppose.”

    And the purpose of this post was to provide a conceptual framework for determining, as much as we can, anyway, independently of any of the measures we subsequently went on to take, just how much damage the virus would have done. Without some sense of that, there is no way that ‘time would tell us.’

    My complaint with statements like this:

    “it is to the family of the individual whose life is unknowingly spared by staying home”

    is that it fails to acknowledge the family of the individual whose life is unknowingly taken, because his economic is well-being is destroyed, his prospects crushed, thrown into depression and drink, and kills himself; the businesses that are brought to an end, who are overlooked when the ‘bail outs’ begin; the families that are thrust into poverty, so on and so forth.

    It is precisely the simple-minded fixation on the ‘lives unknowingly saved’ due to our measures that fail to think about the ‘lives unknowingly harmed’ thanks to the same measures that pisses me off. People need to grow up. These measures come at a cost, and for some that cost will be steep. What about them? Do they not at least get a ‘mention’ in our analysis?

    Will you have no apology for these people, if, in retrospect, we conclude we engaged in a massive over-reaction?

    For my own part, although I do believe it is an over-reaction, I am withholding final judgement. To me, the next 7-10 days will tell all, as the original post explains.

    • Anthony on March 21, 2020 at 10:31 am

    The logic of virus??fighting suggests strong measures to flatten the curve of infection in coming months. But as Merrill says, “who is going to quantify the number of deaths from unemployment stress, food insecurity, depression or lost health insurance — plus the spike in suicide rates and heart angina from the stress of being laid off or furloughed?”


    This post is not where I am defending this argument. But, this post will help us address such issues once the dust has cleared.

    • Stathei on March 21, 2020 at 6:52 pm

    “Will you have no apology for these people, if, in retrospect, we conclude we engaged in a massive over-reaction?” I think the answer is to support these people as best we can now rather than wait passively for them to become statistics. An apology should not be necessary.

    I support these measures and more (nationwide shelter in place, anyone?), and I fully support a massive spending bill to mitigate the suffering alluded to in the cato.org blog SJ quoted.

    • Anthony on March 22, 2020 at 6:34 pm

    “I think the answer is to support these people as best we can now rather than wait passively for them to become statistics. An apology should not be necessary.”

    The obvious fallacy is in overlooking the fact that they are still going to become statistics. Hopefully, ‘just’ people who need a decade to get back on their feet again, and not actually dead. You are right. An apology won’t be necessary, but not because you ‘meant well.’ But because they still died, from suicide, malnutrition, etc. You don’t get a pass because you failed to appreciate the mortal risks of a massive economic upheaval.

    Hopefully, the suffering (and death) coming from these measures will be limited because the measures won’t last longer than a couple of weeks. If they last longer than that, or intermittently over the next 18 months, as I’ve heard discussed….

    Honestly, I don’t think people will put up with it for more than a month.

    • Stathei on March 22, 2020 at 9:54 pm

    SJ these measures are here to stay for a while – the only solutions to the pandemic are vaccination (12-18 months away), herd immunity (2 years plus away) or intermittent draconian measures while we wait.

    I just read a convincing article saying that if we, as a planet, locked down completely for a mere two weeks the pandemic would be gone. Unfortunately we can’t get neighboring American states to do the same thing never mind countries on opposite sides of the globe. Not going to happen.

    If I were a religious person I imagine I would think this was a test – if we can get together as human beings this is over by early April, if we can’t it is our cross to bear for the foreseeable future.

    Speaking of which, where do you think God is in this, SJ? (Genuinely interested and I won’t comment on anything you post.)

    • Anthony on March 22, 2020 at 11:29 pm

    If you locked down the planet for two weeks, you could end an awful lot of things. LOL. The question is “At what cost?”

    I doubt very much these measures are here to stay for anything more than a couple of weeks. People won’t put up with it. But time will tell.

    God is where he always is. The Scriptures talk about plenty of plagues, etc, and there is no hint in them that anyone, not even Christians, will be spared them. The point of Christianity is not that God spares us from suffering but that he suffers alongside us. That’s made clear in the crucifixion itself, and expanded on even more in the book of Hebrews. Plagues are no different than wars, etc. People have always wondered where God is, all the more so when there are calamities. Christians themselves have struggled with it. But the scriptures are clear, we are not promised deliverance from the world’s problems, but rather God’s ultimate solution and resolution to them, not in this world, but in the next.

    • Stathei on March 23, 2020 at 10:11 am

    I think the cost of a complete global lock down would be huge, but not as massive as the cost of the half-assed partial lock down that we will be under for the foreseeable future. I really can’t see it lasting just a couple of weeks, but I do think people will put up with it when they see what is happening despite it.

    Thanks for the response re God. Stay safe.

    • Timaahy on March 24, 2020 at 12:23 am

    OMG, Stathei is back! WHY WASN’T I TOLD?!

    P.S. How you doing mate!

    • Stathei on March 24, 2020 at 1:09 pm

    Tim! Doing well all considered – how the hell are you, my friend? I hope you are getting through this ok. It’s a bit sad that SJ isn’t as much fun to banter with as he used to be lol. I see you have your own blog I will definitely check it out! Good luck and stay safe.

    • Timaahy on March 30, 2020 at 8:40 pm

    “But where are all the dead Americans?”

    You have 3,000 dead now. Is that enough?

    • Anthony on March 30, 2020 at 9:52 pm

    From April 12, 2009 to April 10, 2010, CDC estimated there were 60.8 million cases (range: 43.3-89.3 million), 274,304 hospitalizations (range: 195,086-402,719), and 12,469 deaths (range: 8868-18,306) in the United States due to the (H1N1)pdm09 virus.

    And globally:

    Additionally, CDC estimated that 151,700-575,400 people worldwide died from (H1N1)pdm09 virus infection during the first year the virus circulated.

    • Anthony on March 30, 2020 at 9:52 pm

    Wake me up when we are past that.

  1. That’s an odd reply.

    We didn’t do a lot of mitigation for H1N1, and there were 12,000 deaths (in America). Now you get to argue that if we don’t have as many deaths, we’ve mitigated too much…?

    It’s weird.

  2. The other things to note are that:
    1 . H1N1 is a type of influenza, COVID-19 is not. We had existing antivirals for H1N1 that helped recoveries.
    2. A vaccine was developed for H1N1 in 2009.

    • Anthony on April 1, 2020 at 9:06 am

    I’ve already said… to YOU personally, even… that my threshold is the 2009 swine flu pandemic, and then to a lesser degree, the flu season of 2018-2019. That was at least a week ago. Did you think I was kidding at that time?

    I think you fail to understand the logic of this post. The point of this post was to try to set a baseline for being able to figure out what the results would be WITHOUT the heavy-handed mitigation. The only way to ascertain that was to evaluate the cases that emerged BEFORE the heavy-handed mitigation.

    Once the heavy-handed mitigations kick in, it becomes very difficult, if not impossible, to tweeze apart whether or not the resulting lower numbers are from the mitigations or from the fact that the disease is not as potent as feared. One presumes that the mitigations would lower the numbers, right?

    So, the only way to get a feel for what it would be without the mitigations is to look at the trends which begun before they started. This post was originally on March 16 which is two weeks ago. Certainly in the first week, say, March 16-22, most if not all of the new cases were from people who contracted it BEFORE March 16, that is BEFORE the mitigations began. Thus, the numbers after the first week can give us insight into the real potency of the disease.

    With an incubation period on average of 5-7 days, it is reasonable to also include the numbers from, say March 23 to the present, especially with outliers putting it out to 14 days.

    After 21 days, sometime next week, in the main, we’ll have to assume that people who are diagnosed with it contracted it AFTER the mitigation measures kicked in. From about today on (this is approx day 14 for the midwest), our window of opportunity to gather data on the question at hand slowly closes.

    It is true that even with what I was seeing I was skeptical (for reasons already stated) but I was also willing to see how this period played out. The purpose of this post was to mark a particular point of time, not necessarily advocate for a position. You are now asking me an entirely different question which has nothing to do with this post.

    • Timaahy on April 27, 2020 at 7:35 pm

    56,000 enough?

    • Anthony on April 27, 2020 at 9:57 pm

    Enough for what?

    I was always prepared to take it seriously. Just not “crush the entire country for decades” seriously.

    In my comment:

    “and then to a lesser degree, the flu season of 2018-2019. ”

    That means 60,000.

    We are still nowhere near the number of deaths to justify what has transpired, and there is no good reason to think we would have gotten there.

    Its funny you say this, because I’m actually sitting here feeling pretty vindicated.

  3. Enough for you to accept that the measures taken were not only not an overreaction, but were in fact, grossly inadequate.

  4. P.S. There are now 30,000 more deaths than when I posted my last comment.

  5. P.P.S This comment didn’t really age well, did it…

    “Yes, Italy, Iran, and Spain seem to be having troubles, but Germany, South Korea, and the United States seem to be holding their own to such an extent that it raises questions that the virus itself is the least important part of the analysis about its relative dangers.”

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