Contrary to what some people may think, I have not objected to the quarantine and stay at home orders in principle. I don’t object to the ‘flattening the curve’ argument. However, details matter, and so do limits. Facts matter. Truth matters. Reality matters. So, with the ‘flattening the curve’ argument, you don’t just get to make it as if it gives you carte blanche to do anything you want for however long you want to do it. What you actually have to do is show, how IN FACT, a health provider network risks being overwhelmed. This means producing numbers, figures, and actual data.
In that same spirit, if your aim is to show that the coronavirus will uniquely harm our system compared to the 2009 swine flu (12,500 deaths, 250,000 hospitalizations, 60 million infections in a year) or the 2018-2019 flu season (30,000 more deaths than normal), then you need to show actual data from THOSE years on how our health care system coped, region by region, and then provide figures for how we are faring against the coronavirus. The ‘flattening the curve’ argument is a great theory, and I will even say has merit, but its not a magic wand, either. At some point, you’ve got to put up, or you’ve got to shut up.
The problem with the ‘flattening the curve’ crowd is that they see no problem in waving their ‘oppression wand’ indefinitely. There was some sense about it when we didn’t know much. But now that we know things, its time to pony up actual figures. Why? Why not just listen to the experts and do whatever they want whenever they ask? If Fauci says jump, should not my only response be, “how high! would you like me to shine your jack boots too, sir?” No. Because it doesn’t follow that a public health expert is also an expert on the economy, etc, etc, and while I have no doubt that the likes of Fauci are getting a great lesson in supply chains right now, I bet he isn’t an expert in depressions vs. recessions. I bet he isn’t an expert in what 10 years of malaise can do to a country, but I bet the Germans of 1932 could tell you quite a bit.
Fauci is not God, and (in theory anyway), we are not his serfs, or his pawns to push around. We are citizens, which means, in the United States, WE GET A SAY in how we will be governed. (And at this point, I just lost all of the progressives, whose heads have exploded; well, they were lost from the beginning.) So, when the ‘experts’ are saying that we’re going to have to shelter in place for 3-4 months or even longer, up to 18 months, I DEMAND FACTS AND FIGURES AND REAL DATA.
Now, one reason we don’t have that data is because the CDC fouled up testing. I mean, they put the ‘F’ in FUBAR. But the other reason seems to be that they know that the data does not support 3-18 months. Personally, I don’t think even they believe it will be 3-18 months, but they don’t want to say it too loudly because then the urgency will drop, and, if we presume good faith, they believe we can only prevent it from becoming 3-18 months by maintaining the urgency. But we can still read between the lines… for example, nearly all of them keep saying “We are all going to get it eventually…”
This lets the cat out of the bag, as it were.
If you’re looking for an example of the 18 month horizon where evidently they do believe this time frame will be necessary, see the summary and page 14-15 of this document (dated March 16), which says:
Overall, our results suggest that population-wide social distancing applied to the population as a whole would have the largest impact; and in combination with other interventions – notably home isolation of cases and school and university closure – has the potential to suppress transmission below the threshold of R=1 required to rapidly reduce case incidence. A minimum policy for effective suppression is therefore population-wide social distancing combined with home isolation of cases and school and university closure.
To avoid a rebound in transmission, these policies will need to be maintained until large stocks of vaccine are available to immunise the population – which could be 18 months or more.
We are all helpless and hapless until a vaccine is discovered? Leave it to our public health officials to reduce problems to shots and condoms. And wide scale societal shut downs. Because, what could possibly go wrong with closing down an entire society for 18 months? LOL
I am just a worm compared to the mighty health care experts, a worm, and not a man. The scat beneath their shoes, and not capable of thinking independently or analyzing data. Not able to make my own decisions! Not able to care for my family without their expert guidance! And yet, and yet, and yet… may I humbly submit… there is another way?
Now, the problem with our Expert Tyrants of the linked article is that for all their words, some to the contrary, they do rather assume that coronavirus is uniquely deadly, that we’ll never find effective treatments besides a vaccine, and “rebounds in transmission” are inevitable if they lift their boots from our necks even for a moment. Why is that? How can they say things which undermine their own position and apparently be unaware? Now, I am not, as I admitted, a god like them, but I do have something of a background in philosophy, which provides a strong hint: its the weighting of the data.
You see, it isn’t just a matter of having the data. One must give arguments, evidence, and data their proper weight. These must all be kept in perspective, in proportion, in balance. Alas, if you are already predisposed to view the world in a particular way, then this can throw everything out of whack and give false conclusions.
In this case, the data they do not give significant weight to is items like this:
Analyses of data from China as well as data from those returning on repatriation flights suggest that 40-50% of infections were not identified as cases
Right. When tens of thousands of people flew in to the United States from China a day throughout the month of January with no one the wiser that infected people were coming to our country, the very obvious question is… how is it that no one was the wiser? Right. Most cases are so mild that people don’t even know they have it. Yes, yes, that means that people can transmit the disease unknowingly (eg, as with many other diseases), so its still a problem. But is the solution, with this fact pattern, to lock EVERYONE up, even if they’ve already had the disease, and even if we’re relatively certain they would be fine, if they subsequently contract the disease?
Now, no matter what happens, we’re going to have multiple waves of infections. I believe with 2009 H1N1, there were 3. You are familiar with it with the flu. However, if you are concerned that you might overwhelm the health care system each and every time you relax the lock downs, then instead of assuming you are powerless in the meantime barring a vaccine, maybe its worth exploring another possibility: deliberately allowing the disease to spread in some controlled fashion so that the ‘herd immunity’ in a population grows, but does not threaten the resources of the whole system, so that successive ‘waves’ won’t be so painful.
It is just simple logic that if you lock people down who do not have the disease and then let them all go, they, having no immunity, are just going to put us back in the same place we are now. The yahoos have that part figured out, which is why they have the 18 month time frame. But if the people do have immunity, we won’t be back in the same place. How exactly do people get immunity? Does it always and only require vaccines? I leave the experts to hunt for an answer. But you and I know the answer, don’t we?
In point of fact, it is a real blessing to know precisely who is at most risk with the disease: the old and those with underlying health conditions. Certainly, there are exceptions, but that’s what they are, exceptions. That means that we would be able to provide targeted measures which severely protect the old and those with underlying health conditions, subsequently building up the ‘herd immunity’, so that a population not only isn’t contagious anymore, but generally can’t be contagious anymore.
The whole social distancing scam is based on the tenuous assertion that we are protecting the old people by shutting ourselves in our houses AS IF there was no other way to protect the old and vulnerable people…. I don’t know, maybe shut THEM into their houses? lol I know, real high level thinking required, here, right?
Maybe at the beginning, when we weren’t as confident in our data, that was an appropriate response. However, now that we know the patterns hold, and with some knowledge of how many people can suffer and die if we bring a Great Depression down on our heads (feel free to study the period of 1930 to 1945 if you like, paying attention to the underlying economic dynamics leading to great and terrible events), we can:
- Isolate and quarantine the old and the vulnerable.
- Test liberally and often, even when symptoms are not being shown. Quarantine anyone who tests positive. This flattens the curve, but does not pussy-foot around the fact that we all know everyone is going to get it. So, we LET people get it, but on a measured pace.
- Local governments should beef up their capabilities significantly, without waiting for things to get ‘hot.’
- When people get sick, throw EVERY conceivable and available treatment at it. [Once we have identified the winners, obviously that’s what we go to first.]
- Otherwise, in areas where there are not many cases, carry on as business as usual.
Interestingly, I’ve said a lot of this before, and the scare-mongers have often shrieked back at me (always the same thing: “But muh experts! Flatten the curve! Social Distancing!”) but this isn’t really a novel idea. This is almost exactly what South Korea did. Do you remember South Korea?
The US and SK had their first confirmed cases at about the same time. Unlike the US, SK had their shit together when it came to testing, and they have managed to test broadly and quickly from the beginning, and after more than 2 months, their total number of cases is 9,137 with only 126 deaths (March 25, 2020). I have been documenting SK (and Germany and Italy) for almost 6 weeks. If any of this is new to you, I suggest you read all my previous commentary. It is top shelf stuff.
So, contrary to what the scare-mongers say, what I’m proposing DOES have the backing of ‘experts.’ The real question is why the hell aren’t we following the lead of THESE experts, especially when we have demonstrated success we can look to?
I hate to post anything from the New York Times, but I have to admit that this is a very good summary of what South Korea did and is doing. If you object to anything I’ve said so far and feel inclined to argue with me, I INSIST that you read this article FIRST. If you don’t, and still comment, I will thrash you.
Look at this one:
Probably “hundreds of thousands of people” have already had Covid-19, didn’t know they had it, and recovered. Should be tested for antibodies so they could go back to work and keep the economy going
Who is that?
Did the reader know that everyone is assuming there are already hundreds of thousands of people, if not more, who already had Covid? If not, why not? We’ve known it for weeks. Does this fact have any utility? Why, yes it does. It means that these people are being locked up irrationally in a manner that is counter-productive. We WANT these formerly sick people back to work.
The NYT article above did not make it absolutely clear (iirc) that the other benefit of the SK approach was that, while slowing down the run on hospital care, it also built up the population’s overall immunity. This will have the permanent effect of flattening the curve in a much more robust and responsible way that I’m afraid to say… does it make you sad to consider it?… does not require an 18 month long shut down of the entire country.
Now, it may be said that it doesn’t follow that SK’s approach will ‘work’ in the US. Sure, sure. From the people who told us that Italy was our Destiny, let’s now all admit that what happens in one country does not absolutely foretell what will have in another.
But of course there is truth to it. But this goes to the point that I was making in yesterday’s post. Remember, Italy has 60,000,000 people but the US has 330,000,000 people. Such differences impact how we interpret the data, and different interpretations entail different policy suggestions. Likewise, there are 50 states. The US is not one giant homogeneous glob of people concentrated into 10 square miles. Some states are as different from each other in culture, beliefs, customs, as the US is different from Italy and SK.
What does Montana have to do with New York? What does Arizona have to do with Wisconsin? What does Seattle have to do with Arkansas? These places are separated by thousands of miles, with different population densities, cultures, etc. Why is Wisconsin in a 1 month long lock down where you are subject to fine or arrest MERELY FOR DRIVING for ‘unapproved’ reasons, with only 463 confirmed cases and 5 deaths?
Is it really so absurd to think that the South Korean model couldn’t work in Wisconsin, at least out in the rural areas? What an absurd idea! If only there was an expert who might say the same thing?
How about Fauci, the top dog?
This is from yesterday’s briefing (about the 18 minute mark), and I paraphrase, because I don’t have a transcript:
Now that we have lots of testing available, I’d just like to point out that in places outside of the hot spots, if we have good data, these areas have a window of opportunity to contain the disease [then he references a procedure like mine above].
Goodness gracious. It’s almost starting to sound like I actually know what I’m talking about.
If only there were actual countries pursuing my suggestion…
I can’t speak for other states, but here in Wisconsin I demand to know why our governor refuses to go along with this more balanced approach, supported by experts and actual outcomes (SK), and instead has chosen to lock down the state for an entire month, harming untold thousands while, at least on the data we have, there is no reason to think our medical system is being taxed or was on course for being taxed. Well, I think I know the answer to that question, but I am in no position to obtain it. I hope someone does, though.
Anyway, these above are not the only people who have made similar comments, but I’d say Fauci ought to carry enough weight so I don’t have to provide dozens. It’s not a bad idea, and it is supported by experts, and it does comport with common sense, reason, and logic. So why aren’t we doing it?
Now, I should mention that, as I’ve said before, if reason and evidence suggests we do more than this, then by all means, we should. New York is clearly in that boat. I’m a little annoyed, to be frank, that my state went into a lock down almost a week before them, when it was them that was having the real problems. Now we’re all going to have to hear about the god-awful numbers of the US, when in fact those numbers are just going to come from 2-3 places from within the country. But not to give the commie mayor there a pass, we should mention that the reason NY is in the boat it is in is because the CDC failed miserably with the tests.
It is almost certainly the case that New Yorkers have had the disease there since January in large numbers, people were probably even dying from it, just not with credit to COVID (remember, in this same time period, thousands and thousands of Americans have died from the flu, but they don’t always test to ensure it was the flu that did the killing, and without widespread data suggesting it was NOT the flu but rather something else, it is easy to believe deaths were piling up from both the flu and coronavirus during that time). If we had good testing, even New York wouldn’t be the hot spot it is becoming.
So, hey. I will let you escalate measures as the data and evidence supports it. But its not carte blanche. No blank checks. Whatever you do, if it is not proportioned to the facts, it is out of line and out of bounds. And I hope that in Wisconsin laws are changed rapidly and lawsuits are filed, because here at least it is way out of line. But there is still time to change course, too.
As usual, I have much more to say, but that’s it for now.