April 22, 2020

In Which I Post Against Type

I am deeply sympathetic to the concerns of the protestors who are demanding an end to the lock-downs. They are stuck in houses with stir crazy kids , are justifiably worried about not having work and have a healthy, admirable and frankly, well founded, skepticism of the officious overlords who do nothing to hide the great glee that said officials take in tormenting them via these mitigation efforts. 

However, I think the protestors are wrong on the merits in most cases, and they don't help their cause, the country or themselves by having mass gatherings without masks. 

The virus is real. It's not "Just a flu bro." 

 "These numbers contradict the notion that many people who have died from the virus might soon have died anyway. In Paris, more than twice the usual number of people have died each day, far more than at the peak of a bad flu season. In New York City, the number is four times the normal amount. . . . But the total death numbers offer a more complete portrait of the pandemic, experts say, especially because most countries report only those Covid-19 deaths that occur in hospitals.”

That is from this  report which is behind a paywall. 
Of course that report is at the New York Times, Duranty's rag,  which is reason enough for many to dismiss it out of hand. That doesn't make them stupid. It makes them observant, but one of the sinister things about outlets like the Old Grey Lady, is that amongst all the lies, husks of their competence still remain, so simply dismissing everything they say, while well founded, is not always right. If the NYT reports that the Earth goes around the Sun. That doesn't make geocentricism right. 

I've been following this story for a while, and while I think it is not meeting the direst predictions, it IS , in fact, a real thing that is markedly worse than the regular flu. It is not clear to me how much of the  lower than predicted deaths are from the current lockdown measures but I'm fairly confident that the percentage is non-zero. 

I think that we probably ought to continue this for a few more weeks at l least in Urban areas, especially since there are a number of promising treatments in the pipeline that, if effective and approved in the next few weeks, will lower actual risks substantially, making the deaths from a premature abandonment of the effort rather senseless. 

That being said, the draconian and stupid measures being taken in some areas are simply not helping. The idiotic harassment of people walking alone, gardening or trying to give their kids a bit of fresh air are nothing but the sadistic cruelty of people who hold those they nominally serve in contempt. The naked power grabs of people like Virginia's odious Governor Northam, who has set a hard limit of ending the lock down REGARDLESS OF DATA for after primaries and local municipal elections (for which ballots will have to be handled by the postal service union) shows that much of the lock-down is not in good faith. 

I noted that I think that most of the protests are understandable but wrong headed. Most is not all. For example, the in-car, rolling protest, in Michigan to stand against that loathsome governors disgusting overreach and senseless power-trips was absolutely brilliant in execution and completely justified. 

On the other hand, other mass rallies without masks of any sort are, in my opinion, counter-productive in every way. 

They WILL result in a spike in cases, which will kill people, and they will therefore give aid and comfort to out tormentors not only in the arena of public opinion, but also in the demographics of the voters that are taken off the electoral chessboard. 

I don't think that asking people to wear some form of mask in public, at least on public transport or in stores during a public health emergency is a civil rights violation, especially when a workable solution is well within most people's means

My opinion on this matter is not a popular one amongst many people I look up to and will no doubt piss off many of my readers, but I really think, given my area of expertise, that the lockdowns are the way to go in the near term. 

What is my expertise? Well, I was a hazmat responder for 12 years and I'm sporting a bachelor of arts in history. We history majors are absolute mad-lads in the area of 20-20 hindsight. Predicting future trends, not so much, but observing past events like the 1918 flu, which this most resembles and comparing the responses in that catastrophe of St. Louis and Philadelphia convinces me that a premature release of the lockdowns in urban areas is unwise. We've been following the St. Louis model in most places which I think is likely why the death and woe in this country have not matched those in less fortunate areas or come close to the most dire predictions. Our worst hot-zones are special cases, in NYC, he phenomenal density and high use of public transit has likely goosed the numbers and in NoLa poverty is added to those factors. 
There are other factors to be taken into account to be sure:
A full on depression will be worse in many ways than the plague itself, and poverty in the long term will kill far more than this disease, as well as exacerbate the effects of this pestillence and others, one only need to look the hell befalling Ecuador to see this. So this obviously cannot go on forever. However, we are reportedly but a few weeks away from the ability to test most everybody and the aforementioned treatments being looked at have enough potential to justify hanging on for a little bit. 

One final note about the economy, the 1918-19 flu coincided with a largely unrelated depression, sharper  even than the 1929 crash and saw tremendous levels of post WW1 debt. However, it bounced back into the Roaring 20s, largely because the government got mostly out of the way. 

Ensuring that the government stays out of the way requires winning the election in November, which requires showing up at the polls and not being in body bags. Remember what these officious bullies and sneering jackasses said about us and their "mitigation" efforts that show a total lack of good faith, common sense or both. But in the meantime don't play into their hands, or the protein spikes of Corona-Chan. 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 07:55 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
Post contains 1099 words, total size 8 kb.

1 Several items:

-I generally agree with you that beer-virus-chan is significantly worse than the flu. It's a combination of first world healthcare and lock downs that have kept the deaths down in the US. That said, I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that lock downs should start to be narrowed to any areas within 100 miles of an urban center and counties above a certain population density. We need to start intelligently backing down the lock downs.

-I have severe doubts about the effectiveness of the homemade masks to accomplish anything other than make people feel good. This advice is coming from the same people who told us originally that N95s and other masks wouldn't be effective and we shouldn't use them. They may have done it to ensure medical capabilities were preserved by protecting the front-line, but it does leave them with precious little credibility on this matter.

-NoLa is likely bad due to Mardi Gras happening shortly before the lock downs rather than straight poverty. Otherwise LA would be an abattoir.

-Ecuador is a good example of what would happen without modern medicine. Unfortunately almost nobody in the US is hearing about it via the lame street media.

Posted by: StargazerA5 at Wed Apr 22 21:04:28 2020 (3TbQP)

2 You know how Insty (and his cobloggers) like to say: the difference is between those who have jobs and those who do not. You still have the job, so you have the luxury to blog about "a number of promising treatments in the pipeline that, if effective and approved in the next few weeks". What about people who do not have the next few weeks?! Their choice is between 100% starving and taking a 0.02% chance. What is so difficult to understand here?

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Thu Apr 23 00:32:16 2020 (LZ7Bg)

3 Pete, I agree with about everything you said.  I'm not saying that the people protesting are bad or stupid or anything. In fact I tried to make clear that I think their lack of trust of their leaders motives is justified. The point of this post is not to rag on them, but I that think that a couple of more weeks (and I mean a couple, perhaps three at the most) has the potential to save a lot of lives, and ending this before then (given my understanding of what happened in 1918-19) will likely throw away many of the gains made. 
Let's be clear though, while reasonable people can disagree in good faith on the exact time to end this mess, this mess is unsustainable for much longer. 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Thu Apr 23 10:26:11 2020 (5iiQK)

4 Stargazer αV: I agree that the walkback should to be phased intelligently, but we've got the leaders who were the sorts of people who stand for election so....

Everything I've heard about masks (other than K-95, N-95, and N-99) is that they don't protect the wearer but cut down on the ability of the wearer to infect others. In my limited experience, this is how they are used in Japan. Given that people with this bug are asymptomatic for an extended period,  requiring or at least strongly encouraging them on transit and in stores seems useful...however, as I alluded to in the post and my reply to Pete, I heartily agree with you that the publics skepticism is rational.   
Indeed, though Ecuador is also a good example of what will happen if this goes on too long and we let the economy go full 1933...'cause there won't be any modern medicine available. 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Thu Apr 23 10:39:55 2020 (5iiQK)

5 Not disagreeing with your post, exactly, but I would like to ask people who want to continue the quarantine as it is, what they're waiting for and when they expect it.

By itself, quarantining doesn't change the number of people who get sick, it only changes the timing. It is certainly valuable to "flatten the curve" so as to avoid overwhelming hospitals. But it seems we've done that outside of New York. Drugs and vaccines are unlikely to come soon (see Derek Lowe's blog In the Pipeline).

Better treatment of some sort may arrive in weeks, but you can say that forever. California's  "framework" for re-opening is vague enough to delight a politician. It seems to me that a measured re-opening is about due.

Posted by: Matthew Cowles at Thu Apr 23 22:35:55 2020 (irynM)

6 @Mathew Cowels:  There are several studies involving promising treatments (not vaccines) that were reported a few weeks ago as being ready in early to mid May. We need to re-open the economy by then, regardless, but if any of those pan out then the wait will save many lives, during the inevitable rebound/second wave of this virus. As for the rebound itself, we are seeing "the curve flattening" now, letting up to soon will probably,  cause a massive surge in cases, which could wipe out all the gains bought by this lockdown. 
The systematic opening of rural areas as is happening now seems prudent.  
Regardless of the epidemiological data, we HAVE to reopen in the next few weeks. The looming economic nightmare aside, the power grabs that are going on and the precedents being set will have evil ramifications if this is not put to bed quick. However, given the very recent levelling off in rate of new cases, and the very real potential for new, approved treatments in the next few weeks, the potential cost in lives, looks (to me) to be too great to stop just as we're turning the curve. 
Reasonable people ought to be able to disagree respectfully on this as reasonable people are concerned about all three aspects of this mess.


Finally, I think that everybody on any side of this argument is acting with vastly incomplete data, except those who want to keep this lockdown going for another six to 18 months, for whom data is inconsequential in comparison to their thirst for power. 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Sat Apr 25 12:59:01 2020 (5iiQK)

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