Pitchforks in the Street (Plague, Day 44, April 16, 2020)

Imagine that you are a single mom who owns a coffee shop. Your kid, who has autism, is bouncing off the walls at home by himself without schools to keep him busy and occupied.. You have to spend all day at the shop even though business is down by 60 percent, because you need every penny to pay your mortgage.

There’s no money coming your way. Just some loans, which won’t help, because loans have to be paid back.

You’ve already had to lay off workers. Others just stopped showing up. So, you’re working double hard for less money. Meanwhile, some lady called the mayor to report that you let your mask drop below your chin for a second to catch a breath of air.

Then imagine you watch the news and see that that the projected numbers of deaths aren’t nearly as high as they told you. Governor Cuomo and Dr. Fauci, neither of whom got your vote, are calling the shots.

Your neighbors all seem pretty happy. Either they have job secured by a union or their job is a computer job that was able to transition to their home without any problems. You get cheerful newsletters from the school district with advice about baking pies and playing board games, when you barely have time to boil pasta at night for you and your kid.

How do you feel? You’re pissed, right?

Protesters in Michigan yesterday are sure that this social distancing, which has already led to 22 million unemployment claims, is politically driven and unrealistic. They’re angry at Democrats and elites and people on the coasts for ruining their lives. Those protests are going to angrier and more partisan.

Meanwhile, I’m reading tweets and commentary from medical and scientific experts who say that we’re looking at another year of social distancing. One tweeted that we’re looking at a decade of this. And that’s without opening the economy the way that Republicans would like. An open economy is going to lead to higher death tolls, which still will take a toll on the economy.

The country is beginning to divide up into regions with groups of Governors making major decisions about the lives and economy of their region. Our country is breaking apart, and at the same time, the President is calling to dissolve Congress and making statements about his absolute power. His rambling, unhinged evening press conferences are a horror show.

Meanwhile, even in relatively safe spaces in the suburbs, people are growing weary of the daily grind of homeschooling, desperate supermarkets, and fear for their parents. Those people aren’t going to stop social distancing, even if Trump says it is okay. They will listen to the governors and news sources and continue to isolate, especially in the hot spot states. Still, daily life is painful and making everyone edgy.

Our economy is not structured to handle messes like this. There are no safety nets. In the next few months, if we don’t see any changes in virus mitigation, we’re either going to see political changes or economic ones. I’m not sure where things will go.

78 thoughts on “Pitchforks in the Street (Plague, Day 44, April 16, 2020)

  1. The TV Doctor Oz is arguing that it might be time to reopen schools, saying:

    the opening of schools may only cost us 2-3% in terms of total mortality . . . might be a trade-off some folks will consider”

    Guess we will see how people decide what is most important to them and the country.

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    1. Are there parents who would make this trade off? There are probably families that would have no choice, if they can’t meet their child’s needs at home (including food) and cannot feed the family without working. And if those kids returned to school, would that be coercion?

      I’m guessing Oz was forgetting decimal points in his percents, because I dont’ think on would send their kids to school if 1/33 kids would die. That’s one kid dying in each class, on average.

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      1. Dr Oz regularly puts out medical twaddle, now he shows his lack of any sympathy. I remain baffled that people give him a platform.

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    2. Because, not even in my wildest, least informed opinions about Trump supporters, I still believe they love their children, too.

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      1. that is,
        Because, even in my wildest, least informed opinions about Trump supporters, I still believe they love their children, too.

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      2. Listening comprehension—total mortality includes everyone. Dr. Oz is NOT saying 2-3% of the children will die.

        Here’s the Lancet study he refers to: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanchi/article/PIIS2352-4642(20)30105-X/fulltext

        The Lancet article outlines many of the losses children face by being denied access to the schoolroom.

        A systematic review by Russell Viner and colleagues, published on April 6, assessed findings from 16 studies looking at the effects of school closures on coronavirus outbreaks in China, Hong Kong, and Singapore. They found limited benefit on slowing the spread of the virus, and the authors stress that closures must be considered within the wider context of loss of essential workers due to childcare demands, restrictions in learning, socialising, and physical activity for pupils, and the substantial risks to the most vulnerable children, including those in low-income settings. Following school closures amidst the west African Ebola epidemic, rates of child labour, neglect, sexual abuse, and adolescent pregnancies spiked, and many children never returned to school.

        Many children will suffer from a lack of access to school-provided social assistance, such as free lunches or clean water and washing facilities. Those engaged with school-facilitated health care, such as vaccinations and mental health services, may miss out on vital health provisions.

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      3. But this is one of those things, where, if they send their kids to school, their kid might die. Or, it’s not Say, can you send your child to school in rural Virginia? I feel like we need better connectivity maps.

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      4. As of April 10, three (3) children have died of coronavirus in the US. Six (6) have been admitted to an ICU. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6914e4.htm

        Children are not at risk. Keeping them from school may protect others in the household (a theory which has not been proven), but people under 18 are not at risk for dying of COVID-19 by going to school.

        In comparison, each year about 2,000 children die of accidents at home. https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=accident-statistics-90-P02853

        That rate will probably rise this year, as children are spending much more time at home.

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      5. I wasn’t imagining 2% of children dying of Covid, only presuming that Oz had said that and wondering whether anyone would find that an acceptable trade off. I also don’t think 2% of people is an acceptable trade off but would some others? I’m guessing not unless they think it will be 2% of people other than them.

        I do sincerely think the in person protests are dangerous to the people involved. But I guess I’ll be proven right or wrong with time.

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    3. That’s 6 million people. Pretending the economy will just chug along with that happening seems about as unlikely as an 18 month shutdown.

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  2. “Our economy is not structured to handle messes like this.”

    No economy is. This is the pandemic we’ve been worrying about in the modern age. It has all the features that would exacerbate political divisions.

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  3. We’re patting ourselves in the back in Washington state, and, in the Seattle metro area, which includes the suburbs, I think we see ourselves as having saved ourselves from the NY style epidemic. UW hosptials are going to start testing of all admitted patients — with the goal of finding more about incidence. Labs at the U converted to becoming COVID testing labs.

    But, I think joggers are not behaving properly on the streets and only a few of us can stomach this going on for months. The county the state capitol is in has only one death. I can see your shopkeeper wondering there. I think we need measured opening.

    Say, wrestling certainly isn’t essential. But, can it be an experiment? can they restart wrestling for television and have everyone stay healthy? MLB has been toying with the idea of restarting in the MLB Arizona spring training site. That’s a much bigger experiment, but can it be done? Can we set up testing and monitoring in either of those situations to keep infections manageable.

    Can we get infections under control in the military, including the aircraft carriers?

    But my “experiments” require testing and monitoring and a willingness to shift approaches based on data and expertise, not wishful thinking or instincts.

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  4. I say there’s no patience for months or years of lockdown. I give it a month, actually, tops, especially outside the dense cities.

    The fantasies–and they are fantasies–of 18 months of enforced social distancing ignores many things. The objective is only to spread out the illness, to “flatten the curve,” so that medical services aren’t overwhelmed. It is not to save the lives of people who would die if infected, because no one has any natural immunity to this thing. It’s too widely spread to contain.

    Once any state loosens restrictions, others will be forced to follow. People will not accept being forced to go bankrupt and starve, nor will they long accept being told that other business is “essential” while their businesses are “not essential.” Already, in some states, the businesses with lobbyists have a better chance of being deemed “essential.” Are realtors “essential?” More “essential” than construction?

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    1. I see there being a poor/rich divide and a rural/urban divide. I do not think that the west coast states or the north east states will have to follow Michigan. The west coast coalition is imagining a phased opening, with testing. I’d guess that construction will be one of the earlier businesses to bring people back. Then what? the tech workers *can* work from home.

      Bringing back social venues, though, restaurants, theaters, shops, MLB, though will require people to be willing to venture into those spaces. Some might find an audience, but it’s not going to be big if 2-3% of people are dying, and will be less likely to happen, without confidence that the risks are being well assessed.

      91% of Brits apparently support the distancing, and Americans aren’t far behind at 81%. We are now running on more than a month from the statewide closure of the schools. I think we will break curfew here (i.e. the joggers in the parks, seeing friends, . . . .) but I think we’ll still support distancing.

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  5. I don’t think the protesters in Michigan are going to get more partisan. I think the reason the protests were bigger in Michigan is because the Republican party there is poised to lose power. They lost the last statewide election and probably can’t hold the legislature with fairly drawn districts. You see the same kind of rage in Wisconsin for the same reasons.

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    1. MH wrote, “I don’t think the protesters in Michigan are going to get more partisan. I think the reason the protests were bigger in Michigan is because the Republican party there is poised to lose power.”

      And because Michigan has had especially indefensible restrictions.

      That’s the “no buying seeds at Walmart” state and was until very recently the “no buying carseats at Walmart” state.

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  6. I feel bad for the coffee shop owner, among many other people I feel bad for. But it will probably be 2021 before I’m going to a coffee shop again. Doesn’t matter what Cuomo, Trump, or anyone else says. Same thing with dine-in restaurants. Or air travel. Or movies. Or large gatherings of any kind really. If you want to get me doing any of those things again, figure out how you’re going to give me some confidence that it can be done safely.

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      1. Michael B, I am with you. As an old fat guy, my personal goal is not to catch this. And I can do pretty much everything I need to do at home, and my kids are shopping for me. So, yeah, there will be a vaccine and I will have been vaccinated before I set foot in a sit down restaurant or go to a museum again.

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    1. MichaelB wrote, “I feel bad for the coffee shop owner, among many other people I feel bad for. But it will probably be 2021 before I’m going to a coffee shop again. Doesn’t matter what Cuomo, Trump, or anyone else says. Same thing with dine-in restaurants. Or air travel. Or movies. Or large gatherings of any kind really. If you want to get me doing any of those things again, figure out how you’re going to give me some confidence that it can be done safely.”

      Yeah.

      My personal timeline is a bit different, as I am thinking about visiting family in WA for Thanksgiving in 2020 if it cools down–but it’s got to cool down. If Thanksgiving didn’t work, I’d want to try for January 2021, or summer 2021.

      Movie theaters are especially bad–because nobody NEEDS to go see a movie in a theater. I dearly love my Starbucks, but it’s unnecessary and it’s just one more avenue for exposure–and who needs that right now?

      Husband and I have a bit of a dilemma right now, as our senior has a delayed high school graduation ceremony and prom scheduled for a weekend at the end of June. School is also thinking of rescheduling the senior trip to Italy for July. The Italy trip is definitely a no from me and my husband, but we are wobbly/conflicted on the other stuff, especially graduation. It’s less than two dozen kids, and if the numbers were kept low enough, it could be fine. Husband and I have some ideas, like do it with just the seniors and minimal staff and have parents watch online and maybe skip the reception?

      Our family hasn’t shut down completely–our 9th grader has been continuing to do tennis and runs with kids outside our family (with lots of distancing). He sounded pretty bummed when I mentioned the possibility that school for Fall 2020 may also be online.

      From looking at the local news, it looks like there are a lot of cases of teens breaking loose and blowing off steam in various weird and potentially dangerous ways (like a 14-year-old disappearing with the family car in the middle of the night).

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    2. I’m going to be sad if I can’t go to a coffee shop, restaurant, travel by the fall. So, I’ll be more ready to push forward, though it will have to depend on belief in the people making the decisions in the places where I am going. I feel like my state is managing things well (even when they get things wrong, I feel like they are making evidence driven decisions). I am watching the numbers of confirmed cases drop (though I feel like this can change quickly). So I feel like we’re making ourselves to the extension of flattening the curve. If we look at the data from the 1918 flu pandemic, we can see that states that stopped the spike had second waves. We’ll have to be watching for that, and make sure that the 2nd wave doesn’t become a spike.

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  7. Protesters in Michigan yesterday are sure that this social distancing, which has already led to 22 million unemployment claims, is politically driven and unrealistic. They’re angry at Democrats and elites and people on the coasts for ruining their lives. Those protests are going to angrier and more partisan.

    Why not be angry at the federal government led by one orange moron who dismantled our public health infrastructure and then bungled the chance to set up a huge testing apparatus like Germany or South Korea that would allow us to slowly reopen the economy?

    Because that would make too much sense, obviously.

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  8. It’s not really Seattle versus New York, it’s everyplace else in the country versus New York. It seems clear to me that when you compare states of the United States, or European countries, you see that the primary determinant of COVID-19 incidence is population density (and its correlative, use of mass transit), and that policy measures make little difference. So policy measures that suit New York City may indeed be inappropriate for other localities, and may occasion political resistance.

    I should note that SBA paycheck protection loans are largely forgivable, so it isn’t quite true that “loans must be repaid.”

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    1. y81 said, “It’s not really Seattle versus New York, it’s everyplace else in the country versus New York. It seems clear to me that when you compare states of the United States, or European countries, you see that the primary determinant of COVID-19 incidence is population density (and its correlative, use of mass transit), and that policy measures make little difference. So policy measures that suit New York City may indeed be inappropriate for other localities, and may occasion political resistance.”

      That’s fair about NYC versus everybody else. NYC public transportation seems to have been a major villain.

      On the other hand, Hong Kong is ridiculously dense, but it’s doing way better than NYC, so density isn’t everything.

      At this point, there have been a number of highly publicized cases of arrests or crackdowns in the US that look like a reach. There might be arguments in particular cases (the one guy running on the beach isn’t a hazard, but if everybody was back out on the beach it would be), but it looks bad to the public. See also bans on drive-in church services–which do not make a lot of sense. We’re smart people–isn’t there some way to figure out how to make parks and beaches usable during the summer months and to figure out low/no-contact ways to manage daily life? The tighter restrictions are on debatable stuff, the less tolerance the public will have for lengthy restrictions.

      With regard to length of restrictions–we’ve already been having a lot of people dying in their homes because they are (reasonably) terrified to go to the hospital when they have heart attack and stroke symptoms. If restrictions are going to go on longer, we’ve got to figure out how to safely provide basic non-COVID care to the public. There’s also only so long that the public can go without routine medical and dental care.

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      1. Regarding Hong Kong, I purposely excluded Asia from my statement. I don’t really understand why their experience has been so mild, compared to Western countries.

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      2. You know, excluding data points is the curse of analysis. If you have a theory, and then have to pull out the outliers, reasons are necessary (and not just rationalizations). I think the virus, its transmission, social and medical solutions are still very much in the air and don’t want to strongly push any particular theory.

        Physical distancing measures appear to have had a significant effect on deaths in the 1918 pandemic. That’s the main data point I rely on to hypothesize that our distancing efforts are having an effect now.

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      3. I don’t agree, as a general proposition, with the proposition that “Excluding data points is the curse of analysis.” Obviously, if you exclude selected data points simply because they don’t fit your thesis, that doesn’t work. But if you can divide a study population into two sets, objectively defined by something other than the characteristic under study, and say, “In subpopulation X, A correlates with B, but in subpopulation Y, A does not correlate with B,” you may gain analytic clarity. I can think of any number of examples where, for example, a correlation holds for men but not women, or married but not single people, or whatever. Many times when you find a bimodal distribution, this separation of the larger population is the best way to proceed.

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      4. You must have very valid reasons for separating your data and removing outliers. “Asian” countries isn’t a valid one, though high testing, high contact tracing, high monitoring, high support of quarantined individuals (along with the distancing measures taken) might be some.

        Germany, a non-Asian country also has a low death rate, and has most of the above.

        I was recently looking at the curves for deaths, and don’t agree that there is NY and the rest of the country. WA & CA are far along on the transmission (i.e. days from first death) and have flatter curves than NY (and connected areas), MI, and LA. OH also looks like it’s on a flatter curve. I’m eyeballing these curves, which is a bad method of sorting data, so don’t weight my evaluation very highly (we’ll know more when we are all on the other sides of curves).

        I am wary of looking at FL, TX yet, but, we may know more about those when we see case/deaths going down in those states.

        National Geographic has a nice graphic showing the 1918 flu pandemic in different cities, total deaths, and a graphic curves of peaks.

        https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/2020/03/how-cities-flattened-curve-1918-spanish-flu-pandemic-coronavirus/

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    2. y81 – maybe a better way to cut it is ‘high density and few people wearing masks/gloves’ versus ‘lower density or high density with high levels of mask use’? it looks to me like we can be a lot looser if everyone’s gloved and masked than if not, going forward.

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    3. I don’t think it’s possible to have one policy for NYC and another policy for everyone else. We’re too connected.

      My area of NJ was probably infected by a couple of medical workers who commuted into the city, and a devout Jew from Westchester who infected a bunch of people in temple in Teaneck, who then infected everyone in 100 mile range of here. Organized religion has been one of the big spreader of disease.

      Unless you build a brick wall around NYC, one or two sick people are going to slip out, infect others who will then spread far and wide in un-distancing areas.

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  9. The restrictions were sold as flattening the curve to make sure there would be enough hospital resources (icu beds and ventilators). Well, the curve is flattened in most places (https://covid19.healthdata.org/united-states-of-america/california) and yet the restrictions are still being ratcheted up, and the stay home orders are being extended. The goalposts are moving, and there has been no assessment of the harms being caused by these order and are they balanced by the benefits?

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    1. Tulip said, “The restrictions were sold as flattening the curve to make sure there would be enough hospital resources (icu beds and ventilators). Well, the curve is flattened in most places (https://covid19.healthdata.org/united-states-of-america/california) and yet the restrictions are still being ratcheted up, and the stay home orders are being extended. The goalposts are moving, and there has been no assessment of the harms being caused by these order and are they balanced by the benefits?”

      That’s a very fair point.

      It’s time to have some discussions now. There are a lot of things we could do that we haven’t done yet or haven’t done much yet.

      It makes sense during the emergency phase of the COVID-19 reaction to stop deliberating and just shut stuff down, but it’s time to start reengaging the democratic process and thinking about the way out–and no, that doesn’t mean 18 months of deep freeze. That cannot be done, and even if it could–we have no reason to believe that there’s going to be a good vaccine ready at the end of 18 months.

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      1. Another problem with Whitmer is that those restrictions are not about safety, despite her dressing them up with less time in the store – and all the trained seals clap along in unison. Those restrictions are about closed retailers complaining that “if we got shut down why can they sell clothes?” Screw parents of young kids looking for craft supplies to help keep the kids busy when you can’t even take them to the park. But if you try to talk about overreach, someone will start screeching OrangeManBad over and over to shutdown the discussion. How dare those deplorables want to protest something that is making the whole thing even worse when someone else wants to talk about OrangeManBad?

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      2. That’s because every other elected official is being judge against standards somehow related to competence while Trump is not. If it’s an overreach, it’s a very small overreach compared to putting the president’s name in the memo line of a stimulus check or asserting dictatorial powers on the part of president.

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      3. That’s the Trump playbook. He messes something up and then starts spitting at the faults of others, usually at somebody foreign or a woman with political power.

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      4. It is entirely possible to agree that Trump is a dangerous incompetent buffoon and think that the governors are overreaching. Northam has decided that the right to petition government for the redress of wrongs is just not essential. I consider that an overreach.

        I also think that Trump’s existence doesn’t mean I shouldn’t demand competence from government. I’m not going to get it from the feds. I will continue to demand it from other levels.

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      5. Saying it’s a small overreach to not be allowed to buy diy supplies, or craft supplies, or toys for the kids compared to Trump putting his name on the checks completely ignores what people are going through. One directly affects quality of life and the other ….doesn’t. It highlights what an ego driven asshole he is, but it won’t change the amount. It delayed checks, so now they know who to blame. Most people are going to get direct deposits, and will never see it. You think they should be absolutely outraged.

        But the thing that directly affects their life. Suck it up deplorables, right?

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      6. In Pennsylvania, the intolerable infringement was that gun stores were closed. When those were opened, it was that liquor stores were closed (you could still buy beer).

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      7. Tulip said, “Saying it’s a small overreach to not be allowed to buy diy supplies, or craft supplies, or toys for the kids compared to Trump putting his name on the checks completely ignores what people are going through. One directly affects quality of life and the other ….doesn’t.”

        Yep.

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      8. That’s not close to true. It delayed the checks by a couple of days. Anybody who is short of things needs $1,200 more than they need fabric. It’s all chaff. There’s no positive (in all senses of the word) agenda in the Republican Party. It’s all identify and attack.

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      9. The main thing people need is protective equipment and better tests for COVID-19. Trump’s dithering and denial cost a month or two on working for both of those.

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      10. MH wrote, “You can just order stuff. It’s suboptimal, but a small deal blown up for political purposes.”

        Some points:

        –If you have an urgent home repair to do, delay is often a bad idea, and it makes a lot more sense to go to the store and pick out stuff yourself.
        –Is it that easy to order live plants online?
        –A lot of items have multiple uses, which may not be obvious to a non-handy person. I’m married to (and have been quarantining with) a MacGuyver type, so it hugely annoys me when people think that they know what is and isn’t essential. The odds are that, no, they really don’t know what an imaginative person can do with various items or what people unlike themselves might actually need.
        –Why do we assume that it’s necessarily so much safer in the Amazon or UPS warehouse than in a store? Just because we can’t see the crowded conditions or lack of protective equipment in warehouses doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.
        –Some items are a lot easier to get in store than online at this point.
        –Not everybody has Amazon Prime, a laptop, and great internet. It’s potentially a really “let them eat cake” thing to say to assume that everybody can navigate online ordering and can afford shipping costs. My parents, for example, do not internet at all and I believe that even if they did, the available internet is pretty dicey.
        –Being well-supplied in quarantine makes it easier to cope with a longer quarantine. Making people miserable with unnecessary restrictions will make them more resistant to necessary restrictions.
        –Whether or not it’s a small deal really depends whose ox is being gored. I suspect you’d sing a different tune if they shut down your local liquor stores and the only way to get alcohol was mail order.

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      11. They did shut down my local liquor stores and the only way I can get liquor is mail. We have been out of liquor for about a week (except for some white wine that I’m not desperate enough to drink).

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      12. I’m told we also have very old red wines in the basement that we haven’t been drinking because they are too expensive. I forgot about those.

        Anyway, surrounding states have outlawed selling liquor to Pennsylvania residents. Apparently that doesn’t violate the interstate commerce clause or nobody has managed to sue yet.

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  10. Michigan also has a horrible COVID-19 problem (currently 6X as many deaths as in Texas despite being 1/3 the size of Texas).

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    1. We’ve seen differences in deaths in different regions, even after the trajectories of their curves have been matched. Texas’s deaths curve does look flatter, than MI even if you align the data on the day they both reached 50 deaths. So TX might just have fewer infections (or, maybe fewer deaths) But, I think TX is doing less testing (their % of positive tests is pretty high, at 10%). I also think that there are transmissions that have occurred in low density places (the WA choir transmission being a prime example) in a way that makes me wary of imagining that states that are less dense will *necessarily* have shallower trajectories, less deaths.

      Thus, finding it surprising that a school would think they can have a trip to Italy in July (that would be a firm no for me). I think there might be ways to manage graduation, but I wouldn’t do it if I were in charge.

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      1. bj said, “Thus, finding it surprising that a school would think they can have a trip to Italy in July (that would be a firm no for me). I think there might be ways to manage graduation, but I wouldn’t do it if I were in charge.”

        We have a Zoom meeting about that tomorrow night. I don’t know what people are going to say, but air travel this summer is a big NO for us.

        About graduation–my husband is currently very much against, but as I was pointing out to him, things will be much clearer once we get deeper into June. Depending how things develop, it may be clearly out of the question. Our city numbers are excellent in terms of number of cases and number of recovered cases–but that’s largely the product of really good timing. (Husband, who is an ex-mathematician, says that our local growth in case numbers has never been exponential–it’s only been linear.) Our city shut down tight following spring break in March. On the other hand, I don’t know what happens once restrictions start being eased.

        I don’t know how you’d justify in-person school in college starting in August if a two dozen kid graduation was unsafe to hold at any point in the summer.

        Fall is the big question.

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  11. I’m not so sure the rural areas are going to be spared. Hall County, Nebraska, is now over half a percent of the population with confirmed infections. They have 1/3 of Nebraska’s cases in a county of 60,000 people and it’s only three weeks from the first reported case in the county. Most manufacturing/packing plants are still open.

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    1. The flu doesn’t spare rural areas. Typically it hits them later, and often harder overall. I’m not sure there much reason to expect this to be different.

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      1. Important point — we can use what we know about the spread of flu as an epidemiological reference point for spread (since this virus seems to spread at least as easily as flu).

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  12. Boeing is recalling 27K workers to make planes (I think defense related)
    Remdesivir had positive results in a Phase 3 trial with 100 or so patients with severe disease.

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    1. The remdesevir results are heartening, as is Gates’ willingness to splash out several billion on (still-speculative) vaccine plants

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    2. Given that we are spending more than 2 trillion on the stimulus plan, a couple of billion sounds like rounding error. The federal government should be funding the speculative vaccine research.

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  13. All the complaints about the details of quarantines are important, but, the problem is that you won’t know what you really need to do. Having cooperation and buy in between those making the decisions and the people is necessary. No one is going to get it right every time because the science, predictions and details are complicated.

    Take masks, for example, which the surgeon general was sternly warning against because of inadequate supply without encouraging solutions that might not damage supply. Potentially it was the right choice at the time, but in order to believe that, and the change based on new data, we need to have trust in expertise. I have that here for those making decisions in WA, that they are data based and might change, but if they do it will be on new data and analysis. I don’t have that trust in the federal government response and not just because of prior biases but because of the actions taken during this crisis.

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    1. bj said, “Having cooperation and buy in between those making the decisions and the people is necessary.”

      Right.

      “Take masks, for example, which the surgeon general was sternly warning against because of inadequate supply without encouraging solutions that might not damage supply.”

      Yes. To be fair, I have heard that the same anti-mask advice was being given in previous less serious outbreaks. The powers that be have had a really longstanding, weird prejudice against masks.

      Early on, anti-Chinese racism was the trendy coronavirus angle, but I think there’s a possibility that the US COVID-19 response may have been genuinely hampered by anti-Asian prejudice. There was initially an inability to accept the idea that the East Asian practice of masking could be a good idea, rather than just a weird thing that East Asians do. If it was a good idea, wouldn’t we already be doing it?

      It sounds stupid, but so was refusal to wash hands before delivering babies back in the 19th century.

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  14. The lesser of 2 evils is still an evil. It’s pretty bad to contemplate a bunch of deaths, but when is it worth throwing 300+ million people, under the bus?

    This website shows 17 to 1447 of us in the US are being impacted to TRY to save a single life: https://coronavirus2020questions.wordpress.com/how-many-deaths-is-too-many/. There is also a list of what we are being asked to give up which includes many things that are considered stabilizing for society or simply important for quality of life.

    And what about other diseases?

    Throwing all our focus and resources on one, COVID-19, could limit resources for dealing with other diseases; granted the examples here are global, but so is COVID-19. Per the World Health Organization: since at least 2000 tuberculosis (TB) has killed >1M per year and cholera currently makes 1.3-4M people sick each year. As far as TB and the US, I just checked and the CDC website states that as many as 13M of us might have latent TB infection.

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    1. The goal is not the single lives saved, but the fear that a true pandemic virus, with big r0, streaming through the world population could result in an enormous death rate. 7.8 billion world population, 50% infection, and 10% death rate (in the early numbers from China, when hospitals were overwhelmed). Of course, that’s an absolute worst case, since we don’t think there will be a death rate of 10% and we’re pretty sure that some substantial number of people have minimal symptoms. But if there were, that would be 390+ million people dead world wide. And at a 1% death rate, that’s 39 million people. Both are huge numbers, compared to the 2 million or so that die from TB, cholera, and measles.

      That’s the frightening scenario the entire world is trying to avoid. The numbers we are seeing now are a result of the significant measures we’ve taken.

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  15. Thank you for sharing your concern and those numbers. The numbers are intense.

    In a situation where sacrifice is going to occur, it is just a matter of which sacrifice (what is deemed the lesser of 2 evils), I still ask:

    Globally, using your high end example: why are over 7B people less important than the 390M that may die?

    USA, using https://coronavirus2020questions.wordpress.com/ high end example: how are 18M more important than 310M? (80% infection rate with a 6.97% fatality rate would have about 18M dead)

    I do NOT mean that nothing should be done, just that it isn’t worth shutting down the US, or the world for that matter. The vast majority still need to live and any decent living involves forward momentum. Speaking of the US, this state of limbo and uncertainty is dragging people down mentally and physically; economically, we currently have more unemployment claims than any worst case scenarios for COVID-19 death rates that I’ve seen.

    As for mentioning other diseases, the basic context I wished to convey is that other things in life are still going on, some of which can kill us and have been killing us for years. If we devote everything to COVID-19 and stop resources and attention to so many other things, we are likely to see increases in deaths due to these other diseases.

    Additionally, it is entirely possible we will see a death spike related to social isolation and/or loneliness and let’s not forget stress. Stress is: a killer, destroys quality of life, and effects all parts of our body. There’s little worse than chronic uncertainty for promoting stress.

    So in addition to what I asked above, here’s another question to be weighed in the sacrifice equation: are some deaths more important than other deaths? (and if so, why?)

    And on that depressing note…

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    1. Your comments are valid, kh. I don’t know the answers right now. I’ve been a 100 percent supporter of social distancing. And started our own distancing way before the state made those measures mandatory. But I think it is equally important to look at all this with a clear head and give the costs of these efforts full weight.

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    2. When you make the case for the costs and benefits of shutdown, I think it is important to remember that the economic costs of large numbers of people dying and getting sick all at once are going to be non-trivial. I suppose there’s a economic stimulus effect because funerals are expensive, but I think that many sectors would have been hurt just as bad regardless. Also, that many of the costs of the shutdown are not the result of coordination or government action but because of business decisions made for economic reasons. Well before any shutdown, we were strongly discouraged from personal travel and forbidden from business travel because having everybody sick at once or losing some key people would have been a far bigger cost than working from home.

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      1. MH said, “Also, that many of the costs of the shutdown are not the result of coordination or government action but because of business decisions made for economic reasons.”

        …and choices made by many individual customers.

        For example, I keep hearing that restaurant and movie theater going have been way down even before any legal restrictions happened. I see that the weekend of March 20-22 showed box office gross down 90% in Sweden–which is the most happy-go-lucky developed country in terms of COVID-19 response.

        Even if everything opened up this summer where we live, it’s unlikely that we would book our 1st grader into any camps or unnecessary group activities. (Although it would be nice if she could do the super fun July camp that we’ve already paid for and there’s some therapy stuff that it would be great if she could safely do later this summer…) Any optional activity involving crowds or groups (especially in indoor spaces) is a really hard sell right now.

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      2. If we have a vacation, I think it is going to be just a car trip somewhere reasonably close. Maybe Vermont? I’m not getting on a plane except for if my mom gets COVID or there’s widespread testing or there’s a vaccine.

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      3. It’s lovely. I hope that the pubs and little shops open up over the summer. For me, that’s half the fun of Vermont. But even if they’re not, there are plenty of lovely place to hike and fish.

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  16. This is making the rounds on Facebook….

    ———

    WE ARE NOT IN THE SAME BOAT …

    I heard that we are all in the same boat, but it’s not like that. We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat. Your ship could be shipwrecked and mine might not be. Or vice versa.

    For some, quarantine is optimal. A moment of reflection, of re-connection, easy in flip flops, with a cocktail or coffee. For others, this is a desperate financial & family crisis causing incredible stress and daily anxiety.

    For some that live alone, they’re facing endless loneliness. While for others it is peace, rest & time with their mother, father, sons & daughters.

    With the $600 weekly increase in unemployment, some are bringing in more money to their households than when they were working. Others are working more hours for less money due to pay cuts or loss in sales. Or others aren’t making any money or getting unemployment at all.

    Some families of 4 just received $3400 from the stimulus while other families of 4 saw $0. Some haven’t received a dime of assistance despite no income and having run local businesses for years.

    Some were concerned about getting a certain candy for Easter while others were concerned if there would be enough food for the weekend. Not to mention toilet paper.

    Some want to go back to work because they don’t qualify for unemployment and are running out of money. Others want to kill those who break the quarantine.

    Some are home spending 2-3 hours/day helping their child with online schooling while others are spending 2-3 hours/day to educate their children on top of a 10-12 hour workday not to mention meal planning, sanitizing and trying to preserve some sense of normalcy for their children.

    Some have experienced the near-death of the virus, some have already lost someone from it and some are not sure if their loved ones are going to make it. Others don’t believe this is a big deal and call it a hoax or joke.

    Some have faith in God and expect miracles during 2020. Others say the worst is yet to come.

    So, friends, we are not in the same boat. We are going through a time when our perceptions and needs are completely different.

    Each of us will emerge, in our own way, from this storm. It is very important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Not just looking, actually seeing.

    We are all on different ships during this storm experiencing a very different journey.

    I hold on to my faith in God. And in humanity.

    Unknown author

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  17. Laura quoted, “I heard that we are all in the same boat, but it’s not like that. We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat. Your ship could be shipwrecked and mine might not be.”

    I’ll add that it’s very likely that your boat location is going to change a lot over the next year.

    There are people who are in a lot of trouble now, but also people who will be in a lot of trouble in 6 months or 12 months, as the ripples go through the economy.

    For example, my husband works for a large, rich college. For the first time ever, we have learned the following:

    –there’s going to be a pay freeze
    –there’s going to be a hiring freeze
    –the college contribution to retirement is being cut down
    –class sizes are going up.

    If that’s what’s happening just one month into restrictions, where do we wind up if the 2020-2021 school year has to be remote/mostly remote or is otherwise a bust for colleges?

    Also, if a big, prosperous college is cutting back so radically, small colleges are in trouble.

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    1. Wow. So interesting (and sad), Amy. Higher ed is in big trouble. For the past week, I was hearing stories about parents planning to their kids back from expensive schools if they go online. Now, I see the same story on the parent-Facebook page for Jonah’s school.

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      1. Laura said, “Wow. So interesting (and sad), Amy. Higher ed is in big trouble. For the past week, I was hearing stories about parents planning to their kids back from expensive schools if they go online. Now, I see the same story on the parent-Facebook page for Jonah’s school.”

        Some of the cutbacks I mentioned may look to some people like not a big deal, but a) I’ve never seen it before here (even during the 2008 recession) and b) this is just one month in. Hometown U. is already looking to cut in the neighborhood of 10% of the annual budget…which for a big college is HUGE amounts of money. I’ve mentally prepared myself for the possibility that a pay freeze is the best possible scenario here, and (depending on how things go) there is at least the theoretical possibility of pay cuts.

        It is a question to ask–is remote college worth the big bucks? (Our family doesn’t have to make any tough choices on this, because we were planning on having our oldest go to Hometown U. and live at home for freshman year anyway.) Furthermore, even if colleges start the year on campus for 2020-2021, how do parents feel about the prospect of sending kids far away for freshman year? Given the enormous drama many families at 11d have gone through getting kids back home from study abroad or even just getting kids back from out-of-state, far away colleges have to be a very tough sell right now.

        This also has to be the worst time in decades to be running a study abroad program.

        On a somewhat different note, I wonder if enough exceptions are being made for the in-person education of nurses. You really don’t want to shut off the nurse production line during a pandemic.

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