We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Tuesday, April 21. 2020
I don't know what to believe anymore. Everybody with an opinion seems to be viewing the situation through their own particular lens, or filter as Scott would say. Of course, that's normal for everything all the time, but everything is exaggerated now to the point that balanced wisdom seems to have left the room. I guess that's normal too.
"When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout."
I understand that Covid is not the seasonal flu. I also understand that it is neither polio nor the 1918 flu, nor, God forbid, the Black Plague. I understand that it seems to be a highly infectious virus with the power to cut people down and stress medical care in some areas (although less so much right now). I understand that this SARS Covid will be around forever, like all viruses. No escape, ever. Even vaccines are not 100% and it could be 12 months before we have them.
Let's discuss in the comments, in a calm, civil and respectful way. Later, I'll take you on a nice airplane ride.
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
"Let's discuss in the comments, in a calm, civil and respectful way. Later, I'll take you on a nice airplane ride."
Hm. Why does that airplane have "Pinochet Air" on the side?
Branco: Our worst nightmare
Don't get your hopes up to high on the vaccine. Many new viruses have resisted vaccine. And right now, the record for a vaccine development is 5 years. Eighteen months for a viable COVID-19 vaccine would be a modern miracle.
So it would behoove us to look at environmental controls. Such as what is the risk of surface transmission. It has been deemed "possible" based on virus stability at different ambient temps and relative humidities. But no surface transmissions have been documented, even in healthcare setting where the virus load is large. A German virologist reported not being able to find viable virus for surface transmission. He theorized it would be possible if someone contaminated their hand, grabbed the doorhandle, immediately the uninfected grabbed the handle, then the uninfected has to deposit enough of the virus in their mouth or nose where it can make its way to an infection site in the mucus membranes.
There are no documented cases of transmission from a passer-by, even without 6' distancing.
There are, however, traced transmission to social events with communal food, embraces and prolonged face-to-face conversations with symptomatic persons who later tested positive for the virus. There is a Chinese tracing that lists those infected as being in downstream (greater than 6 ft) in the a/c vent draft from a person shedding the virus. Others in the restaurant were not infected. Another Chinese study theorized aerosolized virus in a ladies restroom as the likely vector for infection at a mall.
But most secondary transmissions have been to other house members of an infected person, in healthcare settings, or in closed systems such as cruise ships.
But none of this is spoke about by the bat-flu crazy governors and mayors, even the "experts" on the task force. Fear is their stock in trade and treating Americans as adults is not to their liking.
But we've seen no environmental testing to give people scientific data on the prevalence of viable virus on surfaces outside hospitals. Nor have they sought to refine the "Spittle Cone" that drives the 6' social distance. I don't know about you, but all the humans I've interacted with can only spittle in a cone centered on their mouth and nose. And a similar imaginary cone exists for the possibility of those "droplets" landing in a mouth or nose centered on the recipient's mouth and nose.
But refining things down to the least intrusive is not the medical community or Progressive politician way.
Much of the work on a vaccine for this had already been done by those studying sars and mers, the virologists and pharma companies are confidant of producing several viable vaccines in quite short order.
1. Everybody is responsible for their own health, and the choices you make have the biggest impact. Your choices might make for a cruel world outcome for yourself and those around you. Choose wisely, act with precautions.
2. We don''t know everything about the disease and probably won't past the point of having a vaccine worth trialing.
3. We cannot keep the world economy closed for this long (#2) without everybody starving to death and without poverty & despair becoming our preeminent life feature. It has to open sooner. We have to take an informed chance and be prepared to react well.
4. The people at risk of suffering from COVID-19 will soon be surpassed by the people suffering from shuttered health care services that have been shunted aside. Chemotherapy, colonoscopy, heart valves, etc etc etc. This cannot continue, either.
5. The workforce can best return to work if there is some way to indicate that they would be minimally affected. Thus, antibody tests need to become commonly available pronto. It needs to be employer-driven and easily accessed. Not by doctor's permission only.
6. Now that PPE and respirators seem to be arranged for and their manufacture in progress, and diagnostic testing is nearing a suitable level, the public health mandate needs to shift to getting people safely back to work. This means supporting #5 by first moving heaven and earth for providing antibody test kits.
7. The 'At-risk' need to continue with their protections. There should be enough experience with the disease now to identify these populations (infirm, elderly, and obese mostly). For those who are institutionalized in assisted living, re-hab, etc, the controls that are in place should remain, with discretion. For the walking-around-at-risk (mostly lifestyle choices), see #1.
8. Opening up will have to be controlled by regional and metropolitan governing bodies, since these smaller-scale settings know best what they need to do, and since the people who voted them in (or voted their Appointers in) are the ones best suited to hold them immediately accountable. Looking at you, Gretchen.
9. Similarly, innovations will have to accompany the Grand Opening to preserve public health gains - restaurants with Take out, Curb-side pickup, these are all first-pass efforts. many more will need to come. For example, virtual management of customer flow through large shopping venues.
10. Lastly it should be understood that we are exiting the age of Snowflakes who demand that society protects them from being inconvenienced, and entering an age of people taking command of their lives and acknowledging that, at least for a while, nobody else is responsible for their happiness, their failures, their success.
I just wish we could apply some reason, common sense and consistency.
Why can hundreds co-mingle in the grocery store, hardware store, but not in the clothing department store?
Why can't restaurants cut the number of tables in half, or less? Remain open.
Rental car companies, working across a counter, for instance, have been allowed to remain open, why not other similar businesses?
Why can I kayak, but not motorboat? Why do all the hiking trails need to be closed, but not off-leash dog parks? The answer to the hiking trails, seems to be: If you need rescuing, you are causing extra strain on first responders. It is not a strain on first responders at the dog park? I'm sure the number of incidents are about the same. Besides, I don't go off on hikes, assuming that Big Brother government needs, nore do I expect them to come riding to my rescue. I know that most people, no longer think that way. It is depressing to me. Americans used to be made of sterner stuff. Can I no longer make decisions for myself? Why not? My body my choice, should be more than a slogan used to kill the unwanted mistake, growing in your belly.
There are hundreds of inconsistencies, to this total lock down. I'm dead certain about the inconsistencies. I'm dead certain as to what the left wants to do to my liberties; they continue to openly demonstrate it. I am dead certain that the left will do ANYTHING, to get rid of Trump.
I doubt there are many, if any, restaurants that are viable at half capacity. Same goes for most entertainment venues.
I'm in favor of these businesses figuring that out for themselves. Sometimes you have to figure out how to be lean and mean. I'm not in favor of the government picking the winners and losers.
There are 2.25 million cases of Wuhan Flu in the world. There are 7.8 billion people in the world. That is, 28 ten thousandths of the global population infected. That’s it.
In the US, I estimate 13 ten millionths of the US population without underlying medical conditions have died from the Coronachan virus. So far. So let’s keep the whole country on lockdown in order to keep it from getting any worse.
Math is hard. So is Human Folly.
Good stuff JK Brown. Lets push the pile a little further. What is a mechanism from exposure to really sick? I propose, you are your own worth enemy. The little space invaders of RNA duplication leave the host and in a closed setting come right back and kick your butt, well actually your lungs.
The test: Is this virus more virulent among persons spending more time in enclosed spaces?
Ok that mask in public place protects others; but inside the car a mask is hurting you.
In a perfect world, we'd have a scale that simultaneously considered how irreplaceable an activity is and how difficult it is to make it safer. So, for instance, all e-commerce can continue, no matter how trivial, because it's just about 100% safe. Keep watching movies, who cares. Crowded street parties are extremely dangerous, and honestly, we can live without them for quite a while. Grocery stores and clothing stores are about equally dangerous, but we can imagine putting off the clothing purchases for a while, whereas people still have to eat every day, so they get treated differently. Emergency rooms are horrifyingly risky, but we deal with it, because we can't do without them even briefly.
Then there are activities that aren't dangerous in themselves, but will become dangerous if crowds develop, and some of those naturally lend themselves to effective crowd control while others don't. By this standard, I wouldn't close a golf course, because people already distance themselves pretty well without our having to bring in the National Guard, but beaches and piers in some places will quickly become a problem. That's why people can still launch a kayak off the shore in my county but not use a boat ramp: the boat ramp will get crowded, especially if it draws a lot of bored people from distant cities, and we don't have the staff to control them. Lately my county is moving in the direction of opening the boat ramps, because the short-term rentals are shut down, so the local traffic should be manageable.
The third thing to consider should be how many jobs can come back on line if we get just a little flexible about the social-distancing measures. I want to see a LOT of jobs come back on line, and fast. We should be able to do that with extra spacing and masks and so on.
Do you think it is not possible to implement social distancing measures at beaches, piers, or boat ramps? I personally believe that if people are mostly okay with the inconvenience of my local grocery store limiting the number of customers in the store to 150, folks will be okay with social distancing measures implemented in other places like beaches, piers, and boat ramps. We might have to schedule & receive passes to you these facilities but it definitely seems "doable" IMO.
I would have thought it was easy until I saw what the beaches down here looked like. The crowds were nuts. People jammed onto the piers as if they were completely innocent of the notion of keeping some distance. No town has a police force that can affect that behavior, so city councils find it a lot easier to barricade the entrances.
In contrast, my local grocery store can shut all but one entrance and let shoppers inside in small groups, with minimal personnel.
Mind you, I'm not arguing here whether beaches or grocery stores should be mostly emptied out, only that some kinds of emptying out are more logistically challenging than others.
Given the uncertainty and dire predictions early in this crisis locking things down was a reasonable response. The problem is that lock downs cannot continue until either herd immunity or a vaccine is available. Based on the very questionable antibody studies so far we are looking at well under 10% of the population at best that has developed antibodies and most of those could be false positives. The goal of bending the curve was primarily to keep medical resources from being overwhelmed. The graphs showed the same number of people getting the virus, just at different times and most of the population is still at risk. There is no happy ending or easy fix here. Sometimes the only choice is the lesser of evils.
What if it doesn't go away?
What happens if the Covid19 virus, or a mutated variant comes back next flu season?
What do we do then?
Shut the country down again?
It will come back and then back again. But point is, is it so bad the human race has to stop?
So far all the comments seem to be reasonable and thoughtful. I personally believe most communities should start reopening with all the usual health care precautions, because if we don't, all the burgeoning protests occurring now are eventually going to lead to violence. Not by the people who genuinely need to get back to work, but by opportunists, think Antifa-types with soulless agendas. The risk of disease is there, of course, but more and more data seems to indicate that the risk from coronavirus for the population at large isn't as great as we were lead to believe in the beginning. Protect the vulnerable populations, and let the rest of us take our chances like the free people we always thought we were.
I gave up being herded into airport cattle chutes and boarding airplanes a long time ago, and will not ever do it again, just so you know.
We should open the U.S. up. The purpose of the shutdown was to flatten the curve and not overwhelm our medical system. We are at a point where that should be manageable or very close to it. But we also need to understand that with the ending of the shutdown/quarantine that the infection rate and shortly after the death rate will again rise. At that point we need to act responsibly and not over react. It's gonna happen and when it does there will be a clamoring to shut down again. Too late! The virus is here, now we need to deal with it on a case by case method.
Well, Reynolds talking about the vagaries of the comment section is like a stock broker talking about the rise and fall of the market. Good or bad, he still makes money.
In other words: Stop lecturing when you're profiting from it.
Spot on Aggie!
While it may be 'true' that we don't know a lot about the virus, I don't see much information supporting the horror show side of the argument. I see a ton of indication suggesting a bad virus doing what bad viruses do. The recent serology studies seem to suggest the cat was already well out of the bag (and can't be put back).
Bulldog certainly suffered but, not to make light of it, it seemed similar to a really bad case of pneumonia or bronchitis. Also, we seem to have some reasonable therapy guesses that can help get the mendable moving in the right direction.
And the healthcare system has been far from overwhelmed. When major hospitals and specialty practices are laying people off because they aren't allowed to diagnose and repair other problems, seems clear the overkill button was employed. Hearing those pins drop in the Javits Center?
The good thing is we now have a ready blueprint for creating a massive triage capability should things get bad in the future. Put it in a how-to manual and let's get back to living.
"I don't see much information supporting the horror show side of the argument."
NY City 19693 total DEAD at this minute and 764 DEAD today so far. If that isn't a "horror show" I would like to know what your standard is.
What was the death rate of the same area a year ago? Throwing out death statistics by themselves is meaningless.
Also, are you seeing that people are dying from no "elective surgeries or procedures"? Heart valve replacements and so on. So you are throwing out death on one side of the equation and not on the other - never mind upcoming deaths from Depression 2.0.
Because that is what we are seeing unfold slowly but surely. It's like no one remembers Depression 1.0. I don't "remember" it personally but spent plenty of time with people who did, read the history books, the Grape of Wrath and so on. It was quite horrible, and we are returning.
And there is a non-trival chance of riots, cities burning, food supplies collapsing.
No one for an ongoing shut-in considers second order effects.
I am not in favor of an ongoing shutdown. The reason for the shutdown was because our healthcare system wasn't ready for a mass pandemic. It is in better shape now I am in favor of opening up the country.
My statement was merely to refute the obvious fake news that 20,000 people in NY City alone in two months from this virus is no big deal.
I have not tried to put down anyone who wants to remain open - I have requested them to consider the alternatives to remaining closed and reasons for considering these options. Invariably, all I hear in response is "You just are heartless and want to kill people. You're not a medical expert."
No, I'm not. But the medical "experts" have been wrong, and badly, from the start to now. So it's time for statistical experts (I'm at least very good at statistics) and actuaries to step in.
It's fine if remaining closed actually does 'save' lives. But how do you prove this? You simply can't provide the proof. There is one way - by reopening, even a little bit, and seeing what happens 2 weeks out (the incubation period). If declines continue, open more, just a little, and see what happens.
This is not, as one person said to me, like "taking off your parachute because your fall has slowed down." Once you take off the chute, you plummet. False analogy.
However, you can open in phases. Maybe tell businesses of 10,000 plus (or 1,000 plus...or whatever number you make up) that they can let X% of the staff return so they can run skeleton crews, as long as they wear masks and gloves (within reason as job permits). You can tell businesses to do longer shifts of fewer workers.
Just because you open DOES NOT MEAN you MUST leave your house if you're still in fear. People that cautious could be allowed to continue to work from home.
It doesn't mean that we have to have concerts with 10,000 people. But maybe some bars can open with adequate spacing requirements. Let's face it - some of us (many of my friends) simply don't care if they get it. I sure didn't. I knew I would...in all likelihood, most of us will eventually, if not all.
But the closers are vicious folk (and admittedly, so are some of those who oppose closing - but I have only known closers here in the People's Republic of New Jersey) who scream at you if you come too close to them. 6 feet isn't enough, they need 10, and your opinion MUST align with theirs, all logic and reason is less important than how they feel.
"Your numbers won't save a life - you don't know what you're talking about."
"Your sources are fraudulent, or they'd be on the news."
"You aren't a medical expert, so what makes you think you know anything?" (funny how they aren't experts, but they seem to know something because an expert told them...)
Sorry...I'm sounding unsympathetic toward closers. Because I don't like how they refuse to discuss it. They want to argue from feelings and won't consider facts or options as they are presented.
I'll talk about saving lives from Covid if they will discuss saving lives from hunger or starvation in 3-6 months. Or if they'll discuss how people are dying from increases in domestic abuse. How alcoholism is likely rising as an issue. How drug use is rising. I'll talk about saving lives from Covid if all the alternative damage is open for discussion...but they will not discuss. Covid is on TV, and that's all that matters.
I have seen people supportive of opening on many outlets, offering their information and opinions, only to have feelings shout them down. Cool, calm, rational discussion isn't open anymore (on both sides, I'll agree - but it seems to me the "feelings" side is louder and meaner than the "rational thought" side.
In our degenerate state, feelings kick reason's butt every time.
I would be considered "high risk" regarding this virus. But I do not think my personal safety should be secured at the cost of driving my fellow countrymen into penury. And that penury, and worse, is guaranteed for everyone not independently wealthy, not drawing a gummint paycheck should we continue this bizarre economic stasis.
There are no guarantees in this life, and people trying to provide such guarantees are on a fool's errand, or worse if they see this pandemic as a political opportunity instead of something to overcome.
I'm suspicious when the news in my local area contradicts what I've read and seen elsewhere.
There was a rally in the Maine state capitol yesterday to ease the quarantine, and there were others across the country as you all know, including the protest of San Diego area beach closures.
Here in Maine it was reported that there was a rally in Augusta by "Trump supporters" and out there in the rest of the country there were a few right wing gun-totin' rallies. It was clearly biased reporting.
In a very real sense, we are simply getting on with it- a vaccine, like the flu vaccine(s) may or may not perfectly target whatever strain that COVID19 has mutated into, and some will not take it, just as some dont take the annual free flu vaccines, even tho the alternative for some is death.
So, bottomline- this becomes for society a great sorting by individual choice- Am I healthy enough to go back to work, (the grocery store, the pharmacy, the gym, etc etc) with or without a mask, hand washing, standing 6 feet away,
Freedom to choose.
Not be told what to do, top down, like Kulaks.
Thats where we are headed, slower in some places than others.
Until then, Keep Calm and Carry Concealed.
That's not the actual choice so you needn't be insulting, that others are consenting to be told what to do, while you are on the side of freedom.
Your safety choice also affects others. I happen to believe that some activities can be restarted immediately, but one contagious person can do a lot of damage, and that remains part of the equation. It's a balancing act, fraught with uncertainties and guesswork, not Good Guys vs Bad Guys. That was, um, the point of the OP.
I don't disagree with the fact that one infected person represents a risk factor for the uninfected. So it's not 'just about me'.
But that's the same as driving a car. I'm a good driver, haven't had a ticket or accident in about 19 years.
There are tons of very bad drivers out there and they put me at risk every time I get on the road.
I still go on the road, and I take precautions as I drive - driving defensively, and making sure I avoid clearly dangerous drivers and/or situations.
Identifying a contagious person is not as clear-cut. But that doesn't mean I tell bad drivers you have to stay off the road, so that I may drive safely. The risk is part of everyday activity.
If controlling people's lives to save lives is what this is about - as you suggest - then why don't we tell people what to eat, how much to exercise, and ban smoking and drinking altogether? Surely we can use shutdowns of dangerous activities to increase the number of survivors?
Prior to 1960, we'd lose about 120,000+ lives a year to various viral outbreaks. We were a much smaller nation. We didn't run and hide.
That word "controlling" is loaded. We do tell people what speed they can drive, where to stop, where they can turn. We tell them where they can dump trash and what they must do with pollutants and dangerous chemicals. We tell them how safe their products must be, where they can hunt or discharge firearms, and a thousand other things for safety. Each of them is an imposition, but we only object to them if we believe they are an unnecessary imposition. Otherwise we just call them agreements we make to live together. I don't like to see this cast as "people who love freedom" vs "people who are willing to be controlled."
Because we each evaluate risk, we come up with different answers and there are arguments. Much of the discussion here has the same flavor as what you say about yourself: you have a record of judicious and safe decisions, and should be allowed to make this one on your own. I believe you are safe and judicious. But I know many people who think that about themselves who are in fact dead wrong about it. What are we to do about them, as we may only learn they were foolish and dangerous after the fact.
We didn't shut things down for previous viruses because multiple, varied, and unpredictable. We didn't know enough. When we knew more, as with the Spanish Flu, we did enforce quarantine. A doctor could put a notice on your house telling others not to enter or you to leave for several diseases.
"Controlling" is a reasonable concept to explore. It gets right to the conflict and balance between two approaches: (1) giving Person A the leeway he needs to hunker down safely and (2) giving Person A the power to force others to make drastic changes in Person B's behavior in order to protect Person A.
Even before COVID-19, we already dealt with the need to protect vulnerable populations from infection, in the context of immunocompromised people, such as post-transplant patients. They sometimes have to be extremely careful to isolate themselves from society for many months, which is not at all easy or pleasant. They nevertheless aren't allowed to shut down their cities or cost other people their jobs in order to ease their own burden.
This situation is unusual because of the large numbers of people who need to go all boy-in-the-bubble all at one time, but it doesn't necessarily follow that most of the burden of hunkering down shouldn't be borne by the hunkerers--with whatever help is necessary to ensure they have food, etc.
Good post, good discussion. My only complaint was the folks who exaggerated that the shutdown of some activities resulting in the loss of some jobs is equivalent to shutting down the whole world.
Things are bad enough when that many people lose their jobs, even temporarily. You don't have to exaggerate it.
As to whether liberals or conservatives are acting worse, I don't think it much matters here what the liberals are saying. (What they are able to do is another matter. Caring about that is fine.) They always say terrible things. Dog bites man. Conservatives starting to react like liberals, with insult and arguing from anecdote, should matter more at MF, because this is our town.
Mandatory lockdown here was just extended another month until June.
Suppose some of the deaths we're observing in this Kung Flu outbreak are due to the fact that the physicians are treating the disease incorrectly. This physician has a theory - hypoxia, not pneumonia.
If this doctor is onto something, the pitifully insufficient statistics we have to date are contaminated.
The real problem is that we know so little about this virus. We lack the basic information to make informed decisions but don't have the luxury to wait until we have answered the questions with precision.
How often to we have enough information to make complex, time sensitive decisions?