Back Into Quarantine

Covid infection numbers are up in Ohio, as they are in a whole lot of places, and in the US in general; I’m particularly looking at the infection numbers for Georgia, where I am meant to be at the beginning of September, and they are higher there now than they have ever been before, and by a considerable margin. The deaths that are being reported relating to Covid are not spiking, but those have tended to trail the infection rate (i.e., we’ll likely see more of those soon), and in any event we have discovered that surviving a Covid infection very often doesn’t mean you just bounce back as if from a cold or flu — it often damages lungs and hearts and other organs and takes months (or longer — we’re in the process of finding out) to fully recover.

Nearly every other Western country in the world has seen their infection rates drop down from the March/April time frame, but we haven’t, and now our leaders want to suggest that this is just the way it is and we’ll have to “live with it.” In fact, it’s not the way it is, or at least, wasn’t what it had to be. The reason we’re in this mess is that the GOP followed Trump’s lead in deciding this was a political issue instead of a health and science issue, and radicalized its base against dead simple measures like wearing masks and other such practices, and against waiting until infection rates dropped sufficiently to try to open up businesses again, because apparently they thought capitalism was magic and would work without reasonably fit humans.

The GOP is getting it now, purely out of necessity — Texas now has a mask requirement, as an example — but it’s probably too late in terms of not torpedoing the economy for the rest of the year, and possibly too late for an entire demographic of people who are now convinced that wearing a mask is an admission of weakness and/or fealty to George Soros. It also means that all that time we spent in quarantine in March, April and May was effectively for nothing, and that if we want to actually get hold of this thing we’ll have to go back in quarantine again, at least through September and possibly for all of the rest of 2020.

Which, honestly, really pisses me off. We could have managed this thing — like nearly every other country has — if we had political leadership that wasn’t inept and happy to use the greatest public health crisis in decades as political leverage for… well, who knows? Most of the areas being hit hardest now — places like Florida, Arizona, and Texas — are deep red states; there is no political advantage to be had by having them hit by infection and death and economic uncertainty four months before a national election. The fact that Joe Biden is currently in a statistical tie with Trump in Texas voter polls should terrify the GOP. I don’t expect Biden to get Texas’ electoral votes in November, but honestly it shouldn’t even be this close now. And the thing is, things are almost certainly going to get worse in Texas before they get better.

In April and May I had held out some hope that the second half of 2020 might be salvageable, and that it would be safe, or at least safer, to do the things we normally might have done with the year. Now that we’re in the second half of the year, it’s pretty clear that 2020 is going to be unsafe all the way through. It didn’t have to be this way. If we are going to have to live with it (and hopefully not precisely in the “fuck it, I guess some of you are just gonna have to die” way that the GOP wants us to), we should admit to precisely whose fault it is. The GOP needs to be punished in November for a number of reasons, and this is certainly qualifies as a major reason. I will leave my house to vote, if I need to.

In the meantime: wear your masks, practice social distancing, and stay home if you can. As my friend Ashley Clements put it:

She’s right. Alas.

117 Comments on “Back Into Quarantine”

  1. To anticipate the comment I fully expect from a certain person who always wishes to pretend that the single largest health crisis in decades is not that big of a deal — Darke County’s numbers for infection and death remain relatively low. However our infection rate is about 1.0, so I’m inclined to be safer than sorry. Likewise, Ohio’s infection rate in general is currently 1.15. It’s spreading here.

    Also, as a general rule, if you want to argue at this point that this disease is not, in fact, a major deal, you likely qualify as either ignorant or delusional, and I won’t feel obliged to humor you. So please, for the sake of convenience for us all, just don’t. Thanks.

  2. Worth pointing out that COVID-19 is already going to be in the 10 ten leading causes of deaths of Americans for 2020 and is looking very likely to be at least #3 (behind heart disease and cancer).

  3. Totally sucks. Quartine / SIP orders weren’t totally useless though – they’ve given hospitals time to ramp up capacity and learn what they can about treating the disease before the surge hits their towns. Because it will hit, thanks to our fucktasticly stupid and selfish leadership.

  4. It also means that all that time we spent in quarantine in March, April and May was effectively for nothing

    I am torn between rage and despair. I see no chance of much of America pulling together enough to quarantine, wear masks, close businesses, etc. for the rest of the year. I see no way to get through to people who won’t take these basic precautions. I see no chance of the federal government taking the needed steps, and the states and cities are not able to do it entirely on their own, even speaking from one of the states (CT) that’s doing relatively well at the moment. We can’t wall out the stupid, so it’s going to come right back here again. How high will we have to pile the corpses before everyone takes this seriously?

    I hate this, I hate this, I hate this.

  5. Americans generally don’t pay attention to what happens in the rest of the world, but I’m wondering if it will eventually sink in for most of your folks that your various governments’ bumbling over the virus has led other nations (mine included) to treat you as a “shithole country.”

    It probably won’t have been reported in your media that seven Texans who had told Canadian border guards that they were going to drive straight to their Alaskan homes (which is allowed) were found to have taken time for hiking and restaurant-dining in Banff. They were arrested, each fined C$1200 (about US$900), quarantined for 14 days, then deported.

    I’m sure there will be more of that. My country is serious about keeping our people alive.

  6. When a major political party and their leader no longer believes in science, facts, reality and the idea of a democratic republic this will happen. Trump, his enablers and the Republicans who have not vocally criticized him are all at fault.
    Covid-19 doesn’t care about politics. If we fail it learn it will mean more death and suffering. And most likely the death of the American republic.

  7. My home city (Ottawa, Canada) is about to mandate masks in indoor spaces where social distancing is difficult (stores and the like). In June, we had one day where new infections was in the double digits. We want to keep it that way.

  8. Howard (nervously counting EMPTY refrigerated trucks pre-positioned outside hospitals)

    yo! Canada! (or New Zealand or South Korea)

    please invade us… in addition to decent health care you could also outlaw the production of ‘canoe water’…. and make ‘road rage’ a felony… based on incomplete data the general population death rate is approximately 6.2%… based on my medical condition and age it would be 13.5%…

    I hereby promise to swear off baseball and learn to love ice jockey (or rugby or whatever) if we are invaded….

    wake up call:
    #RealDead (C19 & BLM & toxic dumping due to EPA cuts)
    #FakePOTUS (golf & tear gas & upside down bible thumping)

  9. March, April and May weren’t a total loss. As someone already pointed out, it has allowed the medical community at least some insight into what works and what doesn’t for treatment. It also allowed some additional research on PPE for the masses (masks) and that they are effective at helping slow the spread. I’m paying attention to the companies where large scale COVID-19 infections would hurt their bottom line (think power companies and other infrastructure.) Some were actually ahead of the “red” states in taking action to limit the spread in their company (large scale work-from-home initiatives.) These companies know how to manage risk and don’t care about the politics. What this means to me is that, while I’m largely staying home and working from there, I feel comfortable going to the local shops that I know are taking this seriously and doing plenty of curb-side pickup, travel if I have to (wife has disease that we’re still trying to figure out with Mayo Clinic help), and limit any visits to low risk family members (the ones who are staying home like me not the ones who decided wearing a mask is an adverse political statement.)

    I really am hoping some author events are still doable to at least a degree with mask wearing and social distancing.

    We know more about what to do to limit risk and we certainly know the business who support the risk mitigation measures. This is way far from normal and the lack of any meaningful leadership at the federal level and at the state level in a number of states is disappointing to say the least (but what I expected after 11/8/16, unfortunately.) So I try to contain my disappointment and look to manage my own and my family’s risk since many in my community and my country have decided there is no risk for them. Sorry for the ramble. Love the books (Old Man’s War, Red Shirts, etc) and the tweets.


  10. The sbradfor joke above is because Timelords (Dr. Who) each have two hearts.

    One of the organs affected is the brain. We know this, but we don’t know how much or how often. This is one hard virus to research, even if it is world wide.

    Speaking of the world, as air travel resumes, how strange to think that Canadians will be able to take their tourist dollars across the oceans before they are able to visit the red states. Normally, so many visit Florida that I once saw an outside bus advertisement in French
    Right now there is some travel allowed within and outside the EU, including to Britain. (Canada is not included) Canada now has four (4) functioning international airports.

  11. John, since nobody has mentioned it yet:

    I’m sure that you, as a father and as a son and as someone who can read the medical literature knows that the stakes are a bit higher than “roll the dice and you’ll probably be OK.” As someone else with hostages to fortune (both older and younger than yours), well, best wishes.

    It ain’t easy.

  12. Our situation comes down to this: denial of the bloody obvious because the Other Side believes in and states the bloody obvious, all because of politics. Belief in the bloody stupid is causing sickness and death, but “freedumb!”

  13. Yes, well, this has been clear for some time now. (
    But it is good – it’s valuable – to see a forceful and clear statement of it.

    I picked up Ashley’s comment yesterday somewhere (perhaps it was in your twitter feed) and sent it to my family – who don’t need the reminder, but will appreciate it. And today I sent it (preceded by some words of explanation) to the organizers of a conference in Prague, for late July and early August, who have just sent out an announcement that they will attempt to hold the conference in person.

    While it’s true the Europeans have done a stellar job compared to the U.S., they did not have the patience and the commitment to both bring down the prevalence and ramp up the testing and tracking capacity to bring the disease actually under a measure of control, so at the moment they are now finding themselves in a similar bind – reacting too slowly, too late. But yes, it does help if one does not simply wish the problem away. Maybe their attempt to monitor and squelch hot spots after the fact with local lockdowns can be made to work. I don’t see that as likely, but for now they have bought themselves some valuable time.

    This all reminds me of a very primitive and very ancient video game, Asteroids. You can always tell what is going to happen well before it does, but you can’t always do anything about it.

    On the positive side, I get to attend the New Zealand Worldcon, which I was not expecting.

  14. I am in AZ and it is not looking good at all. I am fortunate that I work from home and do not have to get out. Our governor finally allowed mayors to order mandatory mask wearing and do local shutdowns of businesses, but our mayor here in Scottsdale exempted in door religous and political gatherings which makes no sense.
    The hospitals are filling up as a write. We are basically screwed here in AZ. This is what you get when you do not have consistent leadership from the Federal level on down that take the virus threat seriously.
    BTW, AZ is not dark red anymore. Biden has a good shot at winning the state and the Dem candidate for the senate is way ahead in the current polls. We could end up with two Dem senators.

  15. I spent Saturday with the in-laws and was not thrilled to see that they have jumped on the “COVID is a hoax” bandwagon. They don’t know anyone who’s got it and don’t think anyone is getting it, and are more angry at the economic dislocation (and adamant that there be no more) than at what caused it, and believe that it’s all just “political”. I did not expect that strain of insanity from them (they’re not normally Trump people).

    I worry that the stupid that the GOP has cultivated will bring “dividends” for quite some time, and being that the stupid seems to allow no possibility of its possessors to question it (“you can’t trust the media” – “then where do you get info?” – “?I?” (shrug – insert Hannah Arendt reference here)), it makes me less confident that it will go away anytime soon. I worry that the poll numbers look better than they should, but that’s just because of 2016.

  16. Stay home.

    Everyone, stay home.

    And when you have to go someplace, wear a mask.

    Until it’s over.

    It’s not over.

    Don’t trust that it’s over until the stats hit bottom and stay there.

    Wishing all of you well.

    I’ve been in isolation since March, and I’m in it for the long haul.

  17. I feel very lucky to live in one of the few states where the governor listened to science, things are now doing well, and reopening is being done in small steps with the explicit possibility of closing down if numbers start to go the wrong direction. We were able to tell that there was no spike after the #BLM protests because numbers didn’t go up since the usual measures had stayed in place and organizers told people to wear masks.

    I’m livid at politicians who prioritized money over lives, which is also stupid because you can’t have a good economy if large numbers of people are sick or dying and many others have long-term disabilities from the after-effects of the disease. It shouldn’t take a Ph.D. to figure that out.

  18. Not that I’m impressed with what we’ve done… “While it’s true the Europeans have done a stellar job compared to the U.S.,” is a vast over statement. Spain has a death rate of 607 per 1 million of population, followed by England at 651, Italy at 571, Belgium at 843….Sweden at 537…France at 458 is close to our 400.. OTOH Germany has 108 which may say more about the value of social disciplining than I want to discuss. My best guess is the spurt has been driven by the opening of various entertainment affairs and the demonstrations, riots, looters, etc., that have happened in some of our cities. The good news is that the death rate is going down and we seem to be improving our various therapies with good reports on a vaccine.

  19. I’ve been watch the infection numbers in Kentucky and Tennessee since March. Tennessee infections have grown exponentially and unchecked this entire time. It wouldn’t surprise me if Tennessee had over one million infections before this is over.

  20. SO disappointed and SO not surprised that the Trump Administration has led us all to this point. A complete and utter failure in even the shitty leadership we’d come to expect. For myself, zero interest in re-engaging in work or “the old ways” until some things get fixed/cured/whatever. Wearing my mask and doing a lot of fun outdoor coastline stuff with one person. I haven’t even seen my son in person in 4 months…he and his front line (nurse) GF contracted Covid and have since recovered, thankfully. This shit is real. And it’s going to be real for awhile.

  21. The thing we all have a hard time internalizing is that half the population is dumber than average. Add to that willful ignorance (hat tip to John for that one) and here we are.
    I am still trying to wrap my head around the numbers in my county and what they mean. A few jump out at me. 72% of the positive tests are people between 20 and 59. 23.9% are 20 to 29 years old. 87.6% of the deaths are 60 and older.
    I would have liked to have seen a harder lock down than we had here in San Diego County. I also wish there was better contact tracing. Number of cases by zip code is all I have been able to find which is pretty useless. Also testing in much greater numbers and not just of people who are sick. A guesstimate looking at a graph is around 7000 tests per day through June. That’s pretty small number in a population of 3.3 million.

  22. I’ve typed and deleted several comments. I think I’ll stop with – this is far more frightening than it had to be (and it was always going to be pretty frightening), and the people are scaring me as much as it more than the virus. It’s a common threat, and we should have been able to unite to respond.

    Maybe it will get better? Someday?

  23. I hope *every* State makes it easy to vote from home. Everybody who reads this, find out the procedures and deadlines for voting from home and learn exactly what your officials are doing to facilitate that!

    Here in Johnson County, Iowa, the County Auditor says every Registered Voter in the County will get a postage-paid Absentee Ballot Application, which we are encouraged to fill out because they want us all to vote safely.

  24. At this point, I think it’s an illusion that we’ll be able to go back to “normal” by the end of 2020. Plan on masks, social distancing, avoiding crowds, and avoiding indoor public spaces at least through the end of 2021.

    Why? Even in NY (where I live), which among the few states where the epidemic is “controlled,” the epidemic is by no means anywhere near extinguished. It’s like when they say a wildfire is “controlled,” they still have to keep fighting it with all they’ve got, or it will get back out of control. (And something may happen to whip it back out of control again anyway. It ain’t over til it’s over.)

    And they’re already easing the restrictions here. I only hope that when the death rate starts climbing again, as it will, they’ll be prompt about slapping the restrictions back.

    It won’t be “over” until the number of new infections per day drops down into the single digits, so they can send out a medical swat team every time one is identified. Even then, we’ll need to be cautious. Only when they have an effective vaccine, and over 90% of the population is immunized, will we be safe to go back to the old normal.

  25. 120 more days, folks. Register. vote. Vote. Vote. Make sure you got all forms of whatever ID or documentation you might need (especially with a lot of DMVs shutting down or totally backlogged due to Covid. Takes a month to get an appointment in Texas). That way they can’t turn you away on some dumb-ass technicality or whatever because of some snooty official at the polling place (check your laws and options, please don’t wait til the last minute).

    I’m kinda glad to be back inside, if only because it’s gonna force me to clean and maybe finish this 3000 piece jigsaw puzzle before the end of summer and I’m getting nervous around crowds. I’m also glad Gov. Abbott (who I’ve never liked for ideological reasons) made masks mandatory throughout Texas. Just wish he’d done it far sooner, like when the first wave was starting or we hit peak in mid April. But it’s the whole kitten kaboodle that went wrong, back and forth between the federal and state governments. They diddled and wasted too much time.

    What I find funny are the cartoons mocking our american exceptionalism by having “NO ENTRY” signs regarding international travel. We’re so exceptional that we feel we can just outmaneuver scientific medical advice by ignoring it. Ugh. Yeah, we’re exceptional alright… everyone else can travel EXCEPT us!

  26. Agree with your premise and share your anger! One note: Arizona is not deeply red anymore. It’s more purple as Californians like me move on. Mark Kelly (D) will be our new senator come fall. We might even have a Biden win.

  27. I’ve said it before: this will be Spanish Flu 2.0 before it’s over. The 1918 pandemic also flared up (and continued into 1919 plus) because people opened up and stopped taking precautions too soon. What we’re seeing now is exactly what epidemiologists predicted on seeing the Memorial Day crowds; they pretty much screamed it to anyone who would listen. Alas for Cassandra! The spike in deaths should come along soon, too.

    I hope my employer’s customer backs off on going back to normal manning real soon now, because being at the office is unnerving. Half the people in the halls AREN’T wearing masks, though they are supposed to. If I see that shit again tomorrow, I think I’ll drop a letter to the CO rebuking the lack of discipline in his command.

  28. The NY/NJ outbreak has deaths/M at 1678, twice the worst of the European outbreaks by your preferred metric, which tells very little about whether the outbreak has or has not been controlled. You can follow charts of daily per capita deaths or cases on Worldometer and see what is happening. You can make comparisons on a per million basis aligned to appropriate starting points for each trajectory. And you can consult for a snapshot of where we are now.

    If you look at the trajectory of the per million mortality or case rates on a regional basis the difference is evident. We are still in the middle of our first wave; they fear a second one. And we will both be running into the compounding effect of the flu season in the fall.

  29. You wrote “Nearly every other Western country in the world has seen their infection rates drop down from the March/April time frame, but we haven’t,…”

    Ours did drop down after March/April according to the Johns Hopkins page. We were going down on a glide path similar to the UK’s, but in mid-May “we” decided “OK, the parachute has been working, so we don’t need it for the rest of the trip down. Cut ‘er loose!” Now our infection rate looks like India’s.


  30. P.S. My 2nd comment seems to be in moderation, possibly because of a link. Anyway, in case it appears, for the sake of clarity, I add: @Jim Lewis

  31. I’m thinking what we’re seeing is the new G614 variant which is 3 – 9 times more contagious. Hopefully it continues to be a little less severe and people will have time to realize how difficult it will be stop if this spikes again. Really need to see people wearing masks again.

  32. I never came out of the first quarantine, haven’t gone anywhere but to walk the dog for months.
    Looks like it will take the rest of 2020, if not more.

    Have you seen that picture labeled “2020 Pinata” — it’s a wasp nest.


  33. @glc Thanks for the pointer to Worldometer, due to where I live I hadn’t really paid attention outside of the ‘local’ area, it was interesting.

    @Howard If you really want to keep baseball you could ask Japan to do the invasion, baseball season is on here… for empty stadiums, but hey, it’s baseball, if you’re into that kind of thing. Also, they would probably replace NCAA football with High School Baseball, and the NY Marathon would be run on Jan 1st, which would be hilarious.

    And yeah, you all have my sympathies, we had our first 0 new cases day here this past weekend. We’re not out of danger yet, but it’s nice to know that science knows what it’s doing (as usual). One shitty observation: Capitalism worked wonders for reducing the spread among really large companies with international footprints who can afford and need to get ahead of the curve, on the other hand every single marginalized community and industry (read: contract workers, day laborers, adult entertainment, foreign students, small entertainment businesses) are having a brutal time of it and are the main cause of continued cases because the need for food, shelter, and feeding your kids kind of trumps everything.

    I’ll do my best to vote, registering to vote from overseas is a PITA.

  34. I think I’m actually more scared now than I was before – I have TWO people who depend on me for care and support and (1) if anything happens to ME we’re all up the proverbial canoe without the proverbial paddle and even if (2) I don’t get it or don’t get BAD but somehow end up passing it onto these people I love because I’m the one going to the grocery store etc I wouldn’t ever get over the guilt of that even if it demosntrably wasn’t my direct fault. The rest of this year is going to be FRAUGHT. And honeslty I don’t know if I can see that even early 2021 could be much better, at this point.

    Oh, and they’re pulling the ACA. Which probably yanks insurance from ME. Which… absolutely fills me with delight. Not. As you can imagine.

  35. Do you remember how Trump bragged that he could shoot somebody on 5th avenue and his base would still vote for him?

    Well, Trump has indirectly but very definitely caused the death of many of his supporters in the red states, by shaming them into not wearing masks in public. Do you think his base will figure that out? Or maybe they figure death is an OK price to pay to show that they support Trump?

  36. While I can only stare at the U.S. cases and wonder how it came this far: The U.S. won’t be the center of this pandemic for long. People in Africa are simply defenseless. I fear for them.

  37. Well, the post and the comments are a collection of good sense and reality-based planning. Wish one could say the same of the US or it’s federal government. Make sure those plans include how you mean to register and vote: a life-or-death responsibility in 2020.

  38. Gehmeyr, people in most of Africa have spent the last few months looking at us like we’re crazy. Remember ebola? They don’t want that happening again, and they don’t have very many politicians with an interest in denying that the virus exists because it might affect their re-election.

    Recent statistics showed that the entire continent, with 4x the population of the US, has had < 12000 deaths and <500,000 cases. Per capita, that's half as many cases as the US has had deaths.

    South America is starting to look scary – Brazil's Bolsonaro may be finally starting to get the clue that if he keeps doing the Trump Act it won't help him, so he's at least worn a mask on the news recently, but the country's about at the same rate as the US per capita, and as the largest country in the region, may take some of its neighbors down with it. India's the other big concern – they've been doing really well, but they really don't have the resources and infrastructure to maintain a lockdown or an EU-style social net for the people who can't work.

  39. I’m a teacher and I’m scared of the prospect of schools reopening in August. It doesn’t feel safe. I just found out a coworker goes to church and sings in a group without a mask- and she said they’re taking precautions when I said this wasn’t safe and wasn’t an example of discrimination (the post opened with ‘Newsom discriminates against churches’). And this is just one person’s foolishness that I know about.

  40. An additional note: Most people aren’t bestselling authors (like you) or solidly affluent and able to telework (like me), so even if they wanted to stay home to protect themselves and others, that’s not an option that coexists with meeting any of their basic needs.

    I know they’re the favorite team of nearly everyone here, but the Dems are far from blameless in this mess. Instead of helping anyone who badly needs help to get through the pandemic, Congress (which notably includes several Democrats) 1) gave trillions to giant corporations and banks and 2) encouraged tens of millions to lose their jobs (rather than just giving money to businesses to keep people on the payroll) so they could try their luck with the bizarre mess of state unemployment offices.

    There was no competent expert, even early on, saying that this all would magically blow over in a few months once there was community transmission; the message–when not politically influenced–has pretty reliably been that we’ll potentially be dealing with this virus and disease for a LONG time (or we’ll be having tens or hundreds of millions of deaths in a very short timeframe because we did nothing to slow or stop it). And yet there’s been no effort by leadership of either party to actually help people survive this long-term crisis.

  41. I’ve been reading all the comments and it hit me what is missing: Mention of the R rate. (reproduction)
    In theory, it will vary by state and by county.

    As you know, the trick is to keep the number beneath one. (Virus reproduction when someone catches it: If 1.0, then each one infected will pass it on to one person, 1.0, it means the virus in the population is stable. Below one means the virus is on track for shrinking. in Europe, if the R is below one they are afraid but hopeful, if above 1.0 they panic.

    The R rate (I think Europeans call it the Roh) is publicly part of Europe’s criteria on whether to ease or increase lockdown, along with hospital rate and death rate.
    I only write this comment because we seem to be forgetting the R rate.

  42. @jim lewis As usual, the European numbers need a bit more context, i.e. to be looked at as a time series and not a single point in time. Italy, Spain, France badly bungled the first response, which pushed the numbers up, but things are looking pretty stable now – the departement in France where I live (kind of like a county, but larger) hasn’t had a new case in the past four weeks. Germany was better prepared and took advantage of the head start they had (plus it has a trained scientist as head of government, with clear communication, which helps a lot). Sweden is a separate discussion. The UK squandered its head start, just like the US.

  43. @chbieck Indeed. I also read through every paper the UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium in my back yard produces and this one calculated that for each day’s delay entering a lockdown cost an additional 2.41 days in containment measures. We didn’t just see that in New York here. We saw that in Italy, Spain, and France.

    The US is also very large and it can be deceiving to look at the US as a whole. The early major outbreak (which we now know started earlier than we believed at the time) was in New York. The response there was late enough that numbers in New York and to a lesser degree surrounding states skyrocketed out of control. With advance warning, the rest of the country was able to plateau those numbers early. Some areas may have seen a decline begin. We did not yet in Texas, even here in the Austin metro area, which according to multiple studies based on cell phone data I’ve seen, performed among the best in the nation in social distancing metrics. So most of the spike you see when you look at the US as a whole came from New York. Similarly, New York and some of the areas around it drive almost all the numbers behind the decline. New York experienced an initial wave, waited too long to act, and suffered immensely, but then did control the outbreak and brought those numbers down. Like Europe, any subsequent outbreak there would be considered a second wave.

    That’s not true for most of the country. Most of the places where you are seeing major surges today are experiencing a continuation of that initial wave. We plateaued it, but never brought it down. That’s true in San Diego (where my eldest is an ICU nurse), here in the Austin area, and in most places across the country. Rather than contain the outbreak and build sufficient surveillance and tracing to keep it contained, much of the country decided to pretend the virus didn’t exist anymore. That had not only predictable results, but results which were in fact predicted by pretty much every expert in the field. Here in Texas, the only doctor our governor could apparently find as a yes man was an anesthesiologist who has mostly worked in Republican politics over the past decade. I have no idea how good an anesthesiologist he is or isn’t, but when faced with a pandemic, I want epidemiologists, virologists, and public health experts making the plan. And the actual experts have mostly been sidelined.

    Hospitalizations are trailing indicators. You don’t tend to see the initial hospitalizations from infection for a couple of weeks and it takes 3-4 weeks to see the full impact. Deaths are the most trailing of indicators, so those won’t begin to pile up for a while yet. But pretty much all our gains in reducing the number of deaths when you look at the US in total come from controlling the New York outbreak.

    And improvements in therapies only help when you can treat infected people. Hospitals in Houston and San Antonio are already getting overrun and it’s only going to get worse. TMC in Houston is the largest medical complex in the world. They are in their unsustainable ICU surge capacity right now. Testing sites across the state are overrun and running behind. It’s hard for even symptomatic people to get tested. We’re nowhere near the level of virus in the community our paltry tracing infrastructure could even begin to track. And our PPE supply chain remains completely broken. Hospitals have been able to build up a little bit of a supply in major metropolitan areas, but they’ll blow through that in weeks, at most.

    And we’re also headed to an even worse economic crash, as economists pretty much across the board have been predicting. So far, the only thing that’s kept us from completely falling off the precipice has been the extra $600 dollars a week in unemployment benefits. And those expire this month. It’s never been a matter of controlling the outbreak vs. the economy. At the macroeconomic level, most of the economic activity is always generated internally by the citizens of the country. And for people to do the things that create that activity, they have to feel safe. And people cannot feel safe when those around them are getting sick, getting hospitalized, and dying in large numbers. So we’re likely heading toward an economic crash that will make the semi-controlled, somewhat managed lockdown period seem mild by comparison. And with no meaningful support from the government, that could easily surpass the scale of the Great Depression. When the economy is crashing are exactly the times when the government must pour resources into it to support people. By ensuring people can eat, maintain their residence, etc. the government also keeps a sustainable level of economic activity going. Especially right now, we have a frightened world begging for us to take their money at neglible or sometimes even negative interest rates. (That only matters as a measure of inflation and to ensure debt load doesn’t exceed gdp growth over the long term. Macroeconomics is weird. One thing I’ve definitely absorbed, though, is that a country is absolutely nothing like a family budget or a private business. If you use those as reference points, you will get everything wrong pretty much every time.)

    So yeah. Things look really, really bad. And they absolutely did not have to look this way. We had more advance warning than most of the world, more resources we could have employed, and excellent epidemiologists and public health experts with some of the top research institutions in the world. We wasted all our advantages. Countries like Uganda and Vietnam have done a much better job managing this than we have done. It’s not just that we’re dead last in what most people consider the “industrialized” or “developed” world. We’re down toward the bottom when you consider the entire globe. That’s how poorly we have managed this crisis.

  44. Worse still, a little birdy told me that, under the cover of darkness, the dear leader snuck something into his “are there no prisons; are there no workhouses” attack on the ACA that would make covid a disqualifying preexisting condition.

    John, you wrote something back in 2016 urging readers against generalizing about Trump voters.

    I must say that at the moment, avoiding that pitfall is more difficult than it ever was.

    Four years ago, a vote for Trump was a vote for a racist, xenophobic, ableist, Islamophobic misogynist and pedophile/ephebophile (this is if the accusations about a thirteen -year-old are true, which they likely are) was going to “own the libs,” keep a woman out of the Oval Office, look out for rich and SWM interests and, most importantly, dismantle anything and everything the black president put in place.

    Back then, to me at least, Trump voters were the same white supremacist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, misogynist, fetus worshipping, social Darwinist, gun fetishizing bible thumpers they were when Bush was elected and reelected.

    They were a band of avenging angels come to wash the taste of the n*** president out of their mouths.

    Here in 2020, they’re a band of *genocidal*, white supremacist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, misogynist, fetus worshipping, social Darwinist, gun fetishizing bible thumpers who’ve jumped on board with Trump’s plan to murder his way to four more years in the white house.

    They’re the kind of people who regard George Floyd’s murder as an act of white supremacist heroism (anyone who brings up his criminal history is doing just that) rather than the lynching that it was.

    The same people who prescribe unwanted pregnancy, starvation, homelessness and a lack of medical insurance for “poor life choices” have zero qualms about demanding treatment for themselves or their loved ones when they behave recklessly during a pandemic.

    TL; DR: it’s become apparent that a vote for trump is a vote for treason, covid 19, lynching and, as evidenced by the behavior they’re endorsing, every flavor of bigotry there is.

    There’s no getting around that, not for any of them.

    The only thing left to do is vote all of their officials out in November.

    Republican/conservative “leaders” are no different than children who’ve abused driving privileges and violated curfew. They’ve demonstrated that they can’t be trusted and need to be grounded, indefinitely.

    Again, failing that, to the sun, Alice.

  45. Quote the great philosopher, Yogi Berra: “It ain’t over til its over” (and the raven said…nevermore.

  46. And assigning blame for the current spike to BLM protesters rather than to never-maskers and GOP leadership is disingenuous; look it up.

  47. Writing from Cleveland, we have seen a spike here. Echoing another poster I actually appreciate one Trump voter, the Ohio governor. He is deluded in his social policies and his stated support for Trump, but he listens to science and practices full disclosure as to problems.
    At the age of 72 my favorite Tshirt, replacing “Lama, Obama, Ding Dong (with appropriate pactures) is:
    “I Can’t Believe I’m Still Protesting This Shit”

  48. I’m pissed as hell as well. We knew what to do and, for the most part, we didn’t do it. I don’t object to willful stupidity being fatal; I do object to the fact that it’s often fatal to someone other than the willfully stupid.

    I don’t think the time has been 100% wasted. It saved some people, it bought time for those who understand science to bring it to bear in hospitals and care centers, and it meant that manufacturers have had time to ramp up or retool.

    But re-quarantining damn well should not have been necessary.

  49. Would love to have seen you at DragonCon this year, but there is no way I’d feel comfortable in attending that Con this year. Our Governor is a clueless chuckle-head and opened up GA way to soon.

    It’s just frustrating how few people understand that even if you don’t die from the virus, the number of potentially lifelong complications even after your “recover” is staggering. It is NOT the freaking flu, people.

  50. I absolutely agree that we messed things up terribly here in the UK, no matter how much our politicians try to paint it differently. Admittedly it does seem that North and Latin America have done worse than us but nonetheless, its pretty appalling how the Western hemisphere has messed things up and proven themselves so ill-prepared and, frankly, leaderless. Everything seems to be getting decided by committee and dependant on public approval ratings with another eye on business.

  51. @JimLewis:

    ““While it’s true the Europeans have done a stellar job compared to the U.S.,” is a vast over statement. ”

    Not really. The majority of European countries acted sensibly and successfully stopped the pandemic from reaching catastrophic proportions.

    Spain, Belgium and Italy were unlucky, for the most part. The disease spread rapidly before the governments could come up with appropriate measures. Sweden decided to not take any precautions. In other European countries the outbreak was/is small and relatively contained.

    In the US, we let the outbreak get completely out of control, managed some semblance of containment, then opened up because idiotic mouthbreathers were howling about “teh conominie” and now have a total disaster on our hands. The only European country that did a worse job than us was the UK, but even they seem to be getting things under control.

    @another John:

    “Instead of helping anyone who badly needs help to get through the pandemic, Congress (which notably includes several Democrats) 1) gave trillions to giant corporations and banks and 2) encouraged tens of millions to lose their jobs (rather than just giving money to businesses to keep people on the payroll) so they could try their luck with the bizarre mess of state unemployment offices.”

    So giving money to corporations to keep people employed is bad, but giving money to businesses to keep people employed is… not bad?

  52. I’m guessing the event you’re referencing in September is DragonCon? If so, I’m surprised it hasn’t been canceled already. The big board game con in Dallas (BGG.con) scheduled for the week before Thanksgiving was canceled this past week. Of course the core activity of said convention is many, many micro-gatherings of 3-6 people from all over the world at a small table for 30-120 minutes to socialize and play a game.

  53. Speaking as a Georgia resident: please don’t come here in September, if you can possibly get out of it. There’s no way we’ll have the situation anything like under control by then. I work for the University System of Georgia, and I foresee a major spike in infections when the fall semester starts up in August thanks to USG rules. Stay safe; stay away.

  54. For con cancellations include Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim – was supposed to be at the end of August. Quite a few sad people on (where I am a moderator) but most of the posts were fairly pragmatic about it – some of those who wanted to go were from overseas and would have found it hard to get flights at this point.
    England opened up pubs and restaurants on Saturday and I’ve seen some footage from London of crowds definitely not social distancing or wearing masks. I’ll have my evening libation at home for the forseeable future. (I’m not in central London but close enough).

  55. When Trump shut down travel from China of non-US citizens there were either 3 or 5 (can’t remember which) confirmed cases in the US. The Democrats attacked him for being a racist while telling people in New York and San Francisco to attend various celebrations. So we can assign blame to both sides. We can include the media because no matter what Trump said, hydroxyxhloroquine comes to mind, they jumped in opposition instead of saying, let’s get some tests to find out if it works. The Henry Ford Health System now says that it is a huge help. Trump could have been more forceful regarding masks but I remember a lot of confusion from the “experts.” Me? Using the “can’t hurt” theory I immediately started using them . It looked like things were slowing. But then we had the riots, etc. Now Forbes claims that the riots didn’t cause the spread. Really? Masks for me but not for thee? And yes, younger people are ignoring the advice and packing bars. But in In the last 4 weeks these counties were hit by the riots in addition to peaceful protests.

    Shelby – Memphis – went from 1884 cases to 4310.

    Davidson – Nashville – went from 1950 to 4356

    Madison – Jackson – went from 27 to 170

    Those are current – the dead and the recovered.subtracted from the total since day 1 cases.

  56. My wife is from Ireland, and that makes our daughter an Irish citizen as well. We are working with the Irish consul to get them both over there where some semblance of sanity is running the place. The kid is supposed to start kindergarten this fall, and even if I had any faith that the school will open, I would be hesitant to send her, anyway, as the odds are that a good 40% of her classmates’ parents are complete and total morons. So she will probably start school over there, too.

    I, as a red blooded ‘Mercan, am probably doomed, but hey, the things you do for your kids, right?

  57. I’ll let you deal with the racists who decide to comment, John. I’ve found direct engagement online rarely makes much difference. Those attitudes are always difficult to shift and typically only direct, personal relationship ever have any hope of making inroads.

    On the matter of the protests, most protestors are wearing masks and the protests occur outdoors. There are, of course, exacerbating factors. Many police are *not* wearing masks. They are removing protestors masks by force. And they are pushing them into close confines and arresting them. They are using chemical agents (banned on the battlefield) that also tend to make respiratory illnesses worse. The police pretty much *are* the problem and their strategy of “we will continue to publicly and blantantly brutalizing people until everyone stops protesting our brutal behavior” has been an … interesting one to watch.

    Likely because most protestors are wearing masks and the protests are outdoors, so far there have not been any large-scale outbreaks linked to protests. Minnesota forms a sort of natural experiment. They were the original epicenter of protests so would lead the country. They also have been containing their initial wave of the outbreak better than many parts of the country and have better testing in place so it makes it an environment where outbreaks due to protests would be easier to see and track. So far, there haven’t been any. And there is active research monitoring it. Lots is out there being published, but this is a decent summary.

    We also know from DNA sequencing that the New York outbreak came from Europe, not China. And the outbreaks in most of the country can be traced more to New York and European sources than China. It’s helpful that the European outbreak was primarily a distinctly different mutation of the virus.

    There is no indoor environment where you stay in more or less the same place with large groups of other people for an extended period of time that is even vaguely safe. Most of the large scale spreads are tied to such environments. That’s especially true when masks aren’t an option. So indoor seating in restaurants will not be possible without spreading the virus until virus levels in the community have been reduced to very low levels and there’s ample testing for surveillance and early detection and tracing within 24 hours. It’s what most of the world is doing more or less successfully. It’s not rocket science. It does require discipline and communal effort along with effective, capable government leadership and action.

  58. A dozen COVID hotspots in greater Melbourne, and the New South Wales-Victoria border will close tonight for the first time since the 1919 Spanish flu pandemic.

    And we’d been doing so well….

  59. Scott: it will be interesting to see where police reform is a year from now. It may take root or it may fade away. People cannot protest forever anymore than they can quarantine forever. The state is pretty good at waiting things out with the occasional round of minor mitigation.

    But some changes are not easily undone; so every bit of improvement helps: hopefully, the Redskins will be playing under a new sigil soon.

  60. @Fatman

    “So giving money to corporations to keep people employed is bad, but giving money to businesses to keep people employed is… not bad?”

    Yeah. When the large corporations use those tax breaks to buy back their stock and pad their bank accounts and NOT reinvest in their businesses and NOT retain employees, yeah, that’s bad.

    While money given to the small and medium businesses go to things like paying their rent and utilities, and their employees (even when said employees can’t be at work), it goes directly to keeping those businesses (and all the employees) afloat.

    I’m astounded that you don’t seem to catch this distinction.

  61. @Jim Lewis:

    Democrats own this mess because they were critical of Trump’s belated, and yes, racist China ban?

    Honey, no. 😩

    Look it up.

    While you’re at it, find out what happened to the thousands of dollars’ worth of BLM protester-bound masks that law enforcement confiscated.

    Also, it looks like things were slowing, but then we had armed, bare faced never-maskers throwing tantrums on mass, premature reopening and Memorial Day gatherings.

    There, fixed that for ya.

    I’m assuming you’re just as critical of the predominately white and white supremacist protesters as you are of the BLM protesters.

    It’s not protests for me, but not for thee, right?

    I can argue that BLM’s cause is more worthy than the “freedom” loving covidiots’ and still count the bare faced BLM protesters among the covidiot crowd.

    Are you prepared to admit to your own racist double-standard where protests are concerned or own your side’s knowing, and much greater complicity in what is to become of this nation?

    I’ll wait.

    The bottom line is, checks and balances notwithstanding (not that those have mattered much), the buck stops at Trump’s desk; no amount of “but the democrats! Is going to make that any less true.

    Neither Trump nor his selectively anti-intellectual supporters, elected or otherwise, get to shift blame nor shrug off the weight of command just because they’ve got egg on their faces and have cost more than 130,000 lives.

    Stop being disingenuous and just own up to your support for a domestic terrorist, his elected/appointed minions and his acolytes.

  62. Yeah, @privateiron. It’s encouraging that this round of protests has included so many *white* protestors and have been almost universal around the country, including in small town Texas. And though coverage is waning because our media is almost useless and constantly distracted by the latest new shiny thing, the protests are continuing. It’s fortunate that masks, often constantly moving, and being outdoors seemed to keep transmission rates low. Protestors had no way of knowing that going in, something about which they were acutely aware. The risks were real, but so are the risks of leaving the systems and structures of white supremacy in place. In fact, as we have been watching play out in the pandemic, the two are deeply intertwined. But yes, change is hard.

  63. @Laurie G.

    “While money given to the small and medium businesses go to things like paying their rent and utilities, and their employees (even when said employees can’t be at work), it goes directly to keeping those businesses (and all the employees) afloat.”

    I did consider that for a minute. However, it doesn’t seem likely to me that people running small business ineptly (i.e. going bankrupt after a couple of weeks of lockdown, indicating zero financial and contingency planning ability) would be able to use bailout money effectively, or that a significant percentage of it would end up in their employees’ hands.

    Padding unemployment checks, while far from working perfectly, put some cash in people’s hands and enabled them to survive. A regrettably small amount of cash, but given the circumstances (and the general level of incompetence with which our government handled the pandemic), still better than nothing.

    While I’m not a fan of corporations, the bailout of big corporate players and banks in ’09, to which the OP was alluding, effectively restarted our economy after its second biggest crash in history (caused by years of criminal deregulation and mishandling). Sure, a lot of the $$$ went into manipulatory schemes, but big business turned a corner and started employing people again. I agree that the system is broken and it would have been better to fix it, but back then there was no appetite for revolution.

    @Jim Lewis:

    “When Trump shut down travel from China of non-US citizens there were either 3 or 5 (can’t remember which) confirmed cases in the US.”

    Which made no difference, given that most of our cases were imported from Europe.

    What would have made a difference is Trump’s administration not botching the Federal government’s response to the outbreak. Or continuing to encourage covidiots to open up “teh conominie” and refuse to observe common-sense precautions.

    Mealy-mouthed liars can continue to refer to COVID-19 as the “Chinese flu” all they want. A cursory look at infection rates and deaths tells a very different story. ‘Murica is a laughing stock (more so than we usually are), while the rest of the world prepares to gradually get back to normal. But us being a laughing stock has become par for the course.

  64. @ghostof82:

    No, North America hasn’t done worse than the UK, the United States of America has done worse.

    While there is 100% the risk of “whoops, talked too soon!”, it’s under control in Canada.

    The case count took off like a rocket in early March, stabilized at about 1000 cases per day in late March, then peaked at almost 1800 cases around April 14, and has been dropping mostly in a straight line. Country wide, we are well under 400 cases a day, testing is ramping up, and even the possibly Trump-like Premier Ford of Ontario has been quite responsible and transparent in his actions. (I am exaggerating the number of daily new cases, as I am a bit skeptical that they have gotten all the date from everywhere for the last few days.)

    Tragically, we have had about 8500 deaths, of which 71.8% have been 80+ years old, and another 25.1% have been 60-79, Old age homes were a horror story. On the one hand, the outbreaks at homes seem to be pretty much under control. On the other hand, so many people died there.

    Canada’s population is just under 37 million. So more than half the population of the UK, and about a tenth of that of the US.

    All stats from here, which gives various figures and graphs:

  65. For me going back won’t be a change at all. I never gave up on staying home. When restrictions in the PNW were relaxed I didn’t change. I still haven’t gone to a restaurant other than for takeout food. I’m still doing what I was two months ago. Because I’m trying to stay healthy.

    Oregon and Washington have paused further relaxation of the quarantine due to the increase in cases. Both have finally mandated masks and I do see more masks when I go grocery shopping. Which is an improvement. There still are some people who clearly are refusing to wear them which is annoying.

    My employer sent an email a couple of weeks ago with options for people working at home. They are allowing us to order an ergonomic desk chair through them at no charge to the employees. They are paying for us to order needed office supplies (better monitors or a second monitor, keyboards, etc.). Because they realize that most people won’t be back in the office this year. Making us more effective at home is a good investment for the company.

    I somewhat dread when things open up a bit more. Friends will want to have dinner with me at our favorite restaurant (it is currently takeout only). I want to do that also. I’m also afraid of catching COVID-19 since I’m not as young as I used to be. I won’t go back to “normal” until a couple of weeks after I get a vaccination for it.

  66. @Fatman

    Why do you think that the majority of small businesses have large enough margins/cushions that “ineptness” must be the reason that they fail under lockdown without external support? I may be mistaken, and may have incorrect sources, but my understanding was that thin margins is one of the hallmarks of small business, no matter how well run. If those margins increase comfortably, well, the business usually doesn’t remain in the “small” category. (Yes, I know there are exceptions where the business has decided to remain small and focused. I do believe those are exceptions.)

    Even now, COVID-19 related-aid continues to be funneled off to large corporations that don’t need it, that *do* have those large, cushy margins that they’d be able to prevail just fine through these enforced lean times. Just *today* the AP reported on how a bunch of former Trump lobbyists cornered $10 billion in federal aid (I read this at Snopes). So I do think all the funds going to large corps right now are wrong.

    To be fair to large corporations, I’m quite aware that they are not going to want to act much in times of great uncertainty. I don’t blame them! No one wants to act then. And what’s another effect of the pandemic?

  67. Laurie G: ““When Trump shut down travel from China of non-US citizens there were either 3 or 5 (can’t remember which) confirmed cases in the US.”

    Which made no difference, given that most of our cases were imported from Europe.”

    Of course no one knew that and the cases were all from the west coast. It was 3/12 when he did shut down travel from Europe. And the European strain came from China via Italy, et al.

    As to the coulda woulda shoulda stuff… I am reminded of an Animal House food fight but with more deadly outcomes.

    In the meantime the rioters are immune while the bar goers are Typhoid Mary.

    Trump would have to declare a national emergency to have control. Otherwise our republic depends on the governors.

  68. I’m a college professor in Georgia. We are being ordered to go back in the fall for at least 25% of class time face to face. We are prohibited from requiring masks to attend class, or hand sanitization before entering the room.

    This is not surprising, and politicization is certainly part of it, but it is a follow-on part. The central problem of the GOP is their unshakeable view that science is just an opinion, and generally a liberal one, with no greater claim to truth than any other opinion, and you are allowed to accept the opinion that you want to believe.

    You can trace this viewpoint back through alternate facts, climate change denial, all the way back to at least the Scopes trial. Donald Trump chose the facts that suited him. As a consequence, the pandemic spiraled out of control because nature is completely unaware of what anyone chooses to believe. Politicization is a retrofit, a means of demonstrating that Trump was right all along, and anything you hear now is just liberal lies.

    Science is generally a liberal opinion, but that is because liberals generally choose to believe science (though the extreme left is as questionable on this as the extreme right).

  69. @matthew Taylor, right at the top – yup, we’ve seen a number of Merkins on Vancouver Island claiming to be on their way to Alaska.
    a) the island is no way on the quickest route through.
    b) boasting about how you beat the stupid gummint and are exercising your freedumb to the terrified wait staff serving you.. is beyond mean.
    We will have to build a wall on the southern border and of course the US will have to pay for it.

  70. And yet there’s been no effort by leadership of either party to actually help people survive this long-term crisis.

    One party controls the White House, the Senate, and the leadership of agencies like the CDC that manage the national response, and is thus in a superior position to set policy for this long-term crisis. That party didn’t simply pursue a strategy that in hindsight was imperfect; instead it wallowed in denialism, actively sabotaged efforts to obtain and distribute PPE, and made taking sensible measures against coronavirus symbols of disloyalty.

    There’s plenty of issues on which to criticize Democratic leadership, but this isn’t it. Scrambling to excuse the current administration’s behavior with this both-sidesism is an awful take.

  71. Another issue in the response has been a sluggish acknowledgement outside epidemiology about just how contagious SARS-CoV-2 is. Even within the field, it’s been a process as data has been gathered and analyzed. I’ve been watching the science develop and it’s in that context the recent efforts to get the WHO to update its guidance on airborne transmission fit.

    This was prepublished several months ago in the CDC’s own Emerging Infectious Diseases journal. It found an base transmission rate of 5.7 studying the data from Wuhan.

    I pay close attention to things close to home and this study by the UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium found a base transmission rate before measures were implemented here in Austin of 5.87 and 4.85 in NYC. That’s not the primary goal of the study. They also calculated the asymptomatic or very mildly symptomatic case percentage at 56%. Determining the base rate was a necessary step.

    Other studies have found similar things. It appears the base rate of transmission, at least with even lower scale urban population density falls in the 5-6 range. That’s consistent with a respiratory disease spread through airborne aerosols as well as large droplets. And that is what is studies of specific outbreaks have also demonstrated. This study collects some of that evidence.

    It also illustrates how critical face coverings are to controlling the spread. They aren’t sufficient in and of themselves, but without them no measures are likely to succeed. And that requires probably around 80% consistent and proper use across a population.

    So yeah. Highly contagious, especially when you spend time indoors with little movement and more or less the same people for an extended period of time. If a building’s HVAC is up to code in the US *and* properly maintained, its air filters will likely reduce the virus to levels unlikely to have sufficient concentration for infection. But the AC air currents will almost certainly move the virus concentrations throughout any given indoor space before they enter an air intake. (That was another study I read somewhere but I don’t have a link handy.) More likely to be diluted outdoors, but still a risk if you spend an extended period of time speaking with another group without masks. Distancing alone is unlikely to be sufficient. Air pollution increases the risk.

  72. @Jim Lewis

    Laurie G: ““When Trump shut down travel from China of non-US citizens there were either 3 or 5 (can’t remember which) confirmed cases in the US.”

    Sorry, I wasn’t the one who wrote this.

  73. I agree that our national response is an uncoordinated mess. Governors who are generally trying to do the right thing are handicapped by the lack of tools available to them, and even active interference from the President. My impression from a distance is that Ohio has a “normal” Republican governor who has actually done a pretty good job of following public health advice and doing more-or-less the right things. Are you speaking of your local government in the post? I live in Louisiana – I wish we had Ohio’s infection rates.

  74. Dear Folks,

    I wrote this for my monthly (more or less) newsletter:


    I wrote a couple of columns some years back, about things that laypeople could do to figure out if the information they were being fed was good science or not, even if they lacked expertise in the area. I offered textual, contextual, and meta- tools that would help sort the wheat from the chaff. Here are links to those two columns:

    Bad Science vs. Good Science: A Guide for the Layperson (Part 1)

    Bad Science vs. Good Science: A Guide for the Layperson (Part 2)

    I’m going to add an additional tip that wasn’t in those columns: good scientists will not intentionally lie to you.

    Yes, scientists will get things wrong. Science is only an approximation of our universe and one way to think of it is as an ongoing process of error correction, where every step of the way we try to reduce our misunderstandings and ignorance. But it’s not like we’ve found the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything (actually, I live at that address), so sometimes they will tell you things that turn out to be incorrect.

    But, they will never outright lie to you. If you catch someone lying to you, really lying to you, they are not doing good science. Doesn’t matter what degrees they hold, who they are affiliated with, what reputation they have. They are not Good Scientists, they are Bad.

    There are people out there telling you that you should not wear masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19. That wearing a mask is, at the least, ineffectual and at the worst, dangerous.

    They are liars. This is not a matter of opinion, it is not a matter for debate. There are not “good people on both sides” of this question. Saying masks aren’t effective is like saying the earth is flat or that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS or that vaccines cause autism. It is a blatant lie, completely contradicted by the real medical knowledge.

    Some people are saying this out of woeful, misinformed ignorance. Others are saying this with conscious, malign intent. Irrelevant. Either way, what they are doing is lying to you. If they are lying about something this obvious, there is a good chance they are lying about other things that will not be so obvious. They are untrustworthy and you should not be relying on them for information.

    Cut them out of your life. Close the browser tab, delete the bookmark, don’t read them ever again. Any information they present that’s correct, you’ll be able to find in a dozen other places. You won’t lose a single thing of value and you will reduce your risk of being lied to further.

    In the meantime, wear the %^$#@! mask when you go out. Yes it’s annoying, and mildly uncomfortable, and a nuisance, and a constant, extremely unpleasant reminder that we are living in Plague Times, like a little finger incessantly poking you in the face repeating, “Don’t forget, don’t forget, don’t forget, don’t forget.” I hate that!

    Well, I don’t know anybody who likes it. But, y’know, on the scale of inconveniences and annoyances that this pandemic has subjected us to, it’s way down on the list.

    This virus is very single-mindedly focussed on being a virus, but a mask makes its life considerably more difficult.

    That is your Public Service Announcement for this time.

    pax / Ctein

  75. I live in the middle of this record breaking upswing, Tampa. While it is known that COVID 19 underwent the D614G mutation to stabilize itself, we do not yet know what that means to the world.

    In the short term it means the virus is more infectious. That same stability may make the virus less virulent, we don’t know. It might be, but it might also be that the next mutation could make it the zombie plague that it would take for most of the COVIDIOTS need to get the word pandemic into their little pea-picking brains.

    The 3-5 infections in country when Trump banned Chinese travel is probably bull. The virus was here for a couple of months at that point, but no one was looking for it. The first test for it was a CDC screw up that didn’t work. That and the administration refusing to admit the truth made it impossible to stop.

    The economic impact is going to be big and long lasting. The foreclosures and evictions will make big waves of new homeless. It is going to be a horror that will remake the whole economic landscape.

    And still, half of the people in the grocery store are not wearing masks. To me that is like driving without a seat belt,

  76. @ctein, thanks. I did want to expand on one of your points about peer review and the submission process in the current environment. This pandemic is a global crisis. As a result, journals are prepublishing articles that are still undergoing peer review. (The EID prepublished paper was such an example.) Others are being releases on preprint servers or directly at their University’s or research institution’s site. They all include notes that they are still undergoing peer review. Some of them will end up retracted. Many will be altered based on feedback from the process. In a crisis situation, everyone is trying to make as much information broadly available as possible, even though some of it will inevitably have issues, be disproven, or otherwise not accurate. That’s not science getting it wrong. That’s how science works. It’s just that in the current environment, it’s all happening with tons of eyes on the process and at faster speeds than typical.

    Right now, almost everything we know about the virus is preliminary and represents early results. It’s a virus that didn’t exist (most likely, though some interesting thoughts on that front I saw recently) half a year ago. We’re mostly watching things develop almost in real time.

    Scientists you can rely on will also be clear about their expertise. An anethesiologist leading the medical side of Abbott’s team here in Texas is a joke. He has none of the relevant expertise. By contrast, I saw an interview with a professor in infectious diseases at Dell Medical School a while back. At one point, the questions veered into an area outside her specialty and she said something to the effect of, “I want to be careful, here. I’m not an expert in public health, but this is my understanding.” She very much is an expert in a directly relevant field, but was clear when the questioning veered into a distinct, though related field. When you hear those sorts of statements, it’s more likely you can trust the information they are providing in their field of expertise.

    I’m not a scientist myself, but many in my family are, including my father (genetics and cancer research). So I grew up and have lived somewhat immersed in that world. Science is often the long, slow process of figuring out what you got wrong before.

  77. Gosh, Jim Lewis, you’re right!

    Those reckless, irresponsible bar-goers shouldn’t get all the blame while bare-faced protesters who took to the streets to brandish weapons and white supremacist regalia come off smelling like anti-viral roses.

    Why, that just isn’t fair.

    And ah ah ah, you don’t get to handwave deadly conservative ineptitude while trying to delegate to your ideological and political opponents the lion’s share of the responsibility for the widespread human and economic devastation.

    Others have shown admirable patience in providing you with statistical data and/or trying to reason with you.

    However, I have reason to believe that you are an intellectually dishonest/lazy racist; I have no such inclination to be patient with you, not with all of that easily accessible and reliable information out there.

    I have yet to hear a single one of the “BLM is behind the spiking” crowd condemn the predominately white protesters who, for the most part, had a stupid, shitty and selfish cause that benefited no one but them and theirs.

    Among the very, very few things BLM and covidiot protesters have in common is the preventability of the incidents that sparked their actions.

    George Floyd’s (Floyd was unarmed) and Breonna Tayler’s (she was sleeping) murderers could have behaved like law-abiding, unbiased, colorblind police officers and treated them like other cops treated Dylann Rooth, a mass murderer.

    Police could have taken action when Ahmaud Arbery (unarmed and guilty of nothing but peering in at a construction site) was hunted and lynched.

    The accessories to George Floyd’s lynching could have stopped what happened.

    Simply put, racists could have…well, not been racist.

    To continue, Trump could have actually done the job he stole (this includes leaving his predecessor’s pandemic plan in place) rather than allowing millions of Americans to become infected and/or die.

    Certain Trump appointees and governors could have done what was best for ALL rather than looking out for themselves and for sociopolitical and ideological allies on lower difficulty settings.

    Problem is, for the most part, that’s not what happened.

    You might, might have a point had BLM gone out and counter protested covidiots’ efforts toward ethnic cleansing (look it up), but again, that’s not what happened.

    And again, I’m honest enough to call a covidiot a covidiot, regardless of skin-color or cause.

    Thing is, BLM protesters, for the most part, took precautions.

    More importantly, and I can’t stress this enough, they had a better and slightly more urgent cause.

    Employing racist equivalencies/ double standards and Fox News talking points won’t change the fact that Trump and his followers have made a horrifying situation much, much worse than it needed to be.

    Worse still, they’ve further humiliated us on the world stage and cemented, at least for now, our image as the headless, uncultivated, shit-stained chicken of a nation with the puffed-out chest

  78. @jim lewis “In the meantime the rioters are immune while the bar goers are Typhoid Mary.”

    I like the way it’s ‘the rioters’, as though 99+ percent of the protestors weren’t completely peaceful. There were at least as many ‘rioters’ among the police/military as there were among the protestors.

  79. Dear Jim Lewis,

    Compared to the number of people who are hanging out in bars and doing other kinds of unsafe socializing, there are few protesters and far, far fewer rioters. Numbers count.

    Your “guess” about what’s responsible for the increase in cases has been flat-out proven wrong, both by contact-tracing and by proper statistical analysis (which is most emphatically not cherry-picking single data points that you think make your case). When the protests first started, it was a plausible hypothesis that we would see a measurable surge, maybe even a spike, because of them. We haven’t, and six weeks is enough time, more than enough time, for such a trend to make itself evident.

    No one has said protesters are immune, but their contribution to the total caseload has proven (emphasis PROVEN) to be small. This is not opinion, this is measurable. Stop flogging your personal hobbyhorse. That’s not medicine, that’s not epidemiology, that’s just politics and, honestly, the virus doesn’t give a fuck about your (or my) politics.

    By far the single biggest factor is people — friends and extended family — improperly socializing. The second biggest factor is opening up establishments in a way that encourage (or necessitate) people congregating.

    Everything else is in the noise.

    – pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. 
    — Digital Restorations. 

  80. @Laurie G.

    “To be fair to large corporations, I’m quite aware that they are not going to want to act much in times of great uncertainty. I don’t blame them!”

    I do blame them, because those who hoard the biggest chunk of public wealth in good times should be the ones who make the biggest sacrifices for that same public in bad times. But that’s a pipe dream. Unless things change fundamentally, big business will continue to be the biggest employer, therefore vital to the economy. And since we seem to have come to a consensus that capitalism works great, as long as it gets a socialist-style bailout every 10 years or so, I don’t anticipate fundamental changes.

    @ Jim Lewis

    “As to the coulda woulda shoulda stuff… I am reminded of an Animal House food fight but with more deadly outcomes.”

    Nope. As I mentioned in a response to another post, facts are facts, regardless of the spin put on them. Data indicates that the majority of our cases came from Europe. Banning Chinese travelers was a performative move to rally the racists.

    It’s not a question of not knowing what to do, in spite of . The governors share responsibility for not locking down hard and fast enough (and for reopening way too soon – even those who are seen as anti-Trump). But the utterly botched Federal response, the pro-covidiot rhetoric of downplaying the pandemic and the more recent attempts to undermine governors’ efforts at controlling the situation – we can’t blame China for any of these.

  81. This is just one of many accounts:

    “My friend had to argue with her own brother who lives with her over social distancing from her and her kids because he doesn’t believe the virus is real. As if “Believing” in a virus is even an option.

    It’s really sad for people in high risk categories like us.

    I haven’t left the property where I live in over 100 days. Even my neighbors aren’t wearing masks. so, I suit up with a beanie, my glasses and a face mask for skiing that goes up to my eyes every time I check the mail or take out the trash.

    Amazon and Instacart bring me food.

    Also, numerous scientific studies have come out saying that they are tracing the outbreaks back to beachgoers, not protesters.

    But sadly, idiots believe what they want.

    I hope everyone is staying as safe as possible”

    How dare anyone sacrifice her to money and politics.

  82. Me:

    “To be fair to large corporations, I’m quite aware that they are not going to want to act much in times of great uncertainty. I don’t blame them!”


    “I do blame them, because those who hoard the biggest chunk of public wealth in good times should be the ones who make the biggest sacrifices for that same public in bad times. But that’s a pipe dream. Unless things change fundamentally, big business will continue to be the biggest employer, therefore vital to the economy. And since we seem to have come to a consensus that capitalism works great, as long as it gets a socialist-style bailout every 10 years or so, I don’t anticipate fundamental changes.”

    You raise valid points.

    I was speaking of the more general not-so-much-right-now case. In general, when the situation is uncertain but NOT IN A KNOWN CRISIS, the normal response on the part of individuals and large groups is to wait and see, so as to figure out a decent course of action. But we *are* in a known crisis. We don’t know everything, but we *do* know a number of things that would help.

    Instead, the large corporations still frequently continue to do things in their own interests, not the general public. Just learned today that my health insurance provider is closing seven clinics locally because gee, people are turning more towards tele-medicine right now. This was after they eliminated the clinic pharmacies back in January.

  83. Today my kid goes back to daycare for the first time since March. I didn’t really have any other choice if I wanted to have a job. Given that I’m allocating all of my “exposure points” there, my boyfriend is not comfortable seeing me without an N100 mask for the foreseeable future. We live a mile apart and I have no idea what year I’ll get to kiss him again.

    I hate it, I hate it, I hate it so much.

    Here’s how my year’s been going: my spouse came out as trans. For not just that but other, long-simmering reasons, we eventually broke up. I finally got my dream job, only to be laid off three months in. I found an apartment, moved my furniture by myself, negotiated a custody schedule. All during a pandemic. My aunt and uncle have already caught COVID at work (fuck you, Schwan’s) and it just feels like a matter of time before it kills my 90+ year old grandmas. I’ve had to give up my entire support system. I don’t get to see my parents or friends anymore except on fuckin’ Zoom. The only other human I can touch is my three year old. I’m on three different antidepressants at the moment and as far as I can’t tell they ain’t doing shit.

    The least you can do is wear your god damn mask, assholes.

    It’s taken me a while but I’ve finally realized that there’s no clever solution out there for everything I’m facing right now. It’s not normal. It’s not something everyone goes through. There’s no a map somewhere I could find if I weren’t so stupid that would tell me how to make my life work. Nah. It’s not the depression talking; shit is in fact completely fucked up right now and it might stay that way till 2022.

  84. Dear Scott,

    Well, you’re welcome! And I want to thank you in return — I have found your posts to be extremely helpful and informative. Mil gracias!

    (They have also, in more than one case, saved me the trouble of writing a post of my own, he said in lazy gratitude.)

    I think your status as a self-admitted non-scientist may work to your benefit. Most scientists are very bad at explaining their work to laypeople. It’s a specialized skill and one that most people who think like scientists don’t pick up.

    Your comments about expertise are most pertinent. In parallel to that, scientists almost never badmouth their colleagues. Professional scientific criticism has an etiquette that they follow that would satisfy even Miss Manners, even when they think a colleague is egregiously and fabulously in error.

    If you read someone badmouthing a scientist, that’s a huge red flag. Occasionally, rarely, it’s a red flag on the scientist being bad-mouthed, but overwhelmingly it should be taken as a warning that the badmouther is not an authority.

    Appropriate disclosure here. Epidemiology is not my area of expertise. Yes, I have a degree — in SCIENCE! — but not there. Still, I am a real whiz at data analysis and interpretation and I can and do read (and understand) biomedical papers for fun. I also have a sweetie who does this kind of thing professionally who knows a hundred times more than I do about it, so if I run across something I don’t understand the implications of, I run it past them before I write anything publicly.

    I’ve got a personal interest in this. Paula (my live-in partner) and I are not in quite as good a situation as the Scalzi clan, but I work at home, she’s retired, and we are not at significant physical, emotional, or financial risk. We are better off than 99% of the population and we know it.

    But… I’ve got a Family member who’s undocumented, and you can imagine the dangers, both medical and financial that they are facing. In addition, the sweetie whose ring I wear is 83 years old and has comorbidity factors. The two of us assume that if they contract COVID-19, they die, no handful-of-percent-odds about it.

    At the same time, at 83, they are not inclined (nor am I) to put the relationship on hold for an unknown number of years, to say the least. We don’t know how many we have left!

    I’ve been able to figure out a protocol that allows us to see each other about once a month, despite being in separate containment bubbles, with a risk factor below 1:1000. It wasn’t easy nor obvious, and it was beyond my ability to figure out alone — epidemiology sweetie to the rescue! Lots of subtleties and a deep understanding of what is known and isn’t known at this point.

    Emphasis on “at this point.” It has us constantly reviewing the latest information and updating models, because things change. Anyone who thinks they can plan more than a few months ahead at this point has a much better crystal ball than I do.

    – pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. 
    — Digital Restorations. 

  85. Dear Karen,

    Awww, geez. That cuts straight to the heart.

    A big long-distance, antiseptic hug!

    (for what very little good that is)

    pax / Ctein

  86. But can you imagine how much worse it would have been had Hillary won? Do you realize how bad it would be by now? Fox would have that figure of 2,000 dead on the screen in enormous digits with the caption: Hillary’s Bodycount! Hospitals all over the country would be facing a storage crisis as they figure out where to put the volumes of supplies sent by the federal government that they didn’t even need since the virus was quashed so readily. People would be screaming about their civil liberties as she shut down transportation and forced everyone to quarantine FOR A WHOLE MONTH! Heck, I’ll bet she’d have spent billions on a contact tracing army, throwing dozens of people at every case, as if the 100,000 total infections in the US warrants such an expenditure. Thankfully, Mitch McConnell managed to block any wasteful government stimulus money or we might have added a whole TRILLION DOLLARS to the national debt. Dodged a bullet on that one, right? Sadly, growth was cut in half for the year, but hopefully we will recover in the near future.

    This wasn’t really a hard problem. We had the entire world experimenting with how to respond to this crisis. We modeled our response on Italy, who at the time was the worst response in the world. Had we modeled our response on South Korea, the numbers above would be about right. I did add a national lockdown to the scenario, but the other numbers are simply scaling those of a country who approached this problem far better than we did. Keep in mind the South Korea didn’t even need to do a lockdown at all. And their economy will grow 1.9% this year. Think the US will grow this year?

    Notice how Brazil has modeled their response on ours? Maybe making blithering idiots president isn’t working out so well?

  87. Fatman: “Nope. As I mentioned in a response to another post, facts are facts, regardless of the spin put on them. Data indicates that the majority of our cases came from Europe. Banning Chinese travelers was a performative move to rally the racists.”

    Again, when the Chinese travel was banned there was only 3 or 6 total and they were coming out of China. There was no information that it was coming through Europe. So outside of wanting to just blame Trump I don’t see where your “facts” are coming from.

    In the meantime the new case numbers are up while the death rate is down. That’s good news. I recommend we don’t kill ourselves just yet.

  88. About that good news thing…

    Charles: Grow? Maybe in the imaginary plane (the one where Trump is sane and has made America great again, perhaps). I thought the estimates were for a 6-8% drop in GDP. The optimistic ones were less, but assumed that we’d hold quarantine until it worked and then ramp up slowly (in another words, assuming competent and non-homicidal leadership – yes, “I’m willing to let you die so I can make money” certainly sounds homicidal to me). Since that’s not the case, it’s going to hurt.

    This is getting less funny as time goes on:

  89. Jim Lewis: Trump’s Chinese travel ban dates Feb. 2–we were the 46th country to institute a ban on travel from China, and our ban had plenty of (probably inevitable, I acknowledge) holes in it. At that time (early February) administration officials were already arguing that we ought to be limiting travel from Europe–notably Italy. It didn’t happen. Leaving aside the question of what led up to the situation in late January in the Trump administration, shouldn’t we at the same time as the Chinese ban have immediately started wide spread national testing in every airport and entry point in the U.S., to see what was coming in? I don’t believe we even admitted that the CDC’s own test (developed after they decided they didn’t need the WHO test) was faulty until late February–three weeks after the China travel ban.

    So what was the administration waiting for? What were they doing, those three-four weeks? By that time the Covid-19 genome had been published, cases had started being reported all over the world (not just in China). I’m sorry, but even at the time the Chinese travel ban looked like a mostly-cosmetic effort to contain a disease since nothing else was being done. If the ban had been accompanied by other actions–more testing, more screening, an immediate ramping up of medical supplies and so on, possibly a ban on travel from Europe before mid-March–maybe I could see the China ban as the first shot in a solid effort to respond to Covid-19. By itself, with nothing else done in February? Not so much, I’m afraid. By itself, it just wasn’t enough to make a real difference, and in my opinion that needs to be mentioned every time the Trump administration gets credit for instituting the ban on travel from China.

  90. The US has only 4% of the worlds population. But 25% of the worlds coronavirus cases.

    4% population.
    25% of cv19 cases.

    4% <<< 25%


    There’s been a lot of police brutality at the protests against police brutality.

    Cops have beaten up press people with clearly visible ID and cameras. Medics and doctors. People standing on their own front porch. Cops have driven SUV’s into crowds. Pinned people under vehicles. Ridden horses into peaceful marches. Beaten peaceful marchers with metal batons, rubber bullets, and gassed them.

    Every act of police brutality only proves how the protests are right and reform is needed.

  92. Thanks for this.

    Funny how, by all accounts, covidiot protesters who violated stay-at-home orders went unmolested by law enforcement, even as they took up arms and stormed capital buildings.

    One thing I’ll say (I’ve said it before and will continue to do so)is that no one should have been gathering in the thousands during a pandemic, be they BLM protesters, terrified business owners, families on the brink of financial apocalypse or harried, unemployed Karen’s with restless toddlers who wanted to play on the swings.

    They damn sure shouldn’t have gone barefaced into a crowd of people.

    The problem I have is that conservatives congratulated and are currently defending those with whom they agree while rushing to blame political opponents for the spread of a virus that only a handful of them are willing to admit is real.

    They decry behavior that would have sent them into apoplexy had they and theirs been on the wrong end of it.

    Think mayors should have shut down BLM protests immediately?

    How would that have gone over had they done that with the genocidal, “my rights! My freedoms!” “sacrifice grandma,” “we need to work!” protesters?

    Conservatives shouldn’t fix their lips to criticize anyone’s hypocrisy unless or until they’re willing to address their own.

    Hey conservatives,

    Want to avoid the Buzzsaw in conversations about ideology, protests and covid concerns? Fine. Take care to be critical of those protesters with whom you agree.

    Don’t whine about what “spineless” officials failed to do about BLM protests when you were so quick to crow about how covidiot protesters vanquished oppressive democratic officials and won their reopening.

    Please stop with the obtuse routine and just admit that had police and military waded into those predominately white crowds with rubber bullets and gas, conservatives would have A, taken to YouTube, the airwaves and the pen to worn of Martial Law and B, beaten their “murican” breasts and torn their “murican” clothes in grief and outrage over the stripping of their civil liberties and constitutional rights.

    At the very least, have the decency to be honest about your own application of partisan and racist double standards.

    Most of you detest political correctness with a passion, so why not just speak frankly.

    Admit that while covidiot protests were about communities and causes that matter to *you*, the BLM protests were about putting an end to phenomena you appreciate because white supremacy.

  93. ghostof82 says: “… Admittedly it does seem that North and Latin America have done worse than us but nonetheless…”

    My pedantic self says, and I’m sure Ed (upthread) concurs: North America comprises three countries. One of them, Mexico, is Latin American.

    Our Fox-aligned Trashy Tabloid’s page-one headline today is “MEXICANS SHUT OUT.” It seems that “Mexican” is old-fashioned Ocker slang for Victorians. The state of Victoria is south of the Murray River (“Rio Grande”) from New South Wales. The border closes at midnight tonight in a bid to contain Victoria’s explosion of new COVID-19 cases.

    Actual Mexicans must be thoroughly bemused.

    Stay safe, all.

  94. Hmmm, @ctein. I think it might be better to say almost never *publicly* badmouth their colleagues. I’ve heard the things my Dad and others have said in private about some of those colleagues when slogging through peer review, and also just in general. ;-)

    I enjoy finding and reading papers on any topic that holds my interest at a given point in time. I can sift, cross-check things in them, find discrepancies and red flags, and generally develop some understanding from them. I don’t know that I’m much better than someone in a given field at communicating information I’ve acquired. Science education and science journalism are pretty specialized fields themselves.

    My father has COPD and is unlikely to survive a severe respiratory illness. He was recovering from a broken hip with his sister and husband when the pandemic hit and they are out in a remote subdivision outside San Antonio, near Boerne. My mother lives in rural Arkansas and stays isolated. Our youngest finished college this spring back home and is staying with my partner and me. I can work entirely from home, so we mostly stay isolated. My partner has lupus (SLE) so falls in the higher risk category. That’s our bubble.

    I worry most about my other children and their families. They have no choice but to be out in the thick of it in their various places. My eldest, as I mentioned, is an ICU nurse. When I know what to expect as well as anyone does right now and can feel the numbers and their shapes in my head, I feel a bit more settled.

    Take care!

  95. In Europe we reacted very badly in February, first half of March. celebrating carnival while Italy was already a shit show. The public acceptance for action only there when your own people are dying. But since then, we buckled down and followed scientific advice. Hopefully we can manage with testing and local shutdowns to not totally lockdown again till the vaccin arrives. But the USA, never expected this amount of ignoring science. Been in the US a couple of times and met a lot of really nice and educated people but apparently you are not in the majority.

  96. @Alexandra

    “But the USA, never expected this amount of ignoring science.”

    An outsider can easily get a very skewed perspective of Americans, if you’ve only been exposed to well-traveled ones. Covidiots’ reaction to the pandemic has been on par with our overall national trend of science-denialism. “My belligerent stupidity is just as valid as your knowledge”, to paraphrase Asimov.

    @ Jim Lewis

    “So outside of wanting to just blame Trump I don’t see where your “facts” are coming from.”

    No need to blame Trump for something that had no impact on the actual spread of the pandemic. I note that you never bothered to address the points that I brought up and for which he can be blamed, but then again, I didn’t expect you to.

    And hey, at least you were rallied by the Chinese ban. Good for you.

    @ Charles:

    “And their economy will grow 1.9% this year. Think the US will grow this year?”

    So much for the “judge me on what I do for the economy” shtick, I guess.

  97. “Again, when the Chinese travel was banned there was only 3 or 6 total and they were coming out of China”

    Funny. You keep bragging about trump’s travel ban as if it were the only thing needed to stop cv19 and every trump screw up since then just falls off your radar. Trump pushed quack science that had no scientific evidence to back it. He suggested people drink bleach. Every 4 weeks he wrongly predicted the virus would be gone in another 4 weeks. And now he’s declaring “mission accomplished” when cases are surging in half the US and the US has 25% of all cv19 cases in the world. He has never taken a leadership position, instead letting the states fend for themselves. He could have invoked war powers to control ppe and other medicsl equipment went to states who needed it most. Instead he threw his hands up and told states they are on their own. States ended up competing against each other, driving prices through the roof and resulting in price gouging, one thing the war powers were meant to stop. And in the middle of the pandemic, trump defunded WHO and attacked the CDC and fired his own scientists and experts because they used a science-based approach to the covid response, not the wishful thinking, hunch based quackery that Trump used.

    Oh, and that travel ban you jerk off to with every post? It wasnt the miracle cure you think it was.

    It didnt block all travelers from China. And it was supposed to allow people to return home to the US but screen them and forward the results to state health departments. All of which got screwed up.

    So, trump didnt even get that right. And has months of insanity and failures since then that you apparently dont know about. Are you stuck in a time loop in february in some way? Is there no TV where you are and the only information you get from the outside world limited to flyers from the trump reelection campaign?

  98. Fatman: Except in this case “what they did for the economy” is short for “how badly did they react to coronavirus?”. In most cases, stuff to change the economy takes a while to manifest – hence it’s hard to see how economic policy causes growth or contraction (and in most cases, here, isn’t to the President’s fault or credit anyway – it’s mostly on Congress). In this case, though, COVID response swamps everything – the economic effect of shutdowns and having lots of people dying is big enough and directly connectable enough to government action that the logical connection is much sounder. In addition, the underlying numbers are relatively easier to get and to rely on (and their absence tends to answer the second question “Very”). So, in general, when a big catastrophe happens, the growth rates (or contraction rates) of economies are likely to be good indicators of the quality of the country’s response to the catastrophe. And since much of the problem with our COVID response can be tied directly either to Trump or to the GOP (Whaddya know! Making sure that the federal government can’t do its jobs is bad when you actually need them to do them. Who’d a think it?), the chain of causality is clearer than in most political issues.

  99. I’m just enough of conspiracy nut to wonder if the “political advantage” in play here is even centered in the US. ::SIGH::

  100. @Alexandra:

    While I’m inclined to agree, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the genocidal, tin-foil hat wearing, white supremacist and/or anti-intellectual flateather covidiots happen not to make up that majority.

    It certainly seems that way because, as is evidenced by the profound and far-reaching consequences of attitudes toward and responses to the pandemic, those folks hold positions of power and make decisions that impact millions of lives.

    Then, there’s all this:
    These are just four examples of why we have and continue to wear the biggest and most elaborate dunce cap of them all.

    I’m by no means a patriot; more than 63 million of my fellow Americans voted in a monster.

    Still more of them were so horrified by the prospect of a Clinton/woman/ideologically impure president that they condemned us to four years of republic rending chaos.

    As critical and significant as the 2018 House cleaning was, we’ve either clowns or vacancies in some of the most crucial positions in the country.

    TL; DR: I know how it looks, now, but I encourage you to check back in November and reassess.

    Unseating Trump and his yespeople is just the first step toward coming out of the corner and getting to remove the national dunce cap.

    Provided the republic survives, we might be redeemed. 😊

  101. @pjcamp‘s claim that Georgia college professors “are prohibited from requiring masks to attend class, or hand sanitization before entering the room”–I’ve heard that there’s a rumor going around to that effect, but it’s false. The University System of Georgia Board of Regents did indeed refuse (at first) to require masking, but it did strongly encourage the use of masks, and my university has invested in making hand sanitizer readily available in high-traffic areas. As of this morning, the BOR also reversed course, and is now requiring masks in campus buildings and facilities, with the exception of dorms.

  102. I’m just really, really sad and depressed and freaked out. I haven’t been sleeping well since the news of this neverending surge came out. stay safe everyone.

  103. Reaching out from beautiful British Columbia, Canada, where our provincial health officer was upset to report 31 new cases and 6 new deaths from the last three days. It’s making her and the provincial government rethink very modest efforts at re-opening the few industries that were closed in March (no actual lock down here), like hair salons and restaurants.

    The vast majority of our cases (now nearly 3,000 cumulative total, with 183 deaths) come from our largest city (Vancouver) and its suburbs, while the rest of the province has been nearly case free throughout the pandemic. I know from family members in other parts of the province that, without cases anywhere near you, or amongst people you know, it might look like this pandemic is overblown and/or fake news. Wearing of masks in a community that has not experienced a single case, like my Mom’s small town, isn’t really happening, and I get why that is.

    I have to think that that’s where some of the American reaction is coming from. If you’re in a rural community with no cases, lockdown measures must seem draconian, and the effect on the economy completely out of proportion with the danger.

    Is the only way to get these citizens to take this seriously to have someone, or many someones, they know and love get this virus and die?

    It’s sad to see our neighbours having such a tough time with this. We rely, particularly in this province, on a lot of American tourism, but we’re not going to open the border anytime soon while your situation is so dire.

    Stay safe, fellow North Americans. Get out and enjoy the sunshine when you can. This situation is predicted (by epidemiologists who know the history of every previous pandemic) to get much worse in the fall when the second wave is expected.

  104. @ Sean Crawford

    Just noticed your comment about the R rate.

    That was the point of my links to (which I did not say) – as well as the subject of the original post.
    That site will give you estimates for the current R rate state by state as well as the graphs of their evolution over time.
    As you suggest, looking at this number is highly informative. The number of states which now appear to retain some measure of control is 3 with another dozen roughly plateauing in terms of current reproductive rate, but the rate itself is rising as the graphs show.

    Unfortunately we still don’t have the testing capacity to get a sharp picture, even after all this time, and, of course, uncertainty is not our friend. The error bars on the most recent estimates (at any given point in time) tend to be broad. But this is the number that most concerns us.

    It occurs to me that some people might still be interested in a presentation of the basic epidemiology model, accompanied with some words of wisdom relative to the situation as it stood in March:

    And I’ll add, once more, that a review of the timeline linked to previously is informative. Several commenters have reviewed (with what seems to me admirable clarity and patience) some very relevant specifics, but one cannot capture the whole thing in a comment.

  105. Posters have commented on other parts of Jim Lewis’ post but his claims about hydroxychloroquine are also nonsense. The media didn’t “oppose” hydroxychloroquine, they pointed out Trump was blathering on about its effect on the coronavirus without any scientific evidence backing up his claims.

    Also, the Henry Ford Health System’s “huge help”?

    “But the study that Henry Ford publicized last week (and that Trump was so fond of) was not randomized and double-blind, meaning that Henry Ford’s doctors carefully selected who they gave the drugs to, causing some scientists to warn that it could have skewed the results.

    Some of the patients in the study were also treated with a steroid called dexamethasone, which could have additionally impacted the findings. And Henry Ford excluded patients who had not yet been discharged from the hospital from its report — 10% of the study’s subjects — which could have skewed the results further.

    Henry Ford CEO Steven Kalkanis admitted the matter was far from settled in a press conference”

    I guess Jim follows the Trumpian model of science where “far from settled” is translated into “a huge help”.

  106. Hello glc, two posts above, I was staggered by your lengthy timeline, commented far above at July 6, 6:15 p.m,
    being especially staggered by the long list of people and departments, for fighting a pandemic, that were one by one deleted by Trump’s administration before the pandemic started.

    I can only think of a quotation from page 178 of Growing Pains (2018) by Gwynne Dyer, “What really seems to motivate Trump in all three cases is just a desire to destroy Barak Obama’s political legacy, for reasons known only to himself.” (the book is explicitly not about Trump, although Trump is called the giant orange canary in the coal mine)

    If you pick up Dyer’s book, from page 122 is a concise look at how Reaganomics has affected Trump’s base. I think Americans really need to debrief on whether or not that no longer “new and exciting” model is working out.