Delta Phi Corona

Schools opening up has been a hot topic of debate lately, for obvious reasons. It’s finally the end of summer and kids are starting to go back to school, and it seems like every school is handling things differently. Some are doing half online, half in-person classes, some are just making teachers put their classroom desks six feet apart. Some are saying students have to wear masks while others claim they can’t enforce such a rule.

Everything is up in the air and nothing is consistent or really makes any sense. The only thing I know is that kids are going to get sick. Not just kids, but the people that kids bring the sickness home to, and all the teachers and staff, as well.

I’m not just talking about K-12 schools, though. Colleges aren’t much better off, if at all. As many of you know, I’m not currently attending Miami University; however I do know this weekend was move-in weekend, and I went to Oxford yesterday to help my friend move furniture.

While I was there, I drove through campus and some of the housing around it. Not only did I not see anyone wearing a mask, but I saw crowds of day drinking party-goers huddled on frat house porches, playing beer-pong and cornhole in the front yards, passing Solo cups and vapes alike. I passed entourages of people on the sidewalks uptown, going from house party to house party, not a single face covering in sight.

For the past several weeks, or maybe months at this point (who can tell anymore), I’ve seen a lot of hate towards the older generation, people my age complaining about Boomers and “Karens” who won’t don a mask to grocery shop, but I have seen little to none of the same abhorrence of lack of masks put towards my age group.

The only times I’ve seen people complaining about my generation lacking masks is from this summer’s beach-goers. Public beaches opened up, and people partied like it was spring break in Florida. With colleges opening back up, it’ll be like the beaches every weekend inside of every frat house and every bar, and no one can stop it. You can tell a bunch of drunk college kids to wear a mask all you want, but that’s not going to stop them from passing a bong around, or using the same five shot glasses between thirty people. They’re still going to dip their cup into the same five gallon bucket of Jungle Juice and not give a flying fuck about social distancing.

It doesn’t matter what the college itself does, whether it makes students sit six feet apart in lecture halls, or makes less seating available in the library, or says that professors and students both have to wear a mask during office hours. It is all for naught if right after class those students are just going to walk around uptown with a dozen people to bar hop.

It’s hard to be perfect when it comes to social distancing and wearing a mask. I know it’s frustrating and I know everyone is sick of it, but this will not stop until we get our shit together. Not just the Boomers, not just the Millennials, but all of us, masked and responsible. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times, but just in case you need reminding today: WEAR A MASK.

-AMS

57 Comments on “Delta Phi Corona”

  1. Darwin in Action. Now you can see why the drinking age was moved to 21. Maybe it needs to go higher still.

  2. I am a college professor, not in the U.S., but still at an institution trying to reopen earlier than it should be considering what everyone else in my area is doing. However, I refused to do in-person or “hybrid” classes this autumn. I will not endanger my students this way. My alma mater back in the U.S. is cheerfully opening, which is breaking my heart, because it’s a very large place, and odds are some of those kids are going to lose their lives. When I was their age, the most I had to worry about was studying for the GRE.

    @David: It’s very easy to bash young adults as irrational, but when you’re 21 and your brain hasn’t completely finished developing, you may easily come to believe you’re invulnerable. Comes with the territory. The drinking age is higher in the U.S. than it is in my home country (where it’s 18 or 19, depending). As far as I could tell, this wasn’t actually a deterrent to the American students. All it did was make the drinking more surreptitious and more cool-because-risky. Each of these reasons alone would have made it a lot more dangerous.

  3. David Moody, I live a few blocks from a party area for what used to be called ‘yuppies.’ You see plenty of the 25-40 year olds walking around w/o masks. Yeah, they’re congregating just like Anthena’s generation is doing, so raising the drinking age isn’t going to do anything.

    Can/t fix stupid . . .

  4. The person who invents a mask that can thread a straw safely through the not-front of a covid mask will reap benefits

  5. Realistically, I think most people don’t expect anyone from 0-22 years to wear masks consistently and practice anything, and I would guess that’s why nobody’s even bothering to complain about it. Good luck telling teenagers NOT to party, right? So many of them aren’t going to stop doing what they want that it’s not even worth complaining about. Nobody wants to be told they have to to waste their youth and new freedom from parents by staying locked in their dorm room all freshman year for safety.

    The school I work for is still technically “hybrid” but at this point it sounds like little to no classes may end up being held in person. I wouldn’t even bother to come back to school physically this year if I was doing online education. I hope most people don’t because this will happen.

  6. Thanks for pointing out the what you’ve seen. Doesn’t matter what rules schools apply if the students don’t follow, especially after class. We drove through Hope College here in Holland, MI yesterday. Kids moving in. No masks, no social distancing. Even with parents helping. I give it a month before they’re all sent home because of Covid-19.

  7. While my undergrad days are far behind me, just the antics we got up to in a Southern Baptist college were enough that I can safely say, “People are people” and there will always be a percentage of the population that will engage in blatantly stupid acts. That percentage does seem to be far higher in the decade of life between 15 and 25.

    FYI – the idea that mask-wearing being politicized is definitely not new, see what was going on 100 years ago in SF: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Mask_League_of_San_Francisco.

    While my undergrad years didn’t have Corona, Vietnam, or AIDS, being in the midwest did mean tornado warnings. I remember quite distinctly having the tornado sirens going, the school in lock-down, while me and a few friends stood outside in the grass near the dorms, counting funnel clouds as they went overhead….

    You may not be able to ‘fix’ stupid. But a lot of people will out-grow it…if they survive long enough.

    CardinalRam

    2nd FYI: My college? 20 years later a twister DID land there and devasted the campus…. Luck was on my side for that.

  8. Thank you for posting this first person account. I’m appalled at the irresponsibility that you describe but I’m even more appalled at the sentiment that there isn’t anything that anyone can do about it because young adults don’t like to be told what to do.
    F’ That!
    It is time for responsible adults in the university AND to government to start holding these selfish, self-entitled, tools accountable (that goes DOUBLE for holding to account older individuals who should know better).
    Don’t want to wear a mask and wear it properly? Fine! This is the civil penalty you’ll have to pay (with and escalation for each infraction).
    Want to have a kegger and play beer pong? Fine! You’re expelled.
    I’ve been living like a fucking hermit in a cave for 5 months to help get this shit under control – it enrages me that there is a segment of the population that is too self centered or too stupid or too ignorant to follow public heath instructions and that they are jeopardizing all of us as a result.

  9. Yeah. If jungle juice is strong enough, it’ll kill virus on the outside of the cups, but then it’d also likely kill a proportion of the applicable students via alcohol poisoning, so. Uh. Yeah.

  10. As a college professor for twenty years, this is nothing new. Under grad age students (both boys and girls) think they are invincible. This is the reason we induct 18 year olds into the Armed Forces. If you told a group of forty year olds to charge a hill and take out a machine gun nest, they would kick your ass. As a group,the teenagers just do not have any personal experience with mortality.
    Hang in there, you make decisions for you.
    Let the herd do what it is going to do.
    Dave

  11. In California, the bulk of new cases are in the 18-34 age group. I believe this is a trend in other places as well. My own observations agree with that, to the degree that I fired my own daughter for being a plague rat.

    Young people have suffered from delusions of invincibility since the dawn of time. I was no different, and I guess my kids aren’t either.

  12. I teach 5th grade. My schoolboard at first decided to send the students back to school, then later that same week were forced by our governor to keep them at home. The school board complained bitterly about it but decided to go with remote learning for the students. Our numbers were spiking when they decided to send the students to school. They were hell-bent on making the staff work on site. I spent the next month negotiating with district management (and two board members) about this. Their own rationale was that it was better for the students to see our classrooms in the background. When we told them we could put our classrooms in our Zoom meetings in the background even when we teach from home, they told us this wasn’t good enough. When it finally dawned on them that we were going to strike if necessary to avoid putting our lives at risk, they grudgingly agreed to let us teach from home after we jumped through a series of hoops first. They are still complaining about it.

    Sadly, not everyone is responsible. I’m concerned what it is going to look like once we get into flu season, particularly in states where they don’t think science or facts matter.

    Stay safe, Athena.

  13. While I’m not happy that one week ago my daughter’s college (NJ) switched from Flex (1/2 full dorms) to fully Remote (no on-campus housing) I am interestedm in seeing what happens to her friends going to schools in PA, AL, and NY. I think one day after move-in Villanova partying made the news.

  14. I’m on the alumni housing board for my college fraternity. I believe the kids sincerely plan to try to stay safe, but all those good intentions will go out the window about beer 3 the first Friday night after classes start. There is no defense against being an 18-20 year old college kid.

  15. Thanks for this, Athena; there cannot be too many voices of reason. It’s devastating to read your description of the campus. I actually physically tensed up, as if waiting for the blow…that *will* come, and oh, it will be tragic.

    My son and his wife are both teachers (middle & high school) in L.A., and I’m beyond grateful that their district, and the state, is being sane and they’re teaching remotely from home for the foreseeable future. My grandkids live on a remote farm in WA state, and will likewise be homeschooled, and again am grateful that their community is offering support for that.

    And I’m really glad you’re home and safe, too. It’s lovely to have your voice here on Whatever!

    p.s. Is it terrible that an evil little part of me is just waiting for the deployment of your magnificent mallet in response to anyone fool enough to post anti-masking twaddle? Ah, well, gotta find some kind of entertainment when watching Rome burn gets old…

  16. Thank you so much for writing this. I do believe a fair number of your peers take social distancing and PPE seriously, we just don’t see them often because most of the time they are staying indoors where it’s safe. (That pretty much goes for people of all ages who treat the pandemic seriously.)

  17. Athena: your observations are sadly unsurprising since people that age tend to think they’re immortal – it won’t happen to *me*! You’ve made a wise choice to stay away for a bit, and I agree with your conclusions but…I feel sorry for anyone actually named Karen these days. Most of the ones I know are perfectly nice people. :(

    David Moody: despite what I said to Athena above, irresponsible behavior tied to drinking is hardly limited to college students. I doubt that raising the age limit would help. The groups I saw picnicking/drinking near the beach a couple of weeks ago (before the governor shut down beach gatherings again) were mostly people in their late 20s and up…some with young children.

    Chris Shorb: I’ve been thinking that someone needs to figure out the mask equivalent of the y-front. :p

  18. Thanks, Athena. That was a great post. I was hoping we’d get to see things from your perspective. So, for all the people who say, “young brains haven’t developed yet,” I give you AMS: fully capable of recognizing stupidity. And for people who say, “older brains have developed,” I give you all the people who think opening college this soon is a good idea, despite generations of undeterred risky behavior by college students. Really, it’s less about brain development than which peer group you choose to impress.

  19. A story that seems just to be emerging involves a Covid-19 outbreak at a sorority house, where 20+ members displayed symptoms. This incident (if valid) echoes your observations about campus life for some….

  20. I thought your descriptions were spot-on; well-written and scary. Thanks for posting this.

  21. Rob T: that’s a fair point. I do believe that most people of all ages are being responsible – including younger people…but those who are not are often more visible, and they endanger everyone.

    Regarding my previous comment: I went to the beach, masked, to try to watch the scattering of ashes for a friend, otherwise I wouldn’t have been there. Although the beaches were officially open at that point, I was rather dismayed at the number of unmasked people gathering in groups…and tried to stay away from them.

  22. Shaking my head at your account (excellent post, btw), but not at all surprised. We, meaning humanity, keep trying to make an age thing out of this but the stupid rules at all ages. I mean, what’s the age group of the Chancellors and state legislatures who came up with the braindead idea of unsafely opening schools to begin with?

  23. There’s an equivalent of this that waaaaaay predates masks. Condoms. If I had a nickel for every STI, or unwanted pregnancy that I’ve had to treat, I’d own an island somewhere. I started practice during the height of AIDS, and that wasn’t much of a deterrent either. Someone else mentioned that the adolescent brain is not fully mature until as late as 25. Mother Nature wants us not to care, so we can perpetuate the species, go to war, kill a mastodon. This translates to risky behavior because you don’t appreciate your own mortality. Covid is more contagious with way less contact than AIDS, but the principal is the same. As for the over 25 crowd…don’t get me started. At least the kids have biology on their side.

  24. My third start at a comment. Just hard to write when there is so much implication for the next few months and so little I can add that hasn’t already been said. So all I’m going to add is the old mariner’s advice when the signs point to stormy weather:
    Batten down your hatches, trim the sails, get ready for it to blow!

  25. Darwin, the Nation version. US deaths on Friday 1,120 (reported), Canada 5. Yes, Canada has 10% of the US population, but even accounting for that the death rate in the US is currently 22.4 time that of Canada. And that type of comparison is not in the News.

  26. “The person who invents a mask that can thread a straw safely through the not-front of a covid mask will reap benefits”

    Standard issue military gas mask had a lttle hose in front that fit into a water canteen, so you could drink without dying in a wmd situation.

    Every day a holiday, every meal a feast, every paycheck a fortune.

    Not wearing a mask is like not driving sober. I wont feel sorry for you if your choice gets you killed. But I will be pissed if you take out someone who was doing the right thing when you were acting stupid.

  27. Nice post, never be afraid to speak truth.

    For me as a fiction writer, while it would be romantic to portray college kids as resistance soldiers, in reality it would require graduate students of around age 25 to be the leaders. Until that age of discretion, responsibility is too scary. Students would scatter like birds. (Maybe that’s partly why grad students don’t vote in student elections and aren’t considered real students)

    I remember when I was in college a year after leaving the service. Our morning class had so-called “portable” folding desks that were made of cast iron or something, a sort of heavy folding desk I have not seen before or since. (Other rooms, if the desks were folding, were normal) Of course many desks would be already unfolded but—People who came late would crash around unfolding desks. For an 8 a.m. class this meant several people crashing.

    Since I knew the exact head count of our career class, it would have been simple to count desks and unfold any extra that were needed before 8. In reality? Given the age group, I felt that taking that much responsibility would not have been “cool” so I never did. I filed that away as something to remember down the decades. In case I became a writer.

  28. I think location and social pressure is a big factor. In my area, school is not reopening and no one expected it to. There is also a state mask mandate, municipal mandates, and enormous social pressure to mask, sanitize, and distance. Employers of essential workers also enforce mandates, both with customers and employees. Even little kids playing in their yard are masked, while campuses are largely empty. Stay safe, stay sane.

  29. First time I posted a response to your articles Athena but wanted to say you nailed it. Truer words “ and not give a flying fuck about social distancing.” have not been written if my college recollection is accurate. Time will surely tell him this plays out. Also, welcome to the website

  30. We *can* expect those from 0-22 to wear masks as well as those from 23-100, as demonstrated by all of the people around the world who have and are doing just that. Our failures are specific to us.

  31. Athena, thanks for the first-hand report. I have a nephew coming to move into his university housing in my city later this week. He’s got a single room and all his classes are online, so I kind of expect him to spend most of his time cooped up in there, but still — I’m worried and I plan to text him as often as he’ll let me just to check up. (I’m also offering use of my laundry if he wants it — every little bit of savings will help, I figure.)

  32. On the one hand college kids are stupid…

    On the other hand… I went to an engineering college with a lot of other engineering nerds. And we were stupid outside of class.

    Back then I understood thermodynamics and chemistry. I could design a factory to make random chemicals safely. I knew more higher mathematics then than now (I’m old and forgetting what I don’t use). I knew how to compute explosive effects (mandatory ROTC course) and how to design to prevent them.

    I was the smartest I ever have been. At least in some fields.

    I still drank on weekends. Too much. Did stupid things.

    I’m sure I would have been equally stupid now. Given the school we wouldn’t have been playing beer pong outside. But there would have been parties inside with no social distancing or masks.

    It’s an amazing age for people, from around 18 to early 20s. The mind grows. You learn complicated things that you couldn’t have understood a few years earlier. You are both at your smartest and most likely to take dangerous risks at the same time. You just don’t see the risk; at least not most of the time.

    Brains are still growing. Self control is still being learned. Hormones are…

    This is why we need colleges to protect their students. Because while legally adults they often aren’t ready to protect themselves.

  33. My daughter has two move in dates this month for her school (Quinnipiac University), so I’m quite concerned as well. Fortunately, the school is sending out Covid19 tests to all returning students, and they have to have a negative outcome before they can truly move back in to the campus.

    Still, it will be interesting to see how things will go this year.

  34. One thing that’s become clear is that outdoors, a few feet apart, during the day, is pretty safe even without a mask. Outdoors at night, crowded together, but with a mask, is likewise pretty safe. Any viral loads get heavily diluted. This is why there haven’t been any outbreaks associated with going to the beach, the “Reopen [wherever]” protests, or the Black Lives Matter protests. Bars and restaurants, indoors, crowded, without masks, has proven to be a Really Bad Idea, and classrooms are likely to be a similarly Bad Idea. The utter failure of governments at any level in the US to even think about preparing for the fall until late July is infuriating.

    If it spread actively outdoors all of us riding our bicycles, running, and walking, on the trails on the weekends would have been infected twice over by now. So why not have class outside? Yes, climate will affect that, but you can adjust school times to cope. Because, as our hosts here know quite well, not every student is going to have access to the infrastructure needed for remote learning.

  35. @Paul DeConinck: Eh, those are Hope kids. I’m 100% sure things are better at Calvin, our currently most-newsworthy alumna notwithstanding. (No, I don’t really think so.)

    I have some sympathy for young people making poor decisions. They spent several months hearing “you won’t get sick from this, stay home for Grandma (but go to your grocery store bagging job!)” and there’s still a lot of misinformation going around. Policy makers at all levels (from elementary school boards up through the folks in DC) haven’t exactly been setting a stellar example of consistent evidence-based decision-making. Finally, we’ve spent decades, if not centuries, designing college campuses and college culture to be a place that pushes people together. The information required to act intelligently is out there–but there’s a lot of crap to cut through. In theory you learn how to do that in college.

  36. On a more positive note, I moved my daughter down to Austin on Saturday and I was surprised by how many people wore masks outside, even in areas with few pedestrians. And it was 103F. Granted, the UT dorms aren’t open yet so there weren’t masses of people but almost 100% of the people that were there, wore masks. They were even wearing them correctly!

  37. you have done a public service… problem is too small an audience and too few rational politicians able to handle science leading too many clueless folks…. now if you’ll excuse me if I stick my face into a pillow and scream for ten minutes…

    here in NYC we’ve been trying to lay groundwork for ‘next wave’ rather than trying to fix ‘last wave’… such as projections and predictions and timelines… which we do not see much of in mainstream media…

    please someone find me a better set…

    death projection:
    OCT=USA 200K
    DEC=USA 300K
    FEB=USA 400K
    MAY=USA 500K

    …and by DEC 2021 it could be a full million

    please! tell me where math is wrong… I so want to be wrong!

    vaccine timeline (absolute minimums):
    6m = candidate vaccine
    3m = clinical trials
    1m = expedited bureaucratic blessing by FDA
    2m = shakedown manufacturing workflow
    18m = manufacturing and distribution across North America (averaging 1m doses per day for 500+m people –> US=340m, MX=150m, CN=30m)

    based upon open source materials WAG’ed as optimistically 30 months!

    please! tell me where math is wrong… I so want to be wrong!

    school reopening:

    we should count upon not only shortage of PPEs but also insufficient smaller-sized coffins… USA unaccustomed to mass deaths amongst children… they are all ‘Redshirts’ (‘acceptable losses’) to POTUS

    please pass along these suggestions to teacher you know…

    suggest: new school board motto: no such thing as ‘acceptable losses’ if children or teachers or parents

    suggest: 4 panel cartoon
    1:kids lining up on curb
    2:bus delivering kids in morning to school
    3:yellow school bus re-tasked coffin carrier in afternoon
    4:coffins left at curb

    suggest: asking who will buy caskets? school board? governors? parents?

    suggest: asking will life insurance pay out on obviously suicidal behavior? will governors guarantee in writing?

    suggest: asking about guaranteeing medical coverage during drawn out recovery cycle, who pays?

    stay safe… stay strong…

  38. Thanks for this Athena. I’m your father’s age and have a son only a couple years older than you. While he holds similar views to yours, it’s really really nice to see that he’s not the only one. Humanity will muddle through this, but I can’t help but wish both your generation and mine would share your sentiments a little more widely.

  39. Well put, Athena.

    My state government assures us that schools continue to be safe – except those that have “temporarily ceased operations” because someone has tested positive, whereupon the whole school is shut down for cleaning, contact tracing, review of safety protocols, etc. Utmost sympathy for the faculty and staff, as well as the students, who must soldier on in hope that they aren’t next.

    I’m not inclined to single out a particular demographic for bad conduct. It helps when there is consensus, and mintwitch spoke to this, about what everyone ought to be doing. Clear and consistent policy directives? Also helpful. Yet even where there is consensus, individuals of all ages will still make their own, not necessarily rational, decisions about self-preservation and responsible behavior. Not just in the matter of disease transmission – also things like recreational drug & alcohol use (“I’m not as bad as some”), application of sunscreen (“Melanoma? Never happen to me”), use of seatbelts (“I’m only going a couple blocks”), and smoking (“Maybe I’ll quit when they go up to $x.xx a pack”).

    Perhaps younger people are more blithely public with the “screw this, I’m gonna live forever” attitude, but no age group is immune.

  40. Commenters keep saying that young people think they are invincible. Fine, and true, but do they not understand that they will spread the virus whether they get sick or not!? What is hard to understand about that, even for a drunk, stupid 20-year old? Do these kids feel ok about killing their parents, grandparents, teachers, grocery store clerks, whoever they may come in contact with? Is this really where our civilization is right now? God almighty how did things get this bad?

  41. I used to work at Miami of Ohio. Let’s just say that the dominant (and Greek-focused) student culture there is not particularly oriented toward rules. There are fabulous groups of students who are really smart, internally directed, disciplined and highly motivated. And then there is Greek life… it’s the reason that a higher proportion of MU students develop drinking problems after joining the university than at most schools. (Yes, they measure these things.)

    I think you’ll find more adherence to masking in other institutions. And, of course, less at some others…

  42. @AKK: I have been spending the last 4.5 months trying to prepare UT for students (including developing the in house testing). I think they are in good shape on campus, but off campus life is still worrisome, and the less said about the football team, the better.

    We’re pretty good with masks in Austin, but it drops off steeply outside city limits.

  43. I took a walk around my old (urban) campus last week, and it was the same thing: hectic move-in day, and not a mask in sight.

    As fatalistic as it sounds, I’ve come to accept that in the absence of aggressive government intervention (which is simply not going to happen at this point) people gonna people. I don’t like it, and I get the frustration… but I also think that at a certain point (especially on social media) it just becomes performative anger without any real purpose. This is how it’s going to be, and COVID is not going to be under control until we have a vaccine, and that vaccine is distributed to some critical mass of people.

    The good news is that I believe a vaccine will be approved by the end of the year, and distribution will be well underway by early 2021. The bad news is that many people are going to die in the meantime.

  44. It’s astonishing that certain school board members were naive enough to think that a bunch of college educated, critical thinking, school teachers were going to roll over and blindly follow their disastrous lead.

  45. Idiots!

    I’m glad to know you won’t be anywhere near that petri-dish, Athena. :(

  46. Dear Howard(counting…),

    The numbers I’m seeing with a deeper dive into the data don’t entirely agree with yours. But they’re not necessarily better.

    Any projections beyond the end of the year are worthless. Not because of the upcoming election, which — in the short term — isn’t going to make as much of the difference in the progress of the pandemic as people would hope. But simply because the error bars become so large. The 90% confidence ranges are ridiculous.

    For October of this year, your projection is most likely too optimistic. The death rate would have to drop immediately to its historic low (five weeks ago) to hit that mark. Currently it’s twice that. There seems to be a lull in the growth of the death rate, in the past week, but it’s too early to tell if that’s just a momentary pause, a real point of new stability or the beginning of a downturn.

    Accordingly, it would be difficult not to hit 200 K by mid-September, and 250 K by the beginning of October is plausible. If the curve starts trending upward again, even more.

    By the same token, 300 K is probably the minimum you could hope for in December. Unless we do see a significant downturn. Anything’s possible, although I am personally not terribly hopeful about that. People’s behavior seems to be pretty well locked in right now. On the other hand, you’re trying to look 3 1/2 months ahead, and 3 1/2 months ago was the end of April. Boy, did things look different then!

    On the vaccine front, it is — in principle — much better than that. But, as a friend puts it, “In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But in practice…”

    We already have a very large number of candidate vaccines and Phase 3 trials have started on several of them. That cuts more than half a year off your initial timeline. The caveat:

    We have no idea if any of them are going to work or how well. Because we are fast tracking this stuff, all it takes to get to Phase 3 is, “Well, it doesn’t look like it does any harm (yet) and it seems like it might have some benefit (maybe).” Not words to inspire confidence. That’s why we need Phase 3.

    The FDA and the CDC are setting the bar VERY low — their target is a vaccine that’s 50% effective. That’s like a poor flu vaccine. It’s not enough to produce artificial herd immunity and if it were distributed widely and people got the impression they were now safe, it would actually make things worse. But for certain classes of individuals, it would be better than nothing.

    The tentative evidence is that there is no permanent herd immunity. Emphasis on TENTATIVE — There’s no medical data to support herd immunity and there are some indirect indicators arguing against it. What we’d like would be a vaccine that’s at least 80% effective and only needs to be administered once a year. It is not at all clear we will get that on the first go around. Personally, I’m dubious, but I wouldn’t bet on my dubiosity either way.

    On the subject of school reopening, the best proposal I’ve heard so far is to just write off the coming year at all levels, kindergarten through graduate school. It’ll suck to be a minor when your functional adulthood is being delayed a year, but it sucks more to die (or kill your relatives). I’m not expecting this to happen. Politics is the art of the possible. If it weren’t, health officials would be shutting down the country right and left… but you can only work with the society you’ve got.

    – pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
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  47. My state university system decided in May to be virtual for Fall, and has not stepped back from that decision. A few hundred students will be living on my campus- mostly those without alternatives.

  48. yeah, I am aware of the error bars and the lengthy list of variables… my intent is get someone to pass along credible intel that is open source and not hidden behind DHS/DOD/WH stamping it as SECRET…

    just consider how Florida-based bureaucrats are trying to rewrite recent history and continue to ignore the science… they held various meetings and made various promises… from “Orange County Classroom Teachers Association” web site (www.orangecta.com)

    “…The District has failed to meaningfully engage with stakeholders including educators, parents, and health experts. The District has failed to be transparent and turn over public records OCCTA has asked for on behalf of students and educators regarding the safety of the OCPS community. The District has failed to bargain in good faith. The District has failed to listen to the science. The District has failed its students and educators. …”

    Q: W? T? F?

    projection: Florida school districts are gonna run outta child-sized coffins by 31-DEC-20…

    now if you’ll excuse me if I stick my face into a pillow and resume screaming…

  49. What I wonder is doesnt New Zealand have colleges? Doesnt it also have plenty of people under the age of 20? How is it that they were able to go 100 days without a new case of Covid-19? Yes, they are a much smaller country but still, there has to be something about the people there that let them achieve this mark? I could only speculate

  50. This isn’t a current generation thing. This was the same exact problems Americans had during the 1918 Spanish Flue. They had mask laws and people went to jail for not wearing masks (and there were anti masker conventions).

    The problem isn’t something recent, this is a bad part of American individualism itself. Our society is not collectivist, which is why it is evidently more accepted that Americans resist masks (its a stupid thing, but Americans aren’t the smartest citizens and are more selfish in general then many cultures).

    This is just history repeating itself, lets hope we don’t have a similar death count when its over.

    Also AMS, thank you for posting!

  51. Didn’t you know your generation is immune?

    Thank you for writing this. Every school in my neck of the woods that has chosen to go back has had to revoke that decision due to outbreaks. I’m sure it is only a matter of time before my college does the same. Meanwhile, I wear a P100 mask and a face shield and hope for the best as I suffocate.

    It baffles me why such a large segment of American society thinks that science is optional, just another opinion that you can accept of reject depending on whether it conforms with your existing beliefs. The trouble is that nature doesn’t give two shits what you tell her to do. I thought we learned this from exploding space shuttles, but apparently not.

  52. The college I taught at until last fall (retired now, but still keeping in touch) has decided to go “hybrid”: every class will be offered with a virtual option, and most classes will have an in-person section (at least for one session a week, depending on variables). The local area contagion rate is currently low enough for CDC guidelines, but if it goes up the school is set to go completely hybrid literally overnight. I mean, they have the procedures and plans in place already, have been practicing using the online resources and sharing them with both staff and students, and they will have no hesitation about activating them. The incoming freshman class is the biggest worry, but I think–tentatively–that they are making good decisions, and good plans. But this is a very small private school we are are talking about, one with minimal out-of-state students and one that is at least 40-50 per cent commuter; the most difficult thing will be A) lab courses, and B) finding enough classroom space to spread out. It’s also a school with no fraternity or sorority housing, no communal “off campus” housing to speak of–no party houses available. And the campus is dry–being caught with alcohol has always been cause for expulsion, even if the only students imbibing are of age. (I am aware that this history doesn’t change an adolescent desire for alcohol–but it does change the campus culture somewhat, and the students who enroll are informed well ahead of time of the Rules.)

    Add all that up, and I think the college will be able to open relatively safely, depending on the surrounding area. But when California–to name one–decided to go virtual-only last spring, my personal response was a nod of understanding: how large colleges and universities such as the CA system could even imagine that they could keep students and staff safe was (and is) beyond me. And the el-hi systems? I’m still terrified at what might be happening there. I think maybe the best bet is to go virtual for every system over, say, fourth or fifth grade (and work to make the virtual schooling as equitable as possible), while reserving all school buildings and resources for the kindergarten through 10 years old classes . . . that, at least, might be worth the risk of trying. However, I don’t think it’s likely to happen–if it were, if we’d had that much foresight and preparedness, we’d be better prepared for the needs of school openings in general.

  53. I’m enormously grateful that sanity, at least where schools are concerned, has prevailed in CA.

    The last time our governor caved to pressure, we got a premature reopening that resulted in an explosion of cases and preventable deaths.

    Covidiots are equally, if not more, as dangerous as gunmen.

    Social shaming is great, but I agree with other posters that more stringency is needed here.

    Wear your mask or get fined. Violate masking orders again and do jail time.

    The law limits our freedom to do all sorts of things. Why not apply to covidiocy the same rationales for restricting that freedom, especially when lives are on the line?

    Covidiocy is a facet of the jungle mentality that got us into our current sociopolitical mess.

    It’s a shame to see what was once a shining city die on this kind of hill.