Balkinization  

Saturday, May 23, 2020

What schools might look like this fall

Sandy Levinson

The very best piece I have read on the near-insanity of reopening our colleges and universities (and law schools) this fall was published earlier today by Josh Blackman on the Volokh Conspiracy.  It deserves to become viral and the subject of national discussion, given the almost literally fantastic desire of political "leaders" to pretend that we have turned the corner--rather than, at best, reached only the end of the terrible beginning--of the ravages threatened by Covid-19.  Josh, of course, is a leading light among conservative legal academics.  He has even been accused, on occasion, of being an apologist for some of the legal positions taken by the Trump Administration.  There is nothing remotely "political" or "ideological" in his essay, however.  It is a heartfelt analysis of where we are, or should be, with regard to "reopening" our basic institutions (including, for that matter, churches and other places of public worship).  Nothing any of us has written is likely to be more truly important to current discussion.  Quite literally everyone should read it and, if one disagrees with it, explain exactly why.

Comments:

Amendment: Instead of alternating days, students will attend on alternating weeks. Otherwise, this sounds about right.
 

Important one. And it is really hard to disagree with it. The point is, that the respectable author of the related post, relies rather on routine and tough and realistic perception, over, what is desirable. He doesn't deal with: adaptation, resilience, creativity, motivation, everything that makes the difference, between losers, and winners.

Just some notions or ideas:

Maybe one may reduce the numbers of students in one class, so, no masks shall be warranted during lectures. In many schools in the world, partitions ( physical from plastic for example) between students have been put in class (so eating, drinking, snacking, particles in the air, no real issue becomes). Here:

https://www.businessinsider.com/photos-show-schools-reopening-around-the-world-coronavirus-2020-4#taiwan-reopened-schools-on-february-25-after-extending-winter-break-by-ten-days-2

Human beings, are creative. Some may thing of speakers and mics (very tiny) inside the masks.

That is how US, became the greatest nation mankind ever new. Determination, creativity, emotional strength, motivation.

So, one should incorporate such dynamic within.

Thanks


 

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That's not a description of the near insanity of reopening schools. That's a description of the insanity of the reaction to Covid-19. We're in the middle of a moral panic, with people in charge competing to prove that they're reacting even more stringently than other people, and the resulting arms race is driving insane rules.

A reminder: The purpose of social distancing and lockdowns was NOT to prevent the virus from spreading. It was to prevent it from spreading so fast that the medical system was overwhelmed by the caseload, and people who got serious cases died for lack of facilities to treat them. "Bending the curve"; We were trying to lower the peak, not change the area under the curve.

Well, first we've found that running out of ventilators isn't an issue, because once you're sick enough to need one, you're almost certainly, 80%!, going to die even if you get one. In fact, some doctors are concluding that use of ventilators is actually harming the patients.

And, secondly, we've found that outside of outlier areas like NYC, lockdowns weren't really necessary to keep the hospitals from being overwhelmed. Forcing nursing homes to accept contagious people appears to have been the chief contributor to spread in the few states that have been hit hard, and most of the country isn't stupid/murderous enough to do anything like that.

Do you realize that the 6 foot interval was justified to stop the spread between UNMASKED people? It's not necessary for people wearing masks.

And the CDC has just stated that the virus does not actually survive well on most surfaces, so obsessive sanitizing is likely not useful, either.

So, bottom line: You're not describing measures actually necessitated by the virus. You're describing a moral panic.

The bottom line is, unless you're a member of a particularly vulnerable group, masks and hand sanitizer are about all you need, and those only in a crowded environment.
 

Wrong, Brett! Even the N95 masks don't keep the virus out. And all the other masks do is slow down the passage of virus-laden droplets. They provide some protection in short, casual encounters, but are virtually useless in sustained, close-quarters contact.

Six feet, on the other hand, reduces the spread of the virus almost totally. (Nothing is 100 percent...)

And the purpose of "slowing the spread" was not merely to prevent overwhelming the hospitals -- it also reduces the number of deaths. And of course if the spread is slowed enough there may be a vaccine...

 

"The purpose of social distancing and lockdowns was NOT to prevent the virus from spreading. It was to prevent it from spreading so fast that the medical system was overwhelmed by the caseload, and people who got serious cases died for lack of facilities to treat them."

A typical half-truth from the Trump Cult. Social distancing in its various forms was always a second-best tactic. The best tactic, shown by experience in many places, is test and trace. The corruption and incompetence of Trump made test and trace impossible, so everyone has had to adopt social distancing as the alternative.

Originally, social distancing served the purpose of "bending the curve" and preventing hospitals from being overloaded. That was to buy time to implement test and trace, but again Trump's corruption and incompetence have prevented that. Now we're stuck with mitigation efforts and the only real issue is how many people will die before we get a vaccine or an effective treatment.

"And, secondly, we've found that outside of outlier areas like NYC, lockdowns weren't really necessary to keep the hospitals from being overwhelmed."

And other "outliers" like Wuhan, Italy, Spain, and probably elsewhere (but the data aren't good) like Iran.

Nor should you be claiming that "stay at home" orders (bad term, given local variations, but the only one we have) were necessary; the counterfactual in, say WA is impossible to know. And it's too early yet to be confident about the spread in other regions of the US. Just in the last couple of days Alabama has started to see real stress on its hospital system.

"Forcing nursing homes to accept contagious people appears to have been the chief contributor to spread in the few states that have been hit hard"

AFAIK, this policy was unique to NY. Any cites for other states?

"And the CDC has just stated that the virus does not actually survive well on most surfaces"

I'd like to trust the CDC, but its increasing politicization by Trumpists makes me wary.

"The bottom line is, unless you're a member of a particularly vulnerable group, masks and hand sanitizer are about all you need, and those only in a crowded environment.'

Typical libertarian garbage, pretending that the only risk is to oneself while ignoring the risks of contagion to others.

"You're describing a moral panic."

You don't seem to know what the term "moral panic" means.


 

"Nor should you be claiming that "stay at home" orders (bad term, given local variations, but the only one we have) were necessary"

Left out the "not": "were NOT necessary".
 

The only thing you need to fear is fear itself.

Unless a professor or student has a preexisting condition, there was no medical reason to shut down schools in the first instance. Only unsubstantiated fear. Nearly all deaths (in the vicinity of 99%) where CIVID is present (which is not the same thing as a COVID caused death like the government counts them), one or more comorbidities are present. If you are healthy and infected, your symptoms generally range between none and flu-like.

Next, the best way to develop resistance to and from spreading a disease is to get it and develop anti-bodies (herd immunity).

Finally, we have no idea whether COVID will be recurring like the flu or will be a one off like the SARS coronovirus, or whether we will ever get an effective vaccination.

What we do (or should) know is no economy can continue under current government shutdown conditions. For example, if Texas continues to unemploy millions, losing billions in tax revenues and keeps universities closed as you desire, why exactly shouldn’t Texas fire you, Sandy, to feed all the destitute? Most folks who support continued lockdowns are not among the impoverished.

This madness needs to end now.
 

Of course, Bart assured us all a month and a half ago that the deaths/million would top out at about 80, and pooh-poohed the idea that they would approach 1000. The deaths in the USA this morning are just about 300 and show no signs of stopping.

The number of people with pre-existing conditions begins with 8 percent having asthma from an early age, increases with juvenile onset diabetes, keeps going up with COPD and the like due to environmental exposure ... and then people reach middle age and you start seeing type-2 diabetes, hypertension, etc, etc.

By the time a population is in the 50's, the percentage of people with pre-existing conditions that will make them susceptible to dangerous COVID-19 infections will be about 20-30 percent. For people in their 60's, it will be higher. I know a gentleman, a teacher, approaching retirement, who is now in the ICU.

I'd strongly recommend not taking Bart's prescriptions. The combination of ignorance and arrogance is just too dangerous.


 

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C2H5OH: Of course, Bart assured us all a month and a half ago that the deaths/million would top out at about 80, and pooh-poohed the idea that they would approach 1000. The deaths in the USA this morning are just about 300 and show no signs of stopping

Stop lying.

I never predicted any end result and, as I noted above and before, the data is bull sh_t.

I would note that the only major COVID problem area in the US is New York, which has a multiple times higher death rate than relatively free Sweden and the rest of the unfree or relatively free US, and is largely self inflicted by things like government decrees to send the infected to nursing homes, which is like throwing a torch into a kindling box.
 

The entire exercise was driven by mass deaths in other countries, far more deaths btw than what caused our Birchers to hike up their skirts and wave their pom poms cheering on draconian responses re things like the WOT.
 

"self inflicted by things like government decrees to send the infected to nursing homes"

Today's talking point
 

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Bart still peddles his "the early models were wrong!" falsehood. Those early warnings were based on no social distancing or other mitigation. It's hardly a surprise that they turn out, in retrospect, to have been inaccurate.

Notice that he makes no mention of the current models, which predict a rebound of the virus is the country opens up too fast...

He then cherry-picks some guy who thinks, based on his personal opinion, that the deaths are inflated. If he wanted, Bart could go online and find all kinds of people giving the opposite opinion -- and those opinions are based on more than just their personal biases. For example, FiveThiryEight has weighed in and opined, based on statistics, that the deaths are substantially undercounted.

Actually, there is evidence, supplied by the example of Smithfield in Sioux Falls, and a host of other meat-packing plants, that not shutting down certain industrial operations creates virus spreading.

And in point of fact, to say that "there's no evidence" that lock-downs don't help is simply wishful thinking. Since there have been no actual tests of this, people are relying on random occurrences that happen -- and that's highly unlikely to produce valid results. Just because you happen to toss a coin 12 times and come up with 11 heads, you cannot then conclude that all coins are unfair.

But Bart understands none of this (although, of course, he thinks his understanding is profound).

 

Mark:

The COVID response is the greatest information failure or disinformation success, depending how you view them, in modern history:

(1) None of the apocalyptic "models" of COVID hospitilizations and deaths, which were the basis for this panic, have proven true. Their errors have ranged from massively wrong for nations and states with lockdown decrees to insanely wrong for those which are still relatively free.

(2) The government COVID death numbers are heavily inflated. Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Director of Illinois Department of Public Health, in an April 18, 2020 presser, admitted how extremely broadly the government defines “COVID deaths.”

I just want to be clear in terms of the definition of ‘people dying of COVID.’ The case definition is very simplistic. It means, at the time of death, it was a COVID positive diagnosis. That means, that if you were in hospice and had already been given a few weeks to live, and then you also were found to have COVID, that would be counted as a COVID death. It means, technically even if you died of clear alternative cause, but you had COVID at the same time, it’s still listed as a COVID death. Everyone who is listed as a COVID death, doesn’t mean that was the cause of the death, but they had COVID at the time of death.

(3) No evidence whatsoever exists that shutting down the economy and/or ordering people into house arrest changed the trajectory ("flattened the curve") of COVID in any nation or state. Nearly every nation and state had a surge in mortalities and hospitalizations after the decrees, which was hardly flattened and did not change is trajectory in response to the lockdowns.

This entire exercise was primarily driven by unsubstantiated fear and continues in blue states and cities, as your post suggests, in the hope that voters will punish Trump at the polls this fall.
 

To get back to the original topic, and to talk about school in the COVID-19 environment in colleges and universities: even if schools reopen, and if the problems of social distancing are overcome, quite a lot of the important interactions in college come from office hours -- and those would be deadly in this environment.

In lecture halls, it may be possible (although I doubt it) to have lectures held more or less as usual (one school I know of is proposing having classes split up into small groups so that they can sit far apart -- which would require an instructor to give 4 lectures, perhaps, rather than 1 each day per class.) But office hours? Nah.

What a lot of commentary seems to miss is that, no matter what the official guidelines are, people are people (and this is one reason why the "lock-downs" didn't work as well as expected: I have personally observed -- from a safe distance -- a lot of dangerous behavior on the part of the younger set.)

Restaurants and bars may reopen, but they are going to be seriously under-patronized (after the reopening, which, like the one in Wisconsin, may be heavily attended.) And as the virus then gets a new life, even if there is no lock-down to follow, people are going to stay away.

Will those restaurateurs be happy and successful when for the next year they see 1/3 their normal business? Is that better than no business for three months, then 1/4 for a month, then 1/2, etc?

Schools, on the other hand, cannot risk an outbreak. All we can do at this point is hope that, through a miracle, the virus burns out by fall. And frankly, I do not expect a miracle.

 

Bart, you apparently have forgotten you said: "Looks a lot like the 2017-2018 flu and is nowhere in the same galaxy as your "likely" mortality rate."

No, I was not lying.

 

I understand why the blogging world would focus on universities, but it seems to me that the more pressing problem is pre-school through high school. The data are promising for thinking that kids at those ages are not very susceptible to Covid-19. That doesn't help much, though, if they can transmit it, and I don't think we know much about that yet.

And, of course, opening the schools is essential if we want to increase economic activity.
 

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The mask and hand sanitizer references are basically for reasons Mark Field notes (in part) unrealistic since they are meant to be limited means to address the problem. And, given the human condition, they aren't going to be done wholeheartedly anyhow. This should also factor in regarding social distancing, including some (including some courts) poorly comparing the likes of churches with markets.

(Right at the start, the linked essay realistically notes: "I don't think Universities can expect students to strictly conform to social distancing guidance." Yes. Human reality has to factor into how we operate.)

Reference is also made to "lockers" -- do universities have lockers? Guess some do. Sounds more likely to as Mark notes to lower grades, which should be our primary concern given the numbers, the greater importance schools are for children and other reasons. And, remote learning is harder for children, including since parents also have to be involved in many cases. (One person in a mental health discussion noted therapy sessions for children generally involve play & doing that on Zoom is hard.)

I think the article cited can apply to lower grades too in respect to the basic problems of going to school and social distancing. There have been troubling cases children getting a rare condition that seems to be connected to the virus. A few children have very negative reactions from the virus too. As with social distancing etc., this results in a sort of lottery -- a limited number (except in "outlier" areas that have millions of people who interact with others and travel etc.) might be seriously infected or even die. Maybe we can handwave that.

I don't know how things will be in August and September. We might have a second wave at some point; this one isn't over. But, yes, I'm concerned with so many students coming together. As I told someone who is trying to survive working from home but is a bit overwhelmed by it, we need to take things step by step.

I reckon will will take more than masks and hand sanitizer. Maybe, some soap.

 

As Mark notes in a later comment, there still are unknowns (insert Donald Rumsfeld quote). Plus, and this relatedly arises in the sports re-opening issue, schools have more than students. They have teachers and others & that doesn't even include getting students to schools. If there is even a limited number of children susceptible here, the usual system of school buses and mass transit is one more possible vector point.

It's useful there to think of these things months ahead of time. New York has started to train tracers. I'm not sure how long that takes to show fruit. But, like needing to deal with voting (the best approach seemed like a mix of voting by mail & other methods), it is getting late early.

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/cafe/cafe-elections-covid-vote-by-mail-several-solutions
 

I wouldn't worry too much about the lower grades. First, home schooling is apt to be more effective (relatively speaking); second, the younger the student when this ends, the more capable the student will be of making up lost time.

The most severe effects will be in the middle years -- and it will be disproportionately felt in the student population. Those on the less financially well off and with less educated parents, or others who can help, will be most severely harmed. Where both parents are forced to work or lose their jobs the children will be hurt the most. Where the parents lack the education that they can pass along, the children will obviously be hurt.

In the later grades, those students who are already struggling are apt to simply be lost completely. I'm hearing anecdotally from friends who teach college that students dropping or simply giving up and disappearing is far more prevalent than past years.

And of course, since states have been paying a reduced share of the cost of education (in colleges and universities, at least) for decades, the reliance of these institutions on tuition has gone up. What do you suppose will be the result when tuition payments drop drastically?

The chickens are coming home to roost from decades of lack of investment in infrastructure, both in education and in other areas.

 

I think the bigger problem when it comes to the lower grades is childcare. People depend on school to take their kids for 6 hours a day or more. They need that to be able to work.
 

My wife is working the day shift, and I'm working the evening shift. On week days we see each other for about an hour, but we've got the child care thing taken care of. We were lucky in that my office hours are extremely flexible; As long as I get the work done, my boss basically doesn't care when I'm doing the work. He'd have been fine with me working from home, too, but the IT department wasn't confident about our VPN sustaining the bit rate my engineering software requires.

I am looking forward to the YMCA opening back up in a few weeks, though, as this schedule is hard for a natural morning person like myself to maintain. Short of drugging myself unconscious, I'm up at dawn like somebody threw a switch regardless of when I went to bed.

I suspect the tremendous over-reaction was probably motivated by suspicions that this might have been a biowarfare agent. But enough data is in to demonstrate that the measures taken ARE absurd overkill for most of the country, and yet they continue. There's something pathological going on here, but it's going on in the heads of our rulers, not our lungs.
 

"There's something pathological going on here, but it's going on in the heads of our rulers"

Can't argue with this.
 

I don't know if their was an 'overreaction,' but if there was one needn't conjure up conspiracy theories about biowarfare or pathological rulers (of course Birchers are always in that mode of thinking, it's the essence of their thinking you see). People saw what happened in places like Italy from a novel phenomena still relatively not fully understood and quite naturally and reasonably decided an abundance of caution was called for to prevent that happening here.
 

And don't forget, if an undocumented migrant or Muslim killed a fraction of the Americans this has Birchers like Brett and Bart would be falling over themselves supporting expensive, intrusive and draconian countermeasures, all the while accusing anyone questioning those measures as disloyal traitors.

These are not serous persons.
 

Our dictator in Denver has granted our county a variance from his illegal decree. The restaurants, gyms and theater are allowed to reopen. It remains to be seen how many will be able to restart business and rehire their employees after nearly two months of useless closure. The infections he here can be counted in the dozens. No hospitalizations. No deaths.
 

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Mr. W: And don't forget, if an undocumented migrant or Muslim killed a fraction of the Americans this has Birchers like Brett and Bart would be falling over themselves supporting expensive, intrusive and draconian countermeasures

You finally came up with a good analogy, but one which supports my position on this madness. Thank you.

No one demanded we shutter tens of thousands of businesses, unemploy tens of millions and place the nation on house arrest to avoid deaths from terrorism. Indeed, our government told us to live our lives as normal and not to allow terrorists to use fear to deny our freedom.

Good advice for today.
 

Andrew Wilkow @WilkowMajority had the tweet of the day:

BREAKING NEWS:
Seventeen people died in Chicago last week, from Covid-19 related gunshot wounds. They will be voting by mail.

 

Remember, Bircher Bart was a loud, consistent cheerleader for the incredibly useless Iraq War which costs our nation trillions of dollars and thousands of lives. Torture, rendition, indefinite detention, mass warrant less surveillance, he supported them all. All over an attack which killed a small fraction of that killed by covid 19.
 

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There were certain basic rules that experience determined useful to follow to deal with pandemics and human life and well being was deemed worth it to practice them here. Social distancing, isolation, contact tracing, testing etc. When dealing with a novel particularly virulent form of disease, special care is used.

Tragically, social distancing and other methods were started too late to hold down the numbers of suffering and death. It continues. A conservative estimate is that nearly 100K died. We are still learning. Even the CDC determination on surfaces contained multiple qualifiers. In a mobile society, it also is not something that will be cabined to select areas, including those some disdain as a rule.

[The CDC was cited in a past comment to suggest maybe in the long run social distancing would help drive down normal flu related deaths. I was wary, citing CDC data present on its website. Showing the selective usage of argument, the reply was that the CDC didn't really know and was guessing.]

Also, as New York numbers improved, the data suggested the numbers still were bad elsewhere. Florida, e.g., was one area recently reported to have a hotspot. There was no "moral panic" or "overreaction" as a whole even if certain rules in certain areas might be more than necessary. 100K deaths suggest such care is understandable. How many sick and dying is not enough to worry too much? I live in NYC, where it is particularly bad, and contra to some "overreaction" on some venues, like the AG of the U.S., it isn't like house arrest or something.
 

"A conservative estimate is that nearly 100K died."

A quarter of them died in New York. 46 of the states had fewer deaths than NY's nursing homes alone, thanks to one man's decision to force those nursing homes to take contagious people. A policy the top four states in deaths emulated, resulting in a third of all Covid-19 deaths in the US being in nursing homes.

A few states badly mismanaged this pandemic. Everywhere else it was a bad flu season. That's the bottom line here.

Statistical evidence that lockdowns are actually helping is lacking, and that's charitable. Statistical evidence that ending lockdowns hurt is utterly absent. The disease seems to have followed its trajectory without regard to the practice.

A pity you can't say the same of the economy. Poverty kills, and the lockdown produced recession will almost certainly end up killing more people than the virus will have.
 

I can't leave this without comment: "Also, as New York numbers improved, the data suggested the numbers still were bad elsewhere. Florida, e.g., was one area recently reported to have a hotspot. "

The Florida death rate to date has been 10 per 100K. NY's death rate 148 per 100K. What a misleading thing for you to have written, when New York "improved" is about ten times worse than Florida's "still bad".
 

joe,

Yes, we're seeing a 'greatest hits' of the Birchers': sloppy generalizations drawn from the conservative talking points of the day citing cherrypicked and selective sources and data combined with overheated hyperbole resulting in, of course, absurd conspiracy theory. At this point it's just tiredly predictable behavior. The only interesting question is what visceral emotion is at the heart of the same old ritualistic dance *this time.*

We know it's not compassion for those harmed because in the past they've shown an indifference (to be charitable) about such things when they impact others (should say 'Others') and it's certainly not an uncomfortableness with panics or exaggerated responses because that's their raison d'etre.

As usual, I think the most useful guide is to remember that for them *every accusation is a confession.* And this is why their end point is consistently: that the pandemic, either it's coverage by media, the responses to it in policy, the business decisions made about it, its very 'manufacture' is somehow a weapon that will harm Trump. Since Trump is the current daddy figure who will protect them from Kamala Harris taking their guns, telling them they have to pee sitting down, mandating that they read about some bad things white guys did in our history, and making it so people frown on their racial and ethnic jokes, this really causes the visceral, lizard brain reaction that results in what we see. The pandemic is a threat to Trump and therefore they must, as usual, rush to man the barricades to fight this existential threat. It's they who've politicized the pandemic, every accusation is a confession. They can't help it I think.
 

Brett cited the CDC in an earlier post to suggest that maybe the pandemic would drive down normal rates. The death rate has been higher. And, it's not June yet. I pointed out at the time that the CDC numbers, which he then and now cites when he feels like it, made his hypothesis dubious. He said the CDC data was just a guess anyway. They didn't really know. Now, when it suits, he cites something they say. Which has qualifiers in it anyway.

It's not June. The "bad flu season" has killed for this specific flu 100K. Many more were seriously harmed. And, being harmed. No, not by not being able to go to the YMCA. Sickness and death. Again, it's not June yet. So, like his previous hypothesis comment, perhaps we be a tad more cautious about these things. We are still in the middle of this thing. Plus, WHY was not more harmed? Because standard techniques were used. More should have been done, but it helped. Moral panic! Have your cake and eat it too.

A quarter in NY. Yes, it makes perfect sense as major population and commerce point would be particularly infected. It doesn't just stay in one place. The country is interconnected. The people there, including the children who suffered an die matter, I gather.

And, so there is 75K. Oh, "a few states" mishandled it. How many? Again, that is just deaths. How many people will have to be affected for it to count? And, this from someone concerned with "overreaction" and "moral panic." NOW, apparently, not enough reaction. Not enough care.

As with some alleged overreaction protecting voting rights or CENSORSHIP OF BOOKS involving the method of payment of one type of artificial persons near an election, we have a new thing to latch on to. Nursing homes. The virus particularly hitting older people and nursing homes being a standard place for care anyway, that sounds logical. For someone who thinks only those who can pay should get ventilators, the overall concept should not be shocking. After all, I gather such people technically could have went elsehwere. But, again cake/eat it too. If more care should have been taken, more REACTIONS, more MORAL concern, fine enough. 100K deaths and a whole lot more suffering cannot be handwaved using this though.

The New York comment was a matter of the path of the curve. The New York rate has seriously decreased in recent weeks, leading to the gradual opening of the state. NY was in that sense ahead of others, but their improvement doesn't mean it isn't over. The concern is that the rate is not so well in other parts of the country. Citing state-wide numbers is also something I "won't leave without comment." The thing I saw was specific to a part of Florida. It was to show that there continues to be, in various places ("a few states"), upticks.

Not being an expert, unlike Brett, I'm not going to be cocky about such things but that is what people expert are saying. And, he would be on a lot better ground if more was done, sooner, nationally and in those "few mismanaged" places with other areas perhaps being more low key in certain ways. Brett himself speaks of social distancing, masks and hand sanitizer. Which repeatedly isn't done. That is a moral problem regarding reactions, yes.

Bad flu! Stop killing tens of thousands of people!
 

Yes, I realize the symptoms here cited by Mr. W., but unfortunately we aren't just talking about some Killer Bs among us. The sentiment infected the country on this issue in tragic ways.
 

Yes, a few states mishandled it. But NY, particularly NYC, was in a class by itself. NY's mishandling was major enough to warp the whole country's statistics, especially given the way NYC formed a center for transmission to the rest of the country.

New York, and especially NYC, could have used an earlier and much more competent response. For most of the country, just hand washing and ignoring the CDC's skepticism about mask usage would have been enough.

And to put that chart I linked to in perspective, a typical flu year the country averages 15 deaths per 100K. Meaning that, yes, for most of the country Covid 19 has been at worst "a bad flu year". An average flu year for half the states...
 

Typically, flu death estimates count *excess* deaths. Just counting official flu deaths results in roughly 15k dead in a year (compared to 100k in 3 months). If we count apples to apples, we'd have to estimate Covid deaths as somewhere from 150k to 200k. That makes Covid-19 somewhere around 12 times worse than an average flu year. So far.
 

From what I've read the reason for the disparity between NY and NYC and say CA and San Franciso was that the former held out from the restrictions longer than the latter, partly due to political relations between big city mayors and governors but also at the time when Trump and conservatives were downplaying the threat and pooh-poohing quick, decisive action.

Again, though, as with things like economic downturns this is an international phenomena. Explanations of why some places came out better will have to go beyond the usual tired partisan 'just so' stories to explain why, for example, some nations got it worse than others and some regions within nations got it worse. It's a super-complicated thing, not amenable to the lazy conspiracy theory that is the oxygen of Birchers. Given that complexity, a widespread abundance of caution was entirely reasonable at a time of uncertainty.
 

https://www.propublica.org/article/two-coasts-one-virus-how-new-york-suffered-nearly-10-times-the-number-of-deaths-as-california
 

C2H5OH:Of course, Bart assured us all a month and a half ago that the deaths/million would top out at about 80, and pooh-poohed the idea that they would approach 1000. The deaths in the USA this morning are just about 300 and show no signs of stopping

C2H5OH: Bart, you apparently have forgotten you said: "Looks a lot like the 2017-2018 flu and is nowhere in the same galaxy as your "likely" mortality rate." No, I was not lying.


You really think your first lie claiming I made a COVID death prediction and the second still correct observation of the COVID status weeks ago? Whatever.

 

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To demonstrate your foolishness, Bart, all that is ever necessary is to quote him: (from April)

"yes, the far more prevalent annual flu causing roughly 30,000 deaths this season is more dangerous that COVID 19 has proven to be."

You might argue that you were right then but -- this was after it was explained to you -- in detail, with statistics -- why you were wrong. Hav you ever admitted how wrong you were? Hardly.

Of course, it's another cheap excuse to claim that you didn't make predictions -- you just sneered at the predictions made by people with infinitely more understanding and knowledge than you (any amount divided by zero is, effectively, infinite). But disagreeing with other people's predictions is effectively, making one of your own, although in a weaseling sort of way.

 

Joe: There were certain basic rules that experience determined useful to follow to deal with pandemics and human life and well being was deemed worth it to practice them here.

Very little of this are basic rules born of experience.

In my research defending a local restauranteur from criminal charges arising from violation of the Denver dictator's illegal decree, shutting down the economy and placing the healthy on house arrest has only been done once before - in San Francisco's China Town at the turn of the last century born of government created hysteria over claimed bubonic plague and race. The 9th Cir enjoined the illegal order days later.

There was no "moral panic" or "overreaction" as a whole even if certain rules in certain areas might be more than necessary.

Apart from true basics to limit the transmission of communicable diseases like limiting physical contract, washing, testing and staying home or isolation if you are ill, very little of the government reaction to COVID was based on evidence or effective in limiting the spread of COVID.

The orders shuttering the businesses of the healthy and placing them on modified house arrest for months was the worst unforced government error of modern times. They should be ended immediately immediately and never repeated again in the future.

Tragically, social distancing and other methods were started too late to hold down the numbers of suffering and death.

This latest evidence-free claim is meant as CYA for the complete failure of the shutdown orders to change the trajectory of COVID hospitalizations and deaths.

A conservative estimate is that nearly 100K died.

Not from COVID. This commonly offered figure of deaths caused by COVID in unscientific BS, including any death where the deceased is suspected to have or come into contact with COVID.
 

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Keep researching, Bircher. My non-lawyer self found this in five minutes.

In Compagnie Francaise &c. v. Board of Health, 186 U.S. 380 (1902)SCOTUS upheld a law with the following provision:
" The State Board of Health may, in its discretion, prohibit the introduction into any infected portion of the state, persons acclimated, unacclimated, or said to be immune when in its judgment the introduction of such persons would add to or increase the prevalence of the disease. "

Remember, this is the area of Bircher Bart's ostensible expertise. How much more useless is his opining on one of the many subjects he knows jack smith about?
 

C2H5OH: To demonstrate your foolishness, Bart, all that is ever necessary is to quote him: (from April) "yes, the far more prevalent annual flu causing roughly 30,000 deaths this season is more dangerous that COVID 19 has proven to be."You might argue that you were right then but -- this was after it was explained to you -- in detail, with statistics -- why you were wrong. Hav you ever admitted how wrong you were? Hardly.

Based on today's data, I am still likely correct.

The per capita COVID death rates for the vast majority of states and geographic area of the country are at flu levels or below.

Only NY, NJ, CN and MA are problem areas. NY and NJ governments caused a high percentage of their COVID deaths by ordering the infected into nursing homes. Sorry, I could not foresee this level of blue state reckless manslaughter.

If you remove deliberate government COVID death over counting, CN and MA likely fall off the list.
 

Mr. W: In Compagnie Francaise &c. v. Board of Health, 186 U.S. 380 (1902)SCOTUS upheld a law with the following provision:
" The State Board of Health may, in its discretion, prohibit the introduction into any infected portion of the state, persons acclimated, unacclimated, or said to be immune when in its judgment the introduction of such persons would add to or increase the prevalence of the disease. "


This is an isolation order which is not remotely analogous to prophylactically shuttling down a large part of the general economy and ordering everyone into modified house arrest.

Once again, analogy is not your strong suit.
 

Insanely wrong: "The per capita COVID death rates for the vast majority of states and geographic area of the country are at flu levels or below."

So according to Bart, we should measure the death rate by acre, not by a percentage of the population? Really?

But even translating Bart's BS into a claim that COVID-19 deaths are comparable to the seasonal flu:

The number of deaths from the seasonal flu this last season ranged from 24,000 to 62,000 (and remember, those are estimates -- the suspected cases, let alone the confirmed cases were far lower.) The number of highly likely case cases of death due to COVID-19 infection are now at 100,000, and the end is not even close.

The number of officially reported deaths from COVID-19 by the end of June will be at least double the highest number for the seasonal flu, and more like 6 times that number. And the true number, as it will be estimated after the fact by looking at deaths above the expected number, will be even higher.

 

NY's mishandling was major enough to warp the whole country's statistics, especially given the way NYC formed a center for transmission to the rest of the country.

I don't see the "moral panic" or "overreaction" here; it is just a path to applying blame. Without -- a usual good policy -- granting the suggestive framing, the point here was that there was this big "moral panic" and "overreaction," which is not answered by pointing out that New York was somehow to be blamed. It was cited that 3/4 of the cases wasn't in New York by the manic panic Jeremiah here.

Trump's man here blaming New York for not reacting sooner, having stronger rules in place etc. (a basic part of the cited "mishandling") is charming. Yet again, "Trump's Law" is cited -- Trump is ignored while the usual suspects are cited selectively.

CA is not exactly a typical place, w/o suggesting this is bad. It has for an extended period of time had Democratic control with a liberal governor. So, path taken there had to be taken with that in mind. There was some political reasons for delay in NYC though dealing with a school system of over a million, particularly one with so many poor and at risk kids was hard too. I myself worried about closing schools in that scenario. At the time, though, the Trump brigade wasn't here saying NY was not REACTING enough based on the MORAL and practical needs.

I note Mr. W's article (which reflects one in a local NY publication) notes:

The official asserted that, from the discovery of the first positive COVID-19 case in the state on March 1 to the shutdown on March 22, New York had acted faster than any other state.

“Three weeks, 20 million people,” the official said. “Insane.”

The official noted that California’s first case surfaced on Jan. 26, its first death occurred March 4 and its statewide shutdown went into effect March 19, a span of almost two months.


The article notes that this is only partially mitigating but it's still rather notable. We are dealing here with not some major snowstorm or something. We are dealing with something new and yes it was hard to address fast enough. This wasn't just something "they" (THE GOVERNMENT) did either. They are reflections of the people. And, the pressures there factored in too.

New York was in a "class by itself" because it was particularly hard hit and was hard hit early. Plus, since this is a national and international effort, again, just citng NY is wrongheaded anyway. But, Trump Law and all that.

Once it shut down, other states had a model. The "few states" link doesn't change much from what I said. Yes, certain areas had more cases. How many people count here? Even w/o fixing the numbers per Mark's comment, when should we care about this "bad flu season"?

I'll end with the statement that we probably ignored too many of the deaths and sickness even before this year. As with many things, the problem was there, if in a lesser form. We don't do enough usually to reduce health problems. OTOH, the PPACA alone significantly did address that problem and has helped lots of people in this pandemic and continues to do so.
 

Note also the contradictory arguments: first NY was too slow and too lax, now it's all a "moral panic". Even Trump is more consistent -- he's always taken the position that we should just let the virus take it's course, whether that means 100k dead, 200k dead, or more. We should only care how the stock market looks.
 

Mark Field said...Typically, flu death estimates count *excess* deaths. Just counting official flu deaths results in roughly 15k dead in a year (compared to 100k in 3 months). If we count apples to apples, we'd have to estimate Covid deaths as somewhere from 150k to 200k. That makes Covid-19 somewhere around 12 times worse than an average flu year. So far.

Once again, The "excess deaths" calculation offered by the media and others attempting to inflate the number of COVID deaths are not like the CDC and have two major and likely intentional errors:

The historic baseline is merely an average of all deaths for a month and the media misrepresentations do not normalize the average for population growth over time, which means the unadjsuted average understates average deaths today.

In order to use a baseline for all deaths to calculate a new cause of death requires all the other causes of death to be objectively measurable (like gunshot deaths) or static over time. For example, when CDC uses excess deaths for calculate both the flu and COVID next year, which disease constitutes what percentage of that excess?
 

C2H5OH said...Insanely wrong: "The per capita COVID death rates for the vast majority of states and geographic area of the country are at flu levels or below." So according to Bart, we should measure the death rate by acre, not by a percentage of the population? Really?

Not really.

Either you do not understand the term "per capita" or you again lied about what I posted. I noted "geographic area" to reinforce the reality that COVID is still a localized problem aggravated to a large extent by gross blue state govenment malfeasance. Hell, even the official Democrat Party organ newspaper, the NY Tiimes, was horrified when NY and NJ started ordering the COVID ill into nursing homes. Calling this reckless manslaughter is probably generous.

The rest of your post simply repeats the usual erroneous CYA I have disposed of above.
 

Bart, you still persist in the same error, which has been pointed out to you several times over the last months: when the infection rate is low, as it is in those "geographic areas" you point to, and in the absence of strict social distancing measures (which are not in force in most, if not all, of those areas) the death rate at this point is not meaningful as a measure of the eventual cost of this pandemic.

And while we're discussing "area", are you now trying to pretend that "area" doesn't equate to "acreage"? It's a bit late for that attempt. But perhaps you'll try to measure the death rate by comparison with the Electoral College next. I wouldn't put it past you.

What is the term for a person who, after being repeatedly educated, keeps making the same stupid mistake? Oh, yes, it's "fool".

The problem you have is that you've predetermined what the outcome will be: "comparable to the seasonal flu" -- and then you have to use warped logic, out-of-date figures (please note, once again, that the CDC figures are a week or more behind the current ones, a fact you seem to want to pretend does not exist...) and arguments from your own ignorance.

An attempt by you to portray anyone else, let alone me, as not understanding simple mathematics or arithmetic is an obvious case of what's known as "psychological projection." Get over it. You've been consistently wrong and consistently foolish in what you've said about COVID-19. Sad, but there it is.

Not that I expect this to do you any good. You are like Trump, your hero: incapable of admitting error.
 

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I appreciate the discussion by Mark and others regarding the numbers & have not tried to delve too deeply into an area I don't claim some special expertise over. I will stick with details on constitutional history and so forth.

But, one thing to note in a general sense is that there are various complications even comparing NY and CA, which for some might seem facially similar. This is not just a matter of the government but the demographics and other factors. This goes to some details. There is also a general confusion as I noted.
 

C2H5OH:

FWIW, I am about the only one here who admits: "I stand corrected." I have no reason to do so now.

From all the data on the ground and an educated projection based on lack of testing and the fact an enormous percentage of the infected are completely asymptomatic, COVID appears to be very contagious and far more widespread than originally guessed. (I am through calling unfounded guesses "projections," "estimates" or "models.)

Given the data on the ground showing the young, healthy and infected are nearly all either asymptomatic or suffer cold and flu symptoms, hospitalizations and deaths are the only meaningful COVID costs in excess to the usual cold and flu season. For the reasons I detailed above, that cost is not extraordinary outside of a literal handful of states and cities.
 

"This is an isolation order which is not remotely analogous to prophylactically shuttling down a large part of the general economy and ordering everyone into modified house arrest."

Lol, these are the same, restrictions on travel and economic activity on both the healthy and infected (of course, because you can't know who is who all the time). Nothing in the text prevents this age old power to safeguard the health and welfare of the citizens of a state.
 

Another factor affecting NY is that is the major entry point for travelers from Europe. When Trump announced the ban on travel from Europe - except for the UK - NY airports were immediately flooded with arriving passengers trying to beat the start of the ban. Remember those humongous crowds and hours-long waits? Wonder if they contributed to the spread?

Of course, he assured the country that, “The virus will not have a chance against us. No nation is more prepared, or more resilient, than the United States.”

So I was never worried.
 

Calling expert opinions "guesses" may be correct in some sense, but in the sense Bart means it, it simply means Bart doesn't have a clue what the "extimates" or "models" are based on. As usual, that amounts to simply an argument from his ignorance. And, since he's incapable of learning things which contradict his biases, he'll remain ignorant.

And of course, it would be monstrously weird if the brunt of a pandemic occurred anywhere but where the people are. Bart seems baffled by the obvious...

After all, as he's so willing to tell everyone, he's a master of history -- so he should probably have a glimmer of understanding that the plagues of the Middle Ages didn't fall primarily on the sparsely populated areas.

It is as yet unknown precisely what the impact on the younger population is, although we do know already that a certain percentage suffer various problems. The chronic problems that result will only become known over time. To pretend that these are minimal is simply wishful thinking at the present time.

And that is one reason why, in addition to the obvious danger to their older relatives, opening schools too early and without an effective strategy is simply too dangerous to be palatable.

 

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We've been talking covid here for months, and it's no coincidence that both Birchers showed up today with the same argument almost verbatim. Talking points of the day, must have been on Tucker Carlson yesterday (with my gym closed I don't get my daly dose of Fox, but back when it was open it was common to see a talking point on Fox one day and from our Birchers soon after).

But you know, even were the covid problem just about a NY nursing home rule that's still Trump's fault clearly because our Bircher Bart has clearly and repeatedly claimed that our health care sector was nationalized when the ACA passed.
 

Even today, flights are still coming in from Brazil and the situation there is dire.
 

Well well. Looks like Trump did just now ban non-citizens from coming from Brazil. But as we saw with the return of citizens from China and Europe, the failure to screen them will probably be repeated and there will be more cases stemming from this.
 

Mr. W: My non-lawyer self found this in five minutes. In Compagnie Francaise &c. v. Board of Health, 186 U.S. 380 (1902)SCOTUS upheld a law with the following provision: "The State Board of Health may, in its discretion, prohibit the introduction into any infected portion of the state, persons acclimated, unacclimated, or said to be immune when in its judgment the introduction of such persons would add to or increase the prevalence of the disease."

BD: "This is an isolation order which is not remotely analogous to prophylactically shuttling down a large part of the general economy and ordering everyone into modified house arrest."

Mr. W: Lol, these are the same, restrictions on travel and economic activity on both the healthy and infected


I will give you this. You do lie like the worst of my profession.

The question before the Court was whether the Louisiana Board of Health was empowered to bar a cargo ship with a healthy crew from entering a quarantine zone. No shuttering of businesses, no unemploying of the healthy.
 

Mr. W: Talking points of the day, must have been on Tucker Carlson yesterday

Tucker must have been reading my posts, because I am not watching his show.

Personally, I prefer correcting the willfully and arrogantly ignorant, rather than watching others do it.
 

Mark Field said...Well well. Looks like Trump did just now ban non-citizens from coming from Brazil. But as we saw with the return of citizens from China and Europe, the failure to screen them will probably be repeated and there will be more cases stemming from this.

Trump also did not bar New Yorkers from coming to my Colorado like he suggested.

Should have shot them.

Bad orange man!
 

Ah yes. That was worthy of note byomtov.
 

You do lie like the worst of my profession.

# posted by Blogger Bart DePalma : 7:16 PM


LOL

You are the worst of your profession.
 

The question before the Court was whether the Louisiana Board of Health was empowered to bar a cargo ship with a healthy crew from entering a quarantine zone. No shuttering of businesses, no unemploying of the healthy."

The question was whether the ship and its crew could do its job-which was to travel in a quarantine area and unload its cargo (which included transport of healthy legal immigrants). In other words, a travel and business restriction on the healthy and unhealthy to stop the spread of disease. Exactly what we've got right now. And the Court said there was no constitutional violation.
 

"Trump also did not bar New Yorkers from coming to my Colorado like he suggested"

'House arrest' indeed.
 

Again, Bircher Bart fundamentally misunderstands how disease and quarantined do and can work. He seems to think the latter is only to used when its effects on those quarantined are most drastic but the effects in fighting the former are relatively ineffective.


 

Take traditional quarantine methods. People designated sick really are denied almost fully travel and business opportunities. Likewise the healthy can't travel to or do business with the sick. It really is a 'total lockdown' in those senses. This is how 'classical liberal' societies like old England and U.S. exercised these powers.

But, what if who is sick and who is not is not easily detected? You know there's a very contagious disease, you know many who have it will not appear sick, you don't want it spread from former to latter. A perfectly sensible use of quarantine would be to ask everyone (because anyone might have it) to engage in *less* mixing re business and travel. Less mixing, less chances of transmissions.

Note that it's not when near total lockdowns of the known sick accompanied by strict restrictions on the non-sick in interacting with the former that bothers Bircher Bart's delicate and fickle sense of Liberty (and note this is also ineffective when you can't readily know who falls into which category). No, it's when everyone has much milder restrictions on them and transmissions will be more likely reduced that his ire is kindled.
 

Real Clear Politics provides long overdue context to COVID.

The question is why every news media outlet is not doing the same or more?
 

The question is why every news media outlet is not doing the same or more?
# posted by Blogger Bart DePalma : 10:30 PM


Probably because it's moronic nonsense.

But it's quite enlightening to see all the "pro-lifers" coming to realize that it's time for grandma to die so that I can go to Hooters.
 

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