Monday, April 27, 2020

Closing down the country

This is probably going to annoy a lot of people, but I’ve just read a couple of persuasive articles urging people to speak out about the general lockdown imposed on us in order to “bend the curve” of serious cases and deaths. And it’s probably too late to change anything, because I also read articles saying that more and more people are ignoring their state-imposed rules; consider the crowded beaches In California this weekend.

Small businesses and their employees are still suffering, though. So are the health care workers who are being sent home because their hospitals are all but empty. It’s mainly on their behalf that I’m speaking out.

First, full disclosure: my family is not seriously affected - yet - by the lockdown as implemented here in Texas. Both my husband and I are over seventy and hence, I am given to understand, in the high-risk group. We are both working at jobs that don’t require us to leave home. Furthermore, the local market has resumed grocery deliveries.

One of our daughters and her husband live in Brooklyn and I do worry about them. So far, though, they haven’t left their apartment in weeks, and they too can get things delivered; they too can work from home; and they work for large companies that haven’t yet made any noises about shutting down or laying people off. The other daughter is a stay-at-home mom with two children. I’m mildly worried about her because her husband is a grocery store manager and considered essential. However, the safety precautions at his store are intense. And he hasn’t missed a paycheck yet.

So it’s on behalf of others that I’m speaking. The owners of the small restaurants we used to frequent. The nurses who have been sent home because our hospitals are virtually empty. The waiters, cooks and bartenders who can ill afford to miss a paycheck and tips. The owners and employees of the nail salon where my daughter gets her nails painted in unnatural colors. The hairdresser who used to put streaks of even more amazing colors in her hair. How are these people managing?

Now, about this lockdown. The models we’ve been shown have vastly overestimated deaths. Furthermore, the people and institutions waving the curve we’re supposed to worry about don’t show us the data and algorithms they’ve using, and most of them lump all the states in with New York City, which skews the hell out of their models. I don’t give any more credence to the models than I give to models of global warming (which are known to use worst-case scenarios and tend to rely heavily on many nonlinear equations (mathematicians, you may tear your hair out now.))

It appears to me that most of the country is in for terrible economic suffering on the basis of what’s happening in nursing homes and one extremely overcrowded city. Speaking for myself, I’m perfectly willing to take reasonable precautions until a vaccine or a universally valid treatment is developed. But what about the people who are young, healthy, and staring at serious financial problems? Why should they suffer for the minority of people like me?

Maybe they’ll survive economically, given that more and more people are ignoring state-imposed restrictions.

But I can’t help noticing that these restrictions are mostly put in place by people who have the luxury of staying home without missing a paycheck. And many of them think ordinary working people aren’t worth paying attention to, and voice death wishes on those who complain. Anyway, those protestors mostly deplorables, aren’t they?

And I find that attitude, well, deplorable.

(crossposted at


  1. One thing I think is a huge issue: to what degree is it reasonable to treat different geographical areas as separate domains from a Coronavirus point of view? Obviously, the problem is a lot worse in NYC than in, say Possum Creek, GA, probably for the obvious reasons: population density, mass-transit dependence, and dysfunctional public policy contributing to a lot of bad behavior by individuals. But if the disease is pretty much suppressed in Possum Creek but continues very serious in NYC...which it may, absent a vaccine or the development of significant herd what extent is Possum Creek at risk of infection from NYC? Even though there are probably few travelers from NYC to Possum Creek, there are likely travelers from NYC to Atlanta, and travelers from Atlanta to Possum creek, so at least indirect infection seems possible. The question is at what level: there is a lot more local travel than long-distance travel, there is even an equation for this.

    As near as I can tell, none of the models have addressed this, they seem to consider geographies (states, usually) as separate entities. But it's hard to tell because there's not much easily-available information about how the models actually work.

    Long-distance travel has been pretty much shut down, so we probably haven't see this phenomenon to any degree yet....but we might, when travel starts to open up.

  2. And new at risk groups keep emerging - young people under 50 having strokes equivalent to what is seen typically in 70 plus who had covid symptoms mild enough they didn't seek medical help until the stroke. A group of young children in the UK showing conditions with "features of "toxic shock syndrome and atypical Kawasaki Disease with blood parameters consistent with severe COVID-19 in children," according to the report. They added that "abdominal pain and gastrointestinal symptoms" and "cardiac inflammation" were common." Also, recently updated list of symptoms from the CDC plus new info on how far droplets can actually spray and stay suspended, and probably more with every day we live with this. So overly cautious actions seem more than prudent to me until there's a vaccine. I do agree there may be rural and more isolated areas of the country that may cautiously open some business up without risking a flare-up and overtaxing of small hospitals but people are getting antsy and will start crossing county and state lines at the least loosening of guidelines. Heck, WA had closed their golf courses and many outdoor recreational areas while ID next door just loosened that restriction. Spokane's confirmed cases and death rates were much higher than the CDA area a half hour away. But it will be interesting to see if the CDA area has a spike in cases after a slew of Washingtonians crossed to line to use our parks and golf courses, seen not adhering to social distancing or paying park fees. You know this is going to be the case all over the country. I guess all we can do is sit and wait and see how bad or not bad it gets. We are so in the unknown here.

  3. It seems quite possible that the development of herd immunity will solve much of the problem prior to the development and production of a vaccine. Especially given that the number of people who have Coronavirus but are asymptomatic is very large. If all or most of those people develop antibodies that will protect them for the disease for a nontrivial time period, that is very significant.

    Also, a lot of the policies put in place by certain governors and local officials are unnecessary and truly oppressive....prohibiting boating on lakes? Banning *drive-in* church services? A lot of very unpleasant would-be tyrants are making themselves known.


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