325 thoughts on “Politics open thread, November 29 — December 5

  1. I’m interested in my side bias vs. reality. Many on the right advocated for “let ‘er rip” as the only real solution to the crisis – herd immunity, etc. . With the vaccine hitting the streets in two weeks a policy of “let ‘er rip”back in March really seems like the wrong solution.

    Having been so deeply and profoundly wrong about something that has killed a quarter of a million people to date, I wonder if that has caused any on the right to reevaluate how they approach things?

    Keeping in mind the totality of their arguments from January until now.

    The bias of course is that their being wrong could simply be a coincidence. There was no reason to believe a vaccine could come so quickly and be so effective. But that they were catastrophically wrong is none that less a fact.

  2. Rhett, can you define exactly what you mean by “Let ‘er rip?” How you would weigh it against other unknowns, such as a 1% vs 10% death rate and widespread global vaccine access in 3 years vs. no vaccine on the horizon for more than 10 years? The death rate and the possibility of widespread vaccination were still unknown when this was mostly hotly debated.

    I don’t know anyone who said, “Let’s not do anything about this disease even if there’s a 30%+ death rate across all age groups for years, a la The Plague of Athens” which would be my definition of “Let ‘er rip.”

    I would have been OK with a policy that said, “We will wait for X months/years for a vaccine with policy A and shift to policy B after Y months,” which is largely what ended up happening.

    As it was, locally, we and many other areas spent months with schools shut down when there were no/almost no cases and increased the number of allowable cases for schools to reopen by 5-10 fold at the same time that cases went up. Schools would be open now if case rates were what they were in May.

    Working class people were really hurt by the shutdown. Eight months after the shutdown began, Oregon is finally starting to the pay the “waiting week” benefits promised under federal law. There were definitely trade-offs made in favor of the wellbeing of the old and rich.

  3. “The bias of course is that their being wrong could simply be a coincidence.”

    I don’t think so. Everyone in this area who really is an expert thought this was a pretty easy target for a vaccine and drugs and we just needed to get through this period of vaccine and drug trials. I think this was a much bigger issue of many people relying on false ideas and people who had no idea what they were talking about. The expert community was pretty much in sync about how this would play out since the beginning. It has made me really think about the areas where I have no knowledge and how I figure out who the real experts are as opposed to the many charlatans out there.

  4. How you would weigh it against other unknowns

    But we are in the future now so those unknowns are now knows. An ideology was used to make a decision and that ideology failed. Is it wrong about other things?

  5. WCE and Finn,

    I’d like your thoughts on this:

    The CEO of Intel thought Apple was wrong… Was he right based on the facts? If was right based on the facts he had at the time, should he still have a job?

  6. Rhett, should Fauci have been fired for being wrong about an HIV vaccine in 1984? There’s a difference between what leaders think technically and what they say for public consumption, in my experience.

    I think Reality is right about expert opinion for COVID-19, but no one in authority will be right all the time. We’ve discussed this in the past, when I said that I thought that the nationwide shutdown was excessive/premature and would be viewed like the War in Iraq. I said that while I thought the scope of the shutdown was excessive in light of the contagiousness and scope of the spread in March, that I also believed that political leaders were doing their best and people don’t rise in politics by taking risks or telling them the government is too disorganized/incompetent to execute in an emergency, even (given the failure to restock PPE after the 2009 H1N1 epidemic) if it’s largely true. My Singaporean colleagues are puzzled by American willingness to keep the schools shut down.

  7. WCE,

    So what you’re saying is that advocating for a policy that would have resulted in 100ks of excess deaths should carry no penalty in this world or the next?

    Should those advocating such a policy at least revisit their priors?

  8. I don’t know anyone who said, “Let’s not do anything about this disease even if there’s a 30%+ death rate across all age groups for years, a la The Plague of Athens” which would be my definition of “Let ‘er rip.”

    Trump did.

  9. Rhett, I don’t look at this just in terms of U.S. deaths. What about the 500,000 babies that likely won’t be born? What about the children whose abuse was undetected because of the shutdown? What about the children who will lose, I expect, 1.5 years of schooling? What about the people whose lives are afffected by long-term unemployment? What about the additional opioid addiction/deaths due to shutdown?

    An actuary I know says the costs of the shutdown, when measured according to the things actuaries measure, exceed the benefits. She might be wrong and arguably actuaries measure the wrong things, but the scope of your analysis is too narrow and the costs/benefits of alternative paths are now unknowable.

    I know, personally, that my risk of death from driving on a 2-lane highway to/from work continues to be far higher than my risk of death from COVID and influenza combined.

  10. Let’s not do anything about this disease even if there’s a 30%+ death rate across all age groups for years, a la The Plague of Athens”

    Then you’re not arguing in good faith.

  11. My Singaporean colleagues are puzzled by American willingness to keep the schools shut down.

    That’s because this is the current COVID situation in Singapore:

    As of 29 November 2020, 12pm, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has confirmed and verified that there is 1 new case of locally transmitted COVID-19 infection. The case is in the community, and there are no new cases in the dormitories. The case is in the community, and there are no new cases in the dormitories. There are 7 imported cases, who had already been placed on Stay-Home Notice (SHN) or isolated upon arrival in Singapore. Amongst the new cases today, 5 are asymptomatic, and were detected from our proactive screening and surveillance, while 3 were symptomatic.

    Overall, the number of new cases in the community has remained low, with a total of 3 cases in the past week who are currently unlinked.

    https://www.gov.sg/article/covid-19-cases-in-singapore

    If we had it down to single-digits, or even double or triple digits, we’d have schools fully open as well.

    Are your colleagues also puzzled by the American opposition to measures to combat the virus?

  12. “We’ve discussed this in the past, when I said that I thought that the nationwide shutdown was excessive/premature and would be viewed like the War in Iraq.”

    Bush was a bad leader, but not a bad person. In this case, our President was a bad leader and a bad person and the governors and local leaders had to try to fill in the voids. Some were more successful than others. For many, it was impossible for them to correctly weigh the benefits and downsides because they were working from a set of intentionally flawed data and information. You cannot have a rational discussion about how to manage competing interests it the leaders refuse to acknowledge reality and facts.

  13. WCE,

    That came out harsher than I intended. What I meant to say was, “Let me noodle on your comments and we can resume the discussion in the morning.” :-)

  14. She engaged with the argument. She said that the shutdown caused more harm than would have been caused by unrestrained spread of CV-19. It’s not a claim I agree with, but it’s an engagement with the argument.

    What’s with the unborn babies? Were there more abortions during the shutdown?

  15. Rhett, thanks for the explanation. I’m making dinner and cleaning in preparation for return to work while I engage.

    Reality, I agree that the federal leadership was lacking, but the COVID response reflects a long-term unwillingness to maintain infrastructure that goes beyond Trump. Twenty plus year old COBOL-based state unemployment systems and Obama’s failure to restock PPE after H1N1 contributed to the misery. My Taiwanese work colleague had a way better handle on the early situation (from reading illegally posted information from China) than Oregon’s governor, but given that he has ~100 patents, he’s pretty good at understanding the reality of a situation. I try to cut the governor a little slack.

    One of my techs, who worked ~30 consecutive nights after the fires in our corporate effort to keep the supply chain filled, posted on Facebook this weekend. She offered to help friends who can’t pay their utility bills/feed their kids, in part because of the COVID shutdown and the fires. It’s fair to say that the fire caused as much local misery as the shutdown, but people are really struggling.

  16. RMS, most of the change is people choosing not to conceive, possibly affected by the childcare shutdowns.

    I didn’t argue for unrestrained spread of CV-19. I argued that the initial response should have been local/regional, not national. I believe my comment when White Sulfur Springs was shut down last spring due to COVID in NYC, “Is NYC going to shut down when COVID comes to White Sulfur Springs?”

  17. “I argued that the initial response should have been local/regional, not national.”

    Sorry, I’m not understanding this. The response so far has been local/regional and not national. What do you think happened?

  18. “Reality, I agree that the federal leadership was lacking, but the COVID response reflects a long-term unwillingness to maintain infrastructure that goes beyond Trump. Twenty plus year old COBOL-based state unemployment systems and Obama’s failure to restock PPE after H1N1 contributed to the misery. My Taiwanese work colleague had a way better handle on the early situation (from reading illegally posted information from China) than Oregon’s governor, but given that he has ~100 patents, he’s pretty good at understanding the reality of a situation. I try to cut the governor a little slack.”

    Some of that was intentional. The Florida unemployment system was set up to fail. I, too, cut many of the governors a lot of slack because they were not being told correct information, at least at the beginning. We had 50 different strategies in the US, and that is no way to respond to a worldwide threat.

    “It’s fair to say that the fire caused as much local misery as the shutdown, but people are really struggling.”

    I know they are. And that is really disgusting to me. We have pumped so much money in to the credit and stock markets to keep them strong. That people live in this country and cannot afford to feed their children or pay their utilities during a pandemic or after a devastating wildfire when we do those things is a total failure of our country.

  19. “The expert community was pretty much in sync about how this would play out since the beginning.”

    That is absolutely false.

    The experts first said this was no big deal. Go out and live your lives. No need to wear masks or shut down schools or businesses. When asked whether the US could lock down 50 million people (as China did), Fauci said: “No, not a chance. It would never happen.” He also said not to wear masks, and that asymptomatic spread was never, in the history of respiratory viruses, a thing.

    Then the experts said that millions would die in the US. Osterhelm said that 48 million Americans would be hospitalized. But we should keep schools open. Or not. Because kids don’t transmit the virus. Or maybe they do. We don’t really know. Two weeks to slow the spread. Ok, another two weeks to slow the spread. We need more ventilators or they will have to be rationed. No, we don’t actually want to use ventilators because they kill people. HCQ works. No, it doesn’t. Masks will save more lives than a vaccine. Herd immunity is an illusion. Herd immunity is the only way out of the pandemic.

    The virus spreads on surfaces. Clean everything. Sanitize your mail. Leave your groceries in the garage for 3 days, just to be safe. No, actually the virus doesn’t spread on surfaces. It’s droplets. No, it’s aerosols.

    Europe did such a better job than the US because Trump, who has blood on his hands.
    Oh, now Europe is doing worse than the US. Never mind.

    Honestly, it’s beyond parody at this point.

  20. RMS, most of the change is people choosing not to conceive, possibly affected by the childcare shutdowns.

    Yeah, you’re going to have to abandon that one. Think of all the babies you could have conceived if your religion didn’t prohibit premarital sex. If you’d started at 15 like all you high school enemies, you could have had a dozen by now. Maybe more.

  21. Scarlett – I don’t really want to discuss this with you because it is always futile and useless, but you are confusing lack of info because it was a novel disease with expert knowledge on how this would get under control. The experts were dead on with the latter including down to the timing. While you kept screaming that we likely would never have a vaccine. So, ehhh. Anyway – no need for a response.

  22. RMS, I’m like Queen Anne, miscarriages and stillbirths only.

    Here’s a Time article from a few weeks ago. We won’t know for a few years how things shake out.
    https://time.com/5892749/covid-19-baby-bust/

    Kerri, you make a fair point. I suppose it depends on whether you consider a state response to be “local”. I remember schools being shut down for weeks with local sewage-measured case rates of zero.

  23. The long-term impact of such delays could be staggering. The U.S. fertility rate is the lowest it has been since 1985. We’re also a relatively elderly nation; by 2034, Americans over age 65 are expected to outnumber those under 18 for the first time in U.S. history. Already, the country faces a severe dearth of workers able to drive the economy and care for our aging population.

    So you know what’s going to happen? Suddenly immigration will be spiffy again.

  24. Reality,

    The reality is that the experts have NEVER agreed on how best to attempt to manage this virus. Not at the beginning, and not now. That is why state/local/national governments are taking such different approaches, and why the advice from the CDC, WHO and other major players keeps changing. Expert opinion on masks is quite literally all over the map. Even something as simple as what “social distance” means in practice depends upon whether one is following the two meter or one meter rule. Asymptomatic spread? Close schools? Testing frequency? Quarantine length?

    There is no expert consensus on any of that.
    And we still don’t have an approved vaccine. All we have are press releases from vaccine manufacturers.

    Those on the left who are running state and local governments have been deeply and profoundly wrong about both lockdowns and masks, and as the empirical evidence continues to mount on the catastrophic results of their reliance on these unprecedented pandemic responses, they just double down and dig in deeper.

  25. “Working class people were really hurt by the shutdown. . . .There were definitely trade-offs made in favor of the wellbeing of the old and rich.”

    Working class people have also been really hurt by the virus itself. In NYC, working class folks — especially those who are not white — were far more likely to get sick, be hospitalized, and die than the UMC and the wealthy. So I agree that we have made sacrifices for the wellbeing of “the old,” but I don’t agree that the shutdowns were intended to or had the effect of benefiting the rich.

  26. My post was just eaten, so forgive me if this is a repeat:

    The working class is suffering economically even in states that have refused to impose shutdowns. The lines for food banks in Texas stretched for miles last week, even though the governor has determined to leave businesses open no matter how many refrigerated morgue trucks are required. Florida opened everything months ago, including theme parks. How’s it going for the working class?

    https://www.clickorlando.com/news/local/2020/11/26/disney-to-lay-off-thousands-more-workers-as-covid-19-pandemic-continues-new-filing-reveals/

  27. “I argued that the initial response should have been local/regional, not national.”

    My recollection (I could be wrong) is that both you and Cass have been arguing for local/regional responses as opposed to statewide responses.

    TMK, there’s been very little in the way of coordinated national response.

  28. “I also believed that political leaders were doing their best”

    Perhaps, but I don’t think there was any consensus among political leadership in what they considered ‘best.’

    Eg., I think some some were doing their best for themselves and their interests, which were not well aligned with the interests of many others.

  29. As an example, locally the LG and mayor are both trying to position themselves to run for governor in 2022 while also playing major roles in shaping the governments’ responses and policies.

  30. Rhett, here’s an example of a shutdown trade-off. India’s numbers will likely be starker. For whatever reason, COVID deaths in sub-Saharan Africa have been much lower than initially projected when shutdowns were recommended.

    LONDON (Reuters) – Deaths from malaria due to disruptions during the coronavirus pandemic to services designed to tackle the mosquito-borne disease will far exceed those killed by COVID-19 in sub-Saharan Africa, the World Health Organization warned on Monday.
    More than 409,000 people globally – most of them babies in the poorest parts of Africa – were killed by malaria last year, the WHO said in its latest global malaria report, and COVID-19 will almost certainly make that toll higher in 2020.

    “Our estimates are that depending on the level of service disruption (due to COVID-19) .. there could be an excess of malaria deaths of somewhere between 20,000 and 100,000 in sub-Saharan Africa, most of them in young children,” Pedro Alsonso, director of the WHO’s malaria programme, told reporters.

    “It’s very likely that excess malaria mortality is larger than the direct COVID mortality.”

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-malaria-who-idUSKBN28A009?taid=5fc44675585f620001e51792&utm_campaign=trueAnthem:+Trending+Content&utm_medium=trueAnthem&utm_source=twitter

  31. WCE,

    You keep saying, “I argued that the initial response should have been local/regional, not national.” And then someone points out it was local regional (you’ll recall states trying to ban local responses) and you say, “ you make a fair point.” But then a week goes by and you’re back to, “ “I argued that the initial response should have been local/regional, not national.”

    What is going on with that?

  32. I’m curious if those of you really at odds with your local/regional response will consider moving to an area more in line with your expectations. Historically, there have been periods of great migration because of the availability of jobs, resources and culture fit. Similarly, in decades past, it would have seemed obvious to move away from the areas now beset by forest fires because there is too much risk and would likely have been deemed uninsurable. We now expect anything to be fixed with enough money and not be inconvenienced….kind of like rebuilding after repetitive hurricanes and still expecting water levels to rise.

    It will be interesting to see if all the “talk” by Californians of being tired of living with the politics of the place induces change. As a midwesterner who at least vaguely has dreams of a snowbird season of life, I will say watching Florida’s handling of this gives me pause. Maybe Arizona is more my speed?

  33. I’m curious if those of you really at odds with your local/regional response will consider moving to an area more in line with your expectations.

    I have a high school friend who moved to a small farm in Tennessee in part because of a lifelong rage at California’s regulatory environment and generally lefty attitude. He is an engineer. Someone failed to tell him that TN has tons of rain and wind and stuff, and also that starting to do farm work at age 60 is going to result in a ton of injuries. But I think he still prefers it to Silicon Valley.

    He’s also a bit of a hoarder, so now he has tons of outbuildings spread over 10 acres and is happy as a clam about that. I’m not sure what southern humidity will do to the stuff, but it’s not my problem.

  34. I’m curious if those of you really at odds with your local/regional response will consider moving to an area more in line with your expectations.

    I wondered about that too. My state’s response was somewhere in the middle. There is a difference between the urban and rural parts of my state and one has to understand that the decisions taken by the governor has to try to balance both. He was re-elected because he is low key but still visible, fixes the potholes so to speak and is not likely to go off the deep end (low bar maybe).

  35. Rhett, western states are large so by local/regional, I mean “case rates within 50-100 miles” not “case rates from Ontario to Astoria in Oregon” (464 miles) or “case rates from Yreka to San Diego in California”. (760 miles). Cass has the same observation about California.

    In northeastern states, a state or regional level response is probably more appropriate, since people commute between Rhode Island and Boston. Oregon’s governor started having schools open based on county or joint county metrics starting in November, which wasn’t the case last spring.

    Our jobs are pretty specialized so we don’t plan to move based on this pandemic response. Beliefs about government are divided between western and eastern parts of the state in all the West Coast states. Lots of people have moved out of California over the years, which has left it sort of bifurcated between rich and poor.

  36. Several governors of states with diverse environments have been one size fits all. So rural areas suffer under rubrics and restrictions appropriate to densely populated areas. Or denser areas with a severe outbreak areas are forbidden by the state to enact local stricter rules based on the conditions on the ground. Local/regional can be county or town or state. And Cass has been eloquent about how a community’s work, even by minors, can be designated by entitled hypocrites as essential with risk of exposure deemed worth it and its leisure or worship or school shut down. Our MA governor has his agenda, F2F school and responsible outdoor recreation being his priority over sporting/entertainment and some other commercial interests, but he cant force small districts with low transmission to reopen.

  37. WCE,

    But that’s not what you said. You said national. You were advised that this wasn’t the case and you agreed. But then you said it again. That has happened several times.

  38. “I’m curious if those of you really at odds with your local/regional response will consider moving to an area more in line with your expectations.”

    The effort to re establish ourselves in another locale is so great that DH and I are likely here until retirement. The kids, I don’t know. DD1 has a very serious boyfriend in another state, DD2, who knows, DS is actively trying to leave the state, which is affecting his college applications and decisions.

    I know a number of people in real life who have moved to other states. The U-haul metric indicates that many more people are leaving than arriving.

    There is a movement (almost certainly Quixotic) to carve out a new state from Northern California, Southeastern Oregon and northwestern Nevada. After the past few years, I have started to support that.

    At present, I am still trying to affect the environment here, but that may well be Quixotic as well.

  39. “I argued that the initial response should have been local/regional, not national.”

    Not only should it have been (and was), but a national response was never going to be possible, given both the size and diversity of our country and our decentralized political system.

  40. Rhett, I said national because I had heard (can’t/won’t cite) that a national response is what Biden wants in the future.
    I would support a standardized national response based on local metrics but Biden hasn’t spelled out the details of his proposal that I’ve heard.

    There was some agreement on the blog that a local response based on national metrics would be appropriate but people make different assumptions (Biden will make good choices and not shut down areas with minimal cases! “No, he won’t”) based on their political beliefs.

  41. Rhett, I said national because I had heard (can’t/won’t cite) that a national response is what Biden wants in the future.

    Sorry WCE, you said, ” I argued that the initial response should have been local/regional, not national.” You referred specifically to the initial response. And it was pointed out many times that it was local/regional. Yet you keep saying national. And now you’re saying you were referring to “what Biden wants in the future” but you clearly said, “the initial response should have been local/regional, not national.” There is something going on here….

  42. “I argued that the initial response should have been local/regional, not national.”

    ” I said national because I had heard (can’t/won’t cite) that a national response is what Biden wants in the future.”

    So you’re unhappy with your state’s response, and have no idea what a national response should look like, but don’t want a national response. I haven’t heard you say anything positive about your county or other very local response.

    Bottomline, based on no facts, just your gut, you don’t want a national response and are unhappy with all other efforts so far.

    Got it.

  43. I said that a national response should be “a local response based on national metrics.”

    For legal reasons, I doubt that a national response is feasible.

    I’m done now.

  44. This is such a difficult issue. Kids are really suffering. Workers are really suffering economically. A smart response would be balanced. I think Trump’s reaction is pulling attention away from wrong decisions on a state/local level (my state included). Nobody’s perfect. As WCE mentioned, not even Fauci, who made some serious bad calls in the past.

    I totally agree with Meme’s comment, so I will re-post it just so that people can read it again:
    “Several governors of states with diverse environments have been one size fits all. So rural areas suffer under rubrics and restrictions appropriate to densely populated areas. Or denser areas with a severe outbreak areas are forbidden by the state to enact local stricter rules based on the conditions on the ground. Local/regional can be county or town or state. And Cass has been eloquent about how a community’s work, even by minors, can be designated by entitled hypocrites as essential with risk of exposure deemed worth it and its leisure or worship or school shut down. Our MA governor has his agenda, F2F school and responsible outdoor recreation being his priority over sporting/entertainment and some other commercial interests, but he cant force small districts with low transmission to reopen.”

  45. Not only should it have been (and was), but a national response was never going to be possible, given both the size and diversity of our country and our decentralized political system.

    It depends on how you define “response.” If you mean having FEMA or the military or such doing the actual on-the-ground-work, of course it would never work. If you mean having some sort of national committee of medical experts determining guidelines and protocols for how to allocate resources and developing guidelines and thresholds for what types of business should be defined as essential and what should be closed and kept open, what safe dining capacities are, what mask rules should be in place, etc, then absolutely we could have had a national response and we damn well should have had one.

    Of course this would have required a leader who gave a damn about people other than himself.

  46. How about the kind of national response that Germany has had? Governors and mayors of major cities meet whenever certain metrics pass specified thresholds and set policies that are valid everywhere, generally in the form of “stores under 800 square meters can admit 1 person per 10 square meters; larger stores can admit one person per additional 20 square meters” or “in boroughs with a 7-day incidence rate above 200 per 100000, children in 5th and 6th grades are required to wear a mouth-nose covering during instruction”. The latter is a new rule in Berlin, but was the first one I thought of and demonstrates the form, which is what I’m trying to talk about—very specifc metric, with required actions clearly defined: masks not just “in school” but “during instruction” and not just “masks” but “mouth-nose covering”.

    Are people who are railing against “national” policies thinking of silly all-or-nothing rules like “because there is an outbreak in Topeka, schools from Coral Gables to Mercer Island will be closed for six weeks”? I have a hard time taking that seriously—sure sounds like a straw man to me—but then again, the failure of national-level leadership in the US did lead to an amazing, helter-skelter disarray of policies.

  47. I believe my comment when White Sulfur Springs was shut down last spring due to COVID in NYC, “Is NYC going to shut down when COVID comes to White Sulfur Springs?”

    The largest employer in White Sulfur Springs is the Greenbrier which caters to tourists and conventioneers from around the world. Do you really think they should have stayed open? I would also add that the Greenbrier is owned by the Republican governor of WV who was the one who ordered the shutdown.

    Am I the one misunderstanding what WCE means by national?

  48. I was talking about the White Sulfur Springs in Montana because DH has family there. I didn’t know about the one in West Virginia.

  49. The inconvenient problem for those who advocate for a national response is that public health is largely a state and local responsibility. For better or worse, the federal government has a much more limited role.
    The virus did not hit each part of the country at the same time. It didn’t make sense for California to shut down just because NYC was hard hit.

  50. A national response is not a uniform response. There can be a plan that is driven by local data and treats regions differently based on their needs.

  51. I think there is a role for national leadership when it comes to logistics of supplies – PPE, vaccines, food supplies, etc. I also think a national response is needed to provide financial assistance to those impacted the most.

    I think Governor Walz has done a good job. My understanding is that MN is providing individual districts guidelines on when to open or go to distance learning. I’ve seen people angry that he is not dictating more to schools on when to open/close and people angry that there isn’t more local control.

  52. WCE,

    Ah White Sulphur Springs MT. It looks like the shutdown was ordered by the Meager Country Health Officer:

    Click to access ORDER_OF_HEALTH_OFFICER.pdf

    How much more local did you want it to get?

    For those unfamiliar, Meagher Country is about 50% larger than RI and has a population of 1891. White Sulphur Springs is the county seat and has a population of 939.

  53. Now IIRC MT, AK, ID and WY are all part of Airlift Northwest. If you go into labor at 25 weeks in White Sulphur Springs or experience a similar medical emergency you very well may end up being transferred directly to the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. Keeping in mind that Mountainview Medical Center in White Sulphur Spring had 66 inpatients in 2019…total.

  54. OK, so does anyone besides Scarlett take the brain dead, straw man version of “national response”, as in “a national response would mean taking the same action everywhere at the same time”, seriously? Or by “national response” do people mean national decisions about responding to local events that Denver, Ada, and Inhave articulated?

  55. WCE,

    So what is your beef with the Meager County Health Officer? C. March 20th it seems reasonable to err on the side of caution seeing as how Meager County’s very limited healthcare system is based on the ability to transfer patients to Billings or Seattle. Looking back it also seems that MT had very limited access to COVID testing machines so they would have had a very tough time detecting an outbreak before it was widespread in the community.

  56. The population of our hospital’s catchment area is usually 3x bigger over Christmas – people in the nearby metropolis love to holiday in our neighborhood. This year, because no one is traveling internationally, we expect to have an extra 50k holiday guests (more than our baseline 3x, and more than our baseline local population). The region is in full-on panic mode (as much as anyone in NZ can panic). We are trying to figure out how to stretch ambiance, police and hospital resources. We are also getting the mobile COVID testing centers ready to go, so that when there is 1 community case on Christmas, we can ring fence it and test everyone.

    Interesting times.

  57. “In northeastern states, a state or regional level response is probably more appropriate, since people commute between Rhode Island and Boston.”

    Isn’t a commute between Vancouver and Portland common?

  58. “Maybe Arizona is more my speed?”

    AZ is also less likely to be adversely affected by rising sea levels.

  59. We are trying to figure out how to stretch ambiance… resources.

    The NZ scented candle industry is on double shifts. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

  60. What I would have liked to have seen is a National strategy implemented at the local level. CDC and other related agencies giving guidance to the states and localities, and then the states and localities making the decisions based on local conditions (virus spread v ability to handle surge). And a coordinated federal response to include testing program, PPE coordination, data collection, surveillance, assistance to states.

    Instead what we got was the federal government lying and throwing up its hands and telling everyone to get out there and get that economy roaring and super spreading events. And he wonders why he lost.

  61. Lol.

    We would never have to stretch ambiance. We are actually a national repository for ambiance.

  62. WCE,

    I was looking at the time stamps and the Meager County shutdown went into effect at 4pm 3/17. The state level shutdowns went into effect on 3/28 at 12:01am. And of course there was never a national shutdown.

    Is it possible that your WSS’s relatives aren’t clear on exactly what happened?

  63. “I’m curious if those of you really at odds with your local/regional response will consider moving to an area more in line with your expectations.”

    OTOH, the pandemic has changed migration patterns, with many people moving to less urban settings. That could change the leanings of the areas to which those people move, reducing the impetus of those already there who are at odds with the local/regional response to leave.

  64. “CDC and other related agencies giving guidance to the states and localities, and then the states and localities making the decisions based on local conditions (virus spread v ability to handle surge). And a coordinated federal response to include testing program, PPE coordination, data collection, surveillance, assistance to states.”

    The phrase “coordinated federal response” implies that federal agencies have their respective acts together at all times. That is not the world in which we live. The CDC has stumbled in the past when confronted with serious global health challenges, such as the H1N1 virus during the Obama administration:

    “POLITICO interviewed almost two dozen people, including administration officials, members of Congress and outsiders who contended with the administration’s response, and they described a litany of sadly familiar obstacles: vaccine shortfalls, fights over funding and sometimes contradictory messaging.
    “It is purely a fortuity that this isn’t one of the great mass casualty events in American history,” Ron Klain, who was Biden’s chief of staff at the time, said of H1N1 in 2019. “It had nothing to do with us doing anything right. It just had to do with luck. If anyone thinks that this can’t happen again, they don’t have to go back to 1918, they just have to go back to 2009, 2010 and imagine a virus with a different lethality, and you can just do the math on that.” https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/04/joe-biden-contain-h1n1-virus-232992

  65. This is an interesting study of 160 countries with a combined 846,000 confirmed COVID deaths through August. The purpose of the study was to assess the “non-viral parameters” that were most associated with death rates. The conclusion:

    “Higher Covid death rates are observed in the [25/65°] latitude and in the [−35/−125°] longitude ranges. The national criteria most associated with death rate are life expectancy and its slowdown, public health context (metabolic and non-communicable diseases (NCD) burden vs. infectious diseases prevalence), economy (growth national product, financial support), and environment (temperature, ultra-violet index). Stringency of the measures settled to fight pandemia, including lockdown, did not appear to be linked with death rate.” https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpubh.2020.604339/full

  66. Contact tracing isn’t working very well in NJ. Has it worked well elsewhere in the US?

  67. Changing the subject. This guy is kind of a crank, but there’s a certain logic to his argument that we are overproducing elites without enough actual elite slots in the economy to house them all. Consequently, you get people like Steve Bannon as a counter-elite (hey, I don’t like him either, but he has an MBA from Harvard) and they get mad about being left out and reach out with populist messages, and then everything goes unpleasantly wrong.

    ““We are almost guaranteed” five hellish years, Turchin predicts, and likely a decade or more. The problem, he says, is that there are too many people like me. “You are ruling class,” he said, with no more rancor than if he had informed me that I had brown hair, or a slightly newer iPhone than his. Of the three factors driving social violence, Turchin stresses most heavily “elite overproduction”—­the tendency of a society’s ruling classes to grow faster than the number of positions for their members to fill. One way for a ruling class to grow is biologically—think of Saudi Arabia, where princes and princesses are born faster than royal roles can be created for them. In the United States, elites over­produce themselves through economic and educational upward mobility: More and more people get rich, and more and more get educated. Neither of these sounds bad on its own. Don’t we want everyone to be rich and educated? The problems begin when money and Harvard degrees become like royal titles in Saudi Arabia. If lots of people have them, but only some have real power, the ones who don’t have power eventually turn on the ones who do.”

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/12/can-history-predict-future/616993/

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Pc3JDOP4gQ0lF4mpEE2dPmPgt0nq5h9g/view?usp=sharing

  68. RMS,

    But the number of freshman slots at HSSs hasn’t increased in decades despite an increase in population. So the opposite is actually true

    I would say the issue is the group of kids who were lead to believe they had a shot at a HSS when they never really did. I recall a discussion with S&M about someone she knew who was able to get into X (I can’t recall what X was) but wanted to get into Vanderbilt. Looking at her GPA and SAT she’d need to be an order of magnitude smarter to get into Vandy. And no amount of student council treasurer busy work was going to change that. But folks had lead her to believe that if she just did more busy work she could bridge the gap. And that’s just not how it works when you’re an order of magnitude too stupid to get in.

  69. Contact tracing has been a major fail nearly everywhere in the US. In Virginia, only 10% of residents bothered to download the contact tracing app. NYC, LA, NJ — these are all totally blue states. If contact tracing doesn’t work there, it’s not going to work anywhere.

    Our university has aggressive contact tracing, but it only works if students are honest about their social contacts. And despite 86,000 tests and contact tracing (plus masks required even outside alone), there were still more than 1400 positive “cases” among undergraduates on campus this semester.

    So many of the experts were absolutely certain that contact tracing would work in this country. But, as in other aspects of COVID, they were simply wrong. For example, they failed to take into account the effect of robocall scams on their ability even to reach people in the first place:

    “Just 19% of Americans say they generally answer their cellphones when an unknown phone number calls. Some 67% say they don’t answer but would check a voicemail if one is left. And 14% say they generally don’t answer and would ignore a voicemail.” https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2020/10/30/the-challenges-of-contact-tracing-as-u-s-battles-covid-19/

  70. Contact is totally worthless when you have 175,000 cases a day. It works when you have a measles outbreak and are worried about a very small number. But because we are so awesome here, yesterday we had more cases diagnosed than Japan has during the entire pandemic. Go USA!

  71. Contact tracing was never going to work. It was very frustrating that the experts were touting contact tracing as a tool. When the experts propose tactics that clearly can’t work, it just denigrates their credibility.

  72. “When the experts propose tactics that clearly can’t work, it just denigrates their credibility.”

    Yup

  73. “When the experts propose tactics that clearly can’t work, it just denigrates their credibility.”

    Scarlett and Cass, you two never believe the experts about anything. So, ehh.

  74. “In the top tier of private research universities, the data shows measurable expansion in the entering classes at Rice University (from 789 in 2008 to 978 in 2013), Washington University in St. Louis (from 1,429 to 1,610 in the same span) and the University of Chicago (from 1,307 to 1,426). But otherwise, growth has been scant among this group, too.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/stanford-university-plans-to-increase-its-undergraduate-enrollment-by-100-a-year/2014/09/02/7343a508-32a1-11e4-a723-fa3895a25d02_story.html

  75. Rhett, that would have been the girl who is at Ohio State. I think part of the problem is the private education industry. Her school touts itself as able to get kids into hi-falutin places. Of course kids & their families who’ve paid the tuition want to believe it, even when there is evidence to the contrary. In this case, the girl’s dad went to the male counterpart hs, and got into the same small Catholic university as my sister, from our rural district. The younger sister kept her search at about that level—Xavier (in Cincy), University of Dayton, John Carroll. Maybe they woke up, or maybe it’s because no one expected her to be as smart as the sister who was on the borderline for gifted classes.

    Kim, that tweet is so awful it made me lol.

  76. Finn,

    the Class of 2024 and has offered admission to 2,304 students.

    Current Yale undergraduate enrollment is 6,092. In 1976 is was 5088. US population 1976 218 million. Current us population 333 million.

    You knew that so what were you trying to add to the discussion?

  77. “Scarlett and Cass, you two never believe the experts about anything. So, ehh.”

    Meh, I believe the experts who produce data.
    The problem with Reality is that she thinks that the experts all agree, that there is an actual consensus on What Works, and that anyone who questions this alleged consensus is a right-wing dog whistler.

    A lot of the challenges with our COVID response come from exactly that sort of hands over ears mentality:

    “In today’s COVID-19 wars, the global scientific divide leans heavily in favor of active, and sometimes even draconian, public health interventions, including widespread locking down of nonessential business, mandating masks, restricting travel and imposing quarantines. On the other side, some doctors, scientists and public health officials are questioning the wisdom of this approach in the face of massive unknowns about their efficacy and in light of the clear and growing evidence that such measures may not be working in some cases, and may also be causing net harm. As people are thrown out of work as a direct result of lockdowns, and as more and more families find themselves unable to cover their rent or food, there have been sharp increases in domestic violence, homelessness and illegal drug use.”

    And this:

    “In the U.S., John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist and professor of medicine at Stanford University, was subjected to attacks, not at the hands of public officials, but his fellow scientists. Ioannidis has authored some of the most cited journal articles in medical history and was praised in a 2010 article in The Atlantic as possibly “one of the most influential scientists alive.” Yet he was pilloried when he published an opinion essay expressing concerns that we lacked data on the efficacy of draconian responses to the outbreak, such as lockdowns, and that such measures could cause their own harms. We read some of the obscene and defamatory e-mails that were sent to Ioannidis and his administrators and colleagues at Stanford. Numerous misleading claims were advanced in the press, including the charge that he had a financial conflict of interest related to a study of the prevalence of COVID-19 that he co-authored. But a fact-finding review by an external legal firm determined that Ioannidis did not have a financial conflict. Ioannidis would come under more fire when he published an analysis showing that the infection fatality rate of COVID-19 was far lower than initially reported. Later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published similarly low rates (which varied by age group, time and location) and the World Health Organization published updated research by Ioannidis showing a low overall infection fatality rate.”

    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-covid-science-wars1/

    We’ve seen that reaction on this humble site. The invective hurled at anyone — WCE, Cass, Milo, me — who dares to offer contrarian opinions has been stunning.

  78. Reality, I’m old enough to have seen experts be wrong, egotistical, and very human, and so I don’t necessarily believe that someone who is Subject Matter Expert is actually correct. If I have seen some evidence of intelligence, sense, willingness to learn and ability to be correct, I tend to listen to them. Without validation, I don’t automatically believe that experts actually have all the necessary facts in evidence to draw a conclusion. And yes, I know in the real world that conclusions have to be drawn without sufficient knowledge and redrawn when new information comes up.

    Perhaps you could explain how contact tracing was supposed to work in a country with a significant population of undocumented immigrants, homeless people, criminals and other people who live in the shadows?

  79. Reality – you’re exactly right. There’s no tracing tens or hundreds of thousands of new cases EVERY DAY. When we had our August “outbreak” (total of 179 cases). It originated with 4 family members going on a holiday weekend extravaganza. 200 close contacts were identified (using the definition of >15 minutes in a space with no mask on). More than 1000 other contacts were identified. My kids missed being in the same restaurant by about an hour. Nearly all contacts were tested and the outbreak was contained with disruption only to Auckland, and only for a few weeks. The rest of us kept vacationing, going to concerts and face to face school.

    NZ had a full-time team that dealt with this and I am sure the number of contact tracers far outnumbered the number of positives per week. There’s no way to replicated that on any kind of scale in the US right now.

  80. Perhaps you could explain how contact tracing was supposed to work in a country with a significant population of undocumented immigrants, homeless people, criminals and other people who live in the shadows?

    Fun fact other countries have criminals and homeless people. But you knew that. So I figure you’re just arguing in bad faith.

  81. “You knew that so what were you trying to add to the discussion?”

    Just pointing out that you were factually incorrect.

    “Current Yale undergraduate enrollment is 6,092. In 1976 is was 5088.”

    IOW, enrollment has increased 20% over that time.

  82. IOW, enrollment has increased 20% over that time.

    While the population increased 50%. Which you knew was my point.

  83. The invective hurled at anyone — WCE, Cass, Milo, me — who dares to offer contrarian opinions has been stunning.
    You don’t get to wear the martyr’s cloak when you switch back so many times it makes the room spin. Sticking to what your dear leader says–and twisting logic and statistics to do so–are what people laugh at, not the notion of simple disagreement.

  84. Finn, I’ve got to agree with Rhett and Rocky here. Tacking caveats such as “adjusted for growth of the population over all” onto simple statements is tiresome and makes the line of argument unwieldy.

  85. “Perhaps you could explain how contact tracing was supposed to work in a country with a significant population of undocumented immigrants, homeless people, criminals and other people who live in the shadows?”

    It works well for other communicable diseases. It it not going to work when the number of cases per week is literally 1 million. I remember when we had 10,000 cases a day and everyone was very worried about the infection level and how there were so many cases. The good old days.

  86. “While the population increased 50%. Which you knew was my point.”

    Overall population increase doesn’t necessarily reflect difficulty of getting into HSS. E.g., if the population increase was largely due to people living a lot longer, that would have little impact. What matters is not just population of college age kids, but how many of them actually go to college, and try to get into HSS.

    BTW, your original point was: “But the number of freshman slots at HSSs hasn’t increased in decades despite an increase in population.”

    Note the absence of any quantification of the population increase, much less the change in college going population. Its absence, combined with factual inaccuracy of the number of HSS slots actually increasing, puts into question the point you were trying to make.

  87. “It works well for other communicable diseases. It it not going to work when the number of cases per week is literally 1 million.”

    It didn’t work well during the spring and summer, when the number of confirmed cases was far lower:

    “New York state currently has nearly 50 tracers per 100,000 people, the most in the U.S. But in New York City, long the epicenter of the pandemic, contact tracers were only able to successfully complete an interview with about half of all positive cases between June 1 and June 20.
    That’s well below the 75% rate public health experts say is needed to keep an outbreak contained.
    The situation is worse in other hard-hit cities like San Antonio, which has only received responses from about 300 of the 2,500 cases currently under review.” https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-contact-tracing-isnt-working-0d8ec92c-ec1c-4b46-a736-844649b760dd.html

  88. Did the US ever introduce a contact tracing app? Given the fragmentary nature of responses to the virus there, I suppose it might’ve been a thing in some areas but not in others. Germany’s didn’t get enough users to work well. The PSAs trying to get people to use it have disappeared, replaced by others saying “I want to [go out to eat/ hug my grandkids/ get my haircut] again, so I’m going to stay home so we can all get back out there”.

    I don’t know what the nation-wide tendency for Germany is right now. For a while, new cases were growing so quickly that the contact tracers couldn’t keep up. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-28/even-germans-have-lost-control-of-tracing-as-infections-surge Now new cases in Berlin are falling, but in Brandenburg, the state that surrounds us, they are still going up.

  89. There’s another PSA campaign I’ve noticed lately as well–encouraging people to report abuse they observe. Some of it seems related to a possible increase in domestic violence with everybody staying at home, but other parts are about workplace behavior (featuring people doing “essential” work who would still be at their jobs)

  90. Note the absence of any quantification of the population increase,

    Because I was in the middle of making dinner and posting from my phone. You’re just being an asshole.

  91. I find the government communications to be so prim.

    “With the countdown on until Christmas, the ministry asks that anyone hosting a party for staff ensures that everyone who is attending is well. If anyone who was planning to attend is unwell, please consider how you can include them in your celebrations via video call or other means that ensure they can take part while everyone is kept safe,” the ministry said in its statement.

    “Please encourage those attending to check in at the venue with the NZ Covid Tracer app, in the Covid Tracer booklet available online, or in a personal notebook,” the ministry said.

    “Continue to emphasise the importance of handwashing at your event and have hand sanitiser available for your attendees.”

  92. Ada, those are prim and kind. People here are laughing at the legal term “Tanzlustbarkeit” which shows up as a no-no in the latest round of rules. It basically means pleasure in dance. There will not be any of that, nein!

  93. Our university has aggressive contact tracing, but it only works if students are honest about their social contacts. And despite 86,000 tests and contact tracing (plus masks required even outside alone), there were still more than 1400 positive “cases” among undergraduates on campus this semester.

    Why should the students follow the rules when the people who made the rules didn’t follow them and got COVID as well?

  94. Rhett, my guess is that you were not aware that, in fact, numerous HSS have been increasing their undergraduate enrollments. Your point was based on a false assumption, so my guess is that you assumed that the fact that population had increased would, by itself, show that HSS spots had become relatively scarcer, independent of the amount of increase.

    IMO, you should just admit that your initial assertion was based on a false assumption, then go ahead and provide the necessary additional evidence to show that your point is still valid, if indeed it is. Or, if you prefer, just drop it. Or postulate it for the sake of argument, i.e., make your argument conditional on that postulate.

    I prefer to keep our discussions logical and avoid ad hominem attacks. If my point isn’t valid, show why it’s not valid. Whether I’m an asshole or not doesn’t change whether HSS have increased their enrollments.

  95. “Why should the students follow the rules when the people who made the rules didn’t follow them and got COVID as well?”

    A very good point.
    The rules are stupid when applied to healthy young people who face virtually* zero risk from COVID. There was no spike in cases after the Clemson game, FWIW, even though the county health czar was appalled.

    And, as you well know, plenty of people followed all the Rules, and got COVID anyhow. Because the virus doesn’t care if you followed the Rules, especially when the Rules do not actually work to prevent transmission. Presumably, your governor and his partner were extremely careful, and followed all of the Rules that he imposed on others. But there you go.

    *not zero, but close enough

  96. “I prefer to keep our discussions logical and avoid ad hominem attacks.”

    +1000
    It’s very nice to have you here, Finn.

  97. “The problem with Reality is that she thinks that the experts all agree, that there is an actual consensus on What Works, and that anyone who questions this alleged consensus is a right-wing dog whistler.”

    Could you please just skip over my posts? We don’t need to have a back and forth. Just kindly skip them and move on. It will be better for us and the group.

  98. Finn,

    I wouldn’t be so annoyed if we hadn’t had this exact same conversation a year ago. But you’ve forgotten.

  99. Rhett, if that were the case, then you’d know that some HSS have increased their undergrad enrollment.

  100. Finn,

    When we had this discussion before you agreed that the increase in enrollment was markedly below population growth. So when I brought it up again I figure you’d remembered our previous discussion. That’s why I didn’t add a footnote.

    Do you not remember our discussion? Maybe that’s why I’m getting so worked up. I think people remember our discussion when they actually don’t.

  101. The rules are stupid when applied to healthy young people who face virtually* zero risk from COVID.

    Except that these healthy young people can easily give it to older, higher-risk people.

  102. Rhett, nope, don’t remember that exact discussion. I know I’ve posted before that some HSS have increased their enrollments.

  103. “Except that these healthy young people can easily give it to older, higher-risk people.”

    Or young people with underlying health conditions, which may not be apparent.

  104. “Except that these healthy young people can easily give it to older, higher-risk people.”

    No, they really can’t.
    They aren’t visiting nursing homes or elderly grandparents.
    They are living in dorms, or in apartments with other students.
    Older, higher-risk people who are trying not to contract COVID don’t hang out with college kids. If they do, then they are assuming the risk of infection. Faculty at high risk are teaching remotely and not coming onto campus.

    “Or young people with underlying health conditions, which may not be apparent.”

    The young people with underlying health conditions are well aware of same. If they choose to live in the dorms, or to attend in-person classes with their peers, they are assuming the risk of infection.

  105. “Could you please just skip over my posts? We don’t need to have a back and forth. Just kindly skip them and move on. It will be better for us and the group.”

    We are all free to post and respond as we like.
    You can kindly skip the Politics page if you don’t want anyone to challenge your comments.

  106. I know I’ve posted before that some HSS have increased their enrollments.

    Then am I correct to assume you don’t recall any of the responses you received?

  107. “They aren’t visiting nursing homes or elderly grandparents.
    They are living in dorms, or in apartments with other students.”

    Didn’t the dorms close over a week ago?

  108. They are living in dorms, or in apartments with other students.

    They go home to visit their families. They go to stores and other places in the community where they encounter older people. They aren’t living in isolation with no contact with anyone other than 18-22 year olds.

  109. DD, yes that
    Some schools are taking the approach of making it really hard for students to leave. Perhaps that would have been the best approach – keep them on campus until May?

  110. I’m aware of at least one campus that takes the approach Mooshi mentions. Eaters of Covid there are much lower than the surrounding community.
    I’ve posted here before about how the ages of who gets Covid here have changed over the course of the pandemic, with many more “prime of life” people getting it now, and the share of elderly declining. Is the same true in the US?

  111. One of the things, is that there is the sandwich generation like myself that is the go between between school/college aged kids and our older parents. Many of our parents are not living in nursing homes or communities bound by restrictions. They are living independently with some assistance from their middle aged kids especially in these times. It’s a balancing act on how much exposure is enough and how much isolation is too much. Though kids are not in direct contact, they may be connected to their grandparents via their parents.

  112. Finn, every departing student was required to take a covid test and wait for results. Those who left without it are not allowed to register in the spring.
    They were also tested relentlessly during the semester.
    The students living on campus don’t spend much time in the community. Surgical strikes to the grocery store are not infection vectors. Unless older vulnerable people are hanging out in student bars, they are not going to be spending time in close prolonged indoor contact with students.
    The risk to that population is from the staff in their nursing homes and their own family members. Not the students. There was no effect on community infection rates from the university operations. (The county health leaders were warning about that but it did not come to pass). From what the university was able to determine, the relative handful of staff infections originated off campus. Not from students. The faculty senate activists were also whining about needing someone to write their wills, but they could not identity not a single faculty or staff member who was infected by a student.
    As for keeping students from visiting home, there was no fall or thanksgiving break. That is all that a university can do to deter trips back home.
    The smart students who haven’t already done so will quietly get covid between now and February, with documentation. Then they will be exempt from further summons to the isolation dorms.

  113. I was skeptical about contact tracing from the beginning. It wasn’t as if our leaders couldn’t anticipate the increase in cases and that our country is very different from some others like S Korea for example. Shocked, shocked…

  114. I think we can all see that we disagree on the appropriate government (local/ regional/ national) approach to COVID. What are people’s thoughts on the incoming Biden administration. I’m particularly interested to see what happens at Education. Also, I think Janet Yellen is a good moderate pick.

  115. CUNY residence halls are requiring a tracking app on student’s phones, and had a pretty draconian Thanksgiving policy – if you left for more than 24 hours, no matter where you went, you had to get tested 3 days before returning, and then quarantine, and take another test 4 days later. If those results were negative, then you could leave quarantine – so basically a 6 to 7 day quarantine if you travelled for Thanksgiving. For those that left for less than 24 hours, no qurantine, but you had to take a test 4 days later.
    NYU is even more draconian – leave for Thanksgiving, then you must quarantine for 14 days on return.
    Conversely, my older kid’s school, which is in a city with a 20% positivity rate, is doing random testing and also wastewater testing in the dorms, but little else. Kids can come and go at will.

    There is a huge amount of variation.

  116. Mafalda, I don’t see anyone genuinely disagreeing with a national policy, only people disingenuously claiming that a national policy would not be based on local metrics and would require the same actions to be taken everywhere simultaneously, regardless of local reality. That is obviously not something anyone–here or elsewhere–is advocating. We are all talking about agreeing upon standards of what level of x means that A should be closed or B can be open. The people who say they’re against a “national policy” refuse to engage with that notion at all and keep pelting their strawman.

  117. It seems that those colleges that managed to stay open in person in the fall, will be in a good position to bring back students in the spring. However, others that operated mostly or fully remotely will have a harder time bringing back students.

  118. Mooshi, those policies are even more strict than Germany’s! Here, if you come enter the country from a risk zone (most of the globe https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/InfAZ/N/Neuartiges_Coronavirus/Transport/Archiv_Risikogebiete/Risikogebiete_27112020_en.pdf?__blob=publicationFile ) you have to present a negative test (in English, French or German) conducted less than 48 hours before entry or get one done at the airport and quarantine until the results are in. If you don’t get a test but are asymptomatic, you quarantine for ten days.

  119. Mafalda, I think Yellen is a nice, moderate pick as well. So far all of Biden’s picks have been met with only mild grumbling. I take that to mean that most of them are pretty well-qualified and middle-of-the-road.

    At this point I’m just hoping for an administration that doesn’t fly off the handle twice a week and do something insane. So far, it’s looking good. I’ll hold my breath.

  120. Tandem was not a bone for the Bernie Bros. She has insulted them on Twitter as well and has gotten into it with Sanders himself.

    I do think it’s interesting that, after 4 years of supporting a Twitter troll president, Republicans now want to block any Biden nominees who were mean to them online. What special snowflakes they are.

  121. Momentary Grammar Police intrusion into the political page: I think “Not The Bee” meant to say that people seem UNinterested in downloading the app, not DISinterested in downloading the app.

    That is all.

  122. Mooshi, the other picks are as centrist and palatable to the GOP as Biden himself; she seems to be the furthest right among them.

  123. NoB, I agree they didn’t mean “disinterested”. I don’t think they meant “uninterested” either. The article is all about tech companies tracking users, and that people don’t want that. They aren’t apathetic–they are interested in avoiding it.
    https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/uninterested-or-disinterested
    In today’s usage, disinterested most often means “not biased,” whereas uninterested simply means “not interested.” Interestingly, when these words were first introduced their meanings were the reverse, with disinterested originally meaning “lacking interest,” and uninterested meaning “unbiased.”

  124. “My working theory is that she is the sacrifice being fed to the sharks. The Republican Senate can all concentrate on not confirming her, making the other picks look more centrist and palatable.”

    I heard this theory on NPR.

    “I do think it’s interesting that, after 4 years of supporting a Twitter troll president, Republicans now want to block any Biden nominees who were mean to them online. What special snowflakes they are.”

    Hypocrites. But not unexpected one bit.

    I agree with RMS and Mafalda – lots of nice, well-qualified, not-very-extreme picks. Right up my alley.

  125. “I agree with RMS and Mafalda – lots of nice, well-qualified, not-very-extreme picks. Right up my alley.”

    And so far, not a single pick is related to him by blood or marriage, which is novel. I used to assume the cabinet nominees knew how to do their job, or even what it is, but I don’t assume that anymore. It will be nice to have people who have a track record.

  126. I’m concerned about the impact of the Biden administration on charter schools…I had a great experience with one growing up, and my child attends one now. There are plenty of bad ones out there but they are some real gems that give life-changing opportunities to kids who can’t access them otherwise. We could afford to switch to an expensive private school if it went away, but most of my child’s classmates can’t.

  127. I’d like to see a vaccinologist like Paul Offitt on the COVID response team instead of an oncologist with ACA political baggage like Zeke Emanuel. I think Janet Yellen’s experience is valuable so I’m happy to see her back. Mostly, I continue to be uninformed.

  128. What can the Feds do to charter schools? I am not being snarky. I would have thought most of those decisions were state/local and that the Biden administration wouldn’t have much influence.

    I am for school choice, and I send DS to a school other than his zoned school. But I am skeptical of public school funding going to either religious organizations or for-profit entities (which is only a subset of charters). I feel those are two separate discussions.

  129. Rio, I agree about Charter schools. I think School Choice is being tried in different manners (Charters, Magnets, Vouchers, lotteries, exam schools, etc…) across the states, and I think that’s a great trend. The increase in homeschooling that came about as the only (economical) choice to a mandated public school is not a great trend. I do believe people should have the right to homeschool and it’s probably wonderful in some cases, but not because your zoned, mandated school is not a good choice for your child. I hope the Biden administration does not try to hamper school choice in some way through funding or various decrees.

  130. “As for keeping students from visiting home, there was no fall or thanksgiving break. That is all that a university can do to deter trips back home.”

    No.

    Both my kids made zero trips back home this semester, because their universities severely limited student housing. Yours could have done that also, but chose not to.

  131. Rhett, WRT internet speed, Singapore has a significant geographic advantage over most countries, and especially over countries with large rural areas.

  132. “if you left for more than 24 hours, no matter where you went, you had to get tested 3 days before returning, and then quarantine, and take another test 4 days later. “

    So if you left for between just over 24 hours and just under 3 days, you’d need to get tested before you left.

    That’s similar to what’s been the case here for interisland travel but without the pass for under 24 hours. Not sure what it is now; the policy has changed many times.

  133. Finn, it was Mooshi who asked about countries’ internet speeds—on the Monday thread. But in replying here, I guess I moved the conversation.

  134. “wastewater testing in the dorms”

    From what I’ve read, that can be a very cost effective way of getting early feedback on infection levels. IIRC, like respiratory virus shedding, fecal shedding can also occur prior to symptoms, so this method of monitoring gives earlier indication of spread than testing based on symptoms, or regular testing that is less frequent than BM frequency.

    But it seems that dorms are somewhat unusual in being suited for such testing. Perhaps a few other situations where it makes a lot of sense are nursing homes, hospitals, and military barracks.

  135. “Both my kids made zero trips back home this semester, because their universities severely limited student housing. Yours could have done that also, but chose not to.”

    Not following you here.
    Your kids made no trips back home because they never left home.
    So, yes, it’s true that a university can prevent students from leaving campus if they never let them live on campus to begin with.
    But then the university isn’t really operating as a residential university.
    Our university made a different choice, and DH reported that his students were incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have something resembling a normal campus experience.

  136. Scarrlett, you posted, “As for keeping students from visiting home, there was no fall or thanksgiving break. That is all that a university can do to deter trips back home.”

    I was just pointing out an example illustrating a way beyond eliminating fall and thanksgiving break that universities can do to deter trips back home.

    Your school made a choice that meant more travel back home than with the choices my kids’ schools, and many other schools, made.

    I’ll also point out another possible way to deter trips back home that your school could’ve implemented was allowing students to stay on campus through to the end of next semester.

    I get that once your school made the choice to have full dorm occupancy, their choices to eliminate fall break and t-day break reduced the number of trips back home. But that was not all they could’ve done.

  137. “But then the university isn’t really operating as a residential university.
    Our university made a different choice, and DH reported that his students were incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have something resembling a normal campus experience.”

    I didn’t say your school made the wrong choice.

    I just said their choices meant they didn’t do all they could to deter trips back home.

  138. “Between 1945 and 1989, according to Dov H. Levin’s book “Meddling in the Ballot Box,” the United States interfered in foreign elections 63 times. ”

    Interesting fact from article below on a more restrained foreign policy

  139. @Finn – The Nest is really easy to program. The issue is – what temperature makes the rooms we are mostly likely to be in at certain times of day the most comfortable? I have never spent so much time tweaking the temperature before! Also – the kitchen gets really warm when we are cooking, even if I don’t have the oven on, which then makes the Nest think is it 72 degrees in the whole house, when it is really just the kitchen that is warm. So then I go back to my office, and it is freezing! Or the bedroom is a comfortable, cool temperature when I go to bed, but then the kitchen cools down at 1am and the heat starts blasting. I’ve had to program in a more dramatic shift between day & night, but I still haven’t gotten it quite right.

    On Thanksgiving, with the oven on for hours and the stove going with multiple pots of boiling water, it got up to 78 in the kitchen (it was in the 40’s outside). I had to crack a window. There is a large bank of windows in the kitchen too – but I think they are much better insulated windows in this new (to us) house than in past places I’ve lived. I know the windows are brand new because it was something we negotiated with the sellers.

  140. Ivy – To reduce the stratification, you should be able to run the air handler, even without the heating or cooling unit operating. On a regular thermostat, you you move the Fan switch from ‘Auto’ to ‘On.”

    On a Nest, maybe…
    https://support.google.com/googlenest/answer/9296419?hl=en

    (I’ve never loved the idea of the Nest, as you may remember.)

    I wouldn’t leave it on continuously, but when you just want to equalize things. This is going to be more of a Fall/Spring problem. In the middle of winter, when it’s colder outside, the system will need to be running more frequently that the house won’t have as much of a chance to get stratified.

  141. Ivy I feel you pain (coldness), but I don’t a nest, just a normal programmable thermostat. We put in a fireplace in our living room. The thermostat is located in a hallway not far from the fireplace. In the evening I’ll have the fireplace on, but when I go upstairs for bed it is freezing, because the furnace has been thinking that that the house is too warm and hasn’t clicked on for hours.

    In hindsight we should have moved the thermostat to the the dining room, and now I’m thinking this is a great project for DH.

  142. Thanks!

    @Milo – I do know how to run the fan from the Nest app, so I’ll try that. I can set it to run for a certain amount of time, so that would work. Yesterday when it was in the 20’s, it was not as big of a swing, so your explanation makes total sense.

  143. This is fun, and kind of depressing – find out where you fall in the vaccine line. If I answer the questions honestly, I am almost at the tail end, behind all the young adults even (wait a second, how come they get to go first?)
    But if click yes to health risk factors, which includes diabetes, cancer, and obesity, I go way up to near the front of the line.
    So maybe I should quickly gain lots of weight?

  144. I’m about a third from the front. My very limited and informal survey of HCWs indicates a significant percentage don’t want the vaccine yet, so I may be bumped even closer to the front.

    I agree the logistics and the politics of the distribution will be messy.

    “The whole delivery process is humongous,” said Vijay Samant, a former head of vaccine manufacturing for Merck. “I don’t think you’ll make a meaningful vaccination impact in the first six months.”

  145. The U.S. saw its highest single-day coronavirus death toll to date on Wednesday with 3,157.

    The number was 20 percent higher than the previous single-day high of 2,603 on April 15, and brings the total U.S. death toll to 273,799, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

    The record high came the same day new hospitalizations exceeded 100,000 for the first time ever and newly reported infections hit 200,000 for only the second time, according to the COVID Tracking Project. Of those hospitalized, 19,396 were intensive care patients, another new high.

    These numbers likely do not reflect the number of new infections spurred by Thanksgiving gatherings, The Wall Street Journal noted, since hospitalizations typically come within weeks of the corresponding infections.

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/us-reports-3-100-covid-19-deaths-in-one-day-surpassing-previous-record-by-20-percent/ar-BB1bBfrb

  146. Since the vaccine was announced, I’ve been thinking about the marketing and logistics challenges and thought the best way to market it to over 65’s would be to have former Presidents (and others) in commercials for the vaccine. I saw today that 3 former Presidents have volunteered to get vaccinated on camera. I plan to ask my Dad about the most memorable public figures over 65 that he thinks are fairly noncontroversial. Oprah Winfrey, Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, Whoopi Goldberg, Jay Leno, David Letterman and Harrison Ford are all over 65 and Tom Hanks turns 65 this next July.

  147. I think that the best way to market the vaccines to those over 65 would be to release the data on the clinical trials run with volunteers in that age group.

    It may be that those who are >85 and have some health issues face a greater risk from COVID than the vaccine, but right now we know *nothing* about how the vaccine works in that group.

    So perhaps it would be better to have health care workers and nursing home staff who are under age 65 line up to be the volunteers for these stage 4 clinical trials. It makes more sense to vaccinate the workers who are out and about and much more likely to contract COVID than the seniors who are not.

  148. I’ve been thinking about ways to market the vaccine to Black Americans. Anecdotally, none of the Black Americans I’ve spoken to (a handful) want to take the vaccine or they don’t want to take it until some period of time has passed after other people have taken it and have had no adverse results. They tell me this view is true in their circles as well.

    I get their concerns, given the history of medical care for Black Americans in this country, but worry that the Black community will continue to be hard hit by this virus if people don’t get the vaccine.

    How do you market to this more reluctant group?

  149. “ they don’t want to take it until some period of time has passed after other people have taken it and have had no adverse results”

    I kind of feel the same way, which is obviously a moot point for me because it won’t be immediately available to me, anyway.

  150. There are a whole lot of people in the “no, after you, I insist” camp.
    It will be interesting to see the take-up rates among health care workers.

  151. “How do you market to this more reluctant group?”

    You get pastors involved, and set up vaccine clinics at places of worship.

    Dr. Osterholm was on local radio this afternoon (I’m old and listen to AM talk radio all day). Part of the discussion was getting vaccines to distribute to dentists, mental health providers, minute clinics, and other health care workers that you don’t think of being traditional vaccine distributors. Flood the communities with multiple options on where to go. Similiar to how COVID testing is around here. You can go to your doctor’s office, or CVS, or an old Pier 1 Imports (where I went), or the former rental car counters at the airport parking garage (also went there). All those empty big box buildings are perfect for distribution.

  152. I just got a thick letter in the mail from Judicial Watch with a 12 page, single spaced screed about Hillary and the Obama administration and corruption etc… First I had to check the post mark to see that it wasn’t sent 5 years ago. Second I had to get a knife because the irony was so thick.

  153. “Second I had to get a knife because the irony was so thick.”

    Yes. It is fun how we shifted from Hunter Biden and his laptop to can I pardon my grifter kids and son in law.

  154. ” I plan to ask my Dad about the most memorable public figures over 65 that he thinks are fairly noncontroversial. Oprah Winfrey, Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, Whoopi Goldberg, Jay Leno, David Letterman and Harrison Ford are all over 65 and Tom Hanks turns 65 this next July.”

    Jane Fonda noncontroversial? Especially those over 65 and thus old enough to remember her as Hanoi Jane?

  155. “So perhaps it would be better to have health care workers and nursing home staff who are under age 65 line up to be the volunteers for these stage 4 clinical trials. It makes more sense to vaccinate the workers who are out and about and much more likely to contract COVID than the seniors who are not.”

    ITA. TMK, if is typically LTC workers who spread it to patients there.

    OTOH, it’s not known at this time whether the vaccines prevent people from becoming contagious.

  156. Joe Biden is going to urge Americans to wear masks during the first 100 days of his term. Not forever, just for 100 days.

    In September, he predicted that, without a nationwide mask mandate, some 215,000 Americans would die, but that 100,000 lives could be saved with a mandate. He provided no support for either of these numbers. https://abc11.com/biden-town-hall-cnn-trump/6436785/

    There was (of course) no nationwide mask mandate, but 215,000 Americans didn’t die of COVID. (It was closer to 70,000).

    Americans are already masked up. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/27/world/most-americans-have-been-wearing-masks-since-spring-the-cdc-says.html
    Not sure why Biden is riding this particular hobby-horse. Maybe because there isn’t really anything else he can propose.

  157. I saw that. What does he think I’m doing now? I wore it going in and out of my office today, and if I saw anyone. I wore it to the dentist until just before getting my filling re-done, I wore it to the barber’s and held it on while removing ear loops one side at a time, I wore it into the local pizza parlor when I was picking up dinner.

    Now Governor Hogan is on TV in ads (in this market) saying “just wear the damn mask.” I’ve been wearing it for 9 months!

    And no, I’m not going to wear it outside. That’s most definitely the point where it’s gone from medical device to post-9/11 flag lapel pin.

  158. “I saw that. What does he think I’m doing now?”

    Evidently, he thinks that people have been going maskless for months, but will start wearing one on January 20. After all, the head of the CDC said that masks are more effective than a vaccine.

    “And no, I’m not going to wear it outside. That’s most definitely the point where it’s gone from medical device to post-9/11 flag lapel pin.”

    Me neither. It comes off as I’m walking out of the building.

  159. And consider that 100 days after the inauguration will be mid-April, when COVID cases will be in their seasonal decline. Biden can then take credit — his mask mandate caused the cases to drop! Science!

  160. We don’t need mask mandates, just prayer and fasting.

    The Rev. Marlin Lavanhar has spent months praying with his Tulsa congregation for the victims of covid-19. Tuning in to socially distant Sunday services on Facebook, Zoom and Roku, he says, members share the names of sick people for whom they want to light candles — and donate to a collection for all those going hungry as jobs disappear.

    So Lavanhar was unimpressed when Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) declared Thursday a “day of prayer and fasting” for those affected by the pandemic. Lavanhar says he wants action, starting with a statewide mask mandate.

    “In fact, this Thursday, many of us are going to be praying that our governor will see the light of listening to our scientists and our doctors and the experts who are telling us that it is overwhelmingly proven that wearing masks saves lives,” the 52-year-old senior minister said in a video message posted to Facebook.

    As for the call to fast — it “seems kind of tone deaf,” Lavanhar told The Washington Post on Thursday. “There are a lot of people who are fasting right now in Oklahoma, not by choice.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/12/03/kevin-stitt-day-of-prayer/

  161. There is actually more evidence that prayer heals illness than that mask mandates slow the spread of the virus.

  162. Today, I particularly need to pray because I find myself flagging in the cheer leader role. I have to give the seniors hope and the teens encouragement to Keep Calm and Carry On. Thankfully winter doesn’t last too long here. Psychologically it’s the hardest part of the year.

  163. Louise, I often find that kind of “eh” winter worse than weather that’s extreme enough for people to get out and do different activities or for indoor facilities to be built. Asking people in Tampa what to do with my kid in the winter, I was amazed that there really wasn’t much besides “wait for spring” Hang in there!

  164. Rhett, remember a couple of years ago when I had a rage explosion on this page, and you repeatedly told me “Stop, stop, stop!”? Well, you were right, and I’m returning the favor. Just skip over her posts.

  165. Louise, totebaggers are here to help keep your spirits up. You have a challenging situation.

    “I’ve been thinking about ways to market the vaccine to Black Americans. Anecdotally, none of the Black Americans I’ve spoken to (a handful) want to take the vaccine or they don’t want to take it until some period of time has passed after other people have taken it and have had no adverse results. They tell me this view is true in their circles as well.”

    Anecdotally within the last couple of weeks at two doctors’ offices both doctors (white) have told me they’re very eager to take the vaccine and both nurses (black) have told me they don’t trust it.

    “OTOH, it’s not known at this time whether the vaccines prevent people from becoming contagious.”

    Yikes I just saw this.

    Pfizer chairman: We’re not sure if someone can transmit virus after vaccination

    https://thehill.com/news-by-subject/healthcare/528619-pfizer-chairman-were-not-sure-if-someone-can-transmit-virus-after

  166. Louise, You should consider taking care of yourself and your mental health first. Maybe take a week off of being the family’s leader and assign the role to your kids? Spend the week doing only things that YOU want to do. The kids are old enough to be their own cheerleaders for a few days, and so are the elders. To state the obvious, your DH can help, too.

    I’ve said a prayer for you this morning, and send you a hug.

  167. On Black people and the vaccine, Pew did a study recently, and there are tons of articles on distrust of the vaccine and not wanting to be lab rats, not just for Covid, but for flu vaxes in recent years too. This one is interesting because it goes on to stake out things the medical community can do to increase Black communities’ trust. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2030033 This one suggests other ways of prioritizing https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.vox.com/platform/amp/future-perfect/2020/10/2/21493933/covid-19-vaccine-black-latino-priority-access

  168. I work with a guy from Maine, and I think it’s the rural remote part. He says you need to have outdoor activities and force yourself to do them regularly. Snowshoeing, skiing, splitting wood, whatever. But if you don’t, that’s when people turn to the bottle and have problems.

  169. There is a lot we don’t know about the vaccine.
    Because the general public has seen nothing but short press releases.
    There is no actual data.

  170. WCE, Jay Leno, Harrison Ford and Tom Hanks are the only people on your list that I think wouldn’t get conservatives’ teeth grinding.

  171. “Anecdotally within the last couple of weeks at two doctors’ offices both doctors (white) have told me they’re very eager to take the vaccine and both nurses (black) have told me they don’t trust it.”

    Every doctor I know is eagerly looking forward to the vaccine. Nurses are much more divided. It is the same for flu shots. I know many nurses who refuse to get them.

  172. Scarlett,

    People sense it and that’s why they stay away. That’s why you’re so lonely and miserable.

  173. The mayor of Austin joins the long list of Democratic politicians who have blatantly disregarded their own “stay at home” warnings:

    “In early November, as health officials warned of a impending COVID-19 spike, Austin Mayor Steve Adler hosted an outdoor wedding and reception with 20 guests for his daughter at a trendy hotel near downtown.
    The next morning, Adler and seven other wedding attendees boarded a private jet bound for Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where they vacationed for a week at a family timeshare.
    One night into the trip, Adler addressed Austin residents in a Facebook video: “We need to stay home if you can. This is not the time to relax. We are going to be looking really closely. … We may have to close things down if we are not careful.” https://www.statesman.com/story/news/coronavirus/2020/12/02/austin-mayor-stressed-residents-lsquoneed-to-stay-homersquo-he-was-vacationing-in-cabo-at-time/115087704/

    It’s not just that they are all hypocrites — which they are — but they know perfectly well that they’re not actually in any serious danger from hosting events or traveling out of the country. This is all grand pandemic theater. He’s just sorry now that he got caught.

  174. Rhett, dear, take a deep breath and step back. I think you are channeling your anger about this all at one person who doesn’t really have any influence over what is going on. I strongly disagree with Scarlett’s positions, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. Just skip over her stuff and don’t get in to a back and forth with her. It isn’t productive.

  175. “ can’t understand why all these mayors think they won’t get caught”

    That’s what DW and I said.

    Maybe they’re stupid, or maybe they don’t care.

    The other explanation is that there’s only a 10% chance of getting caught, and 10 times the number of public figures are doing whatever they want and getting away with it after lecturing us proles.

    Our new climate czar has six houses and three yachts according to one meme I saw. The numbers are probably wrong, but the theme is correct.

  176. Gov Stitt is not beloved by my Oklahoma people. I got a couple of funny texts from friends telling me I was not exempt just because I’ve moved.

    Agree completely on the idiotic hypocrisy of mayors flouting their own rules.

    Is anyone following the Sidney Powell filings? A couple of lawyers I follow on Twitter are beside themselves on the poor quality of her work. And now Lin and Dan Crenshaw are in some sort of Twitter throw down. We are living in crazy times.

  177. Ok, last plea from me and then I won’t say anything again on this subject. I really think that those of us who believe in the science should stop posting on this page altogether. Please. Engaging in debates with people who don’t only gives a platform for misinformation. It doesn’t change minds, it just allows misinformation to spread further. Please, please, please if I had one wish it would be that people stop discussing COVID-19 and the validity of the science around it/vaccines/masks altogether in this back and forth forum. Each time you engage in an argument about it you are contributing to the harm, even if you think you are not. I direct this at all of us, not just Rhett.

  178. Lark – I don’t think there is one conclusive package of The Science, and I like reading different viewpoints.

    You do whatever you want.

  179. For those with questions about the vaccine trials — you’re in good company. Here’s a post from the blog run by the British Medical Journal*:

    “All these data for the different vaccines are potentially very promising, but none of the phase III trials have been published in peer reviewed journals or analysed by age group, gender and case description (asymptomatic, mild, severe), virus transmissibility after immunisation, or duration of protection.

    As public health professionals, we believe that the results of clinical trials, whether interim or final, should be subject to an appropriate systematic process, and then published in peer-reviewed professional journals. Reporting the covid-19 vaccine trial results in press releases before publication in journals is neither good scientific practice nor does it help to build public trust in vaccines. If trial data for covid-19 candidate vaccines are prematurely announced, this may threaten the integrity and credibility of the trials. This could distort what should be a rigorous peer review process. [7] We believe that data and conclusions should not be released as credible before the scientific community can judge the validity of those claims by assessing a complete account of what was done. [8]”
    https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2020/11/27/covid-19-vaccines-where-are-the-data/

    The authors of this piece go on:

    “There are other relevant questions that the company should discuss, such as the possible impact of carrying out the trial in a limited time. In addition, the authors must present the current understanding of the following:

    estimates of how long after immunisation it takes to be protected
    the estimated duration of protection
    whether vaccination will prevent transmission
    to what extent violations of the cold-chain affect the efficacy of the vaccine
    could there be atypical disease in vaccinated subjects.”

    Many people who aren’t following the vaccine trials very closely have assumed that we have answers to all of these questions. But we don’t. We have press releases.

    There is a reason that people like Fauci and his British counterparts are insisting that the population will still have to live with pandemic theater precautions — potentially, for years. It’s because these vaccines are still in clinical trials, and everyone who lines up for a shot is a subject.

    I hope that these vaccines turn out to be a game-changer for all of us. But based on what we know at the moment, it is completely unscientific to insist that Science has spoken and that those who are hesitant to get the vaccine are a bunch of anti-vaxxing nuts.

    *A right-wing dog-whistling publication.

  180. My feeling on this whole thing is that a lot of people in crisis situations are very eager to believe that we have more control over the situation than we do. The possibility that masks are not all that effective is terrifying, so they lash out. Even if the people raising the objections are begrudging wearing them masks as currently required.

    The same human need for a sense of control is what drives other people to immediately blame parents who lose children to tragedies like hot cars.

  181. “I really think that those of us who believe in the science should stop posting on this page altogether. Please. Engaging in debates with people who don’t only gives a platform for misinformation. It doesn’t change minds, it just allows misinformation to spread further. Please, please, please if I had one wish it would be that people stop discussing COVID-19 and the validity of the science around it/vaccines/masks altogether in this back and forth forum. Each time you engage in an argument about it you are contributing to the harm, even if you think you are not. I direct this at all of us, not just Rhett.”

    This is not how actual scientists work. They don’t try to shut down debate by accusing those who question their assertions of spreading misinformation. They don’t pretend that they have a monopoly on the truth.

  182. “The possibility that masks are not all that effective is terrifying, so they lash out.”

    Nah. They don’t work perfectly but they do help. In a pandemic where our hospital resources are getting overwhelmed and our HCW are breaking down, everyone should be wearing them as much as they can when they are near people outside of their household. We need all the help we can get as we approach 3,000 deaths a day.

  183. “This is not how actual scientists work. They don’t try to shut down debate by accusing those who question their assertions of spreading misinformation. They don’t pretend that they have a monopoly on the truth.”

    But this isn’t a group of scientists. It is a group that has more than one member who believes in conspiracy theories. So, the debate is pretty useless. And with that, I am going to take Lark’s advice and stop posting about the pandemic and response.

  184. “The possibility that masks are not all that effective is terrifying, so they lash out.”

    ITA.
    And as it becomes increasingly obvious that a vaccine is NOT going to return us to normality any time soon, they will lash out all the more and insist that IF ONLY everyone had just followed their rules, things would be different.
    And…they won’t have Trump to kick around anymore.

  185. Science, isn’t a guru on a hill that can dispense answer to us. It’s a process – a messy process – that often just tells us what the answer aren’t. I’ve mentioned here that I’m pretty sceptical of the rushed vaccines, but I also desperately want them to work. I am also sceptical about masks being effective, but wear them everywhere I’m supposed to. We’re doing enough to crush flu numbers, but covid cases are surging in my area. I lurk on Medscape, and the commentary there doesn’t reflect much in way of consensus.

  186. “I’m pretty sceptical of the rushed vaccines, but I also desperately want them to work. ”

    A company I’m affiliated with develops medical technology (trying to stay vague), and so I follow the vaccine trials and see more details than most. I have full confidence in the scientific rigor of the trials. I do not think corners were cut. Remember that development of medicine in this country was (and still is) a long, expensive, bloated process. Cutting some of the fat, so to speak, is not effecting the outcome, from what I can tell.

  187. “Please, please, please if I had one wish it would be that people stop discussing COVID-19 and the validity of the science around it/vaccines/masks altogether in this back and forth forum.”

    I agree that this whole back and forth is tiresome. I would love to move on to different political topics.

  188. I’m totally on board with no more COVID discussion. I don’t think there is any value in discussing it further.

  189. There is actually more evidence that prayer heals illness than that mask mandates slow the spread of the virus.

    Show me the data that prayer heals COVID.

  190. Besides no more Covid, I’d also suggest no more “teams” as in “they’re on our side” or “you guys always”. It’s more interesting and less aggravating to stay focused on the issues. Pointing out a connection someone has to a question is fine, I mean the more general kind of broad brush just ‘cause.

  191. So I know that folks don’t want to discuss Covid anymore but have you seen all the news where Dr. Fauci called into question UK approval process and now has walked that back? He has really gotten an Eau de Dr. Oz vibe for me as the months have progressed.

  192. Several weeks ago, Rhett assured me that Sweden’s case surge would lead to a surge in deaths.
    It didn’t. Deaths peaked around November 24 at 51, then headed downward to about 18 today.

    Every.single.time this prediction has been made, it’s been (thankfully) wrong.
    Just pointing this out as a public service to those who are concerned about misinformation on this page.
    (Also, closer to home, Wisconsin’s field hospital (capacity 500+) has treated 136 patients since it opened (to great media fanfare) on October 14. Today, there are 9 patients in that facility, down from a peak of 23 on November 17.)

  193. “Fauci had told CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett in an interview for this week’s episode of “The Takeout” podcast, that British regulators failed to adequately scrutinize data from drug manufacturers before approving a vaccine.
    “They kind of ran around the corner of the marathon and joined it in the last mile,” Fauci told Garrett. “They really rushed through that approval.” Fauci, however, apologized for his remarks later the same day, and further retreated from them during an interview with “Today” on Friday.
    On Friday, Fauci told Savannah Guthrie on NBC News’ “Today” show that his criticism of the U.K. process was purely reactionary. “I felt badly that it came across that way,” he said. “The reason it did it was just one of those things where I sat down in front of the TV with a British TV station. And the first thing they said was, ‘ahh we beat you guys. We beat the Americans to the punch.’ And I kind of reacted back at him, when I think I probably should not have done.” https://www.cbsnews.com/news/fauci-covid-19-vaccine-uk-walks-back-rushed-approval/

    But he’s following the science, so we need to listen to him.

    In fact, to quote the good doctor himself, “now is the time to do what you’re told.”

  194. My SIL is in a hospital setting in the U.K. and has been managing through Covid since the beginning. She was definitely worried at the beginning of the crisis but now has a lot of confidence in the protocols developed to manage Covid patients. She has consistently tested negative all through the crisis and is vary of taking the Astra Zeneca vaccine because of the potential side effects. Her family has already been exposed to Covid, they developed mild symptoms and recovered. I don’t know her thoughts on the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. I was surprised that the U.K. approved the Pfizer vaccine because they are generally more cautious and are not quick to recommend medications.

  195. Louise, The Economist had a good summary of the concerns about the Astra Zeneca vaccine, see “immunity to the vector” in the third paragraph pasted below, full article at link.

    “The consortium’s claim of 70% efficacy is, however, complicated by concerns about a slip-up during the trials which meant some participants were given only a half-dose of the vaccine to start with, followed by a full one. Intriguingly, the efficacy of this approach seemed to be about 90%. But if that is confirmed as correct, it follows that the efficacy of the intended protocol is actually only 62%. Further complications are that the half-dose group was a small fraction of the total, making statistical analysis less robust, and that group members were under 55, rather than fully representative of the population.

    Why a lower initial dose might yield a stronger response is puzzling. The answer may lie in how the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine delivers genetic material from the coronavirus into the recipient’s body, in order to stimulate that person’s immune system. It uses what is known as a viral vector to carry this material, a substance called rna that is a cousin of dna. The other two vaccines deliver rna as a “naked” molecule, wrapped up in a fatty bubble.

    Before the trials began, some researchers had worried that going down the viral-vector route might cause people to develop immunity to the vector as well as to the coronavirus proteins which the rna payload would encourage that person’s cells to make. The findings from the accidental subgroup hint that anti-vector immunity may, indeed, be happening, causing a large first dose to prime the body to develop antibodies to the vector. These would then attack the second-dose vectors before they could do their job. A smaller first dose might diminish this priming effect—explaining the better efficacy of unequal doses. The researchers expect to gather more information about the nature of the immune response in the weeks ahead.”

    https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2020/11/23/another-covid-19-vaccine-joins-the-party

  196. @TLC that video you posted a link to does show what you and others think it shows. At least look into things before you spread it. In case you didn’t know Sterling is the voting system implementer for Georgia’s Secretary of State.

  197. Vox?
    That’s a left wing site.
    Try the Annals of Internal Medicine report on the Danish RCT mask study.
    Then explain why Illinois with widespread mask mandates has more hospitalizations per capita than its neighbors.
    The Kansas mask “study” has already been debunked. I could post the data if you like. Let me know.
    Then there is LA and the Bay Area in CA, where masks have been required since spring but where cases are surging.

  198. The Top 10 counties in the US by population had all mandated masks by June 19th, nearly 6 months ago

    On that date, the 7-day avg. of cases in those counties was 120 per million. On 12/3, it was 476, a 297% increase

    Mask mandates don’t work. The data are clear. But instead of admitting this truth, the CDC is doubling down and urging us to wear masks at home. Incredible.

  199. My experience with mask mandates is that tons of people refuse to wear them. So I agree that mask mandates don’t work because they are unenforceable, but I don’t equate that with masks not working. Oklahoma is having a terrible outbreak that has been going on for months, and I was stunned by the number of people I saw who were not wearing masks, because apparently requirements for shoes and shirts and appropriate work clothing and seatbelts and speed limits and not driving drunk and trash disposal and lawn maintenance and whatever else are all fine, but a mask for a few months so you don’t make people around you sick is just a bridge too f*cking far. The CDC urging people to wear masks at home may sound silly to you, but my favorite of DH’s cousins is a 70 yr old who lives with her daughter who is a teacher, and after 10 days in ICU with no improvement, they are putting her on a ventilator tonight. Her daughter was hospitalized first, but was released after 8 days. Wearing masks in their home might have kept her from getting sick long enough to make it to the vaccine. I know – one anecdote is not significant because most people don’t die. But every single one of those almost 300,000 people who died is a loss that is felt by people who loved them, and the stories are significant to them.

  200. “I am also sceptical about masks being effective, but wear them everywhere I’m supposed to.”

    This is, IMO, rational, logical behavior.

    I’m also not sure of the effectiveness of masks, but find good reason to believe that they could be effective in reducing the spread of infection. I find the downside of wearing masks to be some discomfort and a very small amount of additional laundry.

    So my cost/benefit analysis is that the potential benefit of reducing spread to far outweigh the small downside, and I wear masks.

  201. “Wearing masks in their home might have kept her from getting sick long enough to make it to the vaccine.”

    Or perhaps more likely, it might have prevented her from getting sick enough to require intubation.

  202. In one of my doctor Fb groups, someone in the southwest was begging for a ECMO bed for a 40isb year old with COVID. They had called every hospital they could think of, but could not find one. Someone volunteered the name of a place in Missouri where someone had just died on ECMO and thought there might be hope.

    I’ve never seen people horse trade ECMO beds. In the upper Midwest, they are crowdsourcing ICU beds

  203. Respiratory viruses have been always with us. They are responsible for tens of thousands of deaths each year in the US alone. We don’t actually know how many, because states and the CDC provide only wide ranges with estimates of infections and deaths. Imagine if CNN and the NYT reported the running total of flu deaths — including the deaths of previously healthy children and young adults — each and every winter.

    There is a reason why governments haven’t imposed mask mandates, social distancing, and isolation during every flu season, and why they have *never* been part of pandemic planning guidelines.* These measures significantly decrease our quality of life, and they are not actually enforceable if large numbers of people choose not to comply (I’m not seeing that here, yet, and this is a very red state).

    And they don’t work. We can see this truth in the daily case and death reports all over the world. Despite months of mandatory mask-wearing in every possible indoor space (those that are still open, of course), and social distancing measures up the wazoo, the virus is continuing to infect people. Some of those people, like a doctor friend recently testing positive, were wearing TWO masks at work. A very small number of them, mostly the old and frail, will die, just as 7000 people reliably die each day in this country. All deaths are sad, but not all are unexpected, nor are they all preventable. We used to accept those truths, but now it seems that we don’t. Every single COVID death is an affront, and it is someone’s fault — either the patient was careless, or other people were selfish. But it was someone’s fault, probably someone who wouldn’t just wear the damn mask.

    * http://www.upmc-biosecurity.org/website/resources/publications/2006/2006-09-15-diseasemitigationcontrolpandemicflu.html

  204. “ My experience with mask mandates is that tons of people refuse to wear them.”

    I believe you. I’m just surprised because that’s not been my observation at all. Initially, yes, like maybe the first month or two, max. But not since then.

    Certainly I see plenty of people in restaurants who aren’t wearing masks at their table, but that’s permissible, as we all know. COVID spreads in churches, not in restaurants.

    (That last part was sarcasm, obv. Inspired by Gorsuch. The rest was not.)

  205. Scarlett – a possibility I’ve been considering is that, because “viral load” seems to possibly be one of the many factors that determines the ultimate severity of infection, is that masks, which may not work all that well at minimizing transmission rates, may still be reducing the “viral load” when people are infected. And that could be one of the factors contributing to lower mortality rates.

    My brother is a public health physician, and he thought this theory was entirely plausible. At least he did when we were on his boat last summer. Still, despite his credentials, he has no particular experience studying masks and virus transmissions, so it’s just an example that a reasonably educated person thinks it’s a reasonable guess.

  206. Becky nailed it. Mask mandates are not the same as people wearing masks. If people flaut the mandate and refuse to wear masks, then you see that the particular mandate didn’t work, but don’t know any more about the effectiveness of mask-wearing (or of other, more enforceable, mandates)

    Scarlett, when people take sides like that, dismissing a publication because of its political bent, it tells me that they have no response to the argument made. Did you even read the Vox article you sniffed at?

  207. Milo,
    I have a physician friend working for The Agency who did a special program in infectious diseases at NIH. She has a similar theory and knows a lot more about this stuff than I do. However, to counter that theory — this week, fully 46% of COVID deaths were in nursing home patients (per CDC and CMS data). At this point, every single person who sets foot in those facilities is being screened (to some extent) AND wearing a mask. IMO, bad COVID outcomes have far more to do with the overall health of the person infected (including age, comorbidities, and pre-existing immunities) than the issue whether the person who infected them was wearing a mask.

    If you look at the age stratification of COVID mortality, it perfectly mirrors the age stratification of all-cause mortality, with the exception of children under 1.

  208. WCE, if I were still teaching bioethics, that would be a fabulous case to study. What are the arguments on each side? What reasoning is being used? What values are we prioritizing one way or the other?

  209. I think she makes a very compelling case, personally.

    “At an earlier ACIP meeting, Talbot warned that vaccinating this population at the start of the vaccine rollout is risky, because long-term care residents have a high rate of medical events that could be confused as side effects of vaccination and undermine confidence in the vaccines. “And I think you’re going to have a very striking backlash of, ‘My grandmother got the vaccine and she passed away,’” she said at the time.”

  210. “And the chances of something like a stroke or even death happening in the 30, 60, or whatever days after vaccination is so much higher among long-term care residents …

    “[Talbot nods vigorously.]

    “Here’s the deal. All of the events are going to be temporally associated. But how do you explain that to the nurse’s aide who’s been taking care of that patient and loves her like her own grandmother? Who then decides that she’s not going to get vaccinated and tells everyone else not to get vaccinated?”

    That’s some realpolitik for you. As I say, compelling argument.

  211. Here is a chart on the age stratification of COVID and non-COVID deaths, from one of the best apolitical sources for COVID data. The twitter handle is based on this quote from CS Lewis:

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

  212. As people have pointed out to you ten thousand times, if you want to risk your own life, go ahead. The reason there is any argument at all for masks is to protect others.

    In kindergarten they teach that the right to swing your arm ends where the other person’s arm begins. That’s the argument that’s being made here.

    But you know that.

  213. My observation is that people are wearing masks but some people have their noses popping out. Store employees are working in close confines with their co workers and many times if they have no customer contact the mask slides, or they are on break, in extremely close contact with their coworkers unmasked.
    The medical office employees however follow protocol closely and are better at taking precautions. In my area stores are busy, not packed but there is a steady stream of masked customers. I don’t see much change in individual behavior except that with colder weather people are indoors more.

  214. “In kindergarten they teach that the right to swing your arm ends where the other person’s arm begins. That’s the argument that’s being made here.”

    Yes, but there are other harms than contracting Covid. Two kids have suicided in the region in the last week. One of the them was eleven years old and killed himself on his zoom class meeting.

    If the mask mandates and the shutdowns worked, the virus would be under control. But its not. And the shutdowns are causing immense, unfixable harm.

  215. I’ve spent a lot of time in medical facilities and at my dad’s senior community over the past six weeks. The seniors are having a very hard time with masks. Constantly pulling them down in order to make themselves understood or stop their glasses from fogging up. There are only so many times that one can remind them of mask protocol. Ditto for the receptionist behind plexiglass who can’t be heard by the hard of hearing patient trying to schedule an appointment. They both end up pulling the masks down.
    The housecleaning staff and others doing hard physical jobs have difficulty keeping a mask in place during their work.
    It is what it is. Most people are trying.

  216. If masks worn by nursing home staffers (however imperfectly) actually worked to reduce viral load and minimize symptom severity in the patients who were infected by those staffers, wouldn’t one expect to see a decline in nursing home deaths? Especially considering that some of their most vulnerable residents have already perished?

  217. Decline since when? Haven’t they been wearing them since “the beginning “?

    I do think there are so many variables, known and unknown, that it’s very difficult to know right now what’s helping and what’s not.

  218. Milo, yeah, I’ve commented recently on Rhett’s habit of week but everything as “us” vs “them” and trying to keep his team in formation. I’d really rather avoid that whole thing and focus on the ideas.

  219. “ If you look at the age stratification of COVID mortality, it perfectly mirrors the age stratification of all-cause mortality, with the exception of children under 1.”

    Is there an argument there? I assume that if we were looking at deaths in an area where a storm knocked out lower for weeks or in a plane crash or anything else, people’s age and underlying health would influence whether they survived or not. Why do you expect Covid to be any different?

  220. In case anyone is interested in a substantive discussion about the Wisconsin field hospital. https://www.channel3000.com/as-hospitalizations-rise-doctors-struggle-to-admit-patients-to-wisconsins-field-hospital/

    In short, it appears that hospitals are supposed to transfer away their convalescing patients – patients are unwilling to go, and I suspect that hospitals do not see benefit in getting rid of their stable patients only to open a bed together forced to take an unstable transfer from rural South Dakota.

  221. @Milo – my parents are telling me that no one in their community wears masks – at the grocery store, at the library, anywhere. I think there’s more regional variation than it might appear.

  222. The Wisconsin field hospital was a huge waste of money.
    If the medical authorities didn’t foresee that patients would decline to be shipped there, well what can you do. They are the experts after all.

  223. Cassandra, I agree that the shutdown has caused a ton of bad consequences.

    We don’t have a comparison class for groups correctly wearing masks and not wearing masks. It’s all too uncontrolled out in the wild.

    I am going to make a gif of this: Mask mandates != masks.

    Mask mandates are government orders. Masks are paper or cloth face coverings.

    Has the overall suicide rate gone up? The boy who died is very tragic. Has the overall suicide rate gone up? How much?

    Again: I 100% agree that there have been horrible consequences to the shutdown. No, really! I agree! I’ve seen some of it — people who have lost their jobs and burned through their savings and are living close to the edge. I’m not oblivious to it.

    Please don’t go on about how your son isn’t learning anything; your school is evil and none of your children learned anything in it. You’ve made that very clear. It’s a bit crying wolf, actually; if your reports about your school were truly accurate, your kids not only wouldn’t be in college, they’d be entirely illiterate and innumerate. They are not. But your school is evil and your son wouldn’t have learned anything anyway, even in person. You know that.

    It will be a minimum of 10 years before anyone has any perspective about how we should have handled this.

  224. If the mask mandates and the shutdowns worked, the virus would be under control.

    You actually think that? That’s the kind of logic you apply to decisions in your own life?

    Do you have fans like they do in Napa in case of frost? If you turn the fans on for the night and 5% of the crop is damaged do you say the fans didn’t work? Wouldn’t the proper question be how many would be how much crop damaged would occur if you didn’t use the fans?

  225. We will know next year that the school closings were a huge unforced error. That is clear
    We will also start getting data next year on excess cancer deaths.
    Suicides, child abuse, overdoses will also manifest soon.
    It’s not going to take 10 years
    But it will take eternity for public health experts to admit that they were wrong.

  226. If the mask mandates and the shutdowns worked, the virus would be under control.

    There wasn’t anywhere near full compliance. It’s like saying flu shots don’t work because people who don’t get them still get the flu.

  227. And in terms of making progress in the discussion. Here is what I perceive. Folks here keep saying shutdowns didn’t work to slow the spread. So I say shutting this down didn’t slow spread:

    And I get a grudging, “Yeh, I guess that helped.”

    And then the following week I again get, “Shutdowns didn’t help.”

    What exactly is going on?

  228. Scarlett’s theory is this didn’t help and those who advocated shutting these events down were wrong.

    What do you figure the chances are that she’s wrong? Keeping in mind she’s already admitted these bans worked. But she admits it and then the following week she again pretends she never agreed that they worked.

  229. Finn offered an interesting observation the other day. He remembers what he says but the responses he gets are either ignored or forgotten. At least in some instances. Is that what’s going on here? It’s not a active it’s just a goldfish like memory situation and the discussions get wiped every week from memory.

    It almost like talking to my neighbor with dementia. “That’s a cute a cute dog. How old is he?” “He’s 9.”Get the mail and see him in the elevator 5 min later. “That’s a cute dog. How old is her”

    Are our discussions stalling out due to some kind of age related cognitive decline? We are all getting older after all.

    Or is that how people always are?

  230. Friendly reminder. There are nearly no extreme shutdowns in the US. If you live in a state that has a severe shutdown, then it might be helpful to complain about that, but not about overall public health recommendations. Where I live and lots and lots of other states, restaurants are open, people are going to outdoor sporting events and kids can choose between virtual or F2F school. Kids are playing basketball and baseball (indoor now) without masks. Interestingly, many small businesses are still struggling…..not because of the shutdown but because people are still trying to limit public interactions because the cases, hospitalizations and deaths are at record levels.

    This week, my DH was told not to come to the hospital lab for his monthly bloodwork because he’s immunosuppresed. They are sending someone to our home.

  231. And I don’t understand why they’re closing outdoor playgrounds. What else are you supposed to do when your kids are bouncing off the walls? The playgrounds are OUTDOORS. It’s not super-spreader territory.

  232. I concur with RMS about the playground shutdowns. Here, the soccer league my sons were in closed permanently because for a long time, children weren’t allowed to play soccer with masks.

    Mask quote:
    “Whether or not they work indoors with prolonged contact among adults is one thing, but they surely do nothing if children are outdoors playing in the rain. And yet, the state of Washington has mandated that youth sports wear masks when playing outside in the Seattle winter at all times. No one would even do a randomized trial of this strategy, as it is openly foolish. The moment the mask gets wet, it’s useless and that is just one of the problems. Let us save our breath for the recommendations that matter.

    from
    https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache%3Avp189XS_iz0J%3Ahttps%3A%2F%2Fwww.medpagetoday.com%2Fblogs%2Fvinay-prasad%2F89778%20&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&fbclid=IwAR2UgkchH1OjauRabAoUscKwYMRAyGkleGjLsNaHq6jbdRpoaximCGmeWAY

  233. Rocky, that article explains why they chose Jena very clearly—I think it would be interesting for anyone who is actually interested in whether masks work. I didn’t read super-carefully all the way through, but it sounds as if they are assuming that people started wearing masks as soon as they were mandated. I think that’s probably true for Jena, and for Germany in general.

    Berlin is generally in resistence to everything, but even here, when mask mandates started, there was no messing around. I didn’t understand the videos from the US of people demanding to check out of stores with no masks on. Here, security guards were posted by the doors to make sure only the specified number of patrons were in the store at a time, and that no one entered without a mask. People were stopped and fined for using public transit without one.

    My son and I were just speaking about the coming month. I expect there will be nearly the usual size throngs on the streets for New Year’s Eve; he thinks police will stop that, but I don’t think that’s possible—other states usually send cops to deal with demonstrators, but on NYE, they are needed in their own cities. The Strasse des 17. Juni is usually shut down for a mile that night. This year, the event is canceled, but a group has filed a petition for a demonstration there. It’s been denied, but really, I don’t see how there are enough phalanxes of cops to stop it.

    So it probably is ok to conflate mask mandates and mask-wearing for Jena and the rest of Germany for most of this year, but I don’t think that will be true on NYE. And just like the study of Jena (by people from other universities, btw) shows masks are effective, I bet NYE here will show what happens when people don’t give a damn and party like it’s 1999.

  234. OMG!!!! I am so angry about playgrounds. They only closed them here for a couple weeks before they realized people needed them, but they are killing mine. At one, where I used the monkey bars for my pull-ups, they chopped those down. After Mr Performer Man got on me because “YOU QUIT” the pull-ups, I moved my workouts to another playground. The bars are still there, but there was also a set a parallel bars that they’ve ruined—they took one of them out, so there is just one bar left. I don’t understand. Wasn’t like there were throngs of people crowding around to work their abs and triceps anyway. Why’d they have to take the bar? When I go to the playground now, there are usually a couple of kids with parents, playing separately. I’m not sure how much of that is due to Covid and how much is because it’s winter.

  235. Perhaps “extreme shutdown” is a subjective term, but here is what is closed in Los Angeles:

    Schools
    Playgrounds
    “Indoor” churches
    Both indoor and outdoor restaurant dining
    Hair salons
    Public libraries
    Indoor gyms, fitness facilities, and pools
    Gatherings, indoors or outdoors, with ANYONE outside your household

    In other words, just about everything that makes life worth living is off limits.

  236. “No one would even do a randomized trial of this strategy, as it is openly foolish.”

    Ok, you all know my response.

  237. Our playgrounds are open and busy. Just drove by one the other day. Soccer is running, my kid did cross country, and now is back to fencing practice (they have this space where they can open entire full walls to the outside, so they are kind of outside with a roof over them) and I can go to the store anytime I want. The HS and MS went full remote but that was mainly due to staffing shortages because so many teachers had direct exposure to cases among the students. They are going back face to face next week – I kind of wish they wouldn’t so close to Christmas. Overall, I would say our measures are not extreme in the least.

  238. “Yes, but there are other harms than contracting Covid. Two kids have suicided in the region in the last week.”

    You think mask mandates led to those suicides?

    I look at widespread mask usage as a way to facilitate more F2F human interaction relative to what would be possible for given amounts of bad outcomes. I.e., I see widespread mask usage as a way to combat some of the pandemic impacts that lead to suicides.

  239. “In other words, just about everything that makes life worth living is off limits.”

    Ice cream is off limits?

  240. Our hair salons and gyms are open. You wouldn’t catch me inside a gym with a ten foot pole, although I am dutifully paying my gym membership because I don’t want them to go under.
    Curiously, our HS sent out a notice that they are reopening their indoor gym and mandating that kids use it it for PE, because the module they are doing this month is “weight training”. I am not happy and wish my kid could go remote at this point. I think indoor gyms are really dangerous and do not want to get COVID or even have to quarantine during Christmas because my kid got exposed in the silly school weight training room.

  241. “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.”

    This statement appears to leave open the possibility that it also many not be the most oppressive.

  242. The 3-week stay at home order will start for So Cal this Sunday at midnight. There was panic buying at Costco today. Every other shopping cart had either toilet paper or paper towels.

  243. “Every other shopping cart had either toilet paper or paper towels.”

    On my last trip to Costco, I saw a couple of pallets of Toto Washlets. A quick check of the Home Depot website shows a bunch of bidet options available now.

    A quick check of the Kula Cloth website shows some designs are still available.

    I.e., there are TP alternatives.

  244. Scarlett, that’s what makes life worth living for you? No wonder we don’t see eye to eye!

    Related to the list you posted: My hair looks like I wandered in from a 1970s rave. I was really thinking my friend and I could get together by now, but maybe it’s best we can’t because I don’t have a pool to get in shape for him.

    Things that bring me joy/make life worth living:
    I go for long, meandering walks around my city, holding my breath when I pass 1 or 2 people, putting on a mask for more, and post pix on IG of what from my walks makes me happy. My son and I giggle at such absurd things I can’t post them. My parents sent a cute pic of them in the soft yarn jackets I ordered for them because I was worried about their first cold winter in years, and my mom says she wore hers literally every day for a week after she got it. I’m reading a good book and talking with two friends about joint projects. I work out at the playground & let little kids use my suspension gear or I use bottles of water in fabric totebags or bodyweight exercises to work out at home. I chat with friends online. I’m getting back to cooking like I used to, and my son is starting to eat a wider variety. We’ve started Christmas baking. Life is worth living.

    I read the entire post about what’s not permitted in LA being everything that makes life worth living to my son, who is more succinct than I. Here is what he said:
    Pffft Read a book; cook something; bake something; watch a movie; do some exercises. If your life depends on not being at home, I think you have a problem. Do something; don’t just sit around whining.

  245. Scarlett,

    You live in LA? And to think I thought you lived where Golden Corral was considered fine dining. My apologies.

  246. “You wouldn’t catch me inside a gym with a ten foot pole, although I am dutifully paying my gym membership because I don’t want them to go under.”

    Ditto.

    I bought and installed a chinning bar, and dug up and started using a Bowflex we had buried under a bunch of stuff, but that’s far from the workouts I used to do.

    I’m hoping our local rec center, which is allowing use of part of the fitness center under very limited conditions, will extend that to the resistance equipment. Perhaps something on the order of half an hour at a time, with only members of a single household, with a 15 minute gap between households, with all windows open. There are a lot of windows, and usually a good breeze, so ventilation is usually good.

  247. Ok, you all know my response.

    Based on your previous comment to me… do we know that? You’re assuming she remembers like I assumed you remembered.

  248. Hey, Rhett, that reminds me. Years ago I became convinced that payday loans were a necessary evil. I said that here. You argued against it. A year or two later the subject came up again and all I could remember is that I think payday loans are a necessary evil. Then you and Milo said, “No, we talked you out of that, remember?” Well, no. I don’t remember at all. I shut up because you both seemed to sincerely believe that. I still don’t remember that or what your arguments were.

  249. Rocky, whaaaaat? I can’t imagine a sound argument for payday loans being a necessary evil. What was yours?

  250. And some of the California stuff is seriously unenforceable.

    ——————————————
    Travel and use of hotels and lodging for tourism and leisure prohibited

    After the first statewide stay-at-home order imposed in the spring, California allowed counties to reopen hotels for tourism and individual travel in June.

    The new regional stay-at-home order, when effective, again prohibits hotel use for tourism, leisure and other nonessential reasons, like nonessential travel, whether it be a vacation or a road trip to see family or friends.

    Specifically, it allows hotel and lodging for essential reasons only, defined as supporting “critical infrastructure sectors,” , including workers in healthcare, food, agriculture, energy, utilities, transportation, communications, government operations, manufacturing, financial services and the entertainment industry.

    The order would prohibit nonessential travel.
    ———————————————-

    So what are the hotels supposed to do other than ask if your travel is essential? And if you say “Yep, sure is” how are they supposed to double-check? These things are all unenforceable; they just rely on good will and voluntary compliance.

  251. Rocky, whaaaaat? I can’t imagine a sound argument for payday loans being a necessary evil. What was yours?

    I was persuaded by two friends who had lived very, very close to the ragged edge of life. Sometimes you have to pay the rent, buy groceries, pay for essential goods and services. No bank will give you a loan. You don’t have a credit card. No family members can help. So consider two scenarios: 1. Payday loans are available; 2. No payday loans are available.

    In scenario 1, you have bought yourself some time, and can pay it back. In both of my friends’ cases, that’s what they did. In scenario 2, you get evicted, go hungry, have the lights turned off, etc. The end.

    They argued strongly that I was being patronizing and paternalistic in deciding which option was best for them. I know that you often feel others are being patronizing and paternalistic when they tell you how to live your life, so perhaps you can understand their perspective.

  252. “Every other shopping cart had either toilet paper or paper towels.”

    Our Costco was completely out of both products for several weeks last month.
    Now I have a small paper products store in my basement.

  253. “a possibility I’ve been considering is that, because “viral load” seems to possibly be one of the many factors that determines the ultimate severity of infection, is that masks, which may not work all that well at minimizing transmission rates, may still be reducing the “viral load” when people are infected. And that could be one of the factors contributing to lower mortality rates.”

    I’ve been considering that factor for many months. I’m glad to see that you are also considering it.

    I should’ve added it in on the benefit side of my cost/benefit analysis, although even without it, IMO the cost side is so small that it’s an easy call even without considering it, jas with direct protection to me from getting infected by others.

  254. I remember that Warren commented on payday loans in her book, but I forgot which side she took.

  255. I still don’t remember that or what your arguments were.

    They did a bunch of studies and there were two takeaways that I can remember.

    1. Rather than make urgent car repair they begged friends, family and co-workers for rides for a few days. They got their next paycheck and got the car fixed and moved forward without needing to roll over those loans forever.

    2. A significant majority of these loans were used at casinos so the lack of access to loans was a huge benefit.

    The loan payday loan industry propaganda had been the loans were only for the most practical urgent situations. And that wasn’t true.

  256. The loan payday loan industry propaganda had been the loans were only for the most practical urgent situations. And that wasn’t true.

    Gotcha. I was very persuaded because I knew these two people personally. That’s a specific kind of bias, of course.

  257. I can see how things are getting difficult for some. But is that COVID related?

    One of my old co-workers was texting me that her husband has been working, working late and playing golf all the time. And she was worried something was up. But that’s been his story for quite a while. It makes no sense under the current circumstance. At this point it’s obvious he’s fucking someone else. But how do you break that to someone?

    So how do you rate that? Would it be better if she didn’t know? Is that divorce a COVID result?

  258. “Kids are playing basketball and baseball (indoor now)”

    Indoor baseball? What kind of facility is that played in? A domed stadium?

  259. “We will know next year that the school closings were a huge unforced error.”

    That’s a pretty broad generalization. We’ve discussed how for many kids, remote learning has been better than their prior experiences with F2F learning.

  260. Obviously on the other hand you have people who are beating the shit out of their kids and the teacher isn’t in a position to call CPS.

    The you have kids who are suicidal from bulling. And being home is the best thing that ever happened. And if home school works they might not have to go back.

    It’s a complex question.

  261. “IMO, bad COVID outcomes have far more to do with the overall health of the person infected (including age, comorbidities, and pre-existing immunities) than the issue whether the person who infected them was wearing a mask.”

    I don’t disagree, but that doesn’t mean that wearing a mask won’t affect the badness of the outcome. As Milo pointed out, if the infecting person was masked, that may well have reduced the viral load and thus the badness of the outcome.

  262. Sure, you need a loan sometimes. But a payday loan isn’t just any loan—it has a gigantic apy that is designed to capture the borrower in an endless game of catch-up. I don’t have it at my fingertips now (it’s nearly midnight—I’m yawning) but I’ve seen data that the borrowers are not high risk enough to justify the rates charged.

  263. Rhett, good arguements on the payday loans. Does your friend want to be told her husband has someone else in the bubble or does she prefer you help her maintain the illusion? As far as divorce rates, don’t you remember this from the beginning of shut-downs?

  264. Rocky, there is no other option because payday lenders are permitted to charge such outrageous rates.

  265. Rocky, there is no other option because payday lenders are permitted to charge such outrageous rates.

    No one will lend to them without charging huge rates because they are bad risks.

    Do you think Wells Fargo would step right up if it weren’t for payday lenders? They would not. They have the option to lend to those folks now, and they don’t. No one does. It’s not worth the risk.

  266. Like I said earlier, it’s too late for me to go dig out those studies about actual risk compared to how much they Jack up the rates now. It’s much earlier where you are. Have at it. I’m going to bed.

  267. I think “rate” is the wrong way to look at the cost of servicing a small ($100-$2000) loan. I suspect there is a high fixed cost to servicing a small loan that makes the “rate” high. Presumably people are using payday lenders because they can’t get credit card companies to lend to them at 18%.

  268. Rocky, I have read studies similar to what you describe with your friends. What I read changed my mind from being vehemently opposed to understanding that in some cases they are a lifeline, and I don’t know enough about living on the edge to understand

  269. RMS,

    From memory the studies resulted from the military banning payday loans. While there was actual need , when they ran the numbers 80% was casino gambling related. Obviously the payday lending industries hammered home the actual need and never mentioned the casinos.

    It would be like saying c. 1906 we can’t ban heroin (available over the counter along with cocaine at every and all pharmacies.). Just because there are people with x painful disease who need it doesn’t mean it should be available to anyone who asks.

  270. To visit Iowa right now is to travel back in time to the early days of the coronavirus pandemic in places such as New York City and Lombardy and Seattle, when the horror was fresh and the sirens never stopped. Sick people are filling up ICUs across the state. Health-care workers like Klein are being pushed to their physical and emotional limits. On the TV in my parents’ house in Burlington, hospital CEOs are begging Iowans to hunker down and please, for the love of God, wear a mask. This sense of new urgency is strange, though, because the pandemic isn’t in its early days. The virus has been raging for eight months in this country; Iowa just hasn’t been acting like it.

    The story of the coronavirus in this state is one of government inaction in the name of freedom and personal responsibility. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has followed President Donald Trump’s lead in downplaying the virus’s seriousness. She never imposed a full stay-at-home order for the state and allowed bars and restaurants to open much earlier than in other places. She imposed a mask mandate for the first time this month—one that health-care professionals consider comically ineffectual—and has questioned the science behind wearing masks at all. Through the month of November, Iowa vacillated between 1,700 and 5,500 cases every day. This week, the state’s test-positivity rate reached 50 percent. Iowa is what happens when a government does basically nothing to stop the spread of a deadly virus.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/12/how-iowa-mishandled-coronavirus-pandemic/617252/

  271. Just got back from the playground—it’s 52 out, so I could do my pull-up workout on the bars. Still love this city. I think we would’ve played outside at this temp when I was little, but I’m not sure. The playground was full of people taking the advice in that video I posted recently, and that Milo’s friend in Maine gave, taking advantage of what daylight there is. Sunset will be at 3:55; at 3:00 there were probably a dozen kids out there climbing and chasing each other. One little boy grumbled at the bucket I was using as a step stool & moved it out of his way to do the monkey bars. When my son was their age, he’d be alone outside in this weather. For a while we had a playroom for him. Other times we had to get creative, like a trip to Lowe’s when he pushed the big cart around and hung from its bars. Even though he stayed in and napped today, he is outside at school most days, and I was glad to hear him grouse about how many little kids writing to Santa wanted a play station or a phone. Clearly, he’s been indoctrinated into “green” time, ahahaaaah.

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