Tag: coronavirus

Masks vs. vaccinations

New York University Prof. Marc Siegel:

President Biden wants 70% of American adults vaccinated against Covid-19 by July 4. It’s an achievable goal but suddenly looks more daunting, even though plenty of doses are available. Demand is slackening now that those most eager for vaccinations have already gotten them.

If Mr. Biden wants to encourage Americans to get the shots, he should change his attitude toward masks. Last week he said wearing masks in public is a “patriotic duty.” He continues to do so, even outdoors, even though he is vaccinated and therefore at almost no risk of either contracting the coronavirus or transmitting it to others. Federal mandates remain in place requiring masks in airports, national parks and public transit, among other places.

Think about the messages that sends: If you get vaccinated, you’ll be afforded virtually no relief from the pandemic’s most persistent burden—the social and legal pressure to cover your face in public—which has lingered for more than a year. If you don’t get vaccinated, society will keep trying to protect you from infection by imposing discomfort on everyone. And the authorities, at least at the federal level, seem to be in no hurry for the pandemic to end.

Meanwhile, it is in the process of ending. Case rates, hospitalizations and deaths are down all across the country. In California, the case rate is 4 per 100,000 with a 1% positive test rate. New York’s numbers are almost as good. A combination of natural and vaccinated immunity—60% of the adult population will have received at least one shot by the end of this week—is bringing this virus to its knees.

A more effective strategy would be to relieve the public of ineffective draconian restrictions. The president should announce that all federal mask mandates will end effective May 28, in time for Memorial Day weekend, and he should encourage states, localities and private institutions to do the same.

This would send a clear message to the vaccine-resistant: It’s your responsibility to protect yourself by getting your shots. The message to everyone: Vaccines work, and it’s time to get back to normal.

 

The panic, one year later

James Freeman:

A year after the World Health Organization declared a Covid pandemic and government health authorities encouraged politicians to order societal shutdowns, America has only begun to pay the staggering cost.

Matthew Impelli writes at Newsweek:

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a professor at Stanford University Medical School, recently said that COVID-19 lockdowns are the “biggest public health mistake we’ve ever made…The harm to people is catastrophic.”

…Bhattacharya, who made the comments during an interview with the Daily Clout, co-authored the Great Barrington Declaration, a petition that calls for the end of COVID-19 lockdowns, claiming that they are “producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health.”

Newsweek shares a more recent email from Dr. Bhattacharya:

We will be counting the catastrophic health and psychological harms, imposed on nearly every poor person on the face of the earth, for a generation.

At the same time, [lockdowns] have not served to control the epidemic in the places where they have been most vigorously imposed. In the US, they have – at best – protected the “non-essential” class from COVID, while exposing the essential working class to the disease. The lockdowns are trickle down epidemiology.

Dr. Bhattacharya and the tens of thousands of other medical practitioners and scientists who signed the declaration have been arguing against lockdowns for months:

The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection.

Adding insult to the injuries caused by politicians who rejected this sensible approach is that the relative risks were largely understood at the dawn of the lockdown era. It was already clear that for most people the virus was not a dire threat. A year ago today, the Journal’s Betsy McKay, Jennifer Calfas and Talal Ansari reported:

Roughly 80% of cases of Covid-19—the illness caused by the novel coronavirus—tend to be mild or moderate, and more than 66,000 people globally have recovered. But those who are older or have underlying health conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease or diabetes, are at a higher risk.

Instead of focusing on the protection of the elderly and those with particular vulnerabilities, credentialed government experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci continued to suggest school closures and broad limits on business activity as appropriate responses in areas where the virus was spreading.

This column’s March 10, 2020, edition warned about the cost of lockdowns and noted:

To this point the coronavirus has taken a heavy toll on the elderly but not so much on kids. Many children may have such mild cases that nobody ever even realizes they’re sick.

This column also suggested that “President Donald Trump should first ask his economic team to estimate the costs and benefits of coronavirus countermeasures” and noted that the “unintended consequences of such interventions are not just financial.”

Pro Publica’s Alec MacGillis writes this week about adolescent mental-health disasters in the small town of Hobbs, N.M. He notes that across the U.S., while the lockdown was catastrophic, the virus was never a huge threat to the young:

The median age for COVID-19 fatalities in the U.S. is about 80. Of the nearly 500,000 deaths in the U.S. analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as of early March, 252 were among those 18 or younger — five hundredths of a percent of the total.

Mr. MacGillis then describes a number of local tragedies in Hobbs, including the story of 11-year-old Landon Fuller, who took his life after riding his bike to a field near his house:

“I think the big question we all have is why, and we will never know the reason why,” his mother, Katrina Fuller, told an Albuquerque TV talk show in July. “The only thing that I was able to find was in his journal, was that he had wrote that he was going mad from staying at home all the time and that he just wanted to be able to go to school and play outside with his friends. So that was the only thing that I can imagine what was going through his head at that time.”

At the same time, shutdowns necessitated massive government spending of borrowed money to offset the loss of normal economic activity. So U.S. children were handed a massive additional debt burden at the same time their ability to generate future income was reduced.

In the last year the United States has added more than $4 trillion in federal debt, and that doesn’t even count the historic Biden spending surge, which kicks off today with his signature on the massive new stimulus plan.

Yet as the country was locking down last spring, Dr. Fauci described the impact on Americans as “inconvenient” and later acknowledged that he did not do cost-benefit analysis and really had no idea what the consequences were for students: “I don’t have a good explanation, or solution to the problem of what happens when you close schools, and it triggers a cascade of events that could have some harmful circumstances.”

In March of last year, Dr. Fauci told National Public Radio that the U.S. “would not have a vaccine available for at least a year to a year and a half—at best.”

Thank goodness he was wrong about that. Dr. Fauci’s other errors have been much more painful for Americans to bear.

I know three people who died from COVID. Freeman’s conclusion is nonetheless absolutely correct. The federal and Wisconsin government’s performance against COVID ranks among the worst government failures in history. Educators say it will take years for children to recover from the lost fourth quarter of last school year. Some people — for instance, those whose businesses were ordered closed because they were “nonessential,” and then their businesses closed for good — will never recover.

 

Fauci to closed schools: Open

The Wisconsin State Journal:

The nation’s top infectious disease expert just urged schools to reopen.
We hope school officials in Madison and across Wisconsin were listening — those who have kept most of their students at home for online learning during the pandemic.

School officials should be ready to open for the second semester in late January, at least for elementary school students. Districts also should share their plans with the public. School officials always can push back their opening dates based on what’s happening in their communities. Not every school and situation is the same.

But Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC’s “This Week” last Sunday that in-person classes should be “the default position.”

The spread of COVID-19 “among children and from children is not really very big at all, not like one would have suspected,” Fauci said. “So let’s try to get the kids back.”

Amen.

The potentially deadly virus is more than a public health threat. It’s a detriment to learning, especially for children whose parents don’t have flexibility with their jobs or the latest technology in their homes to help students with their studies.

Online classes are hurting math scores and widening achievement gaps along racial and economic lines, a nonprofit research group reported last week. The NWEA’s analysis of data from more than 4 million third- through eighth-graders across the country showed student progress is slipping. The researchers also worried their study underestimates the impact on minority and poor students, who have been disproportionately stuck at home for school.

That concern definitely applies to Madison, where more than half of students are of color and nearly half are economically disadvantaged. The district absolutely should figure out how to follow Fauci’s advice.

While gathering students in classrooms presents some risk for infection, leaving them at home contributes to social isolation, abuse, depression and hunger, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. That’s especially true for younger students. Schools can help keep students safe from the virus by isolating them in small groups, separating desks with plexiglass and, for middle and high school students, requiring masks. Parents should still be given an online option.

New York City’s progressive Mayor Bill de Blasio reversed course last week by embracing in-person classes — despite a higher percentage of New York City residents testing positive for COVID. The nation’s largest school district plans to reopen school buildings to many of its youngest students Monday.

“We feel confident that we can keep schools safe,” de Blasio told The Associated Press.

Republicans who control the Wisconsin Assembly want to require schools here to open by late January. We share the Legislature’s urgency. But those decisions should be left to local officials.

State leaders can help ease health concerns among teachers and other school staff by prioritizing them for vaccines, ahead of the general public. Vaccines should start arriving for health professionals and the elderly later this month and expand from there.

Europe has learned that schools are not major sources of transmission of COVID-19, and children there have benefited from in-person instruction. America needs to learn that lesson, too.

That doesn’t mean the virus should be taken lightly. A Madison student at East High School, which has relied on remote learning, died last month after an apparent “COVID-related illness,” according to the district. Cases of COVID-19 in Wisconsin remain high, though they have been falling for the last two weeks.

Schools should prioritize what’s best for children — not what’s best for teachers unions or business interests. And according to Fauci and other health experts, that means opening schools for in-person classes sooner than later.

Who has been pushing schools to keep closed? Teacher unions. Which proves that Gov. Scott Walker didn’t go far enough in Act 10. He should have pushed to eliminate teacher unions.

The state of journalism is reduced to this now

Jeffrey A. Tucker via The Libertarian Republic:

This game of hunt-and-kill Covid cases has reached peak absurdity, especially in media culture.

Take a look at Supermarkets are the most common place to catch Covid, new data reveals. It’s a story on a “study” assembled by Public Health England (PHE) from the NHS Test and Trace App. Here is the conclusion. In the six days of November studied, “of those who tested positive, it was found that 18.3 per cent had visited a supermarket.”

Now, if the alarm bells don’t go off with that one, you didn’t pay attention to 7th grade science. If the app had also included showering, eating, and breathing, it might have found a 100% correlation. Yes, the people who tested positive probably did shop, as do most people. That doesn’t mean that shopping gives you Covid and it certainly doesn’t mean that shopping kills you.

Even if shopping is a way to get Covid, this is a very widespread and mostly mild virus for 99.8% percent of the population with an infection fatality rate as low as 0.05% for those under 70. Competent infectious disease experts have said multiple times that test, track, and isolate strategies are nearly useless for controlling viruses such as this.

This story/study was so poor and so absurd that it was too much even for Isabel Oliver, Director of the National Infection Service at Public Health England. She sent out the following note:

Thank you. One down, a thousand to go.

The New York Times pulled a mighty fast one with this piece: “States That Imposed Few Restrictions Now Have the Worst Outbreaks.” This would be huge news if true because it would imply not only that lockdowns save lives (which no serious study has thus far been able to document) but also that granting people basic freedoms are the reason for bad health outcomes, an astonishing claim on its own.

The piece, put together by two graphic artists and seemingly very science-like, speaks of “outbreaks,” which vaguely sounds terrible: packed with mortality. It’s odd because anyone can look at the data and see that New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Connecticut lead the way with deaths per million, mostly owing to the fatalities in long-term care facilities. These were the states that locked down the hardest and longest. Indeed they are locking down again! Deaths per million in states like South Dakota are still low on the list.

How in the world can the NYT claim that states that did not lock down have the worst outbreaks? The claim hinges entirely on a trivial discovery. Some clever someone discovered that if you reflow data by cases per million instead of deaths per million, you get an opposite result. The reasons: 1) when the Northeast experienced the height of the pandemic, there was very little testing going on, so the “outbreak” was not documented even as deaths grew and grew, 2) by the time the virus reached the Midwest, tests were widely available, 3) the testing mania grew and grew to the point that the non-vulnerable are being tested like crazy, generating high positives in small-population areas.

By focusing on the word “outbreak,” the Times can cleverly obscure the difference between a positive PCR result (including many false positive and perhaps half or more asymptomatic cases) and a severe outcome from catching the virus. In other words, the Times has documented an “outbreak” of mostly non-sick people in low-population areas.

There are hundreds of ways to look at Covid-19 data. The Times picked the one metric – the least valuable one for actually discerning whether and to what extent people are sick – in order to generate the result that they wanted, namely that open states look as bad as possible. The result is a chart that massively misrepresents any existing reality. It makes the worst states look great and the best ones look terrible. The visual alone is constructed to make it looks as if open states are bleeding uncontrollably.

How many readers will even know this? Very few, I suspect. What’s more amazing is that the Times itself already debunked the entire “casedemic” back in September:

Some of the nation’s leading public health experts are raising a new concern in the endless debate over coronavirus testing in the United States: The standard tests are diagnosing huge numbers of people who may be carrying relatively insignificant amounts of the virus.
Most of these people are not likely to be contagious, and identifying them may contribute to bottlenecks that prevent those who are contagious from being found in time….
In three sets of testing data that include cycle thresholds, compiled by officials in Massachusetts, New York and Nevada, up to 90 percent of people testing positive carried barely any virus, a review by The Times found.

All of which makes one wonder what precisely is going on in this relationship between cases and severe outcomes. The Covid Tracking Project generates the following chart. Cases are in blue while deaths are in red.

Despite this story and these data, the graphic artists at the Times got to work generating a highly misleading presentation that leads to one conclusion: more lockdowns.

(My colleague Phil Magness has noted further methodological problems even within the framework that the Times uses but I will let him write about that later.)

Let’s finally deal with Salon’s attack on Great Barrington Declaration co-creator Jayanta Bhattacharya. Here is a piece that made the following claim of the infection fatality rate: “the accepted figure of 2-3 percent or higher.” That’s an astonishing number, and basically nuts: 10 million people will die in the US alone.

Here is what the CDC says concerning the wildly disparate risk factors based on age:

These data are not inconsistent with the World Health Organization’s suggestion that the infection fatality rate for people under 70 years of age is closer to 0.05%.

The article further claims that “herd immunity may not even be possible for COVID-19 given that infection appears to only confer transient immunity.” And yet, the New York Times just wrote that:

How long might immunity to the coronavirus last? Years, maybe even decades, according to a new study — the most hopeful answer yet to a question that has shadowed plans for widespread vaccination.

Eight months after infection, most people who have recovered still have enough immune cells to fend off the virus and prevent illness, the new data show. A slow rate of decline in the short term suggests, happily, that these cells may persist in the body for a very, very long time to come.

How is it possible for people to make rational decisions with this kind of journalism going on? Truly, sometimes it seems like the world has been driven insane by an astonishing blizzard of false information. Just last week, an entire state in Australia shut down completely – putting all its citizens under house arrest – due to a false report of a case in a pizza restaurant. One person lied and the whole world fell apart.

Meanwhile, serious science is appearing daily showing that there is no relationship at all, and never has been, between lockdowns and lives saved. This study looks at all factors related to Covid death and finds plenty of relationship between age and health but absolutely none with lockdown stringency. “Stringency of the measures settled to fight pandemia, including lockdown, did not appear to be linked with death rate,” says the study, echoing a conclusion of dozens of other studies since as early as March.

It’s all become too much. The world is being seriously misled by major media organs. The politicians are continuing to panic and impose draconian controls, fully nine months into this, despite mountains of evidence of the real harm the lockdowns are causing everyone. If you haven’t lost faith in politicians and major media at this point, you have paid no attention to what they have been doing for the better part of this catastrophic year.

The COVID sheeple

Tom Woods:

Here’s the first thing I saw on Twitter this morning. I promise this is real and not a parody:



So she’s delighted to learn that indeed they cannot leave the house to walk the dog or to exercise.

This is for everyone’s health, of course. Because a society can be run successfully when it’s allowed to operate, then suddenly shut down, then started again, and then shut down again. No problems there!

Second, I wanted to share a few charts with you. The heroic Ian Miller (@ianmSC) has more of them.

The CDC credited masks with bringing down Arizona’s curve. Are they planning a follow-up statement now? (I’m just playing with you with that question: we already know the answer.) And here’s New Mexico as well, for good measure:

Here’s New Jersey. The governor there said masks played a significant role in bringing their curve down. And it’s true that this is one of the rare charts in which that story at least has a surface plausibility. The problem is that there’s a right-hand side to that chart now:

Then there’s Minnesota, which has had all kinds of crazy restrictions, and Florida, which was mostly open for a while before becoming completely open on September 25. Isn’t it odd that their case counts are the opposite of what the hysteria would lead you to expect?

And finally, here are three states that believe in science! That’s funny: I guess by an interesting coincidence they all just abandoned their sciency strategies at exactly the same time (because remember: rising case counts are always somebody’s fault!):

In short, the world looks nothing — as in nothing at all — like it should if the cartoon version of the virus and the government responses were correct. And yet people continue to believe it.

And not only do they believe it: but they shame and condemn you if you don’t believe it.

Why, you’re “selfish”!

I’ll never forget, earlier this year, when people protested lockdowns because their livelihoods were being destroyed, everything they’d devoted their lives to was being taken away, and their kids were suffering very badly — and the lockdowners, being the compassionate lovers of mankind they always claim to be, responded, “You just want a haircut, you selfish person.”

Wisconsin’s mask mandate has worked so well that COVID diagnoses have increased 514 percent since it took effect Aug. 1. Now Gov. Tony Evers is extending it somewhere into January. Perhaps by then everyone in the state will have it. And yet most Wisconsinites appear petrified to dare question the people who are supposed to be representing them about why failed policy is allowed to continue.

 

 

It’s as if nothing actually works

Tom Woods:

Steve Sisolak, governor of Nevada, recently scolded citizens of his state. Why, only irresponsible behavior can account for a rise in “cases” there!

So he’s teling Nevadans that they have two weeks to get things under control.

He warned, “I’m not going to come back in two weeks and say I’m going to give you another chance.”

And then, three days later, Governor Sisolak himself tested positive for COVID-19.

Should we treat him like he’s 7 and scold him for his irresponsible behavior, the way he just did to his citizens?

The governor was forced to admit: “You can take all the precautions that are possible and you can still contract the virus. I don’t know how I got it.”

As Alex Berenson says, virus gonna virus.

The current state of lockdown “science” appears to be: we have no idea what we’re doing, but if something brings people pleasure we should probably limit or prohibit it, and if something causes great inconvenience or even pain, we should probably do that.

An anonymous professor who posts on Twitter about the virus just presented this graph for our consideration. It’s a plot of COVID deaths in North Carolina and Oklahoma. Those states have adopted very different approaches to the virus. And yet, somehow, they more or less track each other anyway:

Virus gonna virus.

Yesterday former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan posted the following:

“How did we catch it? I don’t know. We wore masks. We socially distanced. We avoided crowds. We haven’t had people in our house.”

Virus gonna virus.

We can either accept this, and take steps to protect those among us who are most at risk while others resume the one life they are given, or we can destroy our social fabric.

Meanwhile, we have families and friendships being torn apart over all this. You’re a bad person if you reject the propaganda. Why, you don’t care about saving lives! You’re “selfish”!

Never mind the countless lives lost by lockdown itself, a point I’ve made again and again. Those lives don’t seem to count for some reason.

Also brought to you by Biden voters

The Wall Street Journal:

Did you enjoy the days at home from mid-March to May? The 22 million lost jobs, the shuttered storefronts, the neighborhood shops out of business, the kids unable to attend school, and the near economic depression? Well, congratulations, a reprise may be coming your way if Joe Biden heeds his Covid-19 advisory team.

We’ve told you about Ezekiel Emanuel, the advisory committee member who wanted new lockdowns during the summer flare-up in the Sunbelt states. Lucky for the country that his only power then was appearing on MSNBC.

Then there’s Michael Osterholm, also a member of the Biden Covid committee, who now wants a new nationwide lockdown for as many as six weeks. Dr. Osterholm is director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. CNBC quoted him as suggesting that we are about to enter “Covid hell” and the government should lock everyone up as we await a vaccine.

“We could pay for a package right now to cover all of the wages, lost wages for individual workers for losses to small companies to medium-sized companies or city, state, county governments. We could do all of that,” Dr. Osterholm said, according to Yahoo Finance. “If we did that, then we could lock down for four to six weeks.”

The complete and total incompetence of government, no matter who is in charge

Heather Mac Donald:

Over the last four months, Americans have lived through what is arguably the most consequential period of government malfeasance in U.S. history. Public officials’ overreaction to the novel coronavirus put American cities into a coma; those same officials’ passivity in the face of widespread rioting threatens to deliver the coup de grâce. Together, these back-to-back governmental failures will transform the Ameri- can polity and cripple urban life for decades.

Before store windows started shattering in the name of racial justice, urban existence was already on life support, thanks to the coronavirus lockdowns. Small businesses—the restaurants and shops that are the lifeblood of cities—were shuttered, many for good, leaving desolate rows of “For Rent” signs on street after street in New York City and elsewhere. Americans huddled in their homes for months on end, believing that if they went outside, death awaited them.

This panic was occasioned by epidemiological models predicting wildly unlikely fatalities from the coronavirus.

On March 30, the infamous Imperial College London model predicted 2.2 million deaths in the U.S. by September 1, absent government action. That prediction was absurd on its face, given the dispersal of the U.S. population and the fact that China’s coronavirus death toll had already levelled off at a few thousand. The authors of that study soon revised it radically downwards.

Too late. It had already become the basis for the exercise of unprecedented government power. California was the first state to lock down its economy and confine its citizens to their homes; eventually almost every other state would follow suit, under enormous media pressure to do so.

Never before had public officials required millions of lawful businesses to shut their doors, throwing tens of millions of people out of work. They did so at the command of one particular group of experts—those in the medical and public health fields—who viewed their mandate as eliminating one particular health risk with every means put at their disposal. If the politicians who followed their advice weighed a greater set of considerations, balancing the potential harm from the virus against the harm from the shutdowns, they showed no sign of it. Instead, governors and mayors started rolling out one emergency decree after another to terminate economic activity, seemingly heedless of the consequences.

The lockdown mandates employed mind-numbingly arbitrary distinctions. Wine stores and pot dispensaries were deemed “essential” and thus allowed to stay open; medical offices were required to close. Large grocery stores got the green light; small retail establishments with only a few customers each day were out of luck. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer notoriously used her red pen within megastores to bar the sale of seeds, gardening supplies, and paint.

It was already clear when these crushing mandates started pouring forth that shutting down every corner of the country was a reckless overreaction. By mid-March, two weeks before the Imperial College model was published, Italian health data showed that the coronavirus was terribly lethal to a very small subset of the population—the elderly infirm—and a minor health problem to nearly everyone else who was not already severely ill. The median age of coronavirus decedents in Italy was 80, and they died with a median of nearly three comorbidities, such as heart disease and diabetes. The lead author of the Imperial College model has admitted that up to two-thirds of all coronavirus fatalities would have died from their comorbidities by the end of 2020 anyway.

Three months later, this profile of coronavirus casualties still holds true. Public health interventions could have been targeted at that highly vulnerable population without forcing the American economy into a death spiral.

DISINFORMATION

By now it is impossible to attribute the media’s failure to publicize the facts about the coronavirus to mere oversight.

Every story that does not mention, preferably at the top, the vast overrep- resentation of nursing home deaths in the coronavirus death count—above 50 percent in many countries and 80 percent in several of our states—is a story that is deliberately concealing the truth. Casual readers and viewers have been left with the false impression that everyone is equally at risk, and thus that draconian measures are justified.

The media have been equally unin- terested in the scientific evidence regarding outdoor transmission. Coronavirus infections require what Japan calls the three Cs: confined spaces, crowded places, and close contact. The fleeting encounters on sidewalks and public parks that char- acterize much of city life simply do not result in transmission. And yet if you briskly approach someone on one of Manhattan’s broad and now empty sidewalks, the oncoming pedestrian may lunge into the street or press up against the closest wall in abject fear if you are not wearing a mask. You may be cursed at.

The public health establishment has been equally complicitous in creat- ing this widespread ignorance. It has failed to stress at every opportunity that for the vast majority of the public, the coronavirus is at most an inconve- nience. The public health experts did not disclose that outdoors was the safest place to be and that people should get out of their homes and into the fresh air.

Not coincidentally, the experts’ new- found power over nearly every aspect of American life was dependent on the maintenance of fear.

While the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus has been demographically circumscribed and lower than the previous flu pandemics of 1968, 1956, and 1918 when adjusted for population, the economic toll has cut across every sector of the country and every population group. Whole industries have seen their capital wiped out overnight.

Despite a better than expected employment report in early June, the long-term effects of the shutdowns and the continuing mandates to socially distance will prevent a full economic recovery for years to come. 

As of this week the death rate of Wisconsinites who test positive is 0.9 percent. The idiot governor Evers this week asked for Wisconsinites to voluntarily lock themselves down. Since Evers’ statewide mask mandate took effect Aug. 1 the number of coronavirus positive tests has nearly quadrupled. And yet it seems likely that Americans will vote for candidates to destroy the economy further because they are cowards afraid of dying, when, to quote Jim Morrison, no one here gets out alive.

 

 

COVID and millennials

Tom Woods:

A student at an Ivy League university just wrote to me:
I’m a senior college student at [X] and back in March when we shut down, I was genuinely concerned about COVID.
However, I study hospitality and as I read about layoffs at restaurants and hotels, my heart broke for the staff there. By May, I was fully skeptical. At first, I thought we’d be done with this by now. Back home in NY, my high school friends are terrified and the one time we saw each other, we sat in my backyard 6+ ft apart from each other. As a business student, I hope that I understand how the markets work and how every single week of lockdown affects our society in every shape and form.
Where I live, we are a wealthy town and most parents are businessmen/lawyers and can afford to stay home. However, having worked in the hospitality industry, I understand how so many people are being affected while families in my community are ordering for $100+ delivery and $200+ Instacart orders. They’re so phony — they think that the federal government could snap their fingers for small businesses and its employees and they’ll be saved. Whether it’s Trump or Biden, these people are not being helped.
One interesting anecdote: my friend’s sister has really, really bad eyesight. Both of her parents are doctors and she’s still scared to go get her eyes checked. When I was with her, I had to read her the menu from her phone when we were ordering in. She’s 22 years old. 22!
Trust me, I know I’m privileged but was disgusted by the lack of empathy. I worked in restaurants and hotels and I know that these workers are suffering. Meanwhile, my high school friends think that the federal government will help them. They don’t understand how it works. They keep thinking that we’re going to have a vaccine or treatments by next year. I tried to explain that the US population is over 300 million across the country and that you can’t vaccinate everyone overnight. Somehow all my friends go to Ivy League schools and they don’t understand that logic. And trust me, my major at [X] is known to be the “dumb” major and compared to the engineers, they have no clue.
Now, for some good news. I’m now back at [X] University. Some challenges is having to wear masks everywhere and having twice weekly tests. Aside from that, it’s almost like being back in college. I’ve hosted parties with my best friends hosting pong, getting drunk, and being a college student. The first few days back, my friends and I were a bit scared to hug and all. Since then, we’ve had so many great social events. We even played spin the bottle and had such great experiences. While when I meet another friend that I haven’t seen for a while, we don’t hug or do anything… Soon after, after a drink or two, we’ve all hugged. I talked to my friends about COVID and we’re all under the impression that by March 2021, somehow life has to go on.
Lastly, I do not understand this conversation about waiting until a vaccine or treatment. How long can we go on? Luckily, I’m a senior and will have had most of my college years. But how will education be affected? When I was in high school, I worked with students on the spectrum and with autism; I can’t imagine what they are living.

Now much of this is quite discouraging: the 22-year-old woman who’s terrified to get her eyes checked, even though she quite literally has a greater chance of dying in a car accident on the way to the eye exam than she does of COVID, is beyond ridiculous.
At the same time, I’m glad to hear that when push comes to shove, college students are being college students, regardless of the hysteria, and that they seem to have decided on a date in their minds beyond which the insanity simply cannot go on.

Wear a mask, get the coronavirus?

Jordan Davidson:

A Centers for Disease Control report released in September shows that masks and face coverings are not effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19, even for those people who consistently wear them.

A study conducted in the United States in July found that when they compared 154 “case-patients,” who tested positive for COVID-19, to a control group of 160 participants from the same health care facility who were symptomatic but tested negative, over 70 percent of the case-patients were contaminated with the virus and fell ill despite “always” wearing a mask.

“In the 14 days before illness onset, 71% of case-patients and 74% of control participants reported always using cloth face coverings or other mask types when in public,” the report stated.

In addition, over 14 percent of the case-patients said they “often” wore a face covering and were still infected with the virus. The study also demonstrates that under 4 percent of the case-patients became sick with the virus even though they “never” wore a mask or face covering.

Despite over 70 percent of the case-patient participants’ efforts to follow CDC recommendations by committing to always wearing face coverings at “gatherings with ≤10 or >10 persons in a home; shopping; dining at a restaurant; going to an office setting, salon, gym, bar/coffee shop, or church/religious gathering; or using public transportation,” they still contracted the virus.

While the study notes that some of these people may have contracted the virus from the few moments that they removed their mask to eat or drink at “places that offer on-site eating or drinking,” the CDC concedes that there is no successful way to evaluate if that was the exact moment someone became exposed and contracted the virus.

“Characterization of community exposures can be difficult to assess when widespread transmission is occurring, especially from asymptomatic persons within inherently interconnected communities,” the report states.

In fact, the report suggests that “direction, ventilation, and intensity of airflow might affect virus transmission, even if social distancing measures and mask use are implemented according to current guidance.”

Despite this new scientific information, the CDC, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, and many political authorities are still encouraging people to wear masks. Many states and cities have even mandated masks, citing them as one of the main tools to “slow the spread” of coronavirus and keep case numbers in their area down.

I wonder how long it will take — Nov. 4? — for public health to admit that there is nothing government can do to stop or even slow down COVID-19. Nothing has worked so far.

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