Tag: coronavirus

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.

The AWOL Assembly

James Wigderson:

On Tuesday, Governor Tony Evers (D) used the powers of his latest executive order regarding the Covid-19 pandemic to limit occupancy to 25% for the next month for bars, restaurants and other public spaces.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) issued the following statement in response on Wednesday:

“Cooperation and collaboration are essential to fight this pandemic. The surge of cases and hospitalizations is real. We need everyone to work together to contain the virus: follow CDC guidelines, wear a mask, wash your hands, and maintain social distancing. I applaud the efforts at the local and county levels for their targeted measures and thank the scores of health care workers on the front lines of the pandemic.

“With respect to Emergency Order #3, the governor and secretary-designee may have good intentions but they’re disregarding the law as set forth in the state Supreme Court ruling, Legislature v. Palm. We are confident that if challenged, a Wisconsin judge would find this order invalid as an unpromulgated rule. We are asking Secretary-Designee Palm to submit an emergency rule immediately to the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules as required by law. 

“With cases once again rising, it’s clear the governor’s go-it-alone, grab bag approach to responding to the coronavirus has been a failure. We must work together in order to keep our businesses open and our citizens safe. We would like to request a meeting with the governor as soon as possible to discuss answers to deal with the virus, especially solutions that don’t result in families going bankrupt and thousands being added to the unemployment lines.”

The legislature has the power to repeal Evers’ executive order if both houses pass a joint resolution. The Wisconsin Senate has been prepared to act since Evers’ began issuing a second round of executive orders in July. However, the Assembly has been reluctant to act, relying instead on a lawsuit filed by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL).

An injunction against Evers’ executive order, effectively ending a statewide mask mandate, was requested in September by WILL. Legislative leaders filed a brief in support of the lawsuit on Friday.

That case, Lindoo v. Evers, had a hearing this week. St. Croix County Judge Michael Waterman wondered why he should do anything about the executive order when the legislature has the power to overturn Evers’ order but chose not to.

“They’re asking the third branch of government — the judiciary — to step in and exercise a power that the Legislature reserved to itself,” said Waterman, according to Wisconsin Public Radio. “The court is being asked to do that when the Legislature has apparently chosen for one reason or another not to act.”

It’s a good question.

Vos and his fellow Republicans in the Assembly have a Constitutional role, too. If Vos really believes the governor is acting in an unconstitutional manner, the legislature can do something about it – and they have an obligation to do so.

Indeed, it’s worth reminding Vos and his fellow Republicans that, despite the Speaker’s statement, there is no guarantee of victory in the courts. Given Waterman’s statement, the lawsuit to overturn Evers’ executive order could be stopped simply because the legislature refused to follow the process of repealing the order.

Even if the case gets out of Waterman’s St. Croix courtroom, the last Supreme Court victory by the legislature over Evers’ abuse of his executive orders was a 4-3 decision with conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn joining the liberal minority. The composition of the court has changed with the replacement of conservative Justice Dan Kelly with liberal Justice Jill Karofsky, putting the focus back on Hagedorn.

The only sure way for Evers’ emergency order to be overturned, if Vos truly believes that it is unconstitutional, is for the legislature to act.

Let’s concede that Vos is not in an easy position. The latest Marquette University Law School poll showed 72% support a mask requirement in all public places, over 60% in every region of the state, while just 26% disagree with a mask mandate. On the flip side, a plurality of Republicans, 49% to 47%, oppose the statewide mask mandate.

The GOP is in a trap of their own making. Had the legislature acted in August to repeal Evers’ mask mandate order and then passed their own plan to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, they would be in a better place now. Instead, Evers’ is using the leeway granted by the legislature to effectively kill many of Wisconsin’s bars and restaurants to try to contain the outbreak.

And yes, the governor is playing politics with the pandemic. He could meet with legislative leaders to work out a compromise that would pass the legislature. Instead, we’re likely to get a continued stalemate even if the two sides do meet, as Vos called for in his statement. (We might even get another possibly illegal recording of the conversation for which the governor still has to answer.)

But Assembly Republicans can still act this week to repeal Evers’ executive order and show leadership with their own plan for dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. Vos’ statement about following the CDC guidelines sounds like he’s serious about tackling the issue. In the past, the GOP has claimed to support a regional approach to fighting the pandemic. If there is any semblance of a GOP plan to combat the pandemic, the voters deserve to learn what it is.

The response by the GOP is especially needed now as the number of hospitalized Covid-19 threatens to strain our hospital system to the breaking point.

Instead of following the worst instincts of the faction of the GOP that believes nothing should be done about the exploding number of Covid-19 cases, it’s time for Vos to lead. That means from the front, not following the backside of his party’s crazy faction.

I disagree with Wigderson about that “crazy faction.” (Wigderson must be channeling his inner Charlie Sykes.) There is nothing state government can do that will stop the coronavirus from growing in this state. For that matter, there is nothing the federal government, regardless of who is president, that will stop the coronavirus from growing in this country. Evers’ Safer at Home orders did not stop COVID. The mask mandate didn’t stop it. (COVID positive tests have more than doubled since the mask mandate began Aug. 1.) The 25-percent order will only mean that 25 percent of state businesses will survive the pandemic; it won’t even slow down the coronavirus. Given the effectiveness rate of new vaccines and the annual flu vaccine, COVID-19 is not going to be stopped by any vaccine either.

It is time, however, for the Legislature to stop bending over for Evers and to stop him.

Despite Nov. 3, you’re on your own

Tom Woods:

I have no idea what is going to happen in the world even in the near future, much less ten years from now.

Imagine being at a point where you positively long for Bill Clinton, and that’s where we are now.

We turn on the TV (mistake #1) and a reporter is seriously telling us that protests are “mostly peaceful” while buildings burn directly behind him, on camera.

If you and I protested something and one of our signs had a misplaced semicolon, the news would breathlessly report on the rise of fascism in America.

Just the other day the President Tweeted something clearly true: we don’t shut the country down for the flu. We learn to live with it, in exactly the same way that we will obviously have to learn to live with COVID. We can’t shut down all of society in a monomaniacal battle against one thing. There will be horrific consequences.

At the very least, that’s an eminently defensible view, and one held by some of the best scientific minds in the world.

Twitter attached a statement saying that this is ordinarily the kind of Tweet they’d remove, but that in the public interest they’re keeping it up.

Today a senior writer with the Washington Post tried to debunk the claim that for some groups the flu is more deadly than COVID — but in order to do so he had to use CFR figures for one and IFR figures for the other. This is a top person at one of our top newspapers.

NPR just ran an item on how dangerous schools are, even though every bit of data we have, from all over the world, tells us the exact opposite.

Three months ago, Washington, D.C., reached numbers indicating that it should have been at phase 3 of reopening, but it’s still in lockdown limbo, indefinitely.

They told us 15 days to slow the spread. It’s day 205. They said we could have our lives back when we got a vaccine — as if that were a guarantee. Now they’re saying we can’t have our lives back even with a vaccine.

Joe Biden — the man leading in the polls — promises more of the same. Lockdown forever.

Your countrymen are begging to have their life savings depleted and be confined to their homes — or at least that’s what the poll numbers seem to suggest.

To call this insanity wouldn’t come close to the scope of what’s happening here.

If you’re not disoriented, concerned, even frightened, well, you’re very much an outlier.

Chances are, you’re all three of those things.

Rationally speaking, when it comes to protecting your life and livelihood from the anti-life cultists you realize that it isn’t if but when. You have to do something at some point.

But this, too, likely has you frightened. And understandably so: anything involving finances and the unknown can be frightening.

Even more frightening, though, is staying in that holding pattern forever.

At some point you will have to step out of your comfort zone if you’re going to survive, much less thrive, in this uncertain century. You know it and I know it.

The question is when.

The sooner you take your fate into your own hands and start figuring all this stuff out, the better off you’ll be.

I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.

Funny numbers

M.D. Kittle:

As Gov. Tony Evers and his COVID doom squad push their agenda of panic, the Department of Health Services’ death count is coming under fire.

Milwaukee County’s chief medical examiner told WISN 12 News the state’s pandemic death total includes more than 100 people who had COVID-19 but died primarily of other causes.

Dr. Brian Peterson said his office strictly counts COVID-19 deaths, but the state includes in its total COVID fatality figures “other significant conditions” on the death certificate.

“They’re simply lumping everything into one basket, so if they have COVID anywhere on a death certificate, they’re calling that a COVID related death. I don’t believe that’s true,” Peterson told the Milwaukee ABC News affiliate.

Those inflated numbers are being used by DHS and local health officers — and enterprising politicians — to push their power to restrict individual liberty and scare the hell out of the public. No wonder so many Wisconsinites are skeptical of the people in power who are supposed to be acting in the public’s interest.

“It is imperative that state government ensures that all levels of government responsible for collecting this very important data are all singing from the same choir book on what a COVID death is,” said state Sen. Dave Craig (R-Town of Vernon). Failing to do so, the lawmaker said, could do “major further harm in how state government reacts to virus information.”

As of Thursday, DHS reported there have been 1,348 COVID-related deaths since the outbreak in March. It was an increase of 21 deaths from the day before.

But Milwaukee County’s medical examiner will tell you that at least 100 of those deaths resulted from other causes lumped into the same basket.

DHS reported 538 total COVID-19 deaths in Milwaukee County as of Thursday.

The inflation problem goes back to the beginning of the pandemic.

It’s the comorbidity effect — the simultaneous presence of two chronic diseases. When serious health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease meet COVID-19, well, it can be like throwing gasoline on a fire.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean COVID is the primary cause of death.

As Wisconsin Spotlight reported in May, Milwaukee County Medical Examiners office data obtained by CRG Network (Citizens for Responsible Government) found that residents 65 and over made up 75 percent of 193 COVID-19-related deaths in Milwaukee County. All but four of the victims had at least one underlying health condition.

Underlying conditions included cancer, COPD, heart attacks, stroke, congestive heart failure. Many of the victims were obese, many morbidly obese. The No. 1 comorbidity among the deceased was high blood pressure; No. 2 was diabetes.

“Moreover, 78% of intensive care unit (ICU) admissions and 94% of deaths (where complete information on underlying conditions or risk factors was available) occurred in those with at least one underlying health condition,” the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology reported in May.

DHS acknowledges that they’re dumping comorbidity deaths into the COVID-19 pot.

“If COVID-19 is listed as a contributing factor by the medical examiner, we will include that,” said Traci DeSalvo, of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, told WISN.

In a mealy-mouthed reply, DeSalvo said policymakers should look at the mix of morbidity in issuing their public health decisions. But neither the Evers administration or much of the press does when reporting the data. They simply report that someone died of COVID-19, when that may not be the case.

But the reporting problem could be worse.

In June, when Walworth County citizens were pushing back on a proposed oppressive health ordinance, Dave Overbeek, a long-time member of the Richmond Town Board, told county supervisors that a friend of his who lived in Walworth County but died of COVID-19-related causes in Milwaukee County was counted as a death in both counties.

As the numbers appear to rise, Evers and unelected bureaucrats issue more restrictions based on inflated pandemic numbers.

Craig said that practice has got to stop.

“It needs to be succinct, uniform and accurate,” the lawmaker said of the data. 

Apparently the state has to be hectored or embarrassed into more accurate counting. The MacIver Institute:

The timing couldn’t be worse for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Hours after its reporter, Eric Litke, attempted to discredit a MacIver study about a mistake DHS was making in calculating the COVID-19 positivity rate – DHS adopted MacIver’s recommendations.

Last week, MacIver published the study that explained why DHS has excluded some 600,000 test results in its daily COVID-19 positive test rate, also called positivity.

DHS was using a flawed formula that has resulted in a wildly exaggerated positivity rate. It takes the number of new positive cases and divides it by the number of people getting tested for the first time. It excludes the results from anyone who has ever been tested before – unless those people have tested positive for the first time.

MacIver recommended DHS begin calculating the daily positivity rate using each day’s number of positive test results and total number of test results. No results would be excluded using this method, producing a more accurate result.

DHS began calculating Wisconsin’s daily positivity rate using MacIver’s recommendations on Wednesday morning.

DHS began calculating Wisconsin’s daily positivity rate using MacIver’s recommendations on Wednesday morning.

The Journal Sentinel, Erik Litke, and Politifact had just rated MacIver’s study “pants on fire” the night before. To do so, Litke rewrote the study’s key points, and then proceeded to dispute them. This is widely known as a “strawman” fallacy.

The fact that DHS was only considering the results from people being tested for the first time is key to understanding why so many results had been tossed and why Wisconsin’s daily positivity rate was wrong. Litke omitted this key fact.

“DHS calculates percent positivity by dividing the number of people with positive test results by the number of people tested in a given span,” Litke wrote.

As the MacIver study explained, DHS did this to avoid counting the same individual cases more than once. Unfortunately, that method resulted in an inflated positivity rate. MacIver did not dispute that the rate was increasing regardless of what method was used.

Litke pointed to Johns Hopkins University. It calculates positivity by taking the number of people who test positive and dividing it by the total number of people tested. DHS did not do this. It disregarded everyone who was not being tested for the first time.

Litke also pointed to the CDC. It calculates positivity by taking the total number of positive tests and dividing it by the total number of test results. DHS did not do this. It only considered new test results from people being tested for the first time. It did not take the “total number.”

Litke asserted that Wisconsin was using an optional method described on CDC’s website.

“Some states use Wisconsin’s approach, dividing the number of people with positive tests by the number of people tested,” he wrote.

This method only works to calculate the overall rate. It does not work when calculating the daily rate, as Wisconsin was doing.

If DHS used this “people-to-people” method to calculate the overall rate, Wisconsin would have a positivity rate of 7.8%. However, Wisconsin used the CDC’s formula to calculate the daily rate, which the formula is not designed to do. It became, essentially, the “cases-to-new people” method. DHS took these incorrect daily rates and produced a rolling average. That gave Wisconsin a positivity rate of 19%.

The method recommended by MacIver resulted in a 9.4% rate for Sep. 29th, which is higher than the 7.8% result from the “people-to-people” method. However, this daily rate is more useful than an overall rate, because it focuses on the current situation. The overall rate will always go up, because the overall total number cases can never decrease. The “new people” rate will become more and more inaccurate as fewer and fewer people exist who have never been tested before.

In an attempt to support the “new people” method, Litke used the false argument that it must be correct because other states appear to be doing the same thing. If those states are applying this method the same way Wisconsin did, their rates are also incorrect.

Litke also believes that DHS’ method was sound because they’ve been using the same method all along. By that logic, there’s no difference between accuracy and consistency. This position is both absurd and ignorant. MacIver never claimed DHS changed its method.

If a navigator makes a mistake at the beginning of a journey, it might appear he is heading in the right direction for a while, but eventually the ship will miss its destination by hundreds of miles. DHS is that navigator, and the daily positivity rate is the ship. It’s getting harder to cover up the initial mistake. The Sentinel is sure trying though.

The new chart on DHS’ website shows how this concept played out with Wisconsin’s positivity rates. The “new people” formula and the correct formula yielded similar results until people began getting retested in great numbers – in mid-June. From then on, the error of the “new people” formula became increasingly worse. By continuing to post the positivity rate results from the “new people” formula, DHS helps illustrate how inaccurate that calculation is. …

“While the two lines follow similar trajectory, you’ll see that they began to split off around mid-June. The 7-day percent positive by person is higher, while the percent positive by test is lower. This is likely because at this point in the pandemic, testing capacity had increased to the point where repeated testing was becoming more commonplace,” DHS explains.

MacIver’s study explained having an accurate positivity rate was important because it was one of six gating requirements the Evers Administration used to make public health policy decisions. DHS has now removed the gating requirements from its website as of Wednesday morning.

All of this puts Eric Litke, PolitiFact, and the Journal Sentinel in a very difficult position. Should they retract the “Pants on Fire” rating they gave to MacIver’s study? After DHS’ shift, they really have no choice.