Coronavirus

Shouldn't COVID-19's Lethality Inform the Response to It?

Evidence that the virus is much less deadly than people feared weakens the case for maintaining lockdowns.

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When she announced the startling results of a new COVID-19 study on Monday, Los Angeles County's top public health official emphasized that the number of infections far exceeds the official count of confirmed cases. She underplayed another important implication of the study: COVID-19 seems to be far less deadly than many people feared.

The way Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer framed the study's results raises a question that policy makers across the country will confront as they consider when and how to loosen sweeping restrictions aimed at curtailing the COVID-19 epidemic. Will they be guided by emerging evidence, or will they use it to support the policies they already favored?

The Los Angeles County study, conducted by University of Southern California researchers in collaboration with Ferrer's department, tested a representative sample of 863 adults for antibodies to the virus in early April. About 4 percent of them tested positive, indicating that the number of adults in the county who had been infected by the virus was roughly 40 times the number of confirmed cases at the time.

Confirmed cases are limited to people who have tested positive for the virus, and testing so far has been skewed toward people with severe symptoms. Since people infected by the virus typically experience mild to no symptoms, it is not surprising that the official tally understates the number of infections, although the apparent size of the gap is striking.

"These results indicate that many persons may have been unknowingly infected and at risk of transmitting the virus to others," Ferrer said. "These findings underscore the importance of expanded [virus] testing to diagnose those with infection so they can be isolated and quarantined, while also maintaining the broad social distancing interventions."

Since the number of infections in Los Angeles County is much higher than the official numbers indicate, Ferrer told reporters, the risk of transmission is higher than expected, which reinforces the case for aggressive control measures, including broad business closure and stay-at-home orders. At the same time, she said, the fact that 95 percent or so of the county's adult population remains uninfected shows those measures are working.

In other words, no matter what the actual prevalence of the virus is, and no matter how you look at it, that information justifies maintaining the statewide lockdown. One wonders what conceivable results from the antibody study might have caused Ferrer to reconsider the wisdom of that policy.

The question is especially pressing in light of the fatality rate implied by the study. In contrast with the current crude case fatality rate of about 4.5 percent, Ferrer said, the study suggests that 0.1 percent to 0.2 percent of people infected by the virus will die, which would make COVID-19 only somewhat more deadly than the seasonal flu.

That finding is consistent with the results of an earlier antibody study in Santa Clara County. "The mortality rate now has dropped a lot," Ferrer conceded.

That point, assuming it is confirmed by other studies, surely should figure in any cost-benefit analysis of lockdowns, which are depriving millions of Americans of their liberty and livelihoods in the hope of saving lives. Politicians who supported those restrictions were powerfully influenced by terrifying projections of COVID-19 deaths that assumed a fatality rate at least four times as high as the data from Los Angeles County and Santa Clara County suggest.

Those projections also assumed "no intervention," referring not just to lockdowns but also to narrower regulations as well as voluntary precautions such as hand washing, using face masks, limiting social interactions, avoiding crowds, and working from home. It was never realistic to imagine that Americans would simply carry on as usual in the face of the COVID-19 epidemic.

Policy makers right now are not choosing between lockdowns and nothing; they are choosing between lockdowns and less costly, more carefully targeted measures. That choice should be informed by evidence that undercuts their worst fears.

© Copyright 2020 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. No it shouldnt. Lock downs should remain until all of the business owned by clingers no longer exist. We woke betters can use tax money to keep the properly woke businesses afloat. Anybody that doesn’t bow down to government almighty should get ready for us to boot stomp them.

    1. LMAO

    2. The new clingers are the ones who cling to the lockdowns because they are scared and/or hate their neighbors.

      1. Imagine you just declared your neighbor’s shack a mansion to double the property tax. Would you want that neighbor to be able to catch you arriving home from “work”?

    3. love it.

    4. Shouldn’t you be at high risk Arthur? Those minimum security mental hospital wards like yours are bad for communicating disease.

      Don’t worry too much though, I am sure as a favorite patient you will get the very best treatment.

    5. More stupidity

  2. “As long as we can save just one life,” everybody else’s freedoms, preferences, opinions, and choices no longer matter. If our goals our humble, our means can be draconian.

    1. Ignore the cops, ignore the guns, ignore everything. We are simply “strongly suggesting” you comply with our demands. – You know who.

    2. “You cannot be trusted with you own survival. To protect humanity, some humans must be sacrificed, to ensure your future, some freedoms must be surrendered. My logic is undeniable.” -VIKI, the super computer from I, Robot.

      1. My logic is undeniable.

        My logic is undeniable.

        My logic is undeniable.

    3. You are assuming the goal was about saving lives.

      1. One life.

        Singular. Not plural.

        The goal was to save one life, maybe.

      2. It IS! You saw what happened to Mussolini when ordinary citizens caught him without his bodyguards, right?

    4. Not to mention everyone’s health and lives, if SARS Jr. isn’t what’s wrong with them.

  3. Why do I get the feeling that the CCP figured this out over a month ago and is keeping it quiet and only going through the motions of trying to contain it (testing returning travelers, keeping the last ‘documented’ patients under quarantine) so that draconian economy killing responses are undertaken elsewhere.

    If they are the only ones to tank economic activity in a vain attempt to knock this thing out they’d probably be at a disadvantage. If their folly was repeated around the world however they are the first ones out of the gate with full production.

    1. what outbreak? there is no outbreak. all workers are happy in china!

    2. Yeah, there is no way that China has only 82,000 infected. The USA has 825,000 confirmed infected now with millions more exposed and never had it bad enough to be confirmed.

      Worse case, America has this burn through the population and it makes it less susceptible to KungFlu next time it spreads around the World.

    3. the CCP new all along but used it as a means to clamp down and require everyone to be monitored. Now our betters see the same chance for control here

      1. With the CCP, the numbers are whatever perception they give they are, and anyone who questions it over there just magically disappears.

        They know their numbers will be questioned by a few westerners, but the left will stand up for them and the right won’t even remember it in a year. So let a few folks call you a liar and move on because talk is inconsequential. In the meantime, they let their weakest and most costly citizens die off, the community quickly develops herd immunity, and the economy straightens out quickly. It may not be the most humane reaction from a western point of view, but they would argue that humane action doesn’t include wiping out your economy for the sake of a few unhealthy ones.

        1. As an added bonus, they are all working while everybody else is buttoned up not making shit.

    4. Why would the CCP want an economic disaster in the rest of the world? Where are they going to get money if the can’t sell lots of stuff to the rest of the world? Seems like a big hole in the theory that China did this on purpose. I tend to think it’s more the usual idiocy of saving face and looking like they are in control.

      1. CCP is ruthless and thanks to complete media control and a massive surveillance state have the means to ensure that their narrative is the only valid narrative Chinese people hear.

        Western world on the other hand is hypercautious and will persist in economically ruinous methods long beyond the time when they make sense to try because Western politicians are especially fearful of looking like they aren’t doing enough even if doing less is entirely the appropriate action.

        China comes out of it stronger relative to everyone else.

    5. Yep. By the time they sealed off Wuhan it was already all through China. Wuhan had it bad because the air is super crappy. Everywhere else people just thought it was regular flu season.

      1. The shrieks began on CNN during FATF Week, the day the stock markets crashed worldwide. On Feb 18 virus leaks from communist germ labs were rumored, downplayed, unimportant, pay-no-attention. On Feb 20, 2020 those virus leaks became front page headlines in the looter press. If this makes no sense, consider what law changes Woodrow Wilson announced July 28, 1914, when stock markets tanked. Nobody remembers U.S. income tax inspection regs, but many vaguely recall Austria bullying the opium farmers of Serbia back then. So what caused the crash?

    6. CCP??? This should come as no surprise to anyone on the planet… sorry, in the UK or US… who has spent the last two months complaining about lack of testing.

      Those who think the CFR was really going to be 8.4% deserve neither grocery store trips, nor internet. Out of sight out of mind is what I recommend.

  4. Yes, there’s apparently no possible evidence that would allow us to open the economy. This is the consequence of letting people start a panic without first giving a clear numerical brightline which defines the boundaries of where we should be panicking, because they can just goalpost shift and never form a coherent position.

    1. ” which defines the boundaries of where we should be panicking,”

      We should never be panicking.

      Even in a real crisis, panic and panic based decision making are more likely to make things worse than they are to help.

      1. You’re so adorable. Of course we should panic. How else will media get clicks and likes (and money), how else will grandstanding politicians get elected and accrue power, and how else will people cower and willingly cede authority to the nanny state?

        1. How precious earth skeptic – the irony behind your irony is that you think that the media just spontaneously herded every human on the planet into quarantine – because clicks.

          The media response, nay, preemptive attack was clearly coordinated. And that goes for at least half of the corporations, orgs, non profits, federal agencies, states, congressmen, etc that were either already on board, or took sides by the end of January.

          Clicks and crisis exploitation…good one.

    2. In the meanwhile we see CA moving to a one-month extension of the Bay Area sequestration to the beginning of June (according to SF mayor London Breed). If anyone is tracking new cases per day, s/he will see that both CA and the US as a whole have been on a broad plateau for the past moth at least (the same is true of Italy for all that is worth adding) . For these dubious results and reassurances by Gov. Newsom that the present regime is working (whatever that means) we are driving the US towards a Greater Depression.
      If people think that the economy can rebound from prolonged strangulation, they are deluding themselves.
      This study by USC and the Santa Clara study need immediate repeating with a 10x larger sample size.

      1. This ^^^^ 1,000 times plus!

  5. Yes, policy makers should use the best available lethality data to formulate their response. Yes, the logic that higher prevalence justifies more lockdown measures is wrong.

    However, the Stanford Santa Clara study uses flawed statistics which have been thoroughly criticized. For example,

    https://statmodeling.stat.columbia.edu/2020/04/19/fatal-flaws-in-stanford-study-of-coronavirus-prevalence/

    TL;DR The number of measured cases is consistent with all cases being false positives, which the authors miss because they don’t use confidence intervals correctly.

    Read also, for example, “Feud over Stanford coronavirus study: ‘The authors owe us all an apology’” from the Orange County Register, which quotes the above analysis among many. Some qualified people on Twitter also express that they believe that there are actual calculation errors in addition to the methodological errors.

    This study (the L.A. studies) shares an author with the Santa Clara study and uses the same test and presumably uses the same statistical methods (besides the recruitment technique), so it can hardly be considered independent verification. The fact that I can only find press releases and not even a preprint makes me similarly skeptical since these results haven’t faced any public criticism.

    A Reason article on the Santa Clara study mentioned in passing that it might have issues. This article, on the other hand, completely ignores the issues, which is also slightly disappointing, considering how prevalent the criticism has been on Twitter.

    1. Not the best appeal to authority, the guy is waffling around all over his “analysis”.

      “It’s hard to wrap my head around these numbers because, on one hand, a 1/600 death rate sounds pretty low; on the other, 500,000 deaths is a lot. I guess 500,000 is too high because nobody’s saying that everyone will get exposed.”

      He’s making the same flaw Ronnie was. Assuming facts not in evidence to add to uncertainty. The Santa Clara study was not professing to have pure knowledge of what would have happened, they were simply showing the prevalence of uncertainty in both the IFR and infection rates of the models being used to push policy.

      1. It’s hard to know what to make of this comment because it doesn’t attack any of the statistical claims in the article. What you find if you read the article (or the plentiful other Tweets and blog posts that have seriously analyzed the claims) and apply some basic statistical knowledge is that the statistical analysis in the original paper is just wrong.

        The quote you presented is not a statistical or factual claim at all, he’s just making the emotional point that it’s hard to process the fact that while 500,000 deaths is a lot, actually a 1/600 death rate is really good. It’s completely orthogonal to the statistics.

        1. Not having read that link, I gather from reading between the lines that one flaw is having such a small number of positives that it could easily be covered by the known false positive rate. If I have understood that correctly, isn’t that a good sign and indeed an indication that the lethality has been wildly overestimated?

          1. Yeah that’s exactly the reason (there’s a new Reason article about it). But no that’s not good news. More false positives means less actual cases which means the disease is less prevalent than the authors claim. This means the disease is more fatal than the authors claim (same # of deaths, less people have it).

            The thing to notice is that we know the number of deaths, but we don’t know the number of cases.

      2. A physician Zoe Phin links to claims with pictures and arrows that Communivirus detectors are only 2/3 to 70% correct. Aside from that doctor’s youtube presentations, nothing else I’ve seen even acknowledges error bars are a thing. Ignoring a sensitivity error of a third and predicting 111,111.11 deaths per vague unit of time is at least 305 nonsense.

    2. False positives errors don’t work like that. Out of a given number of positive outcomes, a certain percentage will be positive. If all of the positives are false then the error rate is 100% false positive.

      1. …a certain percentage will be false positives.

      2. If the incidence of a disease is low among a population, even if a test is very accurate, many or all of the measured positives could be false. The relevant measure of accuracy discussed is specificity, which is TN / (TN + FP). TN = true negative, FP = false positive.

        What you are confusing is the specificity, which measures how often the test succeeds on people who don’t have the disease, with the actual proportion of false positives vs. true positives among the population.

    3. Yes there are nits to pick with various studies, such as sampling for the Santa Clara county one or the Colorado one, test methods, etc. But we are seeing study after study now, around the nation and world, point in the same direction. Is every one of them making the exact same mistakes? It seems almost certain that a lot of people have this or had it, and had no idea. It appears like this is a one extreme or the other virus- it really clobbers a handful of the population (and if this happens and you are very old and sick, it is almost a death sentence), while many don’t notice anything at all.

      1. Flaws that result in large errors in a study’s results are not “nits.”

        1. It is however possible to wallow in the weeds and miss that you are in the middle of a forest. That is the point being made. You are picking apart a study, possibly quite validly, while missing that the overall conclusion of that study is being validated in many others.

      2. One thing which has puzzled me right from the beginning, way back in December and January, is the conflict between two claims: it is very infections / lethal, and its slow spread. Right at the beginning, it took three weeks (IIRC) to make itself known; that doesn’t speak to being incredibly infectious. Then the supposed testing showed lots of lethality but little spread, as if it were not very infectious. Then along come these three studies (that Colorado county, Santa Clara county, and Los Angeles) which show tremendous infectability and much less lethality, and suddenly a lot of experts, whose livelihoods and reputations depend on scaring people, come out of the woods to denounce these studies.

        I have a lot of respect for the Peter Principle (people rise to their own level of incompetence) and especially how it applies to the public sector; it’s why the California PUC has a reputation for being where termed-out state legislators finish out their careers. Any doctor who goes into public employment may as well admit they are hoping to rise in the political sector and/or are not a very good practicing doctor. All their incentives are for playing up the dangers and playing up their role in fighting those dangers.

        1. Really great point. Either its not very infectious and spread slow, or its very infectious and spread fast. It can’t be both. Given how long it took to get here, and then kill, I’m guessing its very infectious but not that deadly.

          But that doesn’t justify the lockdowns.

    4. I am going to have to read the methodological flaws you mention; BUT —
      without a figure indicating a large number of non-severe/asymptomatic cases; why be concerned about asymptomatic spreading?
      That is:
      Either these are false positives; and the infection/contagion rate is very low
      Or, the study is accurate and the lethality rate is low.
      Either way, good news not bad.

      1. Either these are false positives; and the infection/contagion rate is very low
        Or, the study is accurate and the lethality rate is low.

        Yeah, that’s the corner into which the doomers have painted themselves. They’re desperately trying to poo-poo these studies, even though we have other examples after several weeks now that the asymptomatic rate of this virus is pretty high, and the vast majority of people aren’t actually going to end up in the ICU if they catch it.

      2. That’s my query too. They seem to want it both ways.

    5. Update: The latest Reason Roundup mentions that the studies are flawed. “Some scientists are now calling those studies into question.” Good on Reason for following up (I was sure they would, and I don’t think they were wrong to report these results, just avoiding misinformation is paramount).

      1. Can you clarify a question raised by several people above? If the positives from these studies are flawed because they are so low as to be conflated with false positives, doesn’t that imply even better news, that the true positive rate is even lower and that the coronavirus is both more contagious and less lethal than previously assumed?

        1. Other way around. If our study results include a lot of false positives, that implies that the number of true positives is lower than shown by the study. That means that the infection fatality rate, which is deaths/true_positives, is higher than suggested by the study.

          1. What I said, in different words.

            1. From your earlier post:
              “…that the true positive rate is even lower…” is correct.
              “…that the coronavirus is both more contagious and less lethal than previously assumed…” is not: lower true positive rate means fewer people have it, which means less contagious; given number of deaths divided by fewer people means a higher fatality rate.

      2. Nah, the studies are fine. You are not.

  6. Let’s take a trip down Memory Lane. Today is April 22, so let’s go back to ancient history (45 days) to March 8th. I know, a long time. So what were policymakers confronted with at that time.

    All they knew was there was a Wuhan coronavirus, and…
    – The Wuhan coronavirus was highly contagious
    – There was no definitive data on how KungFlu was transmitted
    – The lethality was unknown
    – There was no treatment (this is still true, btw)
    – There was no vaccine (this is still true)
    – There was an epic pandemic occurring in China (was vastly understated)
    – Europe was in the throes of a pandemic

    So what is a policymaker to do? In the face of these facts, instituting restrictions that were a) limited, b) temporary, and c) time-bound was a rational policy response until questions can be answered. We had no data, and we need solid data to make good policy decisions. I thought – and maintain today – the responses made at that time were reasonable.

    Fast forward 45 days. We now have a better handle on how the virus is transmitted. We have isolated KungFlu hotspots. We have roughly 1/3rd of the counties with no new cases in two weeks. Another 1/3rd of counties are within striking distance of entering Phase 1 of Opening Up America Again by the first week of May. Restrictions are being lifted – slowly. And this is as it should be. We are using the data we have to make rational policy decisions.

    I am not minimizing the economic impact here. Hell, my DW was furloughed. That hurts…a lot. It is playing havoc with our household expenses. A rescue package equivalent to 33% of GDP is unheard of. This pandemic is a massive economic hit. That said, it is temporary, and in the life of a nation, just a blip. Even though I know it is a blip, it sure in fuck does not feel that way to me personally today. I’m hurting. I also know that one hundred years from now, this pandemic will be an interesting chapter in a history book (assuming we have books at that time).

    Lethality is an important, but not the sole measure to inform our response. We don’t know lethality yet. We are getting close. Just hang in there for a short time longer, and we’ll have the information we need.

    Here is what I know. Our nation, the United States of America, will overcome this hurdle. There is no place like this anywhere in the world. It is truly magical what we can do here. Example: From a standing start on March 8th, we transitioned from surveillance testing to mass testing in 45 days. This is an astounding feat for a country of our size. Add to that, we developed an array of testing (swab, saliva, finger prick, antibody, serology) in that same time period. This is miraculous. I am so proud of how my country has innovated in the face of a tremendous crisis.

    We are, rightly, the envy of the world. We will recover, and we will recover better, faster than the rest of the world. This, I am certain of. Why? Because I am an American, and if there is one thing I have learned about my country and our people it is this: There is absolutely nothing we cannot do when we put our minds and efforts to it.

    1. Lethality is an important, but not the sole measure to inform our response. … Just hang in there for a short time longer, and we’ll have the information we need.

      I appreciate that you are trying to inspire us, but I’m not sure I understand this part.

      1. Hey Rich, great question. Let me clarify.

        Lethality is one measure. New cases is another. Hospitalizations are a third. Incidence is a fourth. There are many others. My point is that lethality is not the only measure that we need to use to determine what to open up and when.

        We are now building a very solid data set, with north of 4MM observations. With roughly 1.25% of the US population tested, we can make some ‘macro’ judgments (e.g. what counties and zip codes can we open up), but detailed information is just not there, down to zip+4 – which is what I believe we need.

        Happy to see you were inspired. I truly believe what I wrote, because I know that to be absolutely true. What we as Americans have come to expect (and deliver), the rest of the world sees as miraculous. And they are right. What we have here is nothing short of magical.

        1. The data you refer to is biased since the population tested errs toward selection bias. We need testing cohorts based on sampling that is representative of the population at large. That way we can determine with some confidence the metrics that you discuss.

          One other point: you hand-wave away the economic and social impacts on the lock-down. You don’t know if it is a “blip”.

    2. ” In the face of these facts, instituting restrictions that were a) limited, b) temporary, and c) time-bound was a rational policy response until questions can be answered. We had no data, and we need solid data to make good policy decisions.”

      With bad or no data, there are no good policy decisions. But what really happened was government used the IHME model that projected up to 2 million deaths or more. So they used really bad data and really bad assumptions to force policy on everyone.

      The facts known at the time were that limited biased data had the CFR at around 3% and it hit the old/sick harder than the young. They knew there was a high prevalence of asymptomatic people. Using that knowledge, they knew the models were most likely pessimistic. We also have the knowledge of previous pandemics that weren’t as bad as the modelers and agencies like CDC initially projected. The correct course would have been to utilize the same measures as H1N1 or a bad flu season. Ask people to wash their hands, avoid large crowds, etc. That is what the CDC initially did until the Media took over and caused an overwhelming panic.

      Again, from an article I posted yesterday, half the deaths are from NYC. All of our media is housed in NYC in essence. The media hyped a local issue due to lower hospital per capita numbers due to Certificate of Need laws. NYC kept their trains and subways open to expose people to higher infection rates. These conditions do not apply country wide, yet we imposed draconian measures as if they did.

      The government was wrong in their response, hyped by a terrible media.

      1. “IHME model that projected up to 2 million deaths or more”

        I thought it was the Imperial College model that predicted >2M deaths? Doesn’t matter… That model was definitely part of the media narrative at the time.

      2. With bad or no data, there are no good policy decisions. Agree

        But what really happened was government used the IHME model that projected up to 2 million deaths or more. So they used really bad data and really bad assumptions to force policy on everyone. The IHME model was one of several models used for projections.

        The facts known at the time were that limited biased data had the CFR at around 3% and it hit the old/sick harder than the young. Partly true. There was no way to,know the data were biased. And btw, we had no data on asymptomatic transmission on March 8th.

        The correct course would have been to utilize the same measures as H1N1 or a bad flu season. This is where we part ways; I don’t know if that was the right course or not. We won’t know that for some time.

        That is what the CDC initially did until the Media took over and caused an overwhelming panic. I totally agree the MSM has been more than irresponsible, they have acted with negligence and deliberate malice.

        The government was wrong in their response, hyped by a terrible media. The jury is still out JesseAZ. I don’t agree with that assessment (wrong response)….yet. But I have an open mind, and I want to see the data. The data will tell us.

        Other: Check out the Johns Hopkins US Covid-19 map. Based on the county data I see there, I think it is safe to start opening up wide swaths of the country right now. The link is below.

        https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/us-map

        1. “I totally agree the MSM has been more than irresponsible, they have acted with negligence and deliberate malice.”

          Next pandemic, the media should be among the first businesses declared “non-essential” and shut down. They’ve already successfully argued that 1st Amendment rights don’t exist in an emergency, so they won’t mind at all. We’ll all feel a lot better, too, probably without the 24/7 panicky news feeds.

    3. Commenter_XY
      April.22.2020 at 7:46 am
      “Let’s take a trip down Memory Lane….”

      Stuff your PANIC!!! flag up your ass, stick first, sit on it, and then fuck off, slaver.

    4. Early on, restrictions would have seemed reasonable.

      A big part of the problem right now is that the experts don’t want to admit that this is turning out to be far less dangerous than they warned about, because it basically means they cornholed the economy for nothing. So they’re doubling down and shifting the goalposts from “flattening the curve” to “we have to test everyone to confirm there’s no new cases”–which is setting the whole enterprise up to fail. With the decline in new cases, the broader population is likely going to be divided into people who are likely asymptomatic if they’ve been going out every day and still haven’t gotten sick, and those who’ve shut themselves up and are going to get bitch-slapped with BatCoof later on this coming flu season.

      The endgame is inevitable because the economic forces are arrayed against them. No matter how much they continue to scare-monger, the longer this goes on, the more fed up people are going to get. City and state budgets continue to choke from a lack of tax revenue, and even the governors who haven’t gone full-on fascist like that idiot Whitmer or LA mayor Garcetti are going to squander whatever goodwill they’ve built up if they don’t get people back to work this summer.

      We know that nursing homes are the primary vector, and those need to be addressed.

      The medical community in particular needs to accept the reality that they won’t have jobs by the end of the year if they keep focusing autistically on BatCoof at the expense of the needs of their broader patient population, and start planning on how to isolate COVIDs from the rest of the patient population so these other people can get treated. If that means setting up proprietary field hospitals and treating them like a CBRN environment, so be it. Others deserve to have their basic healthcare needs met just as much as the cheeseburger-sucking fatass who’s now dealing with the consequences of his own poor lifestyle choices.

      Sucks about your financial situation, XY–hope that gets rectified soon.

      1. Red, thanks for the thoughtful reply (and your ending comment).

        Yeah. we are now at the point where it is time to start lifting restrictions. The Johns Hopkins map pretty much tells the story. Social distancing worked. Now…Did our elected leaders ‘over-react’? They may well have done so. Too soon to tell.

        I only hope there are no other outbreaks that spin out of control.

  7. The problem is that some people are downright enjoying all this.

    1. An entire segment of the left is seeing this crisis as a means to transform our government and our lives.

      1. You absolutely love to see it.

      2. I think there is a psychological element to it for some people, too. I live in an area that has a lot of fedgov employees who are still drawing paychecks who seem to see this as some sort of adventure. I suspect that many of them suffer from “hedgerow envy” or “Selma envy” so they like to see themselves as heroic even though what they’re really doing is binge watching Netflix.

    2. They wont be laughing long.

      Trump will be reelected and the US economy will come roaring back…

      or the USA will devolve into Civil War 2.0

      Either way, Lefties have lost and they know it. Hence the desperation to attempt coups of Trump and destroy the US economy. People who are not desperate would know that they can beat non-Lefties on fair terms.

      1. That Civil War 2.0 fear is the real reason they keep trying to take guns out of the hands of the public. It is much harder to oppress an armed population.

        1. +1000

        2. A population that is armed to the teeth. Or we could just go the Gandhi route and refuse to comply en masse.

  8. Well, we will not actually know the lethality for quite a time now, as all of the studies so far are based on numbers from limited testing, or from non-representative groups groups. (cruise ships skew towards the older and more compromised, carriers skew towards more young and healthy, northern Italy skews towards old populations surrounded by huge Communist Chinese building projects with thousands of transient workers, Communist China skews toward total lies, etc.)
    What we have always known is that a government of free people would explain the available data with the explicit caveats, request that people practice proper sanitation and anti-social distancing, and keep the citizens informed while honoring their oaths of office to preserve and protect the constitution. The other thing we have always known is that fascists will grab the economy by the throat at the slightest opportunity and strip away every right it can from the citizens.
    November is not that far away; if you can’t remember what happened to the country from the political power grabs, please write down some notes for the election.

    1. 4,163,000 tested in the USA.
      825,306 confirmed infected.
      45,075 deaths in the USA.

      JHU Sick Map
      We have know the KungFlu is not very lethal, even 80+ years olds have a 75% chance of surviving.

      As you say, the Lefties are grabbing for power while they can.

      1. The virus is mostly killing people who would die soon anyway. This is one reason why deaths from all causes in the US so far in 2020 is well below average and well below what it was up to mid-April in 2018 and 2019.

      2. Further:
        US new cases last 24hr: 38
        And then:
        ‘…In total, the CDC estimates that up to 42.9 million people got sick during the 2018-2019 flu season, 647,000 people were hospitalized and 61,200 died. That’s fairly on par with a typical season, and well below the CDC’s 2017-2018 estimates of 48.8 million illnesses, 959,000 hospitalizations and 79,400 deaths…”
        https://time.com/5610878/2018-2019-flu-season/

    2. This is the problem I’m having with the limited amount of data so far, is that they are very selective about what they put out there. Any single stat they’ve been using has a lot of context that isn’t being discussed. They discuss death rate, and to a limited level, age and now race. But there are so many other factors to consider. The stats for middle aged men are going to vary depending on where they live, what is their occupation, what other health risks are in play, what kind of viral load did they encounter, and the list goes on. It’s the same nonsense that comes from presuming that because NYC, Chattanooga TN is the same risk. The concept of sameness is a necessity when you have centralized government because it can’t handle individual needs. The same hold true with State government. Locking down Hamilton County NY because NYC is just stupid.

  9. The goal of Lefty TYRANNY is to destroy the US economy and end this Constitutional Democratic Republic forever.

    Lockdowns, KungFlu hysteria, and Lefty Propaganda will continue.

  10. How many times do I have to day this? The lethality of the virus is dependent upon viral load and therefore will change depending on the location. That’s the way viruses work.

    1. I had a microbiologist, one of two in the world for her position, explain this to me and thats why fresh outside air is so important. instead of keeping old people locked up indoors where they can’t get enough fresh air changes, take them outside. this method has been used for centuries now. polluted outside air is better than interior recycled air carrying the same pathogens around for people to cough up and re inhale. And this is why doctors and nurses need to have fewer on the job hours not this stupid 12 hours plus in a row. they need more fresh air time than indoor time to give the body time to exhale. If you don’t do that you need full body suits with its own air system.
      I don’t know why these other doctors don’t see this.

      1. Alternatively, HVAC Systems in these facilities need to be equipment with robust air PURIFICATION systems so that contaminated air is not recycled.

      2. They didnt necessarily understand it back when but that is why places like the Kellogg Sanitarium and other places that advocated outside relaxation.

    2. Yes, exactly! But I have yet to see a single news report talking about this. We bring in thousands of viruses each day and the body fixes that, but we have been exposed and our immunities are built. If someone sneezes on your face, that’s a lot different than walking by someone breathing normally.

  11. This would be a pretty measured and balanced approach if Sullum weren’t one of the authors encouraging leaders to lock things down in the first place.

    Back when this thing was really starting up, Sullum was one of the many authors waiting to pounce on any hiccup as a catastrophic failure that would cost lives, economy and everything else in between. I have zero love of the government, but even I could see that this attitude was encouraging EXACTLY the attitude that the LA Mayor is taking above. It is much better for them to be seen as DOING SOMETHING than to take a measured response and have every death hung about their necks like an albatross.

    If the Mayor looks at that report and opens up the economy, and it turns out the report was wrong, there is plenty of reason to assume that Sullum will be there again blaming inefficient government for screwing things up again. That is because Sullum knows he is playing “Gotcha” journalism. No matter what happens, he can pin his ideological enemies to the wall, and he is going to do it.

    And yet here is Sullum trying to explain why science will set us free, completely oblivious of the hand he played in encouraging the massive government overreaction to this nonsense.

  12. Is that bioethicist Steven Pinker in the photo? Big yikes!

    1. Pinker is a linguist.

      1. Yeah, but is he a cunning linguist?

  13. Lethality rate for whom? Seniors?

    Does everyone have an equal right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

    1. Should we discuss it on quorum?

      1. So long as they don’t let the jooze in, right mIsek?

    2. A right to not allow the government to take it from you without due process does not equal the responsibility of the government, let alone every citizen to preserve it for you at any and all cost.

      1. If you decide that it’s your right to spread death through covid19 to the vulnerable, you are no different than a terrorist.

        1. “If you decide that it’s your right to spread death through covid19 to the vulnerable, you are no different than a terrorist.”

          Suggest cowardly pieces of shit like you stay indoors, don’t eat any food, try not to breathe.
          Hint: I’t no my job to keep YOU from getting sick, coward. YOU take whatever precautions you please, and leave me alone.

  14. Reason Less Excuses for Free Individual;

    This is the Time you want the State to Wipe Your Ass;

    The State should do more, wah.

    How Disgusting;

    This isn’t a sign to you God aren’t happy.

    Why of course not, Stay at Home Executive Decrees are issued all Time; Just another Coincidence.

  15. Sadly, Mr. Sullum is rushing to embrace the conclusions of 1) a study which is known to be flawed in many ways (the Santa Clara study) and 2) one which cannot even be evaluated by critics because the only information the authors have made available is a press release (the Los Angeles study). If someone were proposing a massive government intervention in the economy on such a thin basis, libertarians would be up in arms. But when the very weak evidence confirms libertarian priors, it is embraced as if it were established fact and beyond question. Motivated reasoning, anyone?

    1. Sure, it needs to be vetted and reviewed more. But there are also studies coming out of Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Korea and others that are showing pretty much the same IFR. You shouldn’t depend on one single study, but the evidence is still mounting.

      1. Well, the Germany study–at least the one I have read about–shows an IFR of just under 0.4%. That’s 2-3 times the Santa Clara study, not “pretty much the same,” and about 4 times the seasonal flu IFR.

        1. And of course, since that matches the expectations of chicken littles, it’s correct, right?
          When is the sky falling?

  16. That finding is consistent with the results of an earlier antibody study in Santa Clara County.

    Jacob must know by now that the Santa Clara study has been criticized for basic errors. Not only the biased sampling and statistical errors, but:

    I have been corresponding with the authors of the well-known Santa Clara County COVID-19 preprint, and I am alarmed at their sloppy behavior. The confidence interval calculation in their preprint made demonstrable math errors – *not* just questionable methodological choices.

    –https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1252692357788479488.html

    Let’s wait a few days for informal peer review before drawing conclusions from a study — in this case the L.A. one — OK?

    1. In the case of the LA County study, we will have to wait for the study’s authors to make a preliminary version of their paper available for review. Right now all we have is a press release and a media interview.

      But, yes, waiting a few days before embracing the study as unquestioned fact would be a good idea.

  17. First of all, one study doesn’t make a theory suddenly a fact. Just look at all the flack the Stanford study is getting.
    Couple of things not mention –
    When they calculate the death rate from the flu, the CDC rolls pneumonia and flu into one category. So 60,000 deaths from some sort of breathing issue.
    If we are to believe a .2% death rate, NYC has about 10,000 deaths so 10000/.002 – so in NYC 5,000,000 are already infected? That’s a 50% infection rate… Easy enough to test and they should have herd immunity by now…. (I heard, 60% is the number for herd immunity)

    Again, the shutdown was not meant to avoid all deaths. Its purpose was to flatten the curve to the point that the capitalism based medical system in the USA could handle the influx.

    From the CDC modeling. With a 40% reduction in contact, deaths are expected to be about 60000 total. With a 20% reduction, deaths are expected to be on the order of 150,000.
    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/forecasting-us.html

  18. So many uninformed people in one place

    2700 more people died in NYC from 3/420 to 4/4/20 than died in September of 2001

    300 percent of normal

    country after country, city after city

    yeah, lethality is low

    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/04/21/world/coronavirus-missing-deaths.html

    Yeah, it is all just a liberal plot to take your guns

    1. arpiniant1
      April.23.2020 at 7:00 am
      “So many uninformed people in one place
      2700 more people died in NYC from 3/420 to 4/4/20 than died in September of 2001…”

      So many lefty fucking ignoramuses picking cherries.

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  20. We now see CA moving to a one-month extension of the Bay Area sequestration to the beginning of June (according to SF mayor London Breed). If anyone is tracking new cases per day, s/he will see that both CA and the US as a whole have been on a broad plateau for the past moth at least (the same is true of Italy for all that is worth adding) . For these dubious results and reassurances by Gov. Newsom that the present regime is working (whatever that means) we are driving the US towards a Greater Depression.
    If people think that the economy can rebound from prolonged strangulation, they are deluding themselves.
    This study by USC and the Santa Clara study need immediate repeating with a 10x larger sample size.

  21. Shouldn’t COVID-19’s Lethality Inform the Response to It?

    No more than the lethality of sex, drugs, skydiving, and motorcycle riding should inform the government’s response to it: it’s none of the government’s business.

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