Coronavirus

What Do Recent COVID-19 Trends Tell Us About the Merits of Lockdowns?

New infections are down nationwide but rising in some places as people rebel against government-recommended precautions.

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Is it misleading to cite expanded COVID-19 testing as one possible explanation for the post-lockdown increases in confirmed cases that some states have seen? Or is it misleading to cite post-lockdown increases in confirmed cases without taking expanded testing into account?

I am inclined to think the latter is more true than the former. But maybe you should not trust me, since I have long been skeptical of sweeping restrictions on movement and economic activity as a response to the COVID-19 epidemic.

By the same token, however, you should not trust The New York Times, which has long supported such policies in its news coverage as well as its opinion pages. "Pence Misleadingly Blames Coronavirus Spikes on Rise in Testing," says the headline over a recent Times story. But judging from the evidence presented in the story, that is not what Vice President Mike Pence actually did.

"I would just encourage you all, as we talk about these things, to make sure and continue to explain to your citizens the magnitude of increase in testing," Pence said during a call with governors, according to a recording obtained by the Times. "And that in most of the cases where we are seeing some marginal rise in number, that's more a result of the extraordinary work you're doing."

In other words, Pence thinks we should take expanded testing into account when we look at recent COVID-19 trends. He did not say that was the sole explanation for what is happening—just that it is an important factor to consider, especially when an increase in cases is "marginal," which is true.

"Seven-day [case] averages in several states with coronavirus outbreaks have increased since May 31," the Times says, "and in at least 14 states, positive cases have outstripped the average number of tests that have been administered." Since every state that imposed a lockdown has at this point lifted or loosened it, those numbers hardly seem like conclusive evidence in favor of those policies, or against reopening the economy. Nationwide, new cases have been declining since the end of March, and that downward trend continued as lockdowns were lifted.

By contrast, in Texas, where I live, the daily number of new confirmed cases has been rising since late May, from 1,083 on May 26 to 4,246 yesterday—a fourfold increase. The seven-day rolling average of new cases has more than doubled, from 928 on May 26 to 2,386 on June 16. During the same period, daily COVID-19 hospitalizations rose from 1,534 to 2,518—a 64 percent increase. By comparison, the number of viral tests performed each day had risen by just 29 percent as of June 15.

The increase in testing during this period clearly cannot account for the increases in cases and hospitalizations. Furthermore, the percentage of tests that were positive, based on a seven-day average, rose from 4.3 percent on May 26 to 6.7 percent on June 15, which reinforces the point that Texas is seeing a real and substantial increase in infections. So yes, The New York Times is right to suggest that emphasizing increased testing can be misleading, although the paper is wrong to dismiss the issue out of hand.

Unless you think lockdowns were completely ineffectual, it makes sense that COVID-19 infections would rise as restrictions on movement and economic activity were loosened. Yet Texas started doing that on April 30, and it did not see notable upward trends in cases and hospitalizations until this month, weeks after you would expect to see some impact from lifting the lockdown.

One popular explanation of the timing is that the new infections we are seeing now can be traced to gatherings on Memorial Day weekend, when people who may not have seen each other for months got together, often in close quarters without regard to social distancing guidelines. Around the same time, Texas also saw mass protests against police brutality in reaction to the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Those factors are plausible explanations in light of what we know about the outsized role of "superspreading" events in the epidemic. In Hong Kong, epidemiologists Dillon Adam and Benjamin Cowling found, "just 20 percent of cases, all of them involving social gatherings, accounted for an astonishing 80 percent of transmissions." Another 10 percent of carriers "accounted for the remaining 20 percent of transmissions," meaning that 70 percent of people infected by the virus did not pass it on to anyone. Those findings, Adam and Cowling note, are consistent with the results of other studies.

The implication is that targeted measures aimed at curtailing superspreading—such as masks, social distancing rules, and restrictions on large, crowded gatherings, especially indoors—are likely to be more cost-effective than broad business closures and stay-at-home orders. The latter approach not only imposes enormous economic costs but tests the patience of people whose cooperation is required to make control measures work. If Texas never had a general lockdown, Texans might have been less inclined to flout social distancing rules on Memorial Day or more willing to wear masks in public—precautions that are far less onerous than the mass quarantines nearly all states imposed.

Those orders, especially insofar as they drew distinctions between permissible and prohibited activities that made little or no sense, left people exhausted by arbitrary dictates. In this context, it is hardly surprising that some Texans rebel even at relatively modest precautions when they are recommended by the same public officials who deprived them of their livelihoods and confined them to their homes. That reaction, while understandable, poses a real problem as we settle in for the long haul and wait for a vaccine to save us. Precautions that might have been sustainable without lockdowns may prove less tolerable after that bitter experience.

There is some (relatively) goods news in the data from Texas. The seven-day average of daily COVID-19 deaths has actually fallen since the lockdown was lifted, although it is higher now than it was in late May. That positive trend may reflect improvements in treatment and/or changes in the preexisting health status of newly infected people.

Youyang Gu's epidemiological model, which has an impressive track record of projecting COVID-19 fatalities, shows daily deaths in Texas gradually declining through September. The model's estimate of the reproductive number for Texas—the average number of people a carrier infects—has fluctuated only slightly since April 30, sometimes dipping below one and sometimes rising a bit above that threshold, which indicates a continuing epidemic. The model's projections suggest that the reproductive number in Texas will remain slightly below one during the next few months, indicating an epidemic on the wane.

Whether that actually happens depends on how Texans behave now that they are free to move about and return to work. The lockdowns, whatever their marginal contribution to slowing the spread of the coronavirus (still a matter of much dispute), may simply have delayed COVID-19 deaths rather than preventing them. The eventual death toll will depend on people's willingness to follow sensible guidelines, and it seems that many of them are in no mood to do that.

NEXT: "NBC Said Google Is Demonetizing The Federalist for Spreading Fake News; Google Says the NBC Report Is Fake News"

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  1. There is no cost worth creating totalitarian control economy that informs certain people are more essential than others based on arbitrary fiat.

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    2. Hmmmm, let’s take a look at how Brazil is doing.

        1. Because he’s a braindead fucking radical left wing cunt who can’t even keep his Democratic Underground talking points straight.

          1. Those Magic Earthquake Machine-believing idiots are still around?

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        2. He isnt a libertarian and terrible at math.

    3. This whole exercise was one of the dumbest policy mistakes in history. Whomever was going to get sick will get sick and that should have been the cost. Now the cost is unknowable if we add together the economic loss from the lock down and the additional cost from pent up frustration during the riots.

      1. If you people can’t do any better than letting millions die by doing nothing then you need to be OK with someone else being in charge. And with your small government ideology being ipso facto disproven.

        1. Millions were never going to die despite how hard you wished for it.

        2. You’re just jealous that small government ideology has saved more lives than your idiotic lockdowns ever could.

          1. What are you taking credit for now?

            1. At calling you on your bullshit, shitstain.

        3. “If you people can’t do any better than letting millions die by doing nothing then you need to be OK with someone else being in charge.”

          If you can’t do any better than posting one lie after the other, you should fuck off and die, you pathetic piece of lefty shit.

        4. All you damn Libertarians, making concessions for tens of thousands of protesters to gather. Millions will die!

          1. Apparently all they have to do is wear a mask to seriously limit the damage. Is that too much effort and community concern for your freedom detector to permit?

            1. People were already doing that and are still doing so.

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            2. “Apparently all they have to do is wear a mask to seriously limit the damage.”
              Which the majority was not doing, but even if your lie was true, it means the lockdowns were worthless. So we’ve got one more outright lie and one more admission of a prior lie. Good going, shitstain.

              “Is that too much effort and community concern for your freedom detector to permit?”
              Yes, and fuck off.

        5. I’m so glad you’re okay with the deaths that will be caused by the mental health and economic damage done by the lockdowns, then, especially since those are predicted to be very nasty though spread out over a longer period of time. Admittedly, the group that runs the government is distinctly more insulated from the harm caused by nuking the economy–it isn’t a direct existential threat to them, and most aren’t terribly good at understanding that their actions have consequences anyway. Part of why a smaller group is better is that cuts down on how much they can insulate themselves socially…and it limits significantly the human costs should it become necessary to forcibly remove them from power. (And it makes it distinctly easier to detect and deal with corruption, which is itself an effective deterrent: people are less willing to be dishonest when they feel they will be caught.)

        6. Even if nothing were done, Covid19 would have killed fewer people in the US than would have normally died this year.

          By your own words your big government ideology is ipso facto disproven.

        7. If you fucking people can’t do any better than pretending that the only thing that matters to health and safety is one ficking virus and ignoring everything else that matters to health and living a good life, I don’t know what else to say. Evidence is pretty good that lockdowns accomplished very little except ruining the economic prospects of millions of people and turning the governors into little authoritarian dictators.
          New York was locked down pretty good and enough people there were infected that they pretty much have herd immunity. What did the lockdowns accomplish?

      2. One thing they don’t usually reflect on is that flattening the curve doesn’t significantly change the area under the curve. If there are, say, 200k at-risk people who would almost certainly die if exposed at any time to COVID-19, then there’s still 200k likely to die, they’ll just be spread out over more time. Some number may be saved because of the flatter curve allowing for better utilization of hospital beds and ventilators. But unless some miracle treatment comes about very soon or a vaccine is created followed vast immunization program, those most-at-risk people will eventually be exposed and will die anyway.

        In our population there exists a subset of people for whom infection by COVID is a death sentence. I’ll call them Group A. Once exposed, there is no amount of medical assistance that is going to save them (e.g., 80% of people who get put on ventilators and into ICU care for this still die). Short of magically knowing who those people are before they are exposed and placing them in sterile bubbles for the rest of their lives, there is likely nothing that we can do to prevent their deaths. The virus is out there, does not get tired, and is not going away, so these people will be exposed eventually (short of the sterile bubble option), and therefore will die.

        There exists another subset of people for whom infection with COVID is going to cause severe illness–flirting with death–but with the miracles of modern medicine, ICU care and ventilators, they will eventually recover. But without access to that extreme level of care, there’s a likelihood that they die. Call this Group B.

        There are other, much larger, groups: those for whom COVID infection results in virtually no detectable symptoms (may be upward of 50% of infections) [Group E]; those for whom COVID infection causes mild flu-like symptoms that they recover from without medical intervention (may be upward of 40% of infections) [Group D]; those for whom COVID infection results in severe illness, perhaps requiring hospitalization but not extraordinary care (no ICU, no ventilators) [Group C]. Let’s ignore these, because except for people in Group C, they resolve on their own and those people are presumably immune going forward (I know, this is an open question, but the money seems to be on a chicken-pox-like immunity, you *might* be able to catch it again but that would be rare).

        So let’s focus on the very small minority of people in Groups A and B. Because we really–by definition–cannot separate Group A from Group B until after extraordinary care fails to save them (must have been Group A) or they recover (must have been Group B), we tried to slow down the rate of infection so that we did not overwhelm the hospitals all at once with all the Group A and B people at the same time. Because if we ran out of ventilators, the next person that needed one might be from Group B and might die as a result of not having the ventilator.

        In other words, “flattening the curve” was, by definition, NOT trying to save every life–we know those in Group A are dead anyway–but to hopefully ensure there were enough resources available to save as many Group B people as possible. Maybe a little bit of trying to keep from flooding the hospitals with Group C folks, again to save the Group B people by not overwhelming resources.

        Sadly, the folks in Group A will die from COVID sooner or later, because the virus is in the wild and half-assed lockdowns that let people go the the grocery store, Wal-Mart, and Home Depot will not protect the people in Group A. The virus is in the wild and those folks in Group A will eventually be exposed and they will die from it. Period. The only way we reduce the size of Group A is when they die from something else before they are exposed to COVID.

        1. I like the way you broke this down and made categories that explain flattening the curve. It’s maddening that the lockdowns are continuing under some new, ill-defined goals that seem to suggest that we can corral the virus and keep everyone safe as long as we all hide. We can do a pretty good job, though, at actually preventing a lot of people in Groups A and B from getting infected. About half of USA deaths have been in facilities taking care of seriously compromised individuals, and we sure can do a better job at shielding the people who reside there. I think those in group A and B who are not in facilities can (with support if they don’t have resources) structure a decent life with little chance of exposure. It was REALLY good news to discover that surface/item transmission is rare, and of course outdoor transmission doesn’t seem to happen absent sustained, close contact. For example, husband and I are in a moderate risk category. We shop, but not all that often and with gloves, mask, wipes etc. We go out of doors for hours and enjoy/exercise. We’ve been able to see our adult children and some friends, with precautions. Since we can maintain this lifestyle indefinitely, we can probably duck the Rona, at least for another year or so. I think it will peter out and that treatment options will improve. Meanwhile, I need to get motivated to get back on low-carb and lose the belly fat again–that’s one thing that would really help my chances if I do get this fucker.

        2. Flattening the curve could well increase the area under the curve. The longer we go without developing significant population immunity, the longer the people in the at risk groups will potentially be exposed. They are not safe until enough of the population is exposed to mostly stop transmission.

    4. I absolutely agree. Our life and liberty has been negatively impacted by a few power drunk over rated “experts” and power hungry politicians!

  2. everyone dies, dude. shackles no trade for safety.

    1. Republicans like Abraham Lincoln took away the right of African-Americans to have food, housing, clothing, and a job! #SHAME

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  3. What Do Recent COVID-19 Trends Tell Us About the Merits of Lockdowns?

    There are none.

    1. OTOH, the Merits of Lockdowns is a nice band name.

    2. To expound:

      Lockdowns only reduce infection rates for as long as there is a lockdown. They don’t prevent infections. People are going to keep getting infected up until we have herd immunity through some combination of people surviving exposure and a vaccine. Will a vaccine come out before we get to herd immunity the “natural” way? Probably not.

      So when all is said and done people will estimate the economic damage done by these lockdowns and try to divide that by the number of lives saved to estimate the cost per life. Well, no lives were saved, so what happens when you divide by zero?

      1. This should be obvious, but it isnt.

      2. It could actually cost lives since people will be older and sicker when they become infected, thus more likely to die. However, lives saved by “flattening the curve” are probably larger.

        Perhaps we should go back to February and do what was obvious then–protect the vulnerable and let everyone else get on with life and develop herd immunity? Maximum lives saved, minimum cost.

        1. Can’t get herd immunity when more places are requiring mask. I swear they don’t want heard immunity so Gates and Fauci can make billions on vaccines or something.

          Requiring mask now after 3 months is like wearing a condom after your girl gets pregnant

          1. Like that idiot Abbott in Texas (gov). He admonished young people for not face-diapering and said something to the effect of, “If you don’t take precautions, you WILL test positive.”

            And?

            Test positive? That’s the big bad that is supposed to scare them into compliance? Not “you will die,” or “you will get sick,” both of which could be questionable with young adults like the ones in question, but “test positive?”

            That means more herd immunity, you dingbat.

            You know, that city of superheroes thing, where they said that if everyone’s a superhero, no one’s a superhero? It has a corollary… if everyone’s quarantined, no one’s quarantined.

            Quarantines, forced closures, social distancing, masks (and other good luck charms), can only ever reduce the odds of infection at any given encounter. That increases the mean time to infection, but the infection still happens. That’s why it’s called “flattening the curve” and not “lowering the curve.” Flattening it means that the shape is changed, but the area under the curve is the same (the number of people sick, very sick, or who die from it… take your pick).

            If we use the protective measures to selectively isolate the most vulnerable among us and let everyone else go out and live life, and yes, Gov. Abbott, test positive, herd immunity will be reached sooner, and that’s the thing that is going to protect the most vulnerable. THE thing. Not masks, not destroying the economy, not causing thousands of suicides from the stress of isolation with no end in sight. Just herd immunity.

            If we ALL take the same measures to limit the virus’ spread rate, we are bending downward the deaths per unit time at the exact same rate that we are bending down the growth in herd immunity. That means the final death toll will be unchanged, as herd immunity will take longer to reach, and that will mean all of the old and sick will have a longer window of exposure to the virus.

            We know that 50% of deaths are in nursing homes, and that the average age of death is around 80 (across the world, these numbers are pretty close all over). People of working age (pre-65) are unlikely to die from COVID, except for the sick (and they may well be on disability if it is a chronic condition), and those of retirement age are, well, often retired, and they can take the time off to shelter in place and isolate. If they want to, of course– no one should be forced to isolate or not to isolate.

            That’s a pretty convenient break point, because it means that we can keep most of the economy going while building herd immunity and protecting the vulnerable. Those people who are scared and under 65 can hide if they want to… or wear masks, maybe a string of garlic too (might as well use a charm to ward off vampires while you’re using one to ward off COVID), or if that’s not enough, a full biohazard suit.

            Do as you wish… if you’re afraid, no one’s forcing you to leave the house. As has been proven lately, lots of jobs can get done inside the home. And if you’re an older person who is willing to take the risk, or if you’re in good health and are confident that you’ll be fine, by all means, go do as you wish too.

            1. Alex S:

              Brilliant.

        2. Individual responsibility is out of fashion. Centrally planned academic urbanist statists are in.

          Greta voice “HOW DARE YOU”!

  4. The implication is that targeted measures aimed at curtailing superspreading—such as masks, social distancing rules, and restrictions on large, crowded gatherings, especially indoors—are likely to be more cost-effective than broad business closures and stay-at-home orders.

    “*Implication*?! Good God, man — look at this *model*!!”

    1. Superspreaders are either obtaining the virus from a source other than themselves and carrying it externally, or else they are very sick. This is a virus, not a bacterium. A virus has only one task it is programmed to do… reproduce. It can only do that in a certain type of cell belonging to its victim. When it comes in contact with such a cell, it attaches to it and injects its DNA or RNA into the cell, at which point the cell ceases to perform the function it was supposed to do. The cell becomes an incubator for more virus particles (virions), and when they are ready, the cell membrane ruptures and the virions are free to repeat the cycle.

      This is how viruses make people sick. They actively destroy your cells so they can reproduce. If you have a lot of the virus in your body, it’s because a lot of your cells were destroyed, quickly. That makes you sick, since you needed those cells (in the case of COVID, those in the lungs). The damaged lung tissue causes irritation, and the body triggers a cough reflex to try to get the irritant out. It works, to some degree, with COVID– a person sick with COVID does indeed expel a lot of virions, and those were virions that were going to destroy cells in his body.

      The sicker someone is with COVID, the more lung damage there is, and the more lung damage there is, the more coughing there will be. The amount of virus particles that are expelled is directly related to how many virus particles he has in his body, which in turn is directly related to how sick he is.

      Can we please drop the “Typhoid Mary” idea now? Typhoid is a bacterium. Bacteria usually make people sick by producing toxins within the body, not boy directly attacking cells. If a given person happens to be immune to the toxin, they can have a lot of the bacteria inside them and not be sick… allowing them to be a silent superspreading carrier.

      There are superspreaders of COVID, but they’re not perfectly healthy. They know they’re sick. They’re coughing, and they have a fever. COVID is a variety of SARS, the disease that came out of China in the early 2000s. The guy that started that epidemic was a superspreader, and he was symptomatic when he was spreading. He knew he was sick. He was one of the researchers who had been working on it, if I recall.

    2. It makes it real hard to trust the “experts”, especially when some of the experts have been so gloriously wrong with their predictions in the past, like Neil Ferguson. (who, BTW, was let go from his job at Imperial because he violated quarantine after he tested positive).

      Did you ever look at the code for their model? I did. Holy crap. It looked like the codes for climate studies I used to see when I worked with NOAA.

      I’m reminded of that scene in Armageddon…”I know the president’s chief scientific advisor, we were at MIT together. And, in a situation like this, you-you really don’t wanna take the advice from a man who got a C- in astrophysics.”
      I’m not the only one, either.

      From The Spectator (.co.uk):

      Below are six questions Steerpike would like to see Neil Ferguson pressed on the next time he embarks on a media round:

      Q1.

      In 2005, Ferguson said that up to 200 million people could be killed from bird flu. He told the Guardian that ‘around 40 million people died in 1918 Spanish flu outbreak… There are six times more people on the planet now so you could scale it up to around 200 million people probably.’ In the end, only 282 people died worldwide from the disease between 2003 and 2009.

      How did he get this forecast so wrong?

      Q2.

      In 2009, Ferguson and his Imperial team predicted that swine flu had a case fatality rate 0.3 per cent to 1.5 per cent. His most likely estimate was that the mortality rate was 0.4 per cent. A government estimate, based on Ferguson’s advice, said a ‘reasonable worst-case scenario’ was that the disease would lead to 65,000 UK deaths.

      In the end swine flu killed 457 people in the UK and had a death rate of just 0.026 per cent in those infected.

      Why did the Imperial team overestimate the fatality of the disease? Or to borrow Robinson’s words to Hancock this morning: ‘that prediction wasn’t just nonsense was it? It was dangerous nonsense.’

      Q3.

      In 2001 the Imperial team produced modelling on foot and mouth disease that suggested that animals in neighbouring farms should be culled, even if there was no evidence of infection. This influenced government policy and led to the total culling of more than six million cattle, sheep and pigs – with a cost to the UK economy estimated at £10 billion.

      It has been claimed by experts such as Michael Thrusfield, professor of veterinary epidemiology at Edinburgh University, that Ferguson’s modelling on foot and mouth was ‘severely flawed’ and made a ‘serious error’ by ‘ignoring the species composition of farms,’ and the fact that the disease spread faster between different species.

      Does Ferguson acknowledge that his modelling in 2001 was flawed and if so, has he taken steps to avoid future mistakes?

      Q4.

      In 2002, Ferguson predicted that between 50 and 50,000 people would likely die from exposure to BSE (mad cow disease) in beef. He also predicted that number could rise to 150,000 if there was a sheep epidemic as well. In the UK, there have only been 177 deaths from BSE.

      Does Ferguson believe that his ‘worst-case scenario’ in this case was too high? If so, what lessons has he learnt when it comes to his modelling since?

      Q5.

      Ferguson’s disease modelling for Covid-19 has been criticised by experts such as John Ioannidis, professor in disease prevention at Stanford University, who has said that: ‘The Imperial College study has been done by a highly competent team of modellers. However, some of the major assumptions and estimates that are built in the calculations seem to be substantially inflated.’

      Has the Imperial team’s Covid-19 model been subject to outside scrutiny from other experts, and are the team questioning their own assumptions used? What safeguards are in place?

      Q6.

      On 22 March, Ferguson said that Imperial College London’s model of the Covid-19 disease is based on undocumented, 13-year-old computer code, that was intended to be used for a feared influenza pandemic, rather than a coronavirus.

      How many assumptions in the Imperial model are still based on influenza and is there any risk that the modelling is flawed because of these assumptions?

  5. government-recommended

    That’s not how it works in MD.

    1. Everyone will voluntarily comply, or else…

    2. I was voluntold.

  6. When we’re looking at the downside of lockdowns, we should also factor in the increased unemployment and rioting–both of which seem to be correlated. No, correlation does not equal causation, but then correlations doesn’t necessarily mean two things aren’t directly related either.

  7. 1. I don’t believe any of the models.
    2. I don’t believe any of the “press”.
    3. I don’t believe any of the “experts”.
    This I believe:
    there is a new virus, like many before it.
    Some people will get sick from it, and most will not.
    Of the people who get sick, some will have severe cases, most will not.
    Older people will have it worse.
    Of the people who have a severe case, some will die and some will not.

    None of this is worth destroying the economy.

    1. For instance; when I die three years earlier than I should have, because I had no “unnecessary” preventative health care for months, and because I could not work out as effectively at home as at the gym, will my death get counted as a “COVID related” death?

    2. Please! I need a second wave and second lockdown. I didn’t dump all my cash into stocks during the S&P500 freefall during March! Daddy Harv wants that quarterly dividend bukkake!

      1. I was speaking with a specialist at the company my retirement plan is with. I thought I had lost fairly large but I was pleasantly surprised that my risk positive approach had recouped three months worth of losses on under a month and was growing.

        1. Since we sold nothing by choice, out losses are limited to those required by the government-mandated ‘balance’ in our investments.
          Fortunately, those were small, and we’re hoping to earn it back quickly.

  8. they are claiming that the increase is due to the decrease in lockdowns however before they were claiming people were dying of covid at home during the lockdown because they were too scared to go to the hospital. So in reality there is no increase just more people deciding they can go to the hospital again. the whole numbers game is a cluster and no one left to believe since they are all partisan

    1. And let us note: being infected/testing positive is not the same fucking thing as being sick.

      Fuck the totalitarian Karen left

  9. I love how they throw these numbers around without giving the important ones. Have hospitalizations increased? Have deaths increased? How many are over the virus? This is just media hype. The shutdown was never meant to prevent infection. It was meant to prevent the medical system from getting over whelmed. Our local hospital is laying off and furloughing people. They went practically empty for two and a half months because the onslaught of infected people didn’t show up.

    1. “The shutdown was never meant to prevent infection. It was meant to prevent the medical system from getting over whelmed.”

      You didn’t actually believe that, did you? “Flattening the curve” was pretense from the get-go, as should now be obvious three months in.

    2. Covid-19 U.S. hospitalizations are down about 60% from April peak.
      Covid-19 U.S. deaths are down about 60% from April peak.
      New York just posted its lowest daily new case number since mid-March.
      The data’s right here.

      What do these trends tell us? That lockdowns are a tyrannical assault on basic human rights, foisted on us by panic-mongers and bureaucratic toadies who deserve to be kicked out of office, stripped of their pensions, tarred, feathered, and ridden out of town on a rail– all on video, for the next prospective toady to get a good look at.

    3. At least in Harris County, Texas hospitalizations are indeed up. In mid-May about .006% of our population was in the hospital with confirmed COVID. Now about .01% of the population. Hospitals are saying they see a lot of patients that were at protests or went floating on the river. The fact that both of those activities are outdoors is a little worrisome.

  10. The only reason for any of the increases is Trump.

    Not the riots.
    Not the peaceful protests.
    Not the citizens finally getting fed up with bullshit.
    Just Trump.

    1. Trump trumps everything.

  11. It is also important to point out that an increase in contact tracing can have a very large effect on increased infection numbers (probably larger than increased testing). Based on later serological survey data, PCR testing previously picked up only about 1/10 to 1/30 of the actual infections. That leaves a target rich environment for more focused testing to increase positive test results. To the extent that increased testing of traced contacts results in more infections, that may well be the result of more focused testing (e.g. that which picks up asymptomatic infections of those that had contact with an infected person).

  12. So Jake talks about Texas and the US like he knows it all, but he ignores the places where early and intelligent actions were taken. Examples of those would be Iceland, almost none, New Zealand, very few and the virus quickly quelled, South Korea, which had less than 7% of US cases per 100K and its unemployment never went above 3.5%.

    So Jake, your word prattle is essentially meaningless. I don’t know what you were trying to justify or what point you were making. My advice, get out of your own little world and see the entire picture before you ejulacte prematurly.

    1. Except that Iceland and New Zealand will get it again the moment they start allowing tourists to come in again.
      They haven’t escaped. They’ve only delayed the inevitable.

      Before the Chicoms ever knew they had something new, this thing was already global, and unstoppable.

  13. Here we go again: Reason I’m an RN. Deaths have been on sharp, sharp decline, hospitalizations on the sharp, sharp decline. “Infections/cases” of a Cold Virus that microbiology 101 and an understanding of basic evolutionary principles, in addition to information verifying such: this virus has mutated to less virulence AS VIRUSES DO in order to maintain infection rate. If a virus kills its host, it cannot spread and is selected for strains that are able to pass easily to the next host without killing it. We are seeing this.
    I canno further understand how a libertarian rag would EVER advocate public health or “the common good.” You’re not pro- liberty; you are pro- control progressives masquerading as libertarians because you dislike the liberal moniker. I call your bs.

    1. Can I get an AMEN.

      1. I’ll call your AMEN and Raise you a Hallelujah!

    2. “…I call your bs.”

      Please also do so a thread or two over where the author claims that eviction prohibitions were “uncontroversial”.

    3. OK, but I’m a biochemist and have been to med school. If this virus changed genetically to decrease virulence, it happened months ago, probably when it emerged from Wuhan. Its rate of causing death or debilitating illness in the general population was already so low 3 months ago that there would’ve been no selection pressure to go even lower in virulence.

      1. I’m neither a biochemist, nor have been to med school, but your assumption seems based on ‘selected’ mutations, rather than random ones.
        I’ll agree that ‘selected’ ones are more likely to direct the course of evolution, but disagree that they are the only cause.

    4. “I call your bs”

      Will you call it at a 900 number for $8.99 a minute?

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  14. The infections and death stop once herd immunity is reached, with or without the expedient of a vaccine. Protect the at-risk and leave everyone else alone to create the herd immunity that is needed…

  15. “What Do Recent COVID-19 Trends Tell Us About the Merits of Lockdowns?”

    That they are unconstitutionally infringing my freedoms

    1. Sevo, you get it wrong. When it comes to health and safety of the public your so-called constitutional rights don’t matter. During WWII nighttime air raids there was a strict lights out policy. So you choose to stay lit up like a Christmas tree and the bombs rain down on your neighborhood all because you wanted to exercise your right to freedom, dumb ass.

  16. We observed again and again that the people who were young, healthy, or had no pre-existing health conditions, either did not contract the disease and developed antibodies to protect themselves against future outbreaks, or they developed mild symptoms and also developed the antibodies. If healthy people aren’t significantly affected by the virus, why aren’t we talking about ways to improve the health of the at-risk people so they aren’t significantly affected when exposed to the virus? Why are the “authorities” shutting down the entire population when only a small fraction of the population is truly at risk, and implying that only cowering in your home or breathlessly waiting for the “miracle vaccine” will save you? Why the blind panic over a virus with a similar mortality rate to the common flu (another coronavirus version), when we didn’t let the flu virus shut down the entire country? The immunologists and other independent doctors and associations have repeatedly stated that exposure to the sun and Vitamin D supplements play a major role in protecting against disease. High levels of vitamin C also provide effective protection against disease. Studies have also shown that viruses, bacteria, and cancer cells thrive in an acidic environment, and cannot survive when a body’s pH is alkaline. Do your research, people, and take responsibility for your own health. Don’t play the victim and let “experts”, who may have their own agendas beyond your personal health, dictate what you can and cannot do.

    1. Hear, hear!! It is clear why we are not opening up the economy again. If you are the first large business or the first school district and there is some sort of breakout (even a mild one that doesn’t do much damage) there is a line of lawyers waiting to sue you into bankruptcy. So no major corporation or other institution will be the first to go back to business as usual. As usual, thank the legal department for US dysfunction. All we can do is not wear our masks and start normalizing normality.

  17. “One popular explanation of the timing is that the new infections we are seeing now can be traced to gatherings on Memorial Day weekend”
    There is no evidence for a contagion spike either in the cumulative US data or in the statewide data from CA, NY,MA, IL.

    The case rate in CA is rising non-linearly although sub-exponentially. It functional dependence is not consistence with the rate of increase in administered tests; as this OP also notes.

    1. “…There is no evidence for a contagion spike either in the cumulative US data or in the statewide data from CA, NY,MA, IL…”

      Most news outlets are claiming a recent “spike!”, not ‘rise’, nor ‘increase’, but “SPIKE!”.
      And when I look for numbers, there don’t seem to be any.
      It’s pretty certain there was and is a wide-spread sentiment hoping this would last long enough to affect Trumps chances at re-election, and a similarly, a desire that the economy stay in the tank.

      1. There definitely is no spike. Not even a small bump. Any variations when one might expect a spike are completely consistent with the routine day-to-day variations.

  18. Absolutely inconsistency of the message makes people ‘rebel’ or as I call it exercise healthy skepticism.

    They lost the plot completely when they went ‘it’s ok to riot because racism is a health issue’ anti-science gibberish. And then goons like De Blasio took advantage to play our their anti-Semitic fantasies.

    No one knew what the fuck they were saying and just babbling out of their assholes.

    “I have long been skeptical of sweeping restrictions on movement and economic activity as a response to the COVID-19 epidemic.”

    Keep it that way. I see parallels with the way the media is treating Florida, Texas and Georgia like they do Sweden. Hold the line.

    The bottom line is lockdowns have way too many unintended consequences and opens up too many Pandora’s Box.

    Be surgical next time. No need to pull a Granny being chased by Yosemite Sam routine.

    And I stand by the fact four governors in four states messed up with the nursing homes, that skewed all perception of the Covid-19 threat. That and along with ‘OMG ITALY!’

    We over reacted. Damage is done. Hope these retards ruling us learn a damn lesson.

    1. And the nursing home argument is even more stark with Canada in the case of our two biggest provinces. Remove that mess in the homes in Ontario and Quebec (jn particular), overall numbers in Canada are hardly anything to get riled about.

      Be vigilant sure. But to lockdown? No.

    2. “…Damage is done…”

      I’m afraid it isn’t.
      Newsom, among other lefty twits is ‘planning the reopening of the economy for a fairer and more equal system’.
      Newsom isn’t bright; and he’s young enough to have been indoctrinated by lefty instructors. I’d say it’s odds-on that you’d get a quizzical look if you asked him if it plan was for 5 years.

      1. That won’t end well.

        Anywhere where Democrats rule, mayhem rules.

        Now they’ve gone further left.

        It’s bull shit the GOP went ‘right wing’ and ‘parties switched’. Time to get back the narrative.

        Time to go to war. Same problem up here. The Liberals went further left to the point they’re almost indistinguishable from the socialist NDP while the conservatives have remained the same only softer and more limp.

  19. Each week the number of deaths has decreased and significantly. How can exposure go up and deaths go down? Only two ways. One is you have already killed off most that would die anyway (I highly doubt that.) The other is that we are not spreading it to those at risk as we have all smartened up. The death counts would likely have dropped by a significant number if our governors did not mandate Covid-19 patients into Nursing homes with our most at risk patients. People are much more careful with those at risk, which is the way it should be. Whether or not we have higher exposure to those it does not harm otr we are now more aware of it makes no difference. Now let’s get back to those tinder hook-ups, which has forever rendered Dr. Fauci a political hack who should not be listended too.

    1. The decease in deaths varies considerably statewide.
      BUT that statistic does not track with the increase in the number of new cases.
      In CA the number of new deaths remains flat from day to day while the number of new cases is rising quadraticly

    2. “Now let’s get back to those tinder hook-ups, which has forever rendered Dr. Fauci a political hack who should not be listended too.”

      He was just getting ahead of the game so the protest/riot proponents couldn’t claim to be first

  20. “The lockdowns, whatever their marginal contribution to slowing the spread of the coronavirus (still a matter of much dispute), may simply have delayed COVID-19 deaths rather than preventing them. The eventual death toll will depend on people’s willingness to follow sensible guidelines …”

    Jacob, those sentences completely contradict each other.

  21. While everyone on here is arguing on the merits of lockdowns and reopening and masks EVERY single other developed country has drastically bent the curve and had seen a large decreases in cases, deaths, and positive rates. They did this by letting the scientists and doctors lead the efforts and had a population that was willing to understand that science is non-linear and mistakes will be made. Why do Americans have to be such whiny babies when it comes to this? This country is really going down the gutter I swear to God.

    1. Take a look at the deaths per million in EVERY country that you suggest is so superior to us shitty Americans. Unless you actually believe the numbers in China, there isn’t that much bend in most places. If our brilliant governors hadn’t sent sick people into nursing homes, our numbers would definitely be smaller.

      1. What? nothing you’re saying is related to my point. Yes some European countries have higher death rates than US but they have all decreased cases and deaths significantly (to like 10% of the peak). The US is the ONLY developed country that still has increasing cases – and you’ll soon see an explosion of deaths in the southwest unfortunately.

    2. “…EVERY single other developed country has drastically bent the curve and had seen a large decreases in cases, deaths, and positive rates. They did this by letting the scientists and doctors lead the efforts and had a population that was willing to understand that science is non-linear and mistakes will be made…”

      Real stinking pile of shit, right there.

      1. Name another country developed country that has cases/deaths currently as high as the US. Maybe UK – maaybe and it’s because another bozo is running it. Luckily he’s not quite as deranged/incompetent as Trump.

  22. When we’re looking at the downside of lockdowns, we should also factor in the increased unemployment and rioting–both of which seem to be correlated.

  23. I posted a comment on Reddit r/coronavirus where I mentioned flattening the curve does not reduce total deaths, only spreads it out over time.

    I have recieved so many negative replies. I have stopped responding to them.
    There is a LOT of support out there for another lockdown

  24. I get the flu vaccine every year.

    One thing to consider: we have a vaccine for the flu. We have flu-specific medications (e.g., Tamiflu). We have some herd immunity to the flu. We do not usually see flu victims overwhelm the medical system. And flu still manages to kill 30-50k people most every year.

    We have no vaccine for the COVID. We have no COVID-specific medications. We have no herd immunity for COVID. COVID was close to overwhelming some parts of the healthcare system.

    And with all that, COVID is only killing 2-3x more than flu? Punk-ass virus. With our woeful defense against it, COVID ought to be running up the score like Georgia Tech vs Cumberland.

  25. My pro-lockdown friends answer some of my complaints like many others I’ve seen online about this issue. And completely misses the point. There are people are dying from the flu DESPITE all the advantages we supposedly have over it. But no one has ever cared enough to demand that we wear masks and practice social distancing to save them. And when COVID is “gone” it seems likely that we’ll go back to ignoring their deaths. We never did any of this before we had flu shots and tamiflu, by the way.

    My sin is, to my mind, thinking no more about the people dying of COVID than I think about the people dying of the flu. COVID deaths are not more tragic than flu deaths. The vast (VAST) majority of people who get the flu will survive and it seems the vast majority of people who get COVID will survive, albeit at a slightly higher risk of dying. COVID *is* more deadly than the flu. Some people who get the flu will die, despite medicine’s best efforts; some larger number of people who get COVID will die despite medicine’s best effort.

    The risks are not quite the same, but neither are they so much different to me that I see much reason to treat them differently. Maybe at the very beginning when there was less data I was somewhat more tolerant of the panic, but even then I was skeptical, e.g., I could find an email where I point out that 50% of the early deaths were in one nursing home in Washington state, and that the cruise ship data seems to indicate flu-like transmissibility vs say measles transmissibility and then even early on indications were that close to half of the infected never develop symptoms.

    1. “…The risks are not quite the same, but neither are they so much different to me that I see much reason to treat them differently…”

      If you discount the false positives in the death count (“C-19 *related*”), and the deaths caused directly by the government actions (sticking sick people in nursing homes) we might well find the risk is no greater and may be less.
      Regardless, knee-capping the economy was an idiotic step to take, but you can bet the D idiots who did so will get re-elected.

  26. Death Rate should be the only number you pay attention to since new case numbers are too easy to game

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  28. Also, there is the “crying wolf” factor. If a disease comes around where we really do need to isolate people, everyone will remember this unnecessary lockdown and ignore one that may actually be necessary, like say, if something with a fatality rate of the 1919 flu comes along. With our dysfunctional propaganda, er…”news” media lying about everything, an increasing number of people not only disregard what they say, but actively do the opposite, assuming that they are lying based on instructions from the government.

  29. The penultimate sentence is: “The lockdowns…may simply have delayed COVID-19 deaths rather than preventing them.”

    Does ANYONE remember that this is all the “experts” ever said lockdowns would do? Keep hospitals from being overwhelmed, but only delaying infections and deaths?

    Does ANYONE remember the tortured explanations and ubiquitous slick graphics explaining that “flattening the curve” meant exactly this?

    How did this morph into magical thinking that the disease would disappear?

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