How Many Universities Built COVID Potemkin Villages To Lure Students Back To Campus?

My cynical take on the first week back.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Over the past six months, cash-strapped Universities have spent untold amounts of money preparing to bring students back to campus. Colleges established elaborate plans on how student would interact in "pods." Classrooms were built on tennis courts to ensure there was enough space for learning. Modular housing units were constructed to ensure there was space for quarantining students. Labs dedicated critical resources for rapid-response testing. Intrusive "contact-tracing" apps were mandated, to ensure people did not socialize outside of their pods. Now, after barely a week on campus, COVID-19 outbreaks have come rampant. Campus after campus has shut down. None of these events should be surprising.

May I offer a cynical take? At some point last spring, universities recognized that if they shifted to an all-online model, they would see a drop in enrollment. And quite rationally, they recognized they could not afford that revenue cut. So the universities decided that they would have to prove to the students that there was a plan in place to safely open up campus. And they built these elaborate structures and implemented intricate plans to welcome back students. All of these efforts relied on overwhelmingly rosy assumptions about human behavior–assumptions that are inconsistent with everything we know about how 18-21-year-olds behave. Certainly, some of these universities recognized that if the students broke protocol, there would be a rash of positive tests. But they moved forward anyway.

In hindsight, these expensive efforts look like little more than Potemkin Villages. The universities crafted together fancy marketing plans to put students at ease, and prevent them from withdrawing. Now, students have paid their seat deposits. Tuition has been remitted. With the financials settled, it is far simpler to simply pull the trigger, and shift everyone online.

Last year we saw litigation over tuition rates. I suspect the litigation this term will be far more severe: How many colleges misled students into enrolling, knowing full well that there was no reasonable chance the semester would proceed in person? I would not be surprised if we see some RICO actions. One relevant piece of evidence will be the trigger for closure. That is, how many positive tests would the university be willing to tolerate before shutting down in-person instruction? If that number is non-existent, then the University's plans were illusory. If that number is too high, then the University's plan was unrealistic. If that number is too low, then the University never actually planned to keep students on campus for any reasonable period of time. Discovery here will be painful for universities.

In hindsight, perhaps all of that money spent on building Potemkin Villages would have been better used for tuition rebates.

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  1. Well…yeah. Happening here in NH, with one of the few “getting better than worse” ratings. Attracting the students back from MA. Campus parties, with rock music rocking from miles away – I suppose those kids are all masked and 6ft apart? I suspect the dorm innuendo will be less about who/who hooked up at that party and more about who got carried out on a gurney after that party.

    1. yeah, i think even dr birks has identified rock music as a virus transmission enhancer. i’m glad you left that detail in.

      ; )

    2. I’ll go further: Fraudulent and Deceptive Business Practices.

      They advertised SEX — the ability to “hook up” and they knew that would not be possible.

      1. “They advertised SEX — the ability to “hook up” and they knew that would not be possible.”

        Usually that type of fraud just costs you dinner. It’s impressive that schools managed to parlay it into tuition payments.

  2. They can’t afford to give rebates on tuition. Just because students are no longer using those building doesn’t mean the school can stop paying for them.

    More importantly they have a bunch of bureaucrats now sitting on their ass at home now they their are no students to monitor, but there would be a revolt if they fired them.

    1. Sucks to be them. People have gone to prison for less…

    2. “They can’t afford to give rebates on tuition. Just because students are no longer using those building doesn’t mean the school can stop paying for them.”

      Those new buildings are paid for by the people whose name is on the little plaque out front. When I went to university the football stadium was called Parker Stadium. by the time my daughter went to the same university, the football games were played in Reser stadium. The field didn’t move to a new stadium. (The new student section at the football stadium is fantastic. Thank you, Reser family!)

    3. More importantly they have a bunch of bureaucrats now sitting on their ass at home now they their are no students to monitor

      They will be hard at work monitoring the students’ social media posts.

  3. RICO? LOL. I’m beginning to think you’ve never practiced law (which I assume is probably the case). If your theory is correct, why not just the obscure common law cause of action called “fraud”? It comes with punitive damages (often as good or better than treble damages), keeps you out of federal court if you know what you are doing (usually a good thing in most states), and avoids the endless and expensive pleading fights over the various different RICO elements, which are a hallmark of RICO cases. As a bonus, you don’t get laughed at by the clerks for bringing a RICO case, which 99 percent of the time (on the civil side) are just brought by cranks who don’t know what they are doing but want to sound serious.

      1. Love that article. Despite that, someone will be stupid enough to file a RICO case (which is all that Prof Blackman is predicting).

      2. Even if there was collusion amongst institutions — or would that be anti-trust?

        All I know is that the US DoJ went after a bunch of Ivy league IHEs about 30 years ago for conspiring to set the FinAid awards to specific students whom all had accepted. Memory is that it was settled before anything got filed, so what would Justice have filed had it filed?

        And I’m thinking criminal RICO here and the nexis being the Federal FinAid money — conspiring to receive it “knowing full well” that they would not be able to provide the service for which they were accepting it. And that there is evidence of this, eg emails.

  4. Josh, do you think Trump’s vocal and repeated calls to open schools up this Fall played any role? Or do you believe it has had an impact only on K-12 schools? (Not a rhetorical question.)

    1. Schools need to open back up. It’s for the kids. They need the interaction, the teaching, the learning.

      They don’t need teachers calling the cops on poor families, trying to take their kids away, because the poor family missed a zoom meeting.

      1. Did you see the Boston Globe article on that?

        1. Yep.

          1. Just for fun, read the Commonwealth’s truancy laws.

            All it says is that you have to physically bring the child to the physical school building. It doesn’t say *anything* about *any* of the stuff they went after these parents for. And what I’d worry about as an administrator would be every one of these parents turning around and requesting an IEP, which DC&F would have to support them on. And SPED is, well, expensive….

            As I read the article, I kept wondering if those Superintendents remembered what FAPE stood for — Free and APPROPRIATE Public Education, and that’s a Federal mandate. So they’re calling child protective as the consequence of their own failure to provide the child an “appropriate” education? DC&F ought to be investigating *them*…..

            And the best part was the parent who wasn’t told about the Zoom stuff because “she neither used Facebook nor had email.” Well, what if the child were to fall down in the playground and start bleeding all over everywhere — don’t they have emergency contact information for parents?!?

            And what about the US Mail? If we can mail the parent a ballot for the Presidential election, can’t the school mail her a letter???

        2. Here’s one you may not have seen though.

          Minnesota’s Democratic governor just quietly rolled back its ban on prescribing hydroxychloroquine to COVID-19 patients….But, let’s really think through this. And put in a few more facts for you. Just to give you a sense of what’s going on

          Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar publically mocked President Trump for supporting hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment. And Minnesota’s Democratic governor banned hydroxychloroquine from being used as a COVID-19 prescribed treatment. If you had COVID in Minnesota, and wanted this drug, you couldn’t get it. By Governor’s executive order, it was banned.

          But…when Amy Klobuchar’s husband got COVID, you know what he got? Hydroxychloroquine. Which worked. But if you were just a normal sick patient in Minnesota, you were banned from getting it.

          Think about that for a bit.

          1. Hydroxychloroquine. Which worked.

            Lisa, I’d like to buy your rock.

            1. Oy. You sound like an anti-vaxxer

              1. Don’t be a HCQ pushing guy at this late date.

                Single studies saying no aren’t determinative, but we now have multiple independent studies saying it does harm and no good.

                It’s not partisan. It’s not a coverup to hurt Trump.

                1. Relax. Armchair Lawyer will ditch the HCQ and switch to the “My Pillow” guy’s miracle cure soon enough.

                  Unless some televangelist faith healer comes up with something even better first.

                2. Sarcastr0, do you understand the ethical issues involving a double blind study with a fatal disease which has no standard treatment?

                  Let me explain: Half the people you don’t treat and let die — and then see if fewer of the people receiving HCQ die. And as to those who weren’t treated at all, sucks to be them.

                  Hence we don’t — can’t — have actual studies that you want to see.
                  Because of something called “medical ethics.”

                  1. Yes, Ed, I do. It’s part of my job, in fact.

                    Science has dealt with human clinical trials for quite a while; there is not a complete ban.

                    https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/06/three-big-studies-dim-hopes-hydroxychloroquine-can-treat-or-prevent-covid-19

                    1. As I’ve been following it, the problem with most of the HCQ studies is that they didn’t replicate the way it was used in the original French report: Together with zinc supplements and a Z pack, on people who were just beginning to be symptomatic.

                      It’s almost like they were designing the studies to not say anything useful.

                    2. More anti-Trump conspiracies, Brett?

                    3. “It’s almost like they were designing the studies to not say anything useful.”

                      Wasn’t there one that said that HCQ didn’t help YANKED BECAUSE OF SHODDY METHODOLOGY?

                    4. Yes, Ed, I do. It’s part of my job, in fact.

                      Why am I not surprised?

                      There’s one big variable here: “standard treatment.”

                      There is NO “standard treatment” other than supportive care.
                      And even if this is only a placebo effect, what’s wrong with that?

                    5. The hope would be that variability in standard care would smooth out over large numbers of people. That’s pretty standard human trials protocol. It’s part of why I discard any single study.

                      But here there’s a bunch, and they didn’t even find a placebo effect.

                      And even if they did (they didn’t), pushing actual drugs with actual adverse side effects acting as placebos is not good medicine.

                    6. “But here there’s a bunch, and they didn’t even find a placebo effect.”

                      But they found heart damage in the people who got the stuff. Ideally, your placebo won’t kill you directly, only indirectly by convincing you you’re safe when you aren’t.

                3. I’m not going to debate the efficacy or lack thereof of HCQ and CQ with you. There are multiple studies both ways showing effectiveness and lack thereof.

                  The choice to take HCQ or CQ for COVID should be a choice between you and your doctor. And if you or anti-vaxxer David don’t want to take HCQ if you get the Covid, that’s your choice.

                  But what is infuriating is for elite liberal politicians to push to BAN normal people from even having the option of taking HCQ, while simultaneously using it for their own families when they get sick. That is wrong. And that’s what Klobuchar and others in the liberal elite are doing.

                  1. Armchair, remember AIDS and the big cry for “right to try” — as there was no cure they had a moral right to try anything promising.

                    How is this different?

                  2. “But what is infuriating is for elite liberal politicians to push to BAN normal people from even having the option of taking HCQ, while simultaneously using it for their own families when they get sick. That is wrong. And that’s what Klobuchar and others in the liberal elite are doing.”

                    Are the aliens and the Illuminati involved in this, too? How about Bigfoot? Elvis?

          2. “Think about that for a bit.”

            That’s the genius of this:
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoEuCOfjTYQ

          3. Armchair, anyone reading this might think that those events happened in the order you wrote them. The actual order:

            Around March 10 – Klobuchar’s husband John Bessler develops a fever that he initially thinks might be a cold. He later goes to the ER after coughing up blood and is hospitalized with pneumonia. A COVID-19 test is positive.

            March 17 – A French microbiologist announces that a trial of 40 patients has shown hydroxychloroquine effective in treating COVID-19. The work is later criticized as irresponsible, being too small and lacking a control group.

            March 19 – President Trump promotes chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in a press briefing. He follows up with a tweet on March 21 claiming that hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin combined “have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine”

            March 26 – Bessler is discharged. His treatment included hydroxychloroquine.

            March 27 – Minnesota governor issues executive order banning off-label prescription of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. Other states take similar actions around this time, explaining that panic buying and hoarding was creating shortages for patients with approved uses like lupus. The order is rescinded in August.

            April 21 – a study of 368 VA COVID-19 patients receiving hydroxychloroquine does not show effectiveness in combating the disease, but does show that deaths were higher than for patients receiving standard care without hydroxychloroquine.

            May 18 – Trump announces he is taking hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 prophylactic.

            May 20 – After Trump posts a tweet several weeks after the Democratic primary claiming “the Dem establishment” got her to quit the race to stifle Sanders, Klobuchar tweets in response “They say that hydroxychloroquine can lead to hallucinations.” Various conservative outlets characterize this as her mocking him for taking the drug.

            June 5 – A study at Oxford concludes hydroxychloroquine “is not an effective treatment in patients hospitalised with COVID-19”. Ten days later the FDA retracts its emergency use authorization of hydroxychloroquine on hospitalized COVID-19 patients. They never approved it for preventive use.

            So, Bessler did receive hydroxychloroquine, at a time when there were rumors it might be effective. Studies since have shown that it isn’t, so it probably is not responsible for his recovery.

            The Minnesota ban was to make sure people who actually benefit from the drug could get it, and was removed after the panic buying subsided.

            Klobuchar mocked Trump all right, but she mocked him for a crazy conspiracy theory.

            Now that more evidence is in Trump should retract his support for hydroxychloroquine. Instead he seems to have moved on to more dangerous territory and wants the FDA to approve the highly toxic extract oleandrin because the MyPillow guy thinks its a good idea.

            1. Armchair, anyone reading this might think that those events happened in the order you wrote them. The actual order:

              I’m shocked to find out Armchair Lawyer lied, and that there’s gambling in this establishment.

              1. I do not assume that Armchair Lawyer lied.

                I doubt Armchair Lawyer can distinguish fact from fiction to a degree that would enable him to form the intent to lie.

              2. I swear he used to be more reasonable a few years ago.

                1. More reasonable than relying on Trump, the My Pillow guy, and faith healers for medical treatment insights?

                2. 4 years of Russia lies from the liberal media.

                  And now what? FBI lawyers up on charges for fabricating evidence. Not a peep out of the community…

                  1. 4 years of Russia lies from the liberal media.

                    Much of the story confirmed by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

                    I think Sarcastro is right. A.L. used to make sense occasionally.

                    1. Bernard,

                      You were convinced Trump conspired with Russia.

                      Are you still convinced?

                    2. I”m convinced the Trump Admin did, and Trump either knew and didn’t care, didn’t know and is dangerously incompetent, or some combination of both.

                    3. Sarcastro,

                      Seriously? You have literal charges that the FBI illegally fabricated evidence to get FISA warrants on Trump campaign members. What’s it going to take to convince you that you’ve been sucked in a conspiracy black hole?

                    4. A telling spin from the facts of the investigation to FBI wrongdoing. Which, while bad, did not include fabricating the facts of the collusion.

                      Read the Senate report just released. The FBI was slipshod in FISA stuff (as I suspect they always are), but that was ruled immaterial, and the facts of the investigation are incontrovertible.

                    5. Jesus Sarcastro…

                      This isn’t “slipshod.” This is literal fabrication of evidence to justify spying on a Presidential Candidate’s campaign or the President himself. This is Nixon level stuff. Doesn’t this bother you?

                    6. Of course it bothers me. I’ve said I want to end FISA, and reform the FBI.

                      But what it doesn’t do is change the facts of the collusion between the Trump Admin and Russia.

                  2. One FBI lawyer plead guilty to that today — and likely is singing.
                    Could be interesting.

                    1. Could be. Though the Senate report is already quite interesting.

                  3. “4 years of Russia lies from the liberal media.”

                    How unfortunate for the Trump-fellating, half-educated bigots who like white, male, right-wing blogs that the Senate committee just issued a report with details.

            2. “April 21 – a study of 368 VA COVID-19 patients receiving hydroxychloroquine does not show effectiveness in combating the disease, but does show that deaths were higher than for patients receiving standard care without hydroxychloroquine.”

              Fewer people dying is evidence of effectiveness.

              1. More people died, not fewer.

                1. If the drug you took to keep you from dying of Coronavirus disease kills you, does that go in the “this drug is effective at keeping you from dying of coronavirus disease” or “this drug is not effective at keeping you alive if you have coronavirus” columns? Does it make a difference which political party you belong to at the time?

            3. And other studies have shown HCQ’s effectiveness. Studies are mixed, no doubt.

              The situation reminds me about the early days with HIV drugs, and how they were not allowed by the FDA, requiring people to secretly import them from Mexico.

              And for Klobuchar to be working to help ban HCQ (and not even give people the choice), while her husband arguably benefited from it. That’s wrong.

              Now, if you’re going to recommend people not take it…sure. But to work to ban people? Especially after your family took it successfully?

              1. Studies are not mixed, unless you take the crappy early studies as having the same weight as more robust later studies.

                You’re arguing against the science for political reasons. That is wrong. Also dumb. I didn’t think you were dumb.

                1. Depends which studies you’re using.

                  The Ford study came out in July. It showed some effectiveness

                  https://www.henryford.com/news/2020/07/hydro-treatment-study

                2. Other stories out of Germany showed some effectiveness in a cocktail.

                  https://www.preprints.org/manuscript/202007.0025/v1

                3. Problem is, you have the same mindset as the FDA bureaucrats who blocked the use of AZT in the early 1980’s for HIV.

                  Is HCQ or CQ a perfect drug? Absolutely not. Are the studies mixed? Yes. Is something probably being missed? Almost surely.

                  But you should give people the choice.

                  1. Armchair Lawyer, they’re not arguing in good faith about the “science” or for individual choices.

              2. Throughout the 30 years since Pons and Fleischmann there has been a constant stream of reports of cold fusion success that never panned out, and even today there are non-crackpot researchers working on it. I hope they eventually succeed, but at this point I think the odds are slim.

                HCQ for COVID-19 has its positive reports too, and the Ford Health people are not crackpots, but their study has been criticized for not employing random double-blind testing, which means doctors carefully selected who received the treatment and that selection may have skewed the results. That doesn’t mean it should be ignored, in fact other studies with negative results have been criticized on the same basis, but it does mean it isn’t robust enough to recommend the drug when there are other studies that show it can cause more harm than benefit.

                I tried but failed to find any allegation (other than yours) that Klobuchar was “working to help ban HCQ”. Maybe you could supply a reference. As I did say though, the temporary bans that were in place were there to ensure that people who definitely would benefit from the drug wouldn’t be denied by speculative hoarders. You may know that around the same time India tried to ban exports of HCQ for the same reason, their need being even greater because it is a primary treatment for malaria, but backed down in early April after President Trump threatened to punish them.

          4. ” If you had COVID in Minnesota, and wanted this drug, you couldn’t get it.”

            If you wanted propofol instead, you can’t get that, either.

    2. SM,
      I doubt that any president of serious universities paid attention to the Orange Clown.
      I also think that Josh’s charge of fraudulent behavior is absurd on its face.

      1. I mostly agree. Some state schools may have been influenced by state politicians, but that’s about it.

        I do think some schools took an overly optimistic view of what would work, but that’s no crime. Remember, the planning had to start months ago, so they didn’t know exactly what they would be dealing with.

    3. “Josh, do you think Trump’s vocal and repeated calls to open schools up this Fall played any role? ”

      Trump wants the schools open because having them closed is a constant reminder that he did a very poor job of responding to the crisis of the pandemic. Turns out, wishing that it would just go away by itself didn’t work. So, we tried a couple of months of trying to blame anyone else, but couldn’t get it to stick to anyone no matter how many times he called it the “China virus”. So, now you have to prove your loyalty to him and to party by intentionally putting people at risk. Alas, we have some people willing to do exactly that.

  5. COVID-19 deaths (June 23rd, U.S.A): 15-24 age range: 125.
    % of deaths, age range 15-24 due to COVID: 1.1%

    Infection fatality rate, age 10-19: 0.00032%
    Infection fatality rate, age 19-49: 0.0092%

    Leading causes of death, age 15-24 (2015 US numbers)
    Unintentional Injury: 12,514 deaths
    Suicide: 5,491 deaths
    Homicide: 4,733 deaths
    Cancer: 1,469 deaths.

    What does this all mean?

    People ages 15-24 are likely at greater risk of death from NOT going to college, then going to college.

    1. it means college football should be played and the big 10 and pac 12 should admit that they cancelled because theyre afraid of a college football players union and/or they want to score electoral college points, but covid provides a nice cover story

      1. they’re afraid that COVID has cardiac side effects and they don’t want to be liable if their athletes lose parts of their future professional sports careers to failing a physical due to catching a virus while playing for the colleges. The schools also try to limit their future liability for CTE.

    2. What does this all mean?

      That you’re too dumb to know that “Hey, you probably won’t die” is not actually a compelling rebuttal to “There’s a pandemic”?

      Also, that you’re using old data, and comparing three months’ worth of deaths to a year’s?

      1. I guess he’s smart enough to know that, “Hey, you probably won’t die” is, in fact, actually a compelling rebuttal to “There’s a pandemic you should be worrying about. Because, (This may be a surprise to you.) people aren’t immortal.

        1. Indeed. The chance of death in that age range is amazingly small. Even using the upper estimate of 0.0092%. And a 100% chance you get infected

          The chance of death in a car crash (lifetime) is 0.94% Does that mean cars shouldn’t be used? The odds of death due to sunstroke is 0.012%.

          1. Both of you stupidly (but I repeat myself) missed the point: most people would prefer not to get seriously ill even if they ultimately survive.

            1. Yes. Most people would prefer not to get VD, but still have sex. Most people would prefer not to be in car accidents, but still drive. Most people would prefer perfect safety, but are aware that life involves trade offs.

              But, then, you’re not most people, are you?

              1. Indeed. Life is about living. Not staying in the safest bubble possible.

                People like to eat solid food, not just cruel. Even though there’s risk of choking.

                People go up and down stairs and ladders. Even though there’s risk of falling.

              2. The difference, however, is that in contracting an infectious disease, you also risk others, many others, while these other activities involve risk only to that person, or at most a few others.

                Let’s say the college students go to college where there are hundreds or thousands of other students. Good chance they will be infected. There is a strong chance they will be asymptomatic, or only suffer mild issues. But they could also go home on a weekend or break and infect their parents, grandparents, neighbors, etc.

                1. That’s true: College aged people are unlikely to have bad cases of Covid 19, but they could pass them on to parents.

                  The answer to this isn’t to shut down the college, it’s to allow the students to remain in the dorms over the breaks.

                  1. Maybe, but college students naturally want to go home. Who wants to be stuck on campus for Thanksgiving or Christmas? So the end result will be most students will go home.

                    1. Yeah, we all have to make sacrifices in hard times, but they should at least be the appropriate sacrifices. The only way they can think of to protect the families is to close the school? They can’t just say, “You can attend in person, but you’re going to be stuck here for the whole school year to protect your families, are you OK with that?”

                  2. “That’s true: College aged people are unlikely to have bad cases of Covid 19, but they could pass them on to parents.”

                    Or anyone else they come in contact with. Which is mostly, but not exclusively, other young healthy people.

                2. True enough. Also true for the annual flu (annual deaths 50,000), each transmitted by an infected person. It was/is certainly true of HIV, which for a long time was 100% fatal. Which of these other communicable diseases do you favor shutting down society over?

                  1. True. But the annual flu is far less deadly that COVID. And HIV is transmitted either through sexual activity or blood transfusions. Neither of which are common between college students and their relatives.

                  2. And BTW, I don’t favor shutting down society. But college/university is a particularly dangerous mix. You have hundreds or thousands of people congregating together. And these are people who tend to be very immature in their behavior.

                    Students at college, away from their parents, are known to be heavy drinkers, drug users and involved in sexual activity. Historically, not much responsibility there.

                    Just this morning, I heard on the radio that the University of Connecticut opened up, but with warnings that college students had to maintain social distancing and wear masks at all times. They opened up and — surprise, surprise — the college students ignored all the rules, and threw big parties with hundreds of people crowded into a room. The Dean was livid, although he should have been mad at himself for being such a fool.

                  3. The flu figure is an overestimate, and it still shows flu to be far less deadly than coronavirus, which has killed 3-4x that number in less than half a year.

                    One can easily protect oneself from HIV, of course, by not having sex with people one encounters on the street. Unlike coronavirus.

                    1. Or in the bathhouses. But that disease, 100% fatal at the time, had a different political metric.
                      Whether the CDC incompetently measures the annual flu deaths as you aver, or not, it’s true that COVID is more deadly….it’s novel, there are no proven therapeutics, no vaccine, much still unknown. That being acknowledged, 50,000 flu deaths a year, every year, is serious also. Yet no one ever demanded that we close down the schools and colleges for fear that young people would transmit the disease to their more vulnerable parents or grandparents.

                    2. You can protect yourself David.

                      Just stay in your home. Don’t leave. And don’t let anyone in.

          2. The chance of death in a car crash (lifetime) is 0.94% Does that mean cars shouldn’t be used?

            Why are you comparing lifetime risk of dying in a car crash with the risk of dying from Covid over a period of a few months?

            And I imagine if you told people they could eliminate the risk of dying (or being seriously injured) in a car wreck by not using a car for a period of time a fair number would do that.

            1. That’s not the risk of “a few months” for COVID.

              That’s the risk of death, assuming 100% you get infected with it.

              Given how immunity tends to work….

              1. Which shows you’re comparing apples and oranges.
                Auto deaths/year versus Covid deaths/infection.

                Do better.

                1. I did better. I posted the raw death numbers.

                  There’s not a perfect comparison, for many reasons. Notably, we don’t have full data on COVID yet.

                  But the inability to draw extrapolations from data is the sign of a feeble, timid mind.

      2. Sorry, I thought you were smart enough to “extrapolate” without needing me to walk you through it. My bad. They don’t actually release the new numbers, broken down by age range, every day. So “extrapolation” is needed.

        Here’s more bad news. Suicide rates are climbing. Sharply in some areas. Up to 70% in Fresno.

        Let’s do some math for David here.

        5491 Suicides per year * 70% = 3843 new deaths due to suicide. Just in this age range. Not even counting unintentional drug overdoses (which are also spiking).

        125 deaths due to Covid, extrapolated out to a year = ~600 deaths.

        3843 is much bigger than 600…

        https://tucson.com/ap/national/pandemics-effect-on-already-rising-suicide-rates-heightens-worry/article_9545e18f-211f-572a-84cb-bae0b5a73ba4.html

        *(Standard caveats apply for those who aren’t David. These are extrapolations and estimates. But they are a real, major risk, and lockdown suicide deaths will likely outnumber Covid deaths in this age range by a large margin).

        **(If David wants to actually discuss things reasonably, instead of in a randomly insulting manner, I’m amendable.)

        1. Here’s more bad news. Suicide rates are climbing. Sharply in some areas. Up to 70% in Fresno.

          Wow. In one particular month in one particular place, suicides were higher than they were in that month a year ago? That’s practically like data. I mean, it’s not. But it’s a little bit like it.

          1. I’m not going to look up the cite on this, but for every 1% increase in unemployment, you get a 1% increase in suicide and a 3% increase in Opiate addictions.

            1. I’m not going to look up the cite on this

              You are aware that nobody is going to believe you without a cite?

              1. Do you realize that I don’t care?

                Nor any presumption that you’d believe me if I did.

                Hence why I don’t care.

                1. hang on. wait a minute.
                  do you care? It’s unclear from this comment whether or not you care.

            2. “I’m not going to look up the cite on this, but for every 1% increase in unemployment, you get a 1% increase in suicide and a 3% increase in Opiate addictions.”

              That 3% increase in opiate addictions means more employment in the poppy plantations and in the processing plants.

          2. Technically, it is data. It might surprise you.

            Don’t bother yourself looking up anything to the contrary. It’s too hard for you I’m sure.

    3. Armchair, what no one is talking about is morbidity and mortality — both of which are plummeting as we approach universal testing.

      1. Yeah. Nobody dies from this any more. The ICUs are too crowded.

    4. “What does this all mean?
      People ages 15-24 are likely at greater risk of death from NOT going to college, then going to college.”

      this analysis is shoddy. It’s not being at college, or being away from college, that has the highest fatality rate. It’s being in a car, traveling between places, that is the most dangerous. If’n you gots a teenager, if they’s gon’ die, it’s most likely to happen in a car accident.

  6. I agree 100 percent with this post.

    1. Including the RICO part?

      1. He says we might see some RICO actions. We might.

  7. Even a stopped clock.

  8. Aren’t positive tests, especially among young adults who are scarcely mortally imperiled by Covid, a good thing, as in increasing herd immunity? What better place for college age students to be but on campus, especially if they live there, where they can stay more or less to themselves and swap germs?

    Note to faculty and staff: take your supplements and get some good sunshine, since many of you are a little bit older, but still the mortality rates of otherwise healthy middle aged adults are not at all scary.

    On the other hand, collecting students together on campus, allowing infection to spread among them, as it will, with most being asymptomatic and a few getting sick and recovering, THEN sending them home to family and neighbors is probably a recipe for spreading it.

    But, again, isn’t herd immunity the objective for our entire population? Older and at-risk people with comorbidities should take more care, as they should every flu season.

    1. “Aren’t positive tests, especially among young adults who are scarcely mortally imperiled by Covid, a good thing, as in increasing herd immunity? What better place for college age students to be but on campus, especially if they live there, where they can stay more or less to themselves and swap germs?”

      If all the people on a college campus were young adults with no complicating factors, then maybe.
      consider the current efforts to hold athletic contests with young, healthy athletes… they still come in contact with people who are not young and healthy, so spreading the coronavirus by holding sports activities is not good either. The fact that the coronavirus appears to have some long-term complications in the cardiopulmonary system makes it not ideal for young, healthy athletes, even if they are unlikely to end their COVID cases by dying from it.

  9. The Implosion of Higher Ed Begins….

    1. Your wishful thinking is showing.

  10. Completely right but for one thing. The Potemkin villages aren’t for the benefit of students, who mostly know they’re at no risk. They’re for the benefit of overprotective parents, to prevent them from telling their kids to drop out.

  11. Not surprised by this at all. Higher ed has been scamming students and their parents for too long, making campuses look like luxury resorts to draw them in while the value of the degrees they issue plummets. No worries though – I’m sure they will get a multi-trillion bail out.

    1. “Not surprised by this at all. Higher ed has been scamming students and their parents for too long”

      [placing education on the list of things NoVaNick dislikes — alongside science, tolerance, modernity, reason, credentials, expertise, achievement, inclusiveness, progress . . . ]

  12. “That is, how many positive tests would the university be willing to tolerate before shutting down in-person instruction? ”

    How many of those positive tests involved cases severe enough to require medical treatment?

    1. “How many of those positive tests involved cases severe enough to require medical treatment?”

      The point of shutting down in-person classes is to limit the spread, not the severity, of cases.

      1. Whether or not there is a need to limit the spread is inherently tied to the severity of cases.

  13. “Now, after barely a week on campus, COVID-19 outbreaks have come rampant.”

    After barely a week. For a virus with an incubation period of up to 2 weeks. You’re no epidemiologist, that’s for sure.

    The only way it could be rampant at this point is if it was already rampant when the students arrived. It hasn’t had TIME to spread!

    But, you’re not even quantifying “rampant”, are you? It’s just a number free screed.

    1. The incubation period would be relevant if the outbreaks were detected by students showing symptoms, but my understanding is they are testing based. UNC Chapel Hill says they are reclosing because their positivity rate rose from 2.8% to 13.6% between August 10 and August 16.

      1. One of the challenges of this disease is that it can be spread by people who show no signs of having it. This fact also makes the incubation period largely meaningless when discussing the spread of this disease.
        Two negative tests, two weeks apart establishes a lack of having it, because the estimate is that two weeks is the maximum time it would take to develop a transmissible case, not the minimum.

  14. Professor Blackman….Maybe a better question to ask. Why didn’t colleges focus on their ventilation systems? That is emerging as a conduit for infection. Installation of UV sterilizers and filters would probably do much more than ‘Potemkin Villages’.

    The delivery of educational content has changed for all time. One implication is that colleges and universities won’t be able to charge what they did previously. Too bad for them.

    1. Indeed, Covid 19 looks like the event that triggers the collapse of the existing educational model in the US, and thank God for that.

      1. Maybe not just the educational model, Brett. We’re in the throes of the WEF Great Reset.  The future has always been charted for us as one of more virtuality and remote learning, working, and socializing through electronics.  

        Of course, we’ve been connecting through social media, working on the net, and buying through Amazon for some years now, but this Pandemic is the inaugural kick-off of even greater changes and social-economic restructuring to come.  REI is selling its expensive new headquarters building and opting for smaller managerial hubs with increased online in-house and retail business.  Many independent businesses are being washed out, as global corporate retailers are riding this wave successfully, as per the vision of consolidation of international product and service providers.  Our Covid filthy cash is to be converted to clean and trackable digital money, soon.

        Cars are starting to drive themselves, labor and sex robots are becoming more a fact of life, and medical consultation and law cases are going more remote and with a promise of Ai consultants and mediators in a few years. Our homes have electronic managers and our appliances can talk to one another and Langley.

        Most physical campuses with their quadrangles, sorority rows, podiums, and high tuitions and living costs appear to be doomed to go the way of the dodo bird in a decade or two.

        1. “Cars are starting to drive themselves, labor and sex robots are becoming more a fact of life”

          So you’re currently satisfied with the performance of your Roomba vacuums and sex robots, then? You don’t want to go back to the days when these services were provided by human beings?

  15. Prof. Blackman:

    It seems reasonable to infer that your commentary is based, on least in part, on observations associated with the institution for which you are a full-time employee.

    Are you accepting full pay for online teaching this year? Why or why not?

    Have you advocated that your institution discount tuition? Why or why not?

    Do you believe your institution is vulnerable to a RICO action? Why or why not?

    May I offer a cynical take? Your swipes at others will be unaccompanied by commentary, let alone action, with respect to the circumstances with which you are likely most familiar. That seems to make your take this semester — in more ways than one — quite cynical indeed.

  16. It’s quite a dilemma for clear-headed parents, these days.  On the one hand, social and intellectual interaction with fellow students and faculty on a brick and mortar campus and, for uni enrollees, often having a “get away from home” living experience, is a net positive for most of our teenagers and young adults.  Another plus is how this would allow a student body to achieve a crowd level of immunity from covid and resistance to many flus in a natural way via exposure.

    On the other hand, aren’t most schools and universities requiring students to wear masks all day, masks that can lower their immunity resistance through strained breathing and bacterial accumulation?  There is forced Covid testing at nearly all of the schools, and some colleges are requiring their students to download tracing apps, so they can be tracked everywhere they go in real time, on or off campus, and often with whom, if companions are other students.  They are teaching our young ones to cede their autonomy and mortgage their souls by submitting to bodily intervention and privacy violation by any authority, while mortgaging their early earning years to banks, due to expensive and often exorbitant tuitions.

    At least one college that made the news, recently, is encouraging a snitch society on campus;  students were told it is their duty to anonymously report anyone they suspect of having Covid.  Not insignificantly, the new Covid campus experience would be less about youthful, heady days of freedom, friends, and learning than it would be about being stuck in a locked-down in-person Covid fear theater, with excessive rule-making, penalties, swabs, social distancing enforced between young couples (no more walking hand in hand), and worry and plexiglass shielding everywhere. No doubt when the novel Covid vaccine and boosters are trotted out, students, staff, and faculty will be required to take them in order to set foot on campus.

    Remote learning seems an ideal alternative to all of the above, but wouldn’t you know it, police are being called on parents whose young children miss a Zoom attendance call, and, apparently, a number of teens are watching XXX porn simultaneously with their Zoom lessons, while their parents are transfixed by Covid fear porn broadcast on their TVs day and night with its hysteria over more and more positive and mostly asymptomatic to mild cases.

    The ideal lower or collegiate school would be an open and non-restrictive campus, where life and interaction with one other would continue as before Covid, but with Covid medical consultation provided for those who believe they need it.  Otherwise, homeschooling and online courses for our truly motivated students sound ideal, with a parental lock-out of XXX for minors.

    Too many parents are letting the government make them make their children scared of their own shadows.  We should let healthy students go back to normal, not fearful, school lives on campus or embrace the monitor as the way of the future, but not as a panic reaction to a virus their otherwise healthy bodies are equipped to handle.

    1. Pandemic management tips from science-disdaining, superstitious, downscale right-wingers are always a treat.

      1. Science-disdaining or technocrat apparatchik disdaining? There are plenty of doctors and medical experts who agree that Covid isn’t a serious malady for most demographics, except for health, nutrition and lifestyle at-risk people. They also believe hydroxychloroquine, zinc, plus a Z-pack have been shown to be very effective in patients here (where allowed) and in a number of other countries, along with a nebulized steroid that asthmatics use and other various affordable and accessible supplements and medicines.

        These doctors, virologists and epidemiologists champion the herd immunity model which our technocrats and the fifth estate have been directed to ignore by hyperventilating over rising positive tests (and which most of which are from asymptomatics). Further, they know and have attested to how the models and morbidity rates have been officially exaggerated and misinterpreted.

        Speaking of science, were you not taught in biology that catching a virus and being asymptomatic or having a mild infection from it was how acquired immunity works? You can take the vaccine jab for the same but less natural method of achieving immunity, and sometimes with bad reactions and delayed undesirable consequences, but please, for us, go that route when the Covid vax and boosters are fresh from trial.

        Superstitious? Yes, and I forgot to remind everyone to wear their garlic necklaces against Covid and hater Progressives.

        Downscale? Too funny coming from such a classy guy who couldn’t be more manipulative in his three modes of either schmoozing, patronizing, or trashing, both behind the scenes and on open threads. Or, is “upscale” to you all about money, dress, credentials, and stylish alternative lifestyle? What are you overcompensating for that you would completely miss what inner quality is about?

        Right-winger? Nope. Left-winger. Nope. Centrist? Racist? Ignorant? Nope. More and more of us have become tired of the political and culture games in which truth and common sense are sacrificed, people are stereotyped, labeled, and toe-tagged, and direct talk is denigrated by the contemptuous, self-styled idiots posing as our betters and debating the often misleading and mendacious talking points of the day.

        You don’t believe in the pandemic. Posture and pretend all you want, but you only believe in what it can do to further your Progressive Party objectives of greater State control and citizen subjugation under a global technocracy. I don’t believe you’re sincere in anything you say, other than in your contempt, hate, or recruiter modes.

        1. “Downscale? Too funny coming from such a classy guy who couldn’t be more manipulative in his three modes of either schmoozing, patronizing, or trashing, both behind the scenes and on open threads.”

          Why did you have to bring my work for Soros into this?

        2. ” There are plenty of doctors and medical experts who agree that Covid isn’t a serious malady for most demographics”

          It won’t kill you outright if you’re young and otherwise healthy, but it does seem to have some long-term effects on the heart and lungs, and of course, the old folks can get it from young, otherwise healthy people.

          “You don’t believe in the pandemic. Posture and pretend all you want, but you only believe in what it can do to further your Progressive Party objectives of greater State control and citizen subjugation under a global technocracy”

          Let me take a stab at translating:
          Dammit! stop calling me on it when I want to be selfish and egocentric. Trying to limit the spread of a disease that does kill a substantial number of the people who get it, isn’t about other people at all. It’s about me, me, ME.

    2. “It’s quite a dilemma for clear-headed parents, these days.”

      Not if you raised the kids well, it isn’t. If you raised them to think for themselves, then they’ll think for themselves and make good decisions about how to keep themselves healthy.

      In my case, the kid is pursuing a graduate degree in public health, and has access to all sorts of resources about preserving her own health.

  17. If I were a college student, I would seriously consider taking the year off from my expensive college. One year gap will have minimal impact on your long term career, but a year of crappy education might. You could knock off lower level required classes at a community college, or work, or if you can afford it, do your best to enjoy the year.

    1. A lot of students are. And the colleges are trying to stop them.

    2. “You could knock off lower level required classes at a community college, or work”

      The people who normally work full-time aren’t working much this year. Plus taking a year off from school puts all your loans into repayment status.

  18. You know, it’s possible to learn a lot on your own using a combination of books and the internet.

    Maybe some industrious folks will give that a shot this year.

    1. Credentials.
      It’s all about the piece of paper.

      1. That very much depends on where you are. More elite places, it’s not the diploma it’s the networking.

        1. The main benefit of an MBA degree is the contacts you made in B-school.

    2. “You know, it’s possible to learn a lot on your own using a combination of books and the internet.”

      It’s possible to learn a lot by watching TV reruns. the question, in either case, is how much value what you learned actually has. If I had a dollar for every time someone at my law school said “it’s not like Law & Order”, I’d have graduated debt-free. The Internet has about as much reliability as network TV reruns, and the value of books varies widely.

  19. Time to defund the left wing ideologue gulags. No more government backed indentured servant loans. No more propping up failing institutions with taxpayer money. No more support racism coached in “diversity” programs. No more taxpayer boondoggles for private universities with multi BILLION dollar endowments. No more!

    1. YES!!!!!

  20. OK, Prof. Blackman really likes teaching online instead of going into campus. That’s fine, both as as a choice about acceptable risk level, and as a personal lifestyle preference. When all this is over I hope he and like-minded students are allowed to continue.

    But these panicked outbursts against any attempts to reopen are getting silly. RICO? Really? Then the contradictions: this week we read that students will be too scared to attend unless they’re fooled by Potemkin villages. But few weeks earlier we read that students are careless and foolhardy about risk, and therefore social distancing won’t be effective.

    Suggesting tuition rebates, without mentioning that in a discipline like his faculty salaries are by far the largest item in the college/department budget. (Contrary to popular belief, wokeness trainings, star chambers, and safe rooms aren’t a large part of the cost structure. Toss ’em all and it would be maybe a 2% rebate.) Sure, they could sell or abandon buildings, but that would make it irreversible, and a lot of us aren’t willing to give up on ever going back.

    Students and lawbloggers who want an online education have, and will continue to have, plenty of options. For the rest of us, if six and a mask is good enough to allow consenting adults to enter optional stuff like restaurants and airports then it’s good enough for universities.

  21. As long as enough of the football players show up, everything will be fine.

  22. …Did Blackman forget his partisanship for once?

  23. My school is keeping a tight lid on the threshold needed to transfer to online learning – maybe precisely to avoid these kinds of concerns.

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