And it was all so predictable.
NYT has details.
The coronavirus hysteria is utter nonsense.
Anyone still cowering with fear over this current strain of common cold has not been paying attention to the glaring flaws in the statistics and the illogical bootstrapping arguments that confuse causation with correlation.
Tell it to the c. 135,000 dead (so far) and their families. Tell it to the portion of the survivors who will have debilitating mental and physical ailments for the rest of their lives.
Why are you assuming that the 135,000 dead actually were counted properly a priori?
Yes, it’s clearly a severe undercount but for a short comment I didn’t feel like going into the weeds of the so called extra deaths reported around the country. And of course some states like Florida are doing everything they can to hide or minimize the data.
If for some insane reason you were questioning why one believes there’s an actual epidemic out there I invite you to visit your local teaching hospital,. In several regions they’re now at capacity with COVID cases.
When I read the guidance by the CDC issued in April 2020 about certifying Covid-19 as the underlying cause of death by medical examiners, I noticed something rather peculiar on page 2. Specifically, it stated: “In many cases, it is likely that [COVID-19] will be the UCOD, as it can lead to various life-threatening conditions, such as pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). “
From a basic starting point of logical reasoning, the presumption that Covid-19 “is likely” the underlying cause of death “in many cases” seems to be an illogical bootstrapping argument. How in the world could the CDC have already made the determination that Covid-19 was so problematic with just a handful of weeks of reporting? By creating this presumption from the very beginning, the CDC was creating a self-fulfilling prophecy that would be realized by medical examiners coding many cases of deaths with a Covid-19 correlation without regards to the concept of causation.
Giving the CDC the benefit of the doubt, I started to wonder if the common cold has traditionally been considered the likely underlying cause of death in cases of deadly pneumonia and the like. Indeed, a weakened immune system will often allow opportunistic infections to thrive as evidenced by bacterial sinusitis appearing after recovering from a week of the viral sniffles.
To that end, are doctors testing for every possible common cold virus in patients or simply stopping the search once Covid-19 is detected? Is it simply assumed that the only possible cause of symptom escalation is Covid-19 or do they search for evidence of rhinovirus as well? If not, then once again we have an illogical bootstrapping argument that creates bad science.
Honestly, this is not how it works. I have a day job, so I just don’t have time to find you links to set you straight, but they’re out there. But no, the colds are not blamed for pneumonia. And that fact tells you nothing about this, a disease that goes directly for the lungs among other things.
Feel free to comment away, but I probably won’t reply as I have work to do.
Based on my achievement of receiving a perfect grade in your Internet Law class back in 2005, you already know that I have the ability to think clearly.
Concerning the assumption that colds do not cause pneumonia, a very brief search indicated the assumption was not correct:
“Rhinovirus is associated with severe adult community-acquired pneumonia in China”
“Learn more below about the infections that commonly cause pneumonia [Rhinovirus Infection]”
The professor I remember didn’t surrender to the bandwagon effect and always questioned the motivations of others.
For instance, counting people in the hospital with Covid-19, as opposed to requiring them to be in the hospital because of Covid-19, creates an overly broad statistic:
Moreover, increasing payments to hospitals that code for Covid-19 sickness creates a rather perverse incentive to inflate the numbers as well:
While it’s true it only applies to the elderly on Medicare, that is exactly the demographic most affected by the common cold in the first place.
It seems to me that the medical community has not narrowly tailored its methodologies in light of a politicized grab bag of federal money that has poisoned the scientific method’s requirement for careful analysis, lack of conflicting interests and controlled study to properly perform differential diagnosis.
A disease with a 99+% recovery rate, so “dangerous” that a test is required to inform people they’ve already had it has turned the world upside-down. Rampant ignorance, stupidity and astronomical fear-mongering. Causes of death from all other causes have decreased – virtually proving miscategorization. Clown World. MORTALITY results from ACTUAL Covid-CAUSED DEATHS (which are less than 1%), NOT number of positive RESULTS, should be the focus.
The scary lesson of this story is that the government can do anything it wants so long as the people are afraid.
There were lost of posts and comments that I could have placed this comment under, but this feels like a good one. From an article in The Hill:
The death rate in the United States jumped by 15.9 percent between 2019 and 2020, fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday.
The coronavirus was responsible for about 1 in 10 deaths in the country in 2020, and was the third-leading cause of death, behind heart disease and cancer.
Eric: I can understand being suspicious of one government imposing severe restrictions on travel, movement, assembly, etc. But we’re talking about hundreds of governments around the world discovering the same thing: either you take standard public health precautions (distancing, shutdowns, masks, hygiene) or you watch the numbers of infected people escalate exponentially until the hospitals and ICUs are full and the health care system collapses. When that happens, people can’t get treated for anything because the capacity is just not there. Asymptomatic cases do exist – and they’re a dangerous vector for spreading the virus – but they are only some of the cases.
I would suggest you test your hypothesis by visiting a local hospital and seeing conditions for yourself. Personally, I find the accounts of exhausted doctors on Twitter, in the press, and on TV persuasive enough.
In a world so completely interconnected with social media and the internet, it is not too much of a stretch to believe that hive mind mentality quickly crosses national borders.
Perhaps Yoram Lass, the former director of Israel’s Health Ministry, was correct when he stated that Covid-19 “is the first epidemic in history which is accompanied by another epidemic – the virus of the social networks [that] have brainwashed entire populations [and created] an inability to look at real data.”
The overall motivations to control a population remain the same by the people in charge and if anything, a perceived global threat simply provides the necessary fuel to the fire of fear.
Moreover, no one wants to be wrong and take the blame for potentially making the situation worse; simply going along with everyone else creates a hedge against accountability.
My initial skepticism began at the very beginning of this epidemic when the CDC posted the heading of “COVID-19 and Children” with the specific FAQ referring to “the symptoms of COVID-19” in children and adults. At the time, the CDC stated quite unremarkably that “symptoms of COVID-19 are similar in children and adults [who] generally presented with . . . cold-like symptoms, such as fever, runny nose, and cough.”
This page has been updated as of July 3 to read:
“For many people, being sick with COVID-19 would be a little bit like having the flu. People can get a fever, cough, or have a hard time taking deep breaths. Most people who have gotten COVID-19 have not gotten very sick. Only a small group of people who get it have had more serious problems.”
That in and of itself raised serious alarm bells in my mind, since a pathogen’s effects are defined by its symptoms. When the “symptoms” of a coronavirus were “cold-like” I realized it makes sense, considering that the common cold is primarily caused by the various strains of rhinovirus, respiratory syncytial virus and coronavirus.
I’ll readily admit that a novel strain can cause novel issues, but when I spoke to the lead epidemiologist in my state’s health department for about 30 minutes, she confirmed that novel strains of pathogens emerge on a daily basis. The fact this particular strain received so much attention, especially at the very beginning of its identification with such limited data, also raised alarm bells in my mind.
Concerning the capacity of hospitals, if people are being placed on ventilators and rushed into hospital beds because the government other orders such drastic measures or incentivizes it through increased federal funding, or perhaps because people become so utterly terrified of the disease, then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Of course the question remains – what if the disease truly is as bad as they say? Wouldn’t the exact same situation unfold, making my entire line of reasoning flawed because it’s parallel? In other words, if someone tried to convince someone they were telling the truth and the interrogator said “that is the exact same thing anyone lying would say” then the logical problem of “well, an honest person would also say it” becomes evident.
My analysis rests upon the inherent problems with the way things are playing out and the constant contradictions of methodology.
Except that Florida testing centers are over reporting COVID positive test results by a factor of 10 or so. Orlando Health supposedly has a 98 percent positive test rate, according to the “data,” but when questioned admitted that its rate is only 9.4 percent. Similarly across Florida. Many testing centers in Florida have even reported no negative tests (100 percent positive rate), according to the compiled data, but when questioned directly report that almost all of the tests have been negative. There are numerous recent articles about this. No doubt none you will believe but they are out there.
The fact is, all of the rates on this have been politicized and weaponized to the extent that we have no idea what is actually true anymore. Not one source of data can be trusted to be absolutely telling the truth on this. Every number out there has contrary numbers as well, or a “scientist that was fired for fudging the numbers,” Or admits that the numbers are wrong when actually asked, or some other such nonsense leading nowhere. This is a farce. One side is trying to use it to unseat a President, the other to prevent his loss of office. That is the main clue that this disease is not as big a problem as reported, it can be lied about with no real fear of repercussion.
Michael, if you have any credibility at all, you will start looking into this a lot deeper than you do, open your mind, and see that people like you are being used to spread so much disinformation that the truth is now lost. Take a look at all the local Florida news sources that are reporting odd things. We will never know what has really happened here.
If you want anyone to take your weird claims seriously, provide sources. And by the way the (unsourced!) claim the ‘X reported a bad number but then corrected it to a reasonable number’ doesn’t really sound like a conspiracy to me….
I’m not doing the work for you. A simple google search will reveal many sources. The fact that you call them my “weird claims” tells me how seriously you take anything that isn’t reported by the NYT.
Look, we BOTH have underlying conditions and need to take this very seriously, and I do. I assume and hope you do as well. But don’t let that cloud your thinking. We are very clearly being mislead here, and the fact that you refuse to even consider it says a lot about you.
Here, since you’ve admitted that you’relazy:
Drill down a bit in this report to find the test results from individual labs. You will see a number of them with absurdly high positive rates, including many at 100% Does that make logical sense to you? !00% of people tested at a particular lab come back positive?
Sure, as you will argue, there is some amount of self selection going on, but if that were true, wouldn’t you expect to see that same rate of self selection throughout the state? Or at least something close?
And if you worked at some lab and got 100% positive results, on ANY test, would you just assume those were valid results and report as such? I think I would start wondering if the tests were incorrect.
But as other people have found, these numbers, when questioned directly, are NOT what the labs actually found. So where did the numbers het fudged? That’s the question.
But look at the reports from the State of Florida for yourself. Draw your own conclusions, if any can be.
“Drill down a bit in this report to find the test results from individual labs. You will see a number of them with absurdly high positive rates, including many at 100% Does that make logical sense to you? !00% of people tested at a particular lab come back positive?”
In fairness, these 100% test rates only tested 1 person so that actually doesn’t even convince me of problems with testing numbers per se.
My wife works with data. I showed her this list and it took all of two seconds for her to see obvious issues.
LEE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL LAB 405 100% 405
PANCARE OF FLORIDA, INC 405 100% 405
Both tested exactly 405 patients. Both are right next to each other on the list, and both got 100% postive.
Does that sound like coincidence? The list is FULL of these coincidences. Take a look.
These are the OFFICIAL numbers reported by Florida. The top of that report is no doubt what the news reports every day. The data is CLEARLY not 100% correct. As I said, my wife, who does this for a living, spotted it without me even prompting her. It’s that obvious.
Yet a reporter calls these reporting sites, and they deny reporting thos numbers.
So what happened? I don’t know. Was it malicious? I don’t know. It’s as likely just a stupid mistake. But even as a mistake, apparently NOBODY at the State Department of Health looked at those numbers and said, “Hmmmm…that’s can’t be right….”
The official numbers are clearly incorrect. I don’t even care why.
Yeah that does make me actually want to question the numbers further with respect to those particular labs.
For the most part though, the Florida tests show about 90% of people tested still come back with negative results.
In general, it seems a lot of people will still test positive even if they are immune or recovered:
“So if we do a PCR corona test on an immune person, it is not a virus that is detected, but a small shattered part of the viral genome. The test comes back positive for as long as there are tiny shattered parts of the virus left. Correct: Even if the infectious viruses are long dead, a corona test can come back positive, because the PCR method multiplies even a tiny fraction of the viral genetic material enough [to be detected]. That’s exactly what happened, when there was the global news, even shared by the WHO, that 200 Koreans who already went through Covid-19 were infected a second time and that there was therefore probably no immunity against this virus. The explanation of what really happened and an apology came only later, when it was clear that the immune Koreans were perfectly healthy and only had a short battle with the virus. The crux was that the virus debris registered with the overly sensitive test and therefore came back as ‘positive’. It is likely that a large number of the daily reported infection numbers are purely due to viral debris.”
Yes, but how much of that remaining 10 percent is actually positive. It’s that 10 percent that drives things. It’s that 10 percent that makes the news. It’s that 10 percent that is the “spike” in cases…
Clearly, the data has issues. From whatever cause, the State of Florida released these clearly incorrect numbers without, apparently, anyone from the State looking at them and noticing the really obvious issues with them.
I would necessarily attribute the problem to anything deeper than incompetence, but LIVES are being affected by these numbers, not just reflected in them. Business are closing. People are losing jobs. Children are not being educated. And the State can’t be bothered to check it’s own wrong data!?
We are assured, over and over again, that Science(TM) is driving the Government response…but that’s clearly false, or based on false data. How many lives does this affect? How many should it?
As much as I enjoy giving him guff, Michael is a smart guy. He should be able to look at these numbers from the FLA DoH and wonder about them. I really hope he does. More people need to start asking questions, rather than just accepting what we are told.
Look for labs with high reporting percentages, then look at the ones next to them on this list. You will see, over and over again, labs testing virtually the same number of people and getting the same, or virtually the same, positive results. This is beyond coincidental. Look at the cluster around Holy Cross Labs. Four places, virtually the same numbers, all 100%. It’s all over that report. Nobody at Florida DoH questioned it.
We now have the answer to the mystery of the 100% rate: some hospitals were only reporting positive results, not negative ones. This will be corrected. See Florida changes COVID reporting requirements, saying labs did not share negative results .
This particular threat to the world involves science and therefore, most people feel unqualified to perform even the most basic review of the logic behind it.
Even the greatest legal minds in the world feel compelled to appeal to authority without checking the premises or counter arguments by other scientists.
I can think of no better way to finally sound the death knell of privacy with the mandatory tracking of citizens by means of ankle monitors, video cameras installed in the home, bluetooth tracking apps, 1984-esqe compelled reporting of rule-breakers by concerned grocery shoppers, etc. then to fear an invisbile enemy that only medical doctors could possibly understand.
Every lawyer is familiar with the phrase, “battle of the experts,” yet many seem to completely forget what it means when it comes to things they want to believe. Experts disagree with each other, and are even completely wrong about things. This is the real world. Teaching lawyers forget this.
The problem is that any expert with an opinion that goes against the conclusion is essentially censored by means of being ostracizing, removed social media posts or potentially being investigated by the medical board for incorrect advice.
I wish I could edit my spelling after posting a comment.
You know, the flat earthers were just in here moaning about being ostracized…
At least they had a safe place to have their discussion, so thanks for that.
Something is filling the hospitals.
Straw man. Nobody is saying that nothing is happening, we are saying that whatever is happening isn’t what we are being told – and asking “why?”
Seriously, look at the numbers from Florida DoH I linked to above and tell me they make any sense at all.
Who was it who said “95% of statistics are bunk”?
The point that Vic is making about the 100% positive numbers at some labs being wrong is indeed the subject of a very recent article today on MSN:
“Coronavirus update: Florida labs not reporting negative test results, report says”
The point that Unstatisfied is making about 95% of statistics being bunk is correct insomuch as it involves the guesswork of statistical inference. Purely looking at raw data and making relational analysis is the core function of statistics and is fine. Rather, it’s the subsequent extrapolation of a limited sample of data to predict the distribution of a much larger data set that is inherently problematic such as using a Gallup Poll survey consisting of a few thousand people to magically infer that it represents hundreds of millions. Short of actually polling every single person, it’s an unverified hypothesis:
“Statistical Inference Enables Bad Science; Statistical Thinking Enables Good Science”
The point that Professor Froomkin is making about the extra deaths around the country is, in my opinion, the best way of going straight to the raw data without regard to classification. Doing my own excess death calculation, I went to the CDC website and pulled up the total number of deaths by state for the years 2014 to 2020:
“Weekly Counts of Deaths by State and Select Causes, 2014-2018 NCHS”
“Weekly Counts of Deaths by State and Select Causes, 2019-2020 NCHS”
My calculations showed that less people died this year in Florida than the average would predict. Using only the state of Florida and the total mortality for the first twenty-six (26) weeks with an exception for 2014 using weeks 2 through 27 instead, I determined that 2020 has seen less death increase than the average year-over-year amount in Florida:
2015: 100,432 (+5.67%)
2016: 102,050 (+1.61%)
2017: 105,057 (+2.94%)
2018: 108,209 (+3.00%)
2019: 107,699 (-0.47%)
2020: 109,861 (+2.00%)
Average death rate increase, 2015-2019: +2.55%
2020 death rate increase: 22% less than average
So, I guess, confronted by incorrect actual Government numbers that have no obvious explanation, Michael just heads on home with his ball, rather than venture some help in discussing what might be going on? I guess that’s one vote for Government Is Always Right then.
Blogging is a hobby. I have a job with deadlines and meetings, and that comes first.
On the merits: It wouldn’t be surprising to learn that data collection in a rush in a national emergency had some crap numbers. The census has crap numbers in places too. The interesting question is whether overall we discern trends, or we think the numbers are so bad so often as to be meaningless. Whether or not we trust the CDC, a wasting asset perhaps, there’s also the Johns Hopkins numbers on death rates. I sort of think if there were serious issues in the underlying numbers they would flag them.
If you think you’ve identified something they are missing, I suggest you contact the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Hopkins (I’m serious). I doubt they have an axe to grind, and in any case their professional reputations turn on dealing straight with the data.
Florida’s hidden data skews COVID-19 test results:
Florida might be minimizing the depth of its COVID-19 problem by underreporting its rate of positive tests, experts say.
The method used to calculate the “positivity rate” — a critical measure of the pandemic’s progression — puts more emphasis on negative tests, skewing the results in that direction.
Florida might be minimizing the depth of its COVID-19 problem by underreporting its rate of positive tests, experts say.
The method used to calculate the “positivity rate” — a critical measure of the pandemic’s progression — puts more emphasis on negative tests, skewing the results in that direction.
Let us assume that I’m wrong about the coronavirus threat and it’s more of a problem than I think.
At what point should people be allowed to assume the risk of infection in light of the competing interests of a stable economy, freedom to travel without government tracking and subsequent house arrest per quarantine measures?
I ask this in light of tobacco being perfectly legal and the cause of half a million deaths each year in the United States alone.
The analogy is worthless. If you get lung cancer you are not contagious except maybe to your family’s wallet. To the extent there’s a second hand smoke issue, that takes years of exposure and it is visible to the people exposed.
With COVID the issue is not mainly that you kill or hurt yourself, but that you may be highly contagious and infect others invisibly and even unknowingly. In the case of ‘super-spreaders’ you might infect dozens or even a hundred others. Some of them could get very ill or die; some will go on to infect others who also could get very ill or die.
So the key part here is that people are not just ‘assuming the risk’ for themselves; instead they are taking a chance on CREATING a risk for a large number of people — maybe killing some– who are not given any choice about ‘assuming’ anything. And by spreading the disease they make the economy etc. worse.
So this ‘personal choice’ thing is just a total canard. It’s a radically false frame. Beyond Randian selfishness. And it’s nothing like smoking.
Why is this so hard to understand?
As for the cigarette smoking being an analogy, it works because clearly society doesn’t seem to think that mass death per-se is enough to restrict individual freedoms of choice.
The at-risk population, mainly the elderly over the age of 75, are able to assume the risk of leaving the house.
At risk groups include over-60s, diabetics, Blacks, people with various health histories including heart issues and chemo. Not to mention the not-at-risk groups who have relatives at risk whom they could pass it to. You wish to sentence them all to years of house arrest because some people are too selfish to take simple measures to reduce the odds of spreading a really dangerous virus?
That has to be the crassest view ever expressed on this blog.
No one is requiring them to stay at home if they choose to mingle with the public at large.
But the question has to be the balance between the other citizens going about their daily lives and allowing the world to continue while these at-risk individuals can go out of their way to protect themselves in a manner they deem appropriate.
For instance, if an elderly citizen wanted to leave the home, then why is the onus not upon that citizen to wear a full helmet in public that covers the eyes and ears as well? It’s just a helmet, not a huge imposition, right? And they can wear gloves and take extra measures to wash their clothes and shower upon going home.
But you still haven’t answered my original question.
What do you think the threshold risk to justify government surveillance and economic shutdown should be? Is it only a presumed death rate of 0.1% that is okay for normal risk?
I don’t have a precise number in my pocket. But something that kills or debilitates a very large fraction of substantial sub-populations surely qualifies.
I agree with you.
After much thought and consideration, I have determined that wearing a mask, in and of itself, is not an overly cumbersome burden. Nonetheless, I still believe that the underlying reason behind the requirement is horrifyingly flawed and prone to abuse by the people in charge regardless of good intentions. Even more troublesome is the law of unintended consequences with respect to the declared emergencies by the various governments resulting in a radical imbalance of executive power and the drastic reduction of personal freedoms.
But this analysis is still premised on the assumption that coronavirus actually represents a significant risk that can be stopped in the first place. Interestingly enough, my extended review of the mortality data for the entire United States and its territories showed an increased mortality rate this year that was only slightly higher than expected but actually less than the 6.85% increase experienced in the first half of 2015. That just goes to show the inherently complex and variable rate of mortality over time without any one factor necessarily being the particular cause of the fluctuation.
Regardless, nothing short of an absolute draconian lockdown unlike anything we have ever seen to date can stop the spread of coronavirus. If anything, its progression can be slowed somewhat but not enough to prevent the inevitable spread throughout the population as a whole. The most vulnerable among us will still die upon exposure. And while my comment may seem stupid and insensitive, I do not make it lightly or with the intention to offend anyone. It is a very unfortunate fact of life.
Every infection follows a rate of progression known as Farr’s Law which predicts a bell-shaped curve that will eventually flatten over time. Both the United Kingdom and New York City’s enormous death rate suddenly peaked and fell even with the lockdown, no different than Sweden’s increased death rate over the same time period with only modest government intervention. Every place in the world went through the same flattening of the bell curve predicted in Farr’s Law that has repeated itself throughout history.
The key issue is creating a sustainable policy. Keeping children out of school indefinitely, closing business and the resultant shuttering of the economy is not sustainable. The loss of income leads to decreased mental health, loss of ability to afford rent or mortgage payments, the inability to afford health care premiums and so on. Preventing planned elective surgeries that are necessary to ensure continued health, especially for the at-risk population, could also increase suffering. If anything, the irony of lockdown is the potential increase of sickness far beyond the inherent risk of coronavirus. Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.
In conclusion, I think I’ve stated my piece and thank Professor Froomkin for allowing my unpopular opinion to be voiced on this platform. The key to societal progress is indeed civil discussion, especially when it exists on the fringes of the public sphere.
P.S. The world may not be flat, but I’m still not entirely convinced that the flag wasn’t waving on that moon.
After much thought and consideration, I have determined that wearing a mask, in and of itself, is not an overly cumbersome burden. Nonetheless, I still believe that the underlying reason behind the requirement is horrifyingly flawed and prone to abuse by the people in charge regardless of good intentions.
I look forward to reading soon that, as a matter of considered personal choice, you will now be driving on the right side of the road.
Bonus link: Krugman, Republicans Keep Flunking Microbe Economics: Getting other people sick isn’t an “individual choice.”.
You are correct that the decision to wear a mask has consequences beyond the individual’s personal health. And to be fair, I have never once thought otherwise.
The choice to operate a motor vehicle on the highway in an intoxicated state is technically a personal freedom that has the effect of putting the lives of other people at risk. And to be clear, I most certainly think that the greater good is served by creating a highway without the danger of drunk drivers. My previous suggestion of placing the burden on the at-risk population to wear a helmet or stay indoors is fundamentally no different than suggesting that concerned drivers avoid the highway. Both situations require a societal calculus to achieve the greater good by balancing the inherently selfish desires of both groups of people to live in a world that conforms to their particular wants and needs.
But my underlying premise has been that the coronavirus cannot be stopped without forcing every single person in the world to simultaneously live in a sterile, self-contained plastic bubble with food and water being delivered by workers in hazmat gear for a few weeks. That is certainly not possible and as such, the spread will only be, at best, slowed with masks and lockdown. The death rate will ultimately remain the same. If anything, the well-meaning intentions of executive mandates may inadvertently create more sickness and death over the long run. The requirement to wear a mask or stay indoors for the duration of an indefinite lockdown, while certainly akin to the rationale for the requirement of driving sober, rests on fundamentally flawed assumptions that incorrectly and therefore unnecessarily curtail the personal autonomy of society and allow unacceptable expansions of government control by means of flawed analysis.
Much ink has been spilled by experts on the topic of controlling the spread of infectious disease during a pandemic. As indicated in my previous link to the opinion of Israel’s former health minister, Yoram Lass, he stated: “Any reasonable expert . . . will tell you that lockdown cannot change the final number of infected people. It can only change the rate of infection.”
As another group of experts surmised: “The negative consequences of large-scale quarantine are so extreme (forced confinement of sick people with the well; complete restriction of movement of large populations; difficulty in getting critical supplies, medicines, and food to people inside the quarantine zone) that this mitigation measure should be eliminated from serious consideration.” Even more concerning was their determination that masks do not work: “In Asia during the SARS period, many people in the affected communities wore surgical masks when in public. But studies have shown that the ordinary surgical mask does little to prevent inhalation of small droplets bearing influenza virus. The pores in the mask become blocked by moisture from breathing, and the air stream simply diverts around the mask.”
So ultimately I am not suggesting that masks be optional simply because a mandate infringes upon personal freedom. Rather, I am suggesting that any infringement of personal freedom needs to have a compelling rational basis. Otherwise, our freedoms will continue to erode for the wrong reasons, one mask at a time.
I have performed the societal calculus function as it relates to wearing a mask.
Notwithstanding my personal beliefs on the matter, I have decided to wear a mask out of respect for my fellow citizens.
I’d call that a good civic decision.
(One of my friends, in his 40s, has had the thing for months and can’t shake it. He had no underlying health conditions that he knew of…you just don’t know what it will do to any particular person.)
I am trying to be a good person and find a sense of balance in this world without wholly surrendering my cherished right to be a skeptic.
As I have discussed the prophylactic measures to control the coronavirus with many reasonable people over the last few months, the conversation has reminded me of a nugget of Randian wisdom that I read many years ago in a book entitled Atlas Shrugged: “Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.”
How can I hold the conflicting belief that the coronavirus is simply a mild variant of the common cold while at the same time accepting the undisputed facts of New York City’s unprecedented mortality rate and your friend’s extended battle with this disease?
My decision to wear a mask, therefore, reflects a balance that has been created with an understanding that my premises may very well be wrong about the severity of the coronavirus and my actions should therefore demonstrate respect for the feelings of the people around me without invalidating their inherent right to feel safe in my presence.
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