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SARS CoV2 aka COVID-19: Kicking the Can Down the Road?

More SARS CoV2 aka COVID-19 posts including Are we Moving into New Acceptance of Inhumane and Cruel Rules for Those NOT Infected?.

Obedience to authority, not reasoned debate now prevails. People must not be allowed to think for themselves, or view controversial videos. Dissent and opposing viewpoints are now effectively banned thanks to policies of the Silicon Valley giants. Shame on them.

Government response to SARS CoV2 seems to be a strategy of kicking the can down the road. That is, you cannot “flatten the curve” by just delaying things by keeping infection rates super low, because sooner or later we need 70% or so of the population to be infected to get past this (“herd immunity”, if that even exists in this case ).

Both my parents live in areas with very low infection rates. What exactly is the point of lockdowns in such areas? What benefit accrues while losses pile up like a freeway crash at rush hour in the fog?

We don’t even know the number of people actually infected; it’s a wild guess with no scientific basis. And even the data we do haved is unreliable.

The economy is being ripped to the bone, while psychologically/emotionally the entire country alongside that, for little or no benefit for 90% of the population. Very low risk people are locked down when they could be productive and advancing the herd immunity cause. And how is the benefit (if any) of the continuing lockdowns being assessed versus the damage? Lockdowns now seems more like calendar-driven mania than anything like eyes wide open.

Basic human rights are being stomped on in some states. For example, some religious customs upon death and/or deep-seated psychological needs are being blocked by government threats to use force. If you cannot choose to mourn your passed-away loved ones using reasonable precautions... well then, the cure is far worse than the disease—inhumane and cruel. And there is zero evidence of the value of such deprivations in the context of reasonable precautions.

People needing “ordinary” surgery may die, shut out by an inflexible response to the crisis. How many people do we need to kill by our response to the pandemic before we wake up and do a proper risk assessment, balancing competing negatives?

Setting aside the hotspots like NYC and one or two others, I can see little relative value from the lockdowns versus the continuing major damage to people’s lives and health accruing from the lockdowns. So let’s look at numbers.

Don’t get me started on the idiotic delay of fishing season here in California—yeah, those guys might come within 10 yards of each other out on the lakes, and I might see someone once a day where I fish. Holy carp, now that’s a massive risk OMG shut it down now governor!!! Why do I mention such a TRIVIAL concern? Because the source of such idiocy is NOT trivial, that is, many of the government mandates are pandemic theatre, substituting a distraction for the intellectual and adult judgment vacuum. Adults weigh pros and cons in the face of all bad choices, choosing and balancing for the least bad. I don’t see that happening much.

Perspective: 4% of deaths are COVID-19?

IMPORTANT: see notes with the graph further below.

This data from the CDC shows there were 27,674 deaths attributed to COVID-19 (a judgment call in many cases!) from Feb 1 through April 25 versus 673580 deaths of all kinds and 57480 deaths from pneumonia (some pneumonia deaths could have been the result of undiagnosed CV19).

In other words, CV19 deaths are only about 4% of the total deaths and about half those of ordinary pneumonia. And many of those CV19 deaths are surely misleading in that most of them fall heavily into the same groups that are dying at a 24X higher rate from causes other than COVID-19. Furthermore, the cause of death is often murky at best, so those deaths attributed to CV19 are statistically dubious. Moreover, a portion of those would have died within months without CV19.

If 100 million more people in the USA are infected by CV19, then we will see many more deaths. But at the same time, many of those would have died anyway (see those statistics). And we don’t know how many people have been infected; the morbidity rate may be far lower than it seems. And CV19 deaths even in the face of far higher rates of infection may be largely subsumed by the natural death rate, according to those figures. How is all that being accounted for versus the crushing economic losses and psychological assault of the lockdowns? Few if any of our “experts” appear to have any wisdom from multi-disciplinary cross-pollination thinking. Silos in the sciences ain’t working and it shows—can’t even see a decent dog and pony show.

In the context of those figures, I am having trouble wrapping my head around the lockdown situation. I don’t understand what is being accomplished, other than to cause major damage and kick the can down the road. An adult decision should be based on how many additional deaths are acceptable versus all the other harms. But I don’t see that question being addressed at all, not even in a rudimentary way.

Visually

See SARS CoV2 aka COVID-19: Trying to Make Sense of the Death Rates.

What should be done?

I have as much skin in the game as anyone (myself, my wife, my parents) and yet I fully support ending this lockdown insanity hurting so many in so many ways for undefined benefit (if any benefit even exists).

No one has a clue as to what the right decision is, that is, the one that causes the least harm. It is magical thinking to imagine that is even possible. Indeed, so far, just about everything we have been told by experts has been wrong. It was not a mistake to over-prepare, but 2.5 months in, smarter thinking needs to prevail.

We know that major harm is accruing with lockdowns in place as they are—widespread and affecting everyone and just about everything, with lasting damage. I am not seeing any value in continuing as things are for even one day more.

COVID-19 is not going away by keeping lockdowns in place; it has to run its course. And that will take years at the present rate of infection in most of the country where infection rates are low. Which is a powerful argument for ending the lockdowns in most of the country.

Accordingly, my position at this time is as follows:

  • Excepting hot spots, immediately end the lockdowns. I’d find it acceptable to do this in chunks (states, counties, etc) and learn from it (staging it week by week), but IMO at least half the country ought to go back to work tomorrow for those at low risk.
  • Encourage those at higher risk to maintain isolation. But make it a *choice*, not an edict.
  • Let people do the right thing for themselves. This approach is humane, and almost certainly will result in a better outcome than ham-fisted government edicts, while ceasing most of the economic damage, and psychological damage (by giving people responsibility and the ability to deal with highly personal situations). People for the most part want to do what it right—and they will.
  • Continue to strongly encourage face coverings and strongly encourage social distancing. NOT require—let social pressures prevail, not government edicts, which are inflexible and result in abuse and harm of all sorts.
  • Still OK to have restrictions for special situations, like nursing homes, large public gatherings, etc.
  • Monitor and adjust by area. Tune this system as needed as a feedback loop. For example, if area hospitals exceed some CV19 patient threshold, tighten restrictions up. At present, we don’t have any feedback loop in place, which seems counterproductive at best.

Anon writes (Day 7):

Right on. Additional food for thought:

In Canada they have cancelled elective surgeries. Devastating results. If one has been waiting for up to two years for a hip replacement cancelling this, is mentally difficult to endure. More extended pain and suffering. People with colon cancer, breast cancer, postponed. Person with heart issues, surgery postponed. Died in his sleep two nights ago.

These are just cases that I have first hand knowledge of. Is this not criminal negligence? How can one explain that after observing the devastation in nursing homes in Italy and Spain, we were not prepared to prevent this? Over half the deaths from COVID-19 have occurred in these homes.

All the politicians and so called public health experts must be held accountable.

DIGLLOYD: one cannot rule out that the response to SARS CoV2 may kill and/or maim more people than the disease itself. See Kicking the Can Down the Road? and Are we Moving into New Acceptance of Inhumane and Cruel Rules for Those NOT Infected?.

Larry C writes: (emphasis added)

Mr. Chambers,

Hard to know where to start so will try to keep it brief. Your outline of a logical, science based approach to moving the entire country forward is the best I have yet seen coming from any source.

I am a retired dentist, with a background in teaching and private practice, and have had slightly less medical training than most MDs, but more than everyone else. I am 70 and have never in my lifetime seen a medical/scientific problem so distorted by politics as this one has been. Governmental bureaucracies, whether national or global, mismanaging events is almost a historical norm, so some of that was to be expected, but, as you say, we are now 2.5 months in, and the need for policy adjustments such as you are suggesting is rapidly becoming obvious, yet we are still fettered by state, federal, and local governments who frequently seem resistant to acting intelligently based on the rapidly expanding body of reliable epidemiological data. (The move yesterday by Google to remove the video from YouTube, showing the findings of Drs. Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi on actual mortality rates, simply because it conflicted with current advice coming from the WHO, a UN body which has been consistently wrong about this virus from the beginning, is particularly troubling. I’ve prepared scientific articles for publication in peer reviewed journals, and understand statistically valid data collection. Their findings are as good as anything currently out there, even though possibly imperfect, as it all is at this point. What justifies the attempt by Google to hide the results of research that conflicts with yesterday’s bureaucratic dogma? Politics? Why do people whose only life experience is in coding feel confident in suppressing medical information coming from trained medical personnel? Who is served by that?)

I live in Western Wyoming and returned yesterday from a 2,000 mile car trip to eastern Nebraska. Trip was undertaken out of necessity, and involved travel through urban and rural areas. Both these states have partial lockdowns instead of total lockdowns. I traveled through a few counties who have had no reported cases of this virus at all. The economic devastation of the lockdowns, even partial ones, in rural areas especially, is already obvious to anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear.

Over the past week, talking to small business owners along the way, I saw many long standing businesses that are already lost, closed forever, because of the lockdown. Business overhead is much more than staff salaries, and is generally going to run 65 to 90% of gross revenue. The net after that is what supports the owners, and allows the business to remain viable, and provide jobs for employees as well. If government mandates that those businesses must stop working, the overhead expenses continue and rapidly overwhelm the resources of the owners. One month has often meant the owners have no money left to fund business overhead for the next month. Even for well funded businesses, the prospect of two or three months of this is unworkable, as it simply cannot be done. Many businesses here are reliant on summer tourism for their yearly income and survival. Their money is already all gone, and looking ahead at the next couple of months, they’ve been placed in a situation where selling off the assets is their only option. I talked with owners of multi-generational small businesses, who have already put the buildings up for sale, just to stop the bleeding, and don’t know what life holds for them going forward. A couple of these businesses were in a county that has of yet not had a single reported case of covid-19 illness. What was the point of ruining the lives of these specific people? The Fed can’t print enough money to save the lives of these citizens, the magical thinking of Modern Monetary Thinking notwithstanding.

Not original with me, but it became obvious weeks ago that we are not going to get guidance coming out of governments that is reasonable and considers all the factors which a government is bound to consider, economic as well as scientific, as long as the people making the decisions which affect us are not equally affected. No government employee at any level should have been able to draw a paycheck for the last 6 weeks, or going forward, until everyone is able to work again, and they should know, as their fellow citizens now do, that money not received now will never be received later, it is sacrificed forever. Then you would see, for the first time, some clearer thinking coming out of Congress and State Houses, thinking which considers the available science as well as everything else. Currently, people making the decisions are completely insulated from the effect of those decisions.

Your proposed guidelines do exactly that, as they consider the available science as well as people’s overall well being and livelihoods. I’m 70, so I am “at risk”. I can stay home and protect myself. There is no scientific basis for requiring businesses to close to protect me. That’s on me.

Thanks for listening.

DIGLLOYD: I agree that government employees should share the burden: why should those losing everything be paying taxes for the continuing benefit of those who have no economic loss whatsoever? Why should anyone negatively affected be carrying the load for anyone (public or private) who is not affected? This whole situation is not a matter of choice, but of government coercion (force), and therefore special circumstances apply.

It strikes me as a grotesque perversion of the idea of “shared burden” when there is no financial hit to privileged classes with guaranteed salaries. We can start by cutting the pay of Congress and their staff to $0, and cutting pay in half for the entire government bureaucracy (federal and state and local) and using that money for people hard hit by the lockdowns. States whining about funding have not made a peep about such options nor has the federal government. And—make it retroactive, which would be no new thing with tax law.

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