On the menu today: we could all get involved with people who were wrong in their early assessments of this pandemic, but the more pressing question is who doesn’t learn to get things wrong during this outbreak; a regular publication notes that conventional Florida wisdom was far from true; why the media’s reflexive compassionate sympathies lead Americans not to understand the virus and what policies work best to reduce it; and a funny and brutally honest assessment of what is coming to higher education.
Mistakes are part of life, but we shouldn’t hold onto it
According to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Research Center, at the time of writing, the US virus death toll is 85,906. Worldometers, leading the JHU count sets the toll at 86,912.
You’ve noticed the arguments of “It’s just flu!” or “This is similar to the flu!” or “The flu kills more people every year!” stopped somewhere in the past few weeks, right? Even the skeptics can count. (As our Robert VerBruggen noted, even the “flu kills 80,000 Americans a year” statistic is a debatable statistical estimate.)
You may recall that President Trump said at the end of March, “So if we can limit that, as we say, to 100,000, it’s a terrible number, maybe even less, but to 100,000, so we have between 100,000 [thousand] and 200,000, we have all done very well. Many commentators, particularly on the left, thought Trump had not only removed the goal posts from his previous statements that the virus would disappear or that it was not as dangerous as the flu, but that it set an absurdly low bar for a ” good job” . “At the end of March, just 4,000 died in the United States. Trump certainly had to set expectations for an unrealistically high number so he could come back later and claim victory, right?
No, apparently not!
You may recall that on April 8, when the deaths were about 17,000, the IHME model – which week by week turned out to be just too flawed to be useful – revised the forecast to indicate that the virus would kill 60,000 people in the United States over the next four months. That revision was 33,000 less than a week earlier, prompting many to argue that the model was either simply too inaccurate to draw meaningful conclusions, or that the virus was less dangerous than initially thought.
It is five weeks later and we are at 85.906.
I have a high appreciation for Dr. Anthony Fauci and think that just about everything he says during this outbreak should be carefully considered. But there’s no denying that some of his early reviews really didn’t make sense. On January 21, the day the first U.S. case was discovered, Fauci said in an interview, “ Of course you have to take it seriously and do the kind of things that the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the Department of Homeland Security doing it. But this is not a major threat to the people of the United States and this is not something that American citizens should be concerned about right now. In another interview on January 26, he repeated, “The American people should not be concerned or afraid of this. It is a very, very low risk to the United States, but it is something that we as public health officials should take very seriously. “
They call it a new corona virus because it is new, not because everyone has to write a novel during quarantine. As it is new we try to understand it all and our previous experience may or may not apply to this virus and this outbreak. I suspect that the way countries responded to SARS-CoV-2 was strongly shaped by their experiences with the original SARS, H1N1, Middle East respiratory syndrome, Ebola virus and Zika. Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore – the populations of all those countries have experienced much more serious outbreaks of infectious diseases in recent years. The populations of all those countries are conditioned to take seriously any reports or even rumors of infectious diseases. Other than H1N1, those previous outbreaks had little impact on the United States and its citizens. Our experience has taught us that viruses in distant countries in this country almost never become a serious problem.
Richard Epstein of the Hoover Institution was deeply saddened to write an essay on the outbreak policy posted on March 16, initially estimating that the toll of the coronavirus would only be 500 people, then increase to 5,000, and later up to 50,000. Epstein called it, “the biggest casual intellectual error in my entire academic career, when I included numerical estimates of the possible impact of the coronavirus in terms of life and death. Those estimates were clearly ridiculously low. ‘
Epstein’s numbers were massively off-base, but his final point in that essay wasn’t a cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs:
The first point is to target interventions at risk populations where appropriate, including the elderly and other people with health problems that make them more susceptible to disease. However, the current organized panic in the United States does not seem justified to read the data properly. In addressing this point, it is crucial to note that the rapid decline in the number of new cases and deaths in China indicates that cases in Italy will not continue to rise exponentially in the coming weeks. In addition, healthcare in the United States is unlikely to be affected in the same way as the United States Italian health care system after the rapid viral spread. The amount of voluntary and forced separation in the United States has expanded very quickly, which should affect the level of contamination sooner rather than later.
We all try to wrestle with the unknown, from the President and Fauci to the kids down the street. Almost everyone will get something wrong at some point. Here we are, May 15, and we’re still not entirely sure if kids are largely immune to this virus, or whether a portion will develop a “multisystem-inflammatory syndrome” a few months or weeks later. (The current leading theory is that this is a type of delayed response of a child’s immune system after fighting the virus.) Fortunately, it seems unlikely that this syndrome will kill children.
We think we’re less likely to catch the virus outdoors – it’s much, much less likely. Vitamin D can be a factor – or maybe it’s a more general feeling that the vitamin is just good for your immune system in general. We are not sure how long the antibodies against this virus remain in the human body. We are pretty sure that masks will help, but we don’t know how much or how effectively people will wear them. A prominent virologist thinks he caught the virus through his eyes on a busy flight because he was wearing a mask and gloves all the time. It it seems that humans can spread the virus to dogs, but dogs cannot spread the virus to humans.
What we know can change. Perhaps our hunger for rubbing someone’s nose to do something wrong has caused a huge discouragement for anyone who ever admits they are wrong – and an unintended incentive to stubbornly stick to a review, even when evidence to the contrary is collected.
Gosh, Media World, why Would Americans are now divided?
Yesterday, Mike Allen’s newsletter on Axios wailed, “America’s cultural wars over everything have weakened our ability to respond to this pandemic. We may be our worst enemy. . . An existential threat – such as a war or a natural disaster – usually brings people together. Somehow we let these drift apart. “
Gosh, do you think a deeply divided partisan response has anything to do with so much of the discussion about this virus and the response being an overly simplistic and often outright factual mistake?Goofus and Gallant“Story of blue and red governors? Compare Phil Murphy’s media coverage opening the Jersey Shore for Memorial Day weekend to that of Florida. Compare the coverage of Brian Kemp who reopens his state of Georgia and Jared Polis who reopens his state of Colorado. Think about who discusses state policy on nursing homes and who doesn’t.
Yesterday, PoliticallyMarc Caputo and Renuka Rayasam acknowledged the obvious: Many people in the media want to tell a story about the heroic Andrew Cuomo and the stupid Ron DeSantis, and they leave a trifle if the data doesn’t get in the way:
Florida just doesn’t look nearly as bad as the national news media and sky critics have been predicting for about two months now. But then, the national news media is mostly based in New York and loves their Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, as much as they hate the Florida Republican Governor, Ron DeSantis.
Let’s come out first and say it: DeSantis looks better than those who criticized the Sunshine State’s response to the corona virus. According to the latest Florida figures, less than 2,000 have died and approximately 43,000 have been infected. That’s a fraction of the terrible predictions made for Florida when spring breakers flooded the beaches …
Cuomo also has something else DeSantis doesn’t have: a press that pushes it on, a press that prefers to cover “Florida Morons“On the beach (where it is relatively difficult to get infected) above New Yorkers who ride in tight subways (where it is easy to get infected). In fact, most hours of the day people in New York can still ride the subway, but Miami Beach remains closed, maybe it would be different if DeSantis had a brother who worked on cable news and interviewed him for a “sweet moment“In prime time.
Speaking of New York and the worst. . .
Remember, in what feels like a different era, when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called president? And the vast majority of the country – including the Democrats – listened to him for five minutes and asked, “How was this man ever elected to anything?”
You can argue strongly that Blasio and his team are the most destructive group of leaders in the country during this crisis. Yes, Trump blurts out something nutty, like his injecting disinfectant comments with metronomic regularity. I would still argue that the Blasio is worse, and it’s not just because he told New Yorkers to continue their usual routines in January, February and early March, and insisted in March that New Yorkers not get the virus could get up by riding the metro.
But the head of his public hospital system, Dr. Mitchell Katz, advised the mayor on March 10, “there is no evidence that closings will help stop the spread”, according to the New York Times. Fans of ‘herd immunity’ have an ally in Katz, who concluded, ‘The good thing is that over 99 percent will recover without damage. Once people recover, they have immunity. Immunity will protect the herd. “But he may not even be the worst figure in the city’s health system.
New York City health commissioner called off an urgent request from the NYPD for 500,000 surgical masks corona crisis assembled – told a senior police officer that “I don’t give two rats about your police,” The Post has learned.
Dr. Oxiris Barbot made the heartless comment during a brief phone call in late March with NYPD chief of division Terence Monahan, sources familiar with the issue said Wednesday.
Monahan asked Barbot for 500,000 masks, but she said she could only supply 50,000, the sources said.
“I’m not giving two rats to your agents,” Barbot said, according to sources.
The NYPD has registered 5,490 cases of coronavirus among the 55,000 officers and civilian workers, with 41 deaths, according to figures released Wednesday evening.
Can we please allay this reflexive belief in the media that democratic office holders and their appointees are naturally wise and good and compassionate and smart? Because this far too gullible trust in the good judgment of democratic office holders – and a stupid assurance that Republican office holders are stupid and evil and reckless and always have to be wrong – it probably takes some people’s lives.
ADDENDUM: A funny, and probably extremely accurate, assessment of what is going on in higher education from Scott Galloway of New York University’s Stern School of Business:
We have constant meetings at universities, and we have all adopted this story of “This is unprecedented and we’re in this together”, which is Latin for “We don’t lower our prices, b *** ** s. “Universities are still in a period of consensual hallucination with every saying,” We will maintain these prices for what has become a dramatically less attractive product offering overnight. “
The corona virus even forces people to look closely at the $ 51,000 tuition they spend. Even wealthy people just can’t take the erratic pill of education if it doesn’t mean they have to send their kids away for four years. It’s like, “Wait, my kid will be home for most of the year? Staring at a computer screen?” This horrifying awakening is delivered through Zoom on how underpowered and overpriced education is at each level. I can’t tell you how many people have asked me, “Should my child consider taking a gap year?”