[LMB] OT: COVID-19 notes

Peterhews Peterhews at protonmail.com
Sat Apr 18 12:37:15 BST 2020

I'm writing from the UK, where this argument has been almost entirely between a population (and institutions and businesses) that were keen to follow the example of other countries already clamping down on the virus, and a government terrified (like yours) of hurting the economy and the stock market.

According to insider reports, our Prime Minister was initially cool with projections that doing nothing to control infection (aka "the herd immunity approach," a term borrowed from the anti-vax movement) would lead to a mere ten thousand or so deaths here.  Unfortunately these models turned out to have been based on the experience of bird flu, which was far less virulent, and when they were updated from real data the projected body count was headed for six figures.  At which point the policy made a tyre-screeching turn.

Further comments below in the text.

Peter Hews

Oh better far to live and die under the brave black flag I fly,
Than play a sanctimonious part with a pirate head and a pirate heart.

Sent with ProtonMail Secure Email.

‐‐‐‐‐‐‐ Original Message ‐‐‐‐‐‐‐
On Saturday, 18 April 2020 04:43, WILLIAM A WENRICH <wawenri at msn.com> wrote:

> The protesters I have heard of are not concerned with standard social distancing. They were concerned about things that went far beyond that. For example, in Michigan the governor has restricted things that have nothing to do with slowing the spread of COVID-19. It makes no difference which products people buy in a store. It makes no difference if a person buys a gallon of paint or a gallon of milk.

Ideally, to control infection you stop anyone going to any store for anything.  But since people have to eat, the grocery stores have to stay open, even though it's a crack in the quarantine.  People don't have to decorate to live, so you close the building stores.

> Freedom of religion and the right of the people to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances in important in the USA. I’m fairly sure that it is important most places.

It is indeed, but in most places we also accept emergencies.  Most churches and mosques and synagogues had closed their doors voluntarily before they were ordered to by the government.  My impression is that the same happened in the US: we are talking about the holdouts who stand by in their right to light campfires in the forest fire season.

> I’ve said many times that different places need different reactions. One size fits all will not work.

Political and social differences don't affect this.  The working strategies, which have held infection down and minimized deaths, have been practiced by communist tyrannies, English-speaking democracies and social democratic nations: the epidemology is the same.

> People keep saying that the social distancing is to save lives. Lowering the peak will help to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed but the area under the curves is the same.

In the first place, keeping hospitals from being overwhelmed saves lives; as we are learning to our cost, there are only so many ICU beds and ventilators to go round.  Also, as doctors who have experienced epidemics have warned, it's not just the victims of the plague that die: it's also people with heart attacks, pregnancy problems, infected wounds and such who have no doctors free to treat them.

And secondly, countries that have effectively applied social distancing (plus testing and isolation) still have massively lower infection and death rates now, months after they started.  As China and New Zealand have proved, you really can stamp out the virus just by starving it of hosts.

> When I said that COVID-19 was not an apocalyptic pandemic like The Stand. I was right. The total expected deaths keep going down.

This is kind of like saying that the fire has been damped down, so that proves we needn't have called the fire brigade in the first place.

> I believe that keeping people locked up for a long period of time may well cause a depression. People die because of depressions.

And that is a problem for economists and politicians, not epidemologists.

There is an alternative that spares the economy.  Singapore has come through with almost no economic damage (and impressively few deaths.)  But they did it by an iron-fisted regime of testing and isolating the infected which makes Europe's strictest controls look like gentle suggestions.  You can have freedom, or you can have infection control, or you can have an unharmed economy.  But if you want more than one of the three, you're going to have to start compromising.
> Christian, husband, father, granddaddy, son, American. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me.
> William A Wenrich
> From: Lois-Bujold lois-bujold-bounces at lists.herald.co.uk on behalf of Joel Polowin jpolowin at hotmail.com
> Sent: Friday, April 17, 2020 8:46:15 PM
> To: lois-bujold at lists.herald.co.uk lois-bujold at lists.herald.co.uk
> Subject: Re: [LMB] OT: COVID-19 notes
> Tidsel tidsel at protonmail.com wrote:
> > I am not sure I follow this..Protesters against lock-down?
> Yes. People going out and protesting, en masse, against distancing
> restrictions.
> Some are doing so on the basis of defending their freedom from such
> restrictions. Some are what are now being referred to as "distancing
> deniers" -- that is, they deny the science regarding the effectiveness
> of distancing, or the need for it based on, for example, the risks
> posed by the disease.
> If they were getting themselves infected via such stunts, then just
> going off and not affecting anyone else as they got better or died,
> I could (with regret) shrug and say it was their right. "DAR for
> the WIN!", so to speak, to invoke a trace of on-topicness. But that
> isn't how it works, of course; they're going on to spread the disease
> to other people who are doing their best to avoid infection with the
> imperfect means available, and adding to the load in the hospitals.
> Joel
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