The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, December 05, 2020

Biden's Plan

It's not the least bit surprising that Joe Biden's "plan" for "stopping the spread" of COVID-19 is to ask Americans to "mask-up" for "only" 100 days after his inauguration. No matter that study after study indicates that the virus-stopping benefits of non-medical use face masks are marginal, at best.  No matter that the use of masks in an outside environment is absurd and ineffective, unsupported by any scientific study. Joe is going to ask us to "sacrifice" and wear a talisman—the mask—that most Democrats and virtually all progressives believe will save them from the virus.

With the Trump administration's unquestionable achievement of getting effective vaccines into public hands before year's end, wouldn't it make more sense for Joe to propose an effective vaccination strategy—say a strategy that does not inoculate nursing home patients first (they are easily isolated) but rather focuses on two groups—health care workers (including those in nursing homes) and teachers. The benefits for the latter group are obvious. The benefits for the former are simple. It removes the teachers unions' ability to resist school openings—one of the most damaging aspects of the Democrats' never-ending insistence on state and city lockdowns.  Even more important, Joe's "plan" might exhibit some courage and suggest that the nation end lockdowns as the favored "strategy" of far too many Democrat governors and mayors.

Jay Bhattacharya and Christos Makridis comments:

... much of the media does not pay sufficient attention to the good news regarding improved treatments and survival of patients with the coronavirus. In contrast with the international media, the American press has been unrelentingly negative in its COVID coverage, even when there is good news to tell. That negativity is part of what fuels a culture of fear that affects local, state and federal politicians and the decisions they make.

But there is a lot of good news to tell. The case fatality rate from the virus has dropped sharply since March. The infection survival rate is 99.95 percent for people under 70 and 95 percent for people over 70. Hospitals are much better equipped to handle patients, with improved ventilator protocols, improved management of outpatients and new therapeutic strategies to provide relief and recoveries. Moreover, thanks to multiple ongoing clinical trials around the world, there may soon be a safe and effective vaccine.

By contrast with their focus on COVID deaths, the media have paid scant attention to the enormous medical and psychological harms from the lockdowns in use to slow the pandemic. Despite the enormous collateral damage lockdowns have caused, England, France, Germany, Spain and other European countries are all intensifying their lockdowns once again.

By lockdowns, we mean the all-too-familiar shuttered schools and universities, closed playgrounds and parks, silent churches and bankrupt stores and businesses that have become emblematic of American civic life these past months. The relative dearth of reporting on the harms caused by lockdowns is odd, since lives lost from lockdown are no less important than lives lost from COVID infection. But they’ve received much less media attention.

The harms from lockdown have been catastrophic ... In June, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that one in four young adults had seriously considered suicide. Opioid and other drug related deaths are on a sharp and unsurprising upswing.   

The burden of these policies falls disproportionately on some of the most vulnerable. For example, isolation led to a 20 percent increase in dementia-related deaths among our elderly population. Moreover, retrospective analysis of the lockdown in the United States shows that patients skipped cancer screenings, childhood immunizations, diabetes management visits and even treatment for heart attacks.

Internationally, the lockdowns have placed 130 million people on the brink of starvation, 80 million children at risk for diphtheria, measles and polio, and 1.8 million patients at risk of death from tuberculosis. The lockdowns in developed countries have devastated the poor in poor countries. The World Economic Forum estimates that the lockdowns will cause an additional 150 million people to fall into extreme poverty, 125 times as many people as have died from COVID.

Though there has been some coverage of lockdown harms, the media have not paid the same attention to it as they have to COVID deaths. If there is a COVID-death tracker, there should be side-by-side with it a lockdown-death tracker.

Since Joe Biden keeps telling us that he just follows the science, maybe he should spend a little time looking at the science and economics of lockdowns and suggest that the petty tyrants within the Democratic party who are shutting down states like CA, MI, and NY,* adopt his mask mandate but end the lockdowns entirely. Ironically, many of the same Democrat politicians (and yes, they are only Democrats) who are locking down their cities and states have decided that their lockdown rules only apply to the little people, not to them or their friends and family. 

The Democrat's trained hamsters in the media seem a bit conflicted about how to report COVID-19, now that Democrats are about to be in charge. On the one hand, they can't resist their Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt strategy—frightening some of the public into a near hysteria. On the other hand, the media contends that the Dems have a superior plan, so they need to create a narrative in which the "Ro" will be vanquished soon after Biden ascends to the presidency. 

Conveniently for Biden and the Dems, the vaccines developed over the past 9 months (by the Trump administration and private enterprise) will do most or all of the anti-virus work for them. 

Going forward, all the Dems really need to do is no harm. Unfortunately, their favorite meaningless gesture—the lockdown—does plenty of that.


*  It's odd that since the Democrat governors of these states have emphasized lockdowns as a continuing strategy, no one has asked why they've seen as many or more "cases" as states like FL that haven't had a lockdown since April. Yeah, I know, it's all about "the science," except when it's about hysteria.

The Wall Street Journal estimates that 4 million (!) small businesses may have been lost in 2020. That lives and livelihoods for owners and for employees many of whom have dedicated years to building the business. It appears that the likes of woke governor/catastrophists, like Gavin Newsom of CA, simply don't care.

UPDATE (12-06-2020):

Holman Jenkins comments on masks:

It’s to be expected that many who spent four years unproductively obsessing about President Trump now believe his ambivalent mask messaging is responsible for every infection and death in the U.S. The mask issue is not nearly so simple.

Mask compliance has actually been pretty good around the U.S. and in Europe regardless of Donald Trump and it didn’t stop the current, worst-yet surge. In frustration, the CDC’s Robert Redfield insisted in midsummer that if everybody wore a mask for several weeks, the virus could be controlled. What he really might have liked to say: “It doesn’t matter how many of us wear masks if the young, who have the least to fear from Covid and are most likely to spread it unwittingly, aren’t wearing them.”

Until Nov. 10, his agency truthfully stressed that masks won’t save you from getting the disease, only from transmitting it. Now this guidance has been changed in apparent hope that the noncompliant might respond to a new message that doesn’t lean so heavily on their altruism. And yet a national survey from researchers at Harvard, Rutgers, Northeastern and Northwestern throws cold water on any idea of masks as a simple fix. Mask usage increased impressively across the U.S. right into the current outbreaks even as physical separation fell by the wayside. “We find that social distancing has decreased dramatically since the spring, while mask wearing has increased,” the group concludes. At worst, our face-covering psychodrama distracted from the behavior that really matters.

Now that the evil Donald Trump is about to leave office, Team Apocalypse sees Joe Biden as their savior from the "Ro." He going to ride in on his white horse, named (of course) Empathy, give the catastrophists a magical amulet in the shape of a face mask that will ward off the evil "Ro," and save the day. 

Just watch, by April (100 days) the Ro will be in retreat. Not because viruses do tend to attenuate in the Spring and Summer, particularly after their second wave (occurring at the moment) burns itself out. Not because an effective vaccine (developed under Trump's administration, BTW) will be widely distributed by then. Noooo. It'll be because the magical amulet worked. That's Democrat "science"!!  And it's settled ... there can be no debate.