I am re-running this post because I continue to see “experts” making inane remarks about saving lives. The latest is Andy Slavitt, the former head of the agency that runs Medicare. He tweeted (and he is a twit) congratulating Americans on saving hundreds of thousands of lives. He is very rich, so he has nothing to worry about, but he is advocating to keep us all locked down forever. Not a word about all the Americans the lockdown orders are killing, or making jobless, or driving to drug and alcohol abuse and mental illness. And according to the models he loves so much, we aren’t saving people from dying, we are only delaying their deaths. This political nonsense makes me very, very sick.
Well, here is how any of you can save a million people from dying of coronavirus disease. It is very simple actually. You build a model. You make up whatever range of numbers you want about infection rates, rates of hospitalization, and rates of people who will die. You show that the number of people needing to be hospitalized will far outstrip the current hospital ICU bed capacity, which you severely underestimate. You write some formulas to produce curves and charts that grow really fast and produce really big numbers. You run a range of scenarios, but be sure to only publicize the one that has the most deaths. Be sure not to use any actual evidence and facts to support your assumptions. And be sure that no one does a large scale, randomized test of the population to see what actual infection and antibody rates might be. Now if you have built that model right, you should easily show that at least 2 or 3 million Americans are going to die of coronavirus disease. Don’t do any modeling of the job loss and social harms caused by shutting down the economy, because you wouldn’t want people to think about that.
Now you can use those big numbers to completely shutdown the economy and throw tens of millions of people out of work. Over 500,000 have lost jobs in Minnesota. And when the real number of deaths turns out to be much lower, and it will, you can claim to be a hero who saved millions of lives. It is a no-lose situation for you. Not so much for the general population.
Anyone doubt that this is what has happened in most of our states? It definitely has in Minnesota. We were told 74,000 people were going to die, then 22,000 and now the real number is much lower than that, but the Governor won’t release what the model actually shows now. Our Governor is patting himself on the back for doing a great job, but he personally put those 500,000 people out of work and he hasn’t done anything to protect the most at-risk group in the state, nursing home residents, where over 75% of deaths in Minnesota are occurring. Damn right I am mad as hell about it.
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And bring the media along with you to both a.) help sound the alarm of how dire things could be, and then, later, b.) help lead the victory parade, praising leadership for making tough, decisive calls, but showing such great accomplishment.
I think you have the recipe!