The governmental response to the epidemic has been distressing and depressing, at a minimum. It has consisted of two main thrusts. One is to completely terrorize the population. If you tried to give officials the benefit of the doubt, I am not sure what legitimate aim they believed would be accomplished by this constant talk of danger and safety and deaths and terrible, but rare, aspects of the disease. Almost never do they give people the actual risk numbers, which would be reassuring. People are generally very capable of assessing what course of action they think best suits them and are inclined to over-estimate risk, so they would modify their behavior without the terrorization. It is very clear that the terror has led many people to avoid health care, which will have consequences for years to come and which already shows up in the death counts. These deaths and exacerbations of illness are not caused by the virus, they are caused by the actions of politicians, aided by the media.
The second main reaction to the virus was an extreme set of government-ordered business shutdowns, school closures and stay-at-home orders, complemented by other restrictions on social and economic life. This is completely unprecedented and as a piece of research I posted on last week showed, it was driven solely by a herd mentality, a mass delusion among politicians. These orders were done with no rigorous analysis of the totality of their effect and no balancing of relative harms and benefits. The purpose of government should be to advance the greatest good for the greatest number of people. In this case all that seemed to matter to politicians, and again, the stooges in media, was to keep the death count from coronavirus as low as possible, even though there was no evidence that the shutdowns would actually make any difference. It turns out the at least 40 or our states are ruled by petty dictators who have discovered the joys of emergency powers. This is fundamentally undemocratic and has to be changed. No one person should ever have any emergency power for longer than a couple of days. The failure to have a wider decision making process is one factor leading to such incompetent actions. The bad decisions just keep coming, with the school disaster the most recent example. There is no reason, none at all, why most children should not be enjoying a normal, in-person learning experience.
In the last couple of days we learn that the Virginia health commissioner wants to force everyone to get vaccinated and that the Dane County (Madison) Wisconsin powers that be ordered private schools to not do in-person education, less than a week before they were set to do so. Mandating that people get a vaccine that may not be necessary by the time it gets here and that may not have had adequate large scale safety testing is foolish. We don’t make people get flu vaccines, so I am not sure why this would be any different. This should be between patients and their doctors to decide what makes the most sense. Personally, if there is an effective, safe vaccine available, I would probably get it, just like I get a flu vaccine every year. But I don’t believe everyone should be forced to make the same decision.
The private school order, similar to one in Maryland that was ultimately reversed by the Governor, is typical lowest-common denominator thinking by progressive ideologues, who of course rule Madison, to the detriment of its population, particularly minorities and low-income persons. If we are keeping the public schools shut to real education, then by God, no one will get a decent school experience. Lawsuit coming, I am sure. This only hurts the minority and low-income students who also attend private schools.
On Friday, the coronavirus briefing was more subdued. The Incompetent Blowhard hasn’t appeared at one of these for quite a while. Can’t be because he is afraid of tough questions, there aren’t any asked. He seems to be laying low, his popularity has taken a hit recently. There was some continuation of the reign of terror, mostly around college students, with a little Sturgis thrown in. Begging people to be sure their children get vaccinated, which I find ironic given that they are responsible for people being so fearful they don’t get medical care. They discussed some of the data changes in the daily and weekly reports, especially around likely source of picking up the infection. They basically subjectively decide and have a hierarchy of possibilities. Community outbreak seems to be the default option. Makes you wonder if they really have any good sense of how a person contracted the virus. But what the discussion demonstrated is that they have lots of contact tracing information and they could tell us the relative ages of transmitter and transmittee and how much transmission is actually occurring in settings like restaurants, bars, gyms, retail, where masks are now required. And they could reveal exactly how much of that scary young person to old person transmission they are finding.
They could tell us lots of things if they wanted to, but they prefer to message. Keep people frightened and shamed and keep them in the dark about actual trends. I try not to be depressed about the state of our government, but it is pathetic.
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I know. Decent people are scared so much that they would turn a person in for not wearing a mask. Others are like those in Nazi Germany who declared “Heil Hitler” purely due to fear and intimidation.
Why won’t just one of the “question askers” think to ask for contact tracing data. At the end of their blathering answer, follow up question should be to answer the questions!
You note: “Almost never do they give people the actual risk numbers, which would be reassuring.”
There’s also the distortion/exaggeration problem.
I was reading the NBER study you cited some time back, “Assessing The Age Specificity Of Infection Fatality Rates For Covid-19: Meta-Analysis & Public Policy Implications.”
P. 20: “By contrast, an 60-year-old adult who gets infected faces a fatality risk more than 50 times higher than the annual fatality risk of driving an automobile.”
What a distorted comparison. It compares (a) risk of dying once you get infected, vs. (b) risk out of the total population of dying in an accident.
By contrast, it would be proper, in my view, to either  compare each to the total population; that is: out of roughly 4 million 60-year olds in U.S. how many die this year [or over last 6 months] from (a) COVID vs (b) car accidents;
or  else compare those who get infected vs. those who get in car accidents, and then compare how many die from each.
Does anybody know the REAL reason they decided to change the reporting to 5 year age brackets as opposed to the previous; Pre-School. School age; then by decades? Was is mostly to screw up the charts and graphs that have been used for the past 6 months?