It has been an unusually fallow period for interesting new research. There are some updated data analyses I am working on but probably won’t be done til I am back home. So I guess I will have to do some wild speculating. But first, if you like all those charts showing little correlation between mask mandates and cases, see this link. (RG Charts) And even prestigious medical journals, in this case the British Medical Journal, are taking note of what I call the guilting, shaming and terrorification program many governments have been engaged in. (BMJ Article) The author refers to it as “blaming, petrifying and punishing” the population. He notes inconsistent and often-changing rules, inaccurate information, usually implying far higher risk than exists, and that these actions have caused much harm.
In the spring we had a huge coronavirus wave, with cases grossly under-detected and under-reported. That wave was largely centered in the Northeast and part of the Midwest, with some West coast activity. In the early to mid-summer, we had another wave, with apparently many more cases, although this was a testing artifact, and a bump in deaths. Despite this wave being centered in states with a higher population than that of the Northeast, there were fewer deaths. In fact, that wave had about half the peak in daily deaths. Now we have a swell, not a wave in some states in the upper Midwest and the Rocky Mountain area. Because testing has reached ludicrous levels, the case numbers are exaggerated compared to other periods. But we do also see a swell in hospitalizations and deaths in some of these states. I suspect that because the population of this area is lower, there will be far less deaths than in the mid-summer wave, but even on a per capita basis I think there will be a much decreased rate.
This pattern raises a few questions. I will get to the obvious geographic one in a second, but I would also point out that this pattern, leaving aside the geographic issue is not unexpected in an epidemic with a mildly lethal pathogen. Serious outbreaks occur initially but successive ones tend to be increasingly lower in mortality. A serious of diminishing waves or swells. That is characteristic of an endemic pathogen and that is exactly what CV-19 is going to become, just like influenza strains. And I will point out again that it doesn’t matter what you do, this is going to happen, and it is just foolishness to imagine that you can change that. Anyone who thinks a vaccine will make a respiratory virus disappear is slightly delusional, at a minimum.
The geographic pattern is very hard to figure out, and undoubtedly has some interplay with other significant factors, like population density, and general health of sub-populations. The southern US has less variation in solar insolation year-round than do the northern latitudes, so it is tempting to think that this is a factor. That would imply, however, that the virus should be at a more even level year-round in those southern latitudes. It is more humid in the South in summer, so maybe that is a significant factor. It could be that the more densely populated Northeast had enough infections in the first wave to mitigate participation in the second swell occurring in the less densely populated upper Midwest and Rocky Mountain states, which had lesser participation in that initial wave. The upper Midwest and Rocky Mountain states also tend to have fewer minorities and somewhat better general population health. The southern states may have also had enough cases in their wave to slow further transmission.
I don’t expect this to turn into some massive wave, just enough to allow the panic spreaders to continue their pernicious and evil work. The winter season is the real unknown, while transmission probably actually began in the US in December, nowhere in the US has been through a full winter season with the virus in widespread mode, as it is now. I continue to believe there are surprises in store for how CV-19 survives and spreads. We will not eradicate it.
In Minnesota, here is what we can safely say. The mask mandate made no difference. Period. Like it hasn’t anywhere else. We have more cases, we also have more testing, but if mask-wearing stopped cases, we shouldn’t see the growth in cases we are seeing. And the BS that some were spreading a few weeks ago about, well at a minimum a mask cuts the virus dose so we will see fewer serious cases, also has taken a hit, as we are seeing a rise in hospitalizations along with cases, but not at the same pace. I would love to be able to do an up-to-date analysis on a cohort basis but the state’s change in hospitalization data makes that difficult.
And the long-term care facility “battle plan” hasn’t worked either. We still have a huge percentage of our deaths coming from residents of those facilities. It would be higher but undoubtedly many people won’t let family members go there, or have even pulled them from the facilities. I publish this every now and then and I assure it is holding more than ever–the difference in risk between the LTC facility population and the general population and between those over 80 and those under 40 is enormous. There is no epidemic in the general population or in those under 60 or so.
Meanwhile, jobs are gone, businesses are gone, our children have no real school, people are dying from missed health care and the terrification program, and on and on. And at least in my state, the Incompetent Blowhard and his administration are never going to admit that they ever made one mistake or change course. While generally politically agnostic, this time I am hoping for a legislature change so his executive orders can be booted. Either that or maybe we have a federal judge with the courage to do the right thing.