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1 hour ago, Old Man said:

 

Which is why America is and will continue to be the epicenter of the pandemic.  America is literally doing as badly as authoritarian regimes like Brazil, Iran, and Russia, or countries that did nothing, like Sweden.  The authorities that could have saved us are instead actively disseminating misinformation and preventing measures that could save lives.  And that gets us back to "despair".

Which is the worst thing we can possibly do. Take it from someone who has a great deal of trouble finding hope: it's going to be difficult, but we have to try.

 

I'm not going to say "or we let Covid win" because Covid has no consciousness. It's a virus, something that we know about. It will take a while before we get the vaccine, but in spite of the obstacles the greatest minds on the planet are working on that Grail. That in itself is cause for hope. Our way of life will change, but it has changed before. It wasn't that long ago that cigarettes were health necessities , people drank cocktails on their lunch hour, and corporate head offices and boardrooms came equipped with a wet bar. It wasn't that long ago we locked up as many mentally ill as we could find, not out of concern for their welfare but because we didn't want to have to see them anymore.

 

Positive change is possible. I would like to think that some degree of positive change is inevitable. It never happens by itself, and sometimes it takes terrors and tragedies to make us take a hard look at them and think "This might be a good idea after all" or "Seriously? How long did we let this go on unchallenged?" And it does not come without cost -- a lot of people have died from this disease, and there will be many more before this has run its course -- we are only in the first wave. But there will be an end.

 

There will be things we will miss, but also things we didn't know we would ever want.

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2 hours ago, Michael Hopcroft said:

The normal method of testing for COVID-19 seems at best undignified and art worst painful. Having to endure that every four days would be a bit much to ask of notoriously stubborn Americans.

 

Universal masking is important, but is not going to happen in the US. We tune out what we don't want to hear, and generally respond to threat by sticking out thumbs in out ears, waving our hands, and shouting 'BLEEBLE BLEEBLE BLEEBLE!". Which is not helpful, but is something we seem to find encouraging.

 

What Old Man said.  There's no reason to believe that our turnaround will be anything but much, much slower than many other countries with the capacity to (potentially, anyway) deal with it.  

 

I might choose "selfish" over stubborn, tho, or perhaps say it applies more broadly.  And serious immaturity. a la the instant gratification that we  take as a birthright.  Some is the byproduct of fearmongering, and sowing distrust over any authority figure.  If it's all BS then I'm looking out for me, and I'm gonna do what I want.

 

I think I first used the term "a nation of poles" in my own thinking...10 years ago?  Give or take.  That we don't have a society, but a set of poles, each pole drawing a particular crowd.  Within a pole, all you hear is the groupspeak of the pole, and nothing outside.  No, not everyone....but the poles are getting larger and sharper.  And it's gotten, IMO, much much worse, and this will accelerate things even more.

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8 minutes ago, Michael Hopcroft said:

 It wasn't that long ago that cigarettes were health necessities

 

Not sure "necessities" is the right word, but more broadly...

 

It took decades to move far.  First significant reports go back to the 50s and early 60s.  The TV ad ban was 1969.  Second hand smoke was identified as a problem in the early 70s...but smoking wasn't 100% banned on flights until 1988.  The major tobacco settlement took another 10 years...but it was the NASCAR Winston Cup until 2003.  35 YEARS.  For a movement with extensive popular support. and intermittently some of the most shocking, worst-case types of ads...most of the time there's nothing cute about a stop-smoking ad, they WANT to gross you out.  And for a totally voluntary practice with known, *extensive* consequences.  
 

And the only ones that were hurt?  Well, the smokers of course...but other than them, basically the tobacco industry.  That's the big problem with covid-19.  The isolationist push does cause serious damage.  Yeah, ok, a lot of it would've happened anyway, most likely...but that's not something people see, or generally believe if they don't want to.  It's not a selling point, just (at best) a rallying point.  Another pole.  Could we get through this in a net-positive way?  Perhaps so, but there are too many negative factors that give me no reason to think it's possible.

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21 hours ago, Simon said:

With 100k dead (and not seeing the peak yet), I'm curious what you would consider "too much destruction"...

 

Sadly, for many, I think it is "a single close friend or family member".  A single death is a tragedy.  A thousand deaths is a statistic.

 

The Premier (think Governor in the US) of Ontario, Doug Ford, has been scathing in his comments on those not observing social distancing and other protocols.  His mother contracted COVID-19 early on.

 

Our Prime Minister has appeared outside his house for a press conference most days of the pandemic, with the steady message that this is serious, and we need to work to contain the spread.  His wife was one of the first locked down after testing positively following her return from an international trip.

 

Intellectually, we know these numbers are scary.  But, at least for many, it hits home with much greater power - emotionally - when it becomes personal.

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8 minutes ago, Hugh Neilson said:

 

Sadly, for many, I think it is "a single close friend or family member".  A single death is a tragedy.  A thousand deaths is a statistic.

 

The Premier (think Governor in the US) of Ontario, Doug Ford, has been scathing in his comments on those not observing social distancing and other protocols.  His mother contracted COVID-19 early on.

 

Our Prime Minister has appeared outside his house for a press conference most days of the pandemic, with the steady message that this is serious, and we need to work to contain the spread.  His wife was one of the first locked down after testing positively following her return from an international trip.

 

Intellectually, we know these numbers are scary.  But, at least for many, it hits home with much greater power - emotionally - when it becomes personal.

Agreed - 100%...though I will add that those who haven't had it become personal can still be emotionally affected and aware of the scope of the tragedy that's continuing to unfold. I was in that group and am now in the "close to home" group and can somewhat confidently say that they're not too different, just more personal now.  My aunt (this shouldn't matter, but early 70's, special needs, had been living in an assisted care facility) was recently moved to the ICU showing all the (bad) signs of COVID-19. 

This isn't meant to take away from your post -- the majority fall into the category that you describe (not really "getting" it until it hits close to home)...which I find more than a little sad, and more than a little telling of why we're seeing the issues we are in the US.

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Trust me, there are lots of conversations on university campuses along those same lines.  As a faculty member in his mid-60s, I really want to know what we're doing this coming fall ... and that's not yet decided ... and what exactly is going to happen when it is reported that one of the 30 students with me in my classroom last week is now showing symptoms.

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On 5/26/2020 at 9:40 AM, Simon said:

With 100k dead (and not seeing the peak yet), I'm curious what you would consider "too much destruction"...

 

My comment was in the context of Texas where we're currently sitting at 1,546 deaths which is substantially lower than a bad flu season for us.  The area of DFW where I live is currently at 3.3 deaths per 100,000.

 

Compared to the original 2.2 million number that was originally estimated for America Texas would have seen about 200,000 dead.  I feel a tremendous sense of relief that we're at less than 1% of that original estimate.

 

That in now way means that I don't have tremendous sympathy for the areas that got hit much harder (New York, Italy, Spain, etc.).

 

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3 hours ago, ScottishFox said:

 

My comment was in the context of Texas where we're currently sitting at 1,546 deaths which is substantially lower than a bad flu season for us.  The area of DFW where I live is currently at 3.3 deaths per 100,000.

 

Just making the usual correction that this is 1546 deaths in three months vs. a bad flu season of 3400 per year.

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18 minutes ago, Old Man said:

 

Just making the usual correction that this is 1546 deaths in three months vs. a bad flu season of 3400 per year.

Yeah.

I dislike the logic of "it could have been worse."  

"Could it have been better?" is a more appropriate question to ask...and when the answer to that is "yes," you're talking about deaths that could have been prevented.

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2 minutes ago, Simon said:

Yeah.

I dislike the logic of "it could have been worse."  

"Could it have been better?" is a more appropriate question to ask...and when the answer to that is "yes," you're talking about deaths that could have been prevented.

 

And my instinct is, immediately after "Could it have been better?", comes "What would have to have been done better to make it so?", with a clear intent to think about what was reasonably possible at the time, and learning lessons to be applied in any similar episode in the future.

 

But I'm one of those despicable twofold subversives: a scientist and an educator.

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2 minutes ago, Cancer said:

 

And my instinct is, immediately after "Could it have been better?", comes "What would have to have been done better to make it so?", with a clear intent to think about what was reasonably possible at the time, and learning lessons to be applied in any similar episode in the future.

 

But I'm one of those despicable twofold subversives: a scientist and an educator.

Totally agreed...and we have examples of doing it better in our immediate past.  Avoiding political discussions here, but on the US side, much of the infrastructure, federal guidance, and material-readiness that has been in place for previous pandemics and health crises was either slow to come or entirely lacking during this.

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2 hours ago, Old Man said:

 

Just making the usual correction that this is 1546 deaths in three months vs. a bad flu season of 3400 per year.

 

And realistically closer to 2 months.  Worldometers shows that as of March 27th, only 26 deaths in Texas.  

 

The narrow argument that "it's not so bad where I am" is true, but also not strong.  It's still early in the overall cycle.  Lots of places didn't show much early.  The distribution of infections is clustered, it's not anything close to uniform.  

 

Plus...do we *believe* the Texas death stats?  The governor was loath to put any restrictions in place overall;  that alone makes the argument for systemic under-counting (no testing going on...so, no covid-19 deaths).  The Austin American-Statesman reports there were almost 1500 more deaths in 1Q 2020, compared to the average of the last 6 years.  And this has no shutdown-related deaths...no isolation suicides, no death due to overloaded health care.

 

So the 5 month story might be that you're already catching up to a bad flu YEAR...and there's no end in sight.

 

I think June will tell us a lot.

 

 

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7 hours ago, Cancer said:

Trust me, there are lots of conversations on university campuses along those same lines.  As a faculty member in his mid-60s, I really want to know what we're doing this coming fall ... and that's not yet decided ... and what exactly is going to happen when it is reported that one of the 30 students with me in my classroom last week is now showing symptoms.

Fortunately, I'm told that the olds are eager to throw themselves from the train to get the economy going again. I usually define "old" as about ten years older than me, but maybe we need to narrow it down a bit? In other words, come your next birthday, you'll see the light, prof. 

 

Speaking of things that will happen in the future, I see that Texas, at 59,107 historic cases per worldometer  compared with Pennsylvania's 73,662 and Michigan's 55,608, has 2038 cases per million of population compared with roughly 5700 per million in the bracketing states, and that with 416 million deaths per million for Pennsylvania and 534 million for Michigan, compared with Texas at 55 deaths per million, there is ample room For Texas to converge with its neighbours (in the Worldometer chart) at a much higher human toll. The Texas Tribune says that the current status quo is 34 new virus deaths a day, at which rate Worldometer's projection of Texas hitting 2,985 Covid deaths by August 4 2020 seems optimistic. 

 

To their credit, the official statements from the state government seem much more sensible and measured than what one hears refracted through opinion journalism. That said, minimising the tragedy that Texas is continuing to experience, does not seem helpful. 

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3 hours ago, Simon said:

Totally agreed...and we have examples of doing it better in our immediate past.  Avoiding political discussions here, but on the US side, much of the infrastructure, federal guidance, and material-readiness that has been in place for previous pandemics and health crises was either slow to come or entirely lacking during this.

 

Heck, we have examples of doing it better right now. Germany, South Korea, New Zealand, took unified, science-based measures at the start of this pandemic, and are now reaping the rewards.

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5 hours ago, Cancer said:

 

And my instinct is, immediately after "Could it have been better?", comes "What would have to have been done better to make it so?", with a clear intent to think about what was reasonably possible at the time, and learning lessons to be applied in any similar episode in the future.

 

The President has spent more time defending his response to the coronavirus crisis than he has actually responding to the coronavirus crisis, so I guess the main thing that would have made it better would have been rational agreement, based on the best evidence available, on effective control measures and then promoting them in such a way that everybody at least hears the same message.

 

But that would have required America to be fundamentally different than it actually is...

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1 hour ago, Lord Liaden said:

Heck, we have examples of doing it better right now. Germany, South Korea, New Zealand, took unified, science-based measures at the start of this pandemic, and are now reaping the rewards.

 

19 minutes ago, Michael Hopcroft said:

The President has spent more time defending his response to the coronavirus crisis than he has actually responding to the coronavirus crisis, so I guess the main thing that would have made it better would have been rational agreement, based on the best evidence available, on effective control measures and then promoting them in such a way that everybody at least hears the same message.

 

But that would have required America to be fundamentally different than it actually is...

 

This is why science matters. And why I am so very frustrated at the state of my country right now, from our know-nothing know-it-all President down the the plague enthusiasts screaming that having to wear a mask at Costco is a violation of their Constitutional rights.

 

I've recently been rereading Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle In the Dark, and I came across this statement:

 

"I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time—when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness."

 

We're there, folks. :(

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There’s a crystal store in my town where the employees strike a tuning fork over the crystals when you buy them to activate their healing harmonic energy. Business was booming before the pandemic. 

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White House medical mouthpiece Dr. Birx estimates 200000 US deaths "if we do everything perfectly"

 

It's such a huge jump in the official estimate that one has to wonder if it isn't an expectation-setting exercise.  That said, the linearity of the curve suggests we'll be there by October.

 

 

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