Friday, April 24, 2020

There's Something Happening Here . . .

Recent analyses of testing for the coronavirus illustrate just how difficult it is to understand the nature of the pandemic, and the uncertainty facing President Trump and governors as they seek to ease restrictions while avoiding further outbreaks.

New York state data released by Gov. Andrew Cuomo Thursday, based on 3,000 antibody tests conducted at grocery stores and big-box retailers, indicated an infection rate of an alarming 13.9%.
In parts of New York City, the results are even higher, more like 20%
On its face, the analysis, like a few other recent studies based on testing for COVID-19 antibodies among the general population, suggests that the pandemic is much worse than previously thought, in the sense that it infected far more people than realized. With a population of 19.4 million, the infection rate would mean that 2.7 million New Yorkers have or have had the virus. That is 10 times greater than the official number of coronavirus cases in New York: 257,216.

However, the results are also good news, in that they suggest that the disease is much less lethal than thought, as the vast majority of cases are asymptomatic. It found an infection to fatality rate, or IFR, of 0.6%. That is lower than the fatality ratio of 6% based on confirmed cases and deaths in New York.

White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx has said that random antibody testing is key to the administration’s strategy for containing the virus. “I think it's fundamental, both for right now and going through the fall, because that will be our early alert if any of the COVID virus reappears,” she said Wednesday.

Yet the New York research, as with similar noteworthy analyses of antibody testing from recent days, is subject to limitations and second-guessing. It may be considerably overestimating the number of people with the coronavirus and underestimating the lethality, meaning that it would be difficult for policymakers to draw definitive conclusions about how to proceed.

Having been to New York City once or twice, it seems to me incredible that anybody who lives there could dodge such an infectious virus for a any length of time, given the high population, the reliance on public transit, and the reliance on small groceries and restaurants. But the fact that so many people have escaped the virus so far (80% in NYC) is that their might be some ceiling on the fraction of people susceptible to the virus, for what ever reason of around 25%. See previous editions of There's Something Happening Here and There's Something Happening Here (Still)

Stacy McCain, ‘Morning Joe’ Goes Nuts, Screaming About Fox News: ‘They Never Learn!’
Joe Scarborough is smarter than everybody, so smart that he had foreknowledge of the coronavirus pandemic — “back like in February!” — that would have saved “more people . . . than died in the entire Vietnam tragedy!” Despite this, I have never heard Joe Scarborough criticize Andrew Cuomo for New York’s lack of pandemic preparedness. (New York and New Jersey have 53% of all U.S. coronavirus deaths.) Instead, in his Thursday meltdown, Joe seemed obsessed with Fox News:

To sustain his “Orange Man Bad” belief system, Scarborough and others in the anti-Trump media mob must ignore a lot of actual science.

For example, the recent reclassification of a California woman’s death in early February contradicts what we thought we knew about how soon COVID-19 began spreading in the United States. This is related to the discovery, from antibody testing, that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases is actually a fraction of those infected. In other words, because only a small percentage of infected people experience symptoms serious enough to seek medical treatment, the disease was being spread quite widely by people who were asymptomatic long before the presence of the disease was known by U.S. public health officials.

I’ve pointed out before that New York didn’t report its first coronavirus case until March 1. Within two weeks of that first case, however, there were hundreds of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in New York, and the sudden nature of that “surge” can only be understood in the context of what we now know about the high percentage of asymptomatic cases. So if you want to cite to me quotes from President Trump or Fox News personalities from February or early March, expressing a belief that the threat of COVID-19 was exaggerated, you must first answer, what was the known number of cases at the time of the quote? And then you must produce evidence that you (or your preferred sources) were contemporaneously offering better information about the disease.
This pandemic is a new thing. It's hard to react exactly correctly to a new disease when your information is still fragmentary. I'm sure Trump has made mistakes, but I'm not sure we can be sure for quite some time. I don't credit the argument that he should have done something earlier. Humans don't react until a threat seems sufficient. There are plenty of threats. If we reacted to all of them with "maximum" caution, we'd never get anything done, we'd be too busy building walls, moats, and their medical equivalent, in most cases never to be used. Even now, as the time to emerge from hiding is nearing, some mistakes will be made, and some people will die as a result. We just don't know which will be the mistake.

Clearly, at some point there is a trade off in deaths caused by the disease, versus deaths caused by the lagging economy (suicides, over doses, people not going to the Dr for things they should, etc). Unfortunately, while counting deaths from the virus is relatively easy, counting these deaths is not, and those balance points will vary from place to place in the country, making governors, or even more local officials better arbiters of when and what to open.

Kurt Schlichter, The Democrats Totally Want A Depression
If the Malevolent Donkey Party was actively seeking to plunge the country into an economic tailspin, while still maintaining some level of deniability to the credulous suckers out there, exactly what would it be doing differently? It would be pretty much doing exactly what it is doing right now – shilling for the bat-gobbling ChiComs, delaying needed assistance to keep America working, and generally trying to keep us all locked in the dark in perpetuity.

It’s fair to assume that you intend the expected consequences of the actions you take, and the consequence of the actions the Democrats are taking is economic ruin. The indisputable fact is that they’re totally cool with that if that is what gets them back into power.

Democrats are never ones to let a good crisis go to waste, and this Wuhan Flu is a very good crisis indeed if your goal is leftist hegemony. The Trump economy was booming after the near-decade of the Obama doldrums, and people were getting a taste of prosperity. But a happy, prosperous America is something the Democrat dudes can’t abide. All the Democrats had to sell were recycled cries of “RACISM!” and “RUSSIA!” and their standard-bearer was that sinewy weirdo Grandpa Badfinger, who was promising to drag us all back into the nightmare of globalist failure. The future looked grim, which means it actually looked bright for the rest of us.

So, the Chinese coronavirus was a dream come true, a deus ex pangolin that finally, after an endless series of leaks, impeachments, investigations, and media meltdowns, might be the magic bullet that actually takes Trump down.

Am I saying that the Democrats are exploiting the pandemic for their own cheesy advantage? Well, yeah. . . .

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