Sunday Commentary: Local Trajectory Not Good, We Need More Testing

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At the council meeting this week, it was suggested that Yolo County has flattened its curve.  Sorry, but I don’t see it that way.  Yolo County’s growth actually seems rather explosive to me.

Going into March 30, we had just 18 cases in Yolo County.  In the two weeks since, there have been 70 new cases.  And in the last week, the cases have more than doubled, from 39 to 88.  Davis has been relatively spared, however, with just 11 cases.  West Sacramento (36) and Woodland (34) have been hammered.

One problem—we don’t know what we don’t know.  Only 885 people have been tested in Yolo County to date.  This is a key point I will get to soon.

I had three key questions for Public Health Official Ron Chapman this week—who is getting sick now, why are they getting sick, and what is the general risk for a person taking reasonable precautions.

Dr. Chapman responded, “If you visit our COVID-19 dashboard, you can filter by area (like Davis) and see breakdowns by age, gender, etc. It’s important to note that not everyone who has COVID-19 has been or was tested, as many people get mild symptoms and there are not enough tests. We should assume that it’s in all of our communities and that we need to stay at home as much as we can and practice social distancing.”

That doesn’t quite answer my question.  The dashboard doesn’t help a whole lot because, in part, they don’t have data for a lot of the age groups.  Most of the cases they know about are with older people, but they only seem to know the age for 21 of the 88 cases.

Why are people getting sick?

Dr. Chapman says, “People are getting sick a variety of ways, through the community or by travel. Some may get mild symptoms while others may get the more severe symptoms. Anyone can get COVID-19.”

That’s also not that helpful.  I want to know whether they getting it because they are going to church when they shouldn’t have, because they are in a high risk profession—or are they sheltering in place and getting it when they go to the store?  We don’t seem to have that answer.

Finally,  the general risk: “There is still risk for the general public. The best way that people can protect themselves is by staying at home.”

My question is geared toward: if I do my thing and stay at home other than to do a few errands, will I get sick?

He added, “People also need to remember that facial coverings are NOT a replacement for social distancing or staying at home. There is no evidence that wearing a facial covering will prevent you from getting COVID-19.”

That’s a key point.  I went to the post office to check mail earlier this week and found a long line of people not spaced six feet apart.  That was concerning.

My biggest concern at this point is we have a bunch of scary data.  Yolo County is now at 88 cases.  California is up to 22,421 with 632 deaths.  That is just fifth in absolute numbers, but California is in the middle of the pack in the US in terms of cases per capita.  Overall in the US, we are over half a million in cases and over 20,000 in deaths.

Have we peaked?  There is some indication that both the cases curve and the death curves are flattening.  So that is a good sign.

What worries me is that we may break shelter in place too soon and have a secondary outbreak.

President Trump wants to lift the stay-at-home orders sooner rather than later.  But he wants to do it much faster than most public health officials believe is warranted.

Indeed, the New York Times reports: “New federal projections show a spike in infections if shelter in place orders are lifted at 30 days.”

A Fox News poll this week found that 80 percent of voters across the country favor “the federal government announcing a stay at home order for everybody but essential workers.”

The frustrating part of all of this is how unprepared we were for this pandemic.  The biggest flaw in everything is that we don’t have rapid testing in place so that we know who has the virus, who is carrying it and the real rate of infection.  In short, we are flying blind here.

I understand President Trump wants to get the economy moving—for good reasons and also self-interested ones.  But right now that would be foolish (and foolish is perhaps too soft a word).  But there is something he can do to hasten the re-opening of the economy: use federal power to make enough testing available.

Until we know two pieces of information—who is infected and who is immune—we really can’t open up the economy without the huge risk of a secondary spike that would devastate the population, overwhelming hospitals and health care systems, and ultimately harming the economy through a secondary and more crippling blow.

But if we can identify and isolate those people who are carrying the virus but not showing symptoms, and those people who are sick but have mild enough symptoms not to require intensive treatment, from the rest of the population—and also identify those who are now immune and who can be more on the front lines, we have a chance to start opening things up.

A reader suggested that we should not put this on the president, but rather put this to our local governments.

They pointed to San Miguel County, which this week put out an announcement of community-wide testing to identify those who have the antibodies.

But I am not sure we can really do this on a county-by-county basis.  After all, even if we could test all of Yolo, a huge percentage of folks living in Yolo work in Sacramento or the Bay Area.  And a huge percentage of folks who work in Yolo County live in Sacramento.

Without a broader approach to testing, I don’t see how we could even do a limited re-opening of the economy—nor do I see how it would do that much good.

Moreover, even San Miguel County found that their lab was “experiencing the same staffing and supply challenges due to COVID-19 that the entire world faces.”

I do agree with the individual that we need to push for testing, but I think that is going to have to be at the state level and the federal level.

I will say this again—if the President wants to open the economy, then it is incumbent upon him to find a solution to the testing gap.  Otherwise, we are simply creating a recipe for a lot of people to die who don’t need to.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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121 thoughts on “Sunday Commentary: Local Trajectory Not Good, We Need More Testing”

  1. Keith Olsen

    Flattening the curve just prolongs the inevitable unless it lasts until a vaccine is produced.  That’s estimated to be 12 to 18 months away.   What economy will be left at that point, how many will be jobless, how many businesses will never return, when will housing crash, how much debt will this nation be in and how will that ever be repaid?

    Maybe this is what’s called for:

    https://www.thecollegefix.com/epidemiologist-coronavirus-could-be-exterminated-if-lockdowns-were-lifted/?fbclid=IwAR2ABL2O1mhEmV0L_lksiaLVzs72MF2hgMwoZdP1l78XpQ-kEIN12c8FhBU

  2. Robb Davis

    The author in the link provided makes the statement that we could “exterminate” the COVID-19 virus:

    if we permitted most people to lead normal lives and sheltered the most vulnerable parts of society until the danger had passed.

    The most vulnerable parts of society are absolutely everyone (who has not yet contracted the disease, and even for them the period of immunity remains to be determined).  Keep in mind that the mortality rates estimated to date (which will be revised downward almost certainly) are 10-30 times higher that seasonal flu even in younger ages.

    And so what the author misses (among other things) is that the reason for distancing is to flatten the curve SO THAT people who are already sick with OTHER illnesses, those who will become sick with OTHER illnesses, those who will be in crashes or experience OTHER traumas will not arrive at hospital and find they cannot be treated.

    David, and others, if you want to get a vision of the way forward to “re-open” the economy then read someone like Scott Gottlieb or the recent report from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security on scaling up testing, contact tracing, and isolation of cases.

    Even these well-thought-out plans are going to be challenging.  What is clear, however, is that they cannot be accomplished state by state, jurisdiction by jurisdiction.  While the “war analogy” used with this virus is certainly not apt for many reasons, what I am struck by is how the federal government faces war versus how it is currently facing COVID-19.  In times of war (or terrorist attack) the federal government does not ask each state to figure out its response.  It mobilizes the nation to act.

    Why are we not doing that here?  We know that the recruitment, training and support of community health workers, the development of testing equipment, and a plan to enable broad testing is technically feasible.  Those of us who have worked in international public health saw how community health workers armed with appropriate technology helped effectively treat HIV patients around the world.

    We just need will.  What we don’t need are ridiculous articles on herd immunity as a means to face a novel coronavirus as deadly, health-service-taxing, and infectious as SARS-CoV-2. What we don’t need is a federal government that abdicates is responsibility to the people of the nation.

    What we need, economically, and are slowly getting, is not a national stimulus program but a national disaster relief program to put money in people’s pockets so they can continue to purchase the basic needs of our time.

    This IS a disaster after all. A disaster. A national disaster.  Returning to normalcy (whatever that is) cannot happens while the disaster is unfolding and without the appropriate means to stem the disaster. That should be our focus right now,

    1. Don Shor

      I’ve read an interview with Dr. Wittkowski elsewhere, mostly circulating on far-right and conspiracy-oriented sites. While I understand his basic premise, he seems to overlook the impact on our health care system that would have been caused by allowing natural herd immunity to develop. He basically gives support to the conservative-media viewpoint that the economy should be “reopened” as quickly as possible. It’s not clear to me how he thinks we should isolate the vulnerable, nor who he thinks that is. Evidently he just thinks kids should become infected as much as possible and that will speed up the process of getting through this. I won’t link any because it’s pretty clear he is an outlier on this topic, but unfortunately he is providing succor to those who seek to disparage the current health professionals advising our political leaders.

      1. Bill Marshall

        As I understand it, ‘flattening the curve’ will not reduce infections, in total, over the course… the ‘area under the curve’ is expected to be about the same… what flattening the curve should do, is allow the health community to respond effectively to those with the most serious reactions to the virus, therefore drastically reducing the mortality numbers.

        So, it would be a trade-off between economic impacts vs. deaths directly attributable to covid-19.  Different folk may interpret how to balance the two, differently…

        Total # exposures/infections will likely be the same/similar under either scenario…

    2. Keith Olsen

      I put Dr. Wittkowski’s solution out there as a possibility.  I don’t think there’s really an answer as of today.  But being that this epidemic was started by just one person are we ever going to completely stop this virus?  If we stay with the current plan of trying to keep the curve flattened where will we be in 12 – 18 months until a vaccine is available?   Where will the economy be? Will the economic chaos be worse than the epidemic itself?  Hopefully there will be a medical breakthrough and these questions won’t matter but for now these are valid questions and no one has the answers.

      1. Robb Davis

        I took the time to read your article Keith so please take some time to read up on what I posted.  These things are easy to find.  The reason I say that is because you are setting up an absolutely false dichotomy.  This is NOT a binary situation and you owe it to yourself and others with whom you share your ideas to get the full array of possible approaches to moving out of the disaster we are in. Dr. Wittkowski’ s “solution” is not a possibility.

        There is no “hopefully” about the plans on offer.  They take investment, execution and single-mindedness.  The US did this to face WWII and the Marshal Plan for Europe that followed.  All it takes is leadership.

        (And yes, Bill, the area under the curve does not change but its shape does (however, the more we can attenuate it the more possible it DOES become to reduce the area under it—vaccines, treatments, etc.) But that change in shape will save lives beyond COVID-19.  That is the whole point. I made this point in the dark ages of early March and it remains true today.  There are clear indications we are flattening it in many areas around the US.)

        Did I mention that we are in the middle of a disaster—a natural, slow developing disaster.  Its slow developing nature and the fact that people are walking around and apparently healthy in our streets makes it hard for us to accept that.  But we need FIRST disaster response and mitigation.  That is what we are trying to do now.  Mitigation efforts will evolve but with this slow moving disaster it will take time.  Once we move beyond the acute phase of the disaster, we can talk about rebuilding.  And then we will.  But like in any natural disaster, some things will be lost and will not be rebuilt.  We are not yet ready to talk about rebuilding.  We are still in the middle of a disaster.

        1. Doby Fleeman

          Robb,

          I agree with your analogy to a war.   Unlike Taiwan, which had in place a very well developed strategy for defense from such an enemy, we do not.

          Move forward, it is well past time for mounting a “multi-pronged assualt” on this particular enemy and testing – both/and serology testing and virus screen – is clearly the foundation for that assualt.

          What has been missing, however, for the past two months is a parallel initiative (commensurate with efforts to address the medical emergency and shelter in place initiatives) to develop and deploy a comprehensive screening program aimed at restoring some measure of order to commerce and our daily lives.

          Other countries, and now other counties (San Miguel-CO, Santa Clara, Los Angeles) are now actively moving ahead with initiatives to accelerate such testing.   Such initiatives, organized and conducted by credible institutions and medical experts – as with Dr. Bendavid of Stanford, are to be commended and encouraged.

          The idea that all the best ideas will emerge from some bombshelter in DC or Emory University’s CDC is for pipe dreamers.   Our economy, our way of life, doesn’t have time for that luxury.

          This is the true strength of this nation, our ability and capability to deploy a distributed approach to testing the limits of the enemy’s powers.   States have role to play in this discussion – if our Governor is serious about describing California as a nation state.    Look at all the countries of Europe as the equivalent of our larger states – many of them are moving ahead on multple fronts with testing protocols aimed to get their economies and their lives back to normal before they implode or the people revolt.

          My wish would be for every City Council, Board of Supervisors, and Statehouse to demand an acceleration of efforts for rapid deployment of multiple testing protocols to any community willing to give it a try.    Same goes for Rotary and other local business and civic associations.   There simply cannot be too many voices raised in a unified and supportive chorus to accelerate deployment of screening tests.

          Many of you may disagree, but if there no clamor, no perceived sense of urgency from our local electeds all the way to Washington, DC – then we’ll simply get more headlines reading that FDA is beginning to undertake testing and results will be forthcoming.  Point being, many communities – and Davis may well be one – might want to consider how we could help make a difference by taking a leadership role in development and deployment of the screening process – without waiting to be told by some bureaucrat in Washington.

          In the meantime, everybody, please try to make an extra effort to order out from your favorite local restaurant at least as often as you used to dine out with them.   Maybe think about ways we might support our local service providers, independent retailers, healthclub and non-profits.  The efforts we make today will make a huge difference in the health and well being of this community when we finally emerge from under this cloud.

  3. John Hobbs

    Again, I have to ask Keith: What is your acceptable #s of death? While flattening the curve  only distances out the number of infections it also saves those lives that will be lost if an ER or ICU is unavailable due to an overtaxed system. How about those big corporations, who dine regularly and richly at the public trough shell give up some of their massive wealth and take one for the team? Workers have been taking it for them for too a long time.

  4. Ron Glick

    If you think going about your past regular life until you get it is the way to proceed then by all means do so just stay away from me and everyone who doesn’t want it. Perhaps you could even go over to UC Medical Center or some other place in need and bravely volunteer. After all the sooner you are infected the sooner you are done with it one way or another. As soon as the fever, chills, hallucinatory dreams, respiratory failure, diarrhea, kidney failure or whatever symptoms you get pass the sooner you can get back to work. It only lasts several weeks or a month or two. Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones who simply carries it with no symptoms but then again…

    A friend offered to do some shopping for me. I asked him why he wasn’t concerned?

    He said “The projection is that 70% of us are going to get it anyway.”

    I responded “I want to be in the 30 %”

     

    1. Keith Olsen

      If you think going about your past regular life until you get it is the way to proceed then by all means do so just stay away from me and everyone who doesn’t want it. 

      If the “you” you are referring to here is “me” I suggest you read Dr. Whittkowski’s article because it would be “you” who would be responsible to shelter in place and stay away from me until the virus ran its course.

  5. Alan Miller

    In the meantime, everybody, please try to make an extra effort to order out from your favorite local restaurant at least as often as you used to dine out with them.

    RD, if you are still out there in the ether, I would like your opinion on above statement, from a strictly medical point-of-view.

    I was, early on in this, stating on this blog that I would be supporting local food joints with to-go orders.  Reading more, I have gone into ‘extreme’ social distancing mode:  massively minimizing trips to stores, wearing face-covering in enclosed public spaces, ceasing the use of cash, visiting friends only outdoors and keeping more like 12′ of distance.

    The straw-camel-back was when I went to purchase a baked good downtown, and the young person behind the counter, with no face-covering, rubbed his finger across his nose while holding my debit card.

    Should we even be doing to go?  Should cookie and ice-cream shops really be deemed essential, or instead as needless nodes of disease spread?

  6. Robb Davis

    So let’s look at the number of Dr W’s proposal. First question for him, what is the R naught you are assuming for this rapid herd immunity approach?  The answer to that question is important.  R naught is not a static number but without ANY mitigation efforts at all, which is what Dr W is proposing for those <60, it could be as high as 5.  We will assume  three levels and see where that gets us: 2.5, 3.5, and 5.  An R naught of 2.5 implies herd immunity occurs when 60% of the population is infected; 71% with an R naught of 3.5; and 80% with an R naught of 5.

    Next, what are the fatality rates of COVID-19 by age.  What is Dr. W assuming?  We don’t know.  What we do know is that the best estimates we currently have from The Lancet use a conservative “Infection Fatality Rate“ (not Case Fatality) that uses the most recent information we have on asymptomatic cases.  Look for the IFR in the a/m article.

    I have no idea where Dr W gets his “six weeks” number.  That would vary, of course by things like population density but… okay.

    Now, all we need is populations for each age group.  Now again, I have reduced the total age-grouped populations who would be exposed to dying based on the assumed R naught. I have taken everyone 60 and older out of the calculations completely (no one dies because they are remaining at home). However, I have kept all obese adults in the population even though we know their age-specific rates are higher (I don’t know how much higher). Obese adults make up roughly 40% of the US population.

    With all this in mind, and using the age-specific infection fatality rates, here are the “6-week” death totals as Covid-19 burns through the population, thereby freeing the 60+ people to go out into a “safe” population (caveat, we do not know, as I noted earlier how long immunity is conferred):

    Herd immunity at 60% (R naught of 2.5): 222,564 deaths 0-59

    Herd immunity at 71% (R naught of 3.5): 263,368 deaths 0-59

    Herd immunity at 80% (R naught of 5.0): 296,752 deaths 0-59

    And, of course, those nearly 300,000 do not just slink away into the woods to die.  They end up in urgent care, ICUs and compete for beds with the other hundreds of thousands who get sick and require treatment SO THAT they do not die.  They in turn are competing with others in need of medical treatment.

    Keep in mind that these people would die BECAUSE of an explicit policy decision by leaders following Dr. W’s recommendations.  They would not be dying in spite of it.

    Now… I may have this all wrong.  Maybe.  But I DO know that the UK considered such an approach about 4 weeks ago until infectious disease modelers ran policy makers through similar analyses.  They quickly dropped the “rapid herd immunity” approach.

  7. Robb Davis

    A quick response to Doby.

    While I agree that the solutions to this disaster (did I mention we are IN THE MIDST OF a disaster), will not come from some centralized source of knowledge (that is already NOT happening), what is needed is central  (regionalized perhaps) administration and organization. That is what the federal government DOES in National disasters.  No way around it.

    But seriously… every local jurisdiction must go hat in hand to the federal government demanding action?  Why?  We elect national leaders, and especially those who control the bureaucratic state (not a bad word, and I mean the president—the executive) to take decisive action.  Why should we have to go begging to them.  The thought of it makes my head spin.

    Their entire raisin d’etre is to respond to situations like this one, not to wait until enough people convince them it is a good idea.

    1. Doby Fleeman

      Robb,

      Thanks for responding.  Certainly you’re the expert in our midst on this issue of medical and disaster response.  And, I didn’t notice any of our Governors hesitate in the slightest before they went hat in hand begging to the Federal government to assist with their challenges.  The response – erratic and unprepared as has been – was universal, prompt and overwhelming.

      Now we are faced with a new assualt and new battlefront – an economic battlefront the likes of which nobody has ever imagined in our lifetimes.   Seriously, who knows how to “restart and economy that’s been artifically put to sleep”?   What department is that exactly?

      I certainly don’t know.  What I do know is that with respect to each of our respective businesses, we each have ideas about best ways to handle our individual re-openings, and we all share a strong sense of urgency about getting back to business as usual – for the sake of our families, our employees and their families, our vendors, our customers and the community as a whole.   Yet, by and large, we (the small businesses in America) have no strong voice, no powerful lobbyists, no place at the table, and most particularly no advocate with a shared sense of our anxiety and urgency who is in a position to help accelerate the re-start process.  All we have is the Federal government now throwing money at the problem – and that money is no panacea for the challenges we face with our businesses shuttered.   You think FEMA or the SBA has a game plan for a re-start of the economy?   That’s not even a reasonable speculation.

      It is this very real challenge to the livilihoods and dreams of countless small businesses across this  country and the next – that I am suggesting be addressed with the same sense of urgency, priority and attention thus far reserved for our healthcare providers  and first responders (and even they are not getting all they need).

      Is there any reason we should not be diligently pursuing a separate, but parallel “all hands on deck” approach to accelerate and prioritize rapid deployment of our nations diagnostic testing developers, producers, distributors and analytic labs?

      Who is leading this call to arms?   I humbly submit that strength lies in numbers and across thie fine land we have a wealth of capability and ingenuity – we need but offer it our encouragement and permission.

      You have a name to direct this effort, that’s even better.  The best and the brightest and the more the merrier.  But let’s get this ball rolling – we have not time to wait.

    2. Don Shor

      That is what the federal government DOES in National disasters. No way around it.

      The trust deficit at the federal level is way too high. I think the state is going to be the only reasonable and reliable option.

      1. Bill Marshall

        Am thinking parallel approach… pushing feds while pursuing our own path… a variation of “trust, but verify”… or, “belt and suspenders”… or, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”… or, [pick your metaphor].

        Am thinking we need to keep all options in play, at least for now… we just don’t know enough, and CA is not an “island, entire to itself”.  We’d have to ban all air, train, car, trucks (as in ‘semis’), internationally, and interstate, to not be affected by what happens in the rest of the country.  For legal, practical (enforcement), economic reasons, I cannot see such a ban as ‘working’.

         

      2. Robb Davis

        I disagree on the basis of macroeconomic decisions alone Don.  However, CA certainly has the resources and capacity to institute the kind of testing, contact tracing, and isolating that will be necessary to move forward.  For a few weeks now I have come to believe that CA, with Newsom showing leadership that, frankly, I did not think he had, will LEAD the way on how the country responds.  We (and Washington, perhaps), will provide the model that others will follow.  That I think, is possible.

  8. Robb Davis

    Alan – I am NOT going to give any advice.  Grocery shopping is clearly a necessity.  I have seen little evidence of spread as a result of food preparation.  Even fomite transmission from packages requires a number of things to “go wrong” to be infectious.  The big issue is going to continue to be… (wait for it)… Person to Person Transmission via droplets.

    Here is what I am doing: maintaining appropriate distances and being FIRM about it.  Looking for order out options that are contactless. Tipping well. Washing my hands after unwrapping and before eating.

    Telling owners of businesses about inappropriate practices by staff—be it face touching, failing to distance, coughing without covering…

    Dang it, I kind of gave advice but I am just saying what I do.

    1. Alan Miller

      Thank you Robb, that is good not advice.

      re:  business owners:  I am writing a letter to a local grocer about their practices as we speak.

  9. Matt Williams

    I would like to say it is really a pleasure to have Robb Davis posting again in the Vanguard.  In my opinion Robb lives and breathes the concept of “community dialogue space” and his contributions in this thread and the other threads he has posted in recently, are very much appreciated.

    With the above said, I have noticed something about my own health since I started wearing a cloth mask (made by my daughter in law) full time.  My throat does not get dry anywhere near as often because I am rebreathing the water vapor in my breath rather than expelling it.  All aspects of my breathing are improved.  I strongly recommend wearing a mask full time . . . I even sleep with mine on.

    1. Alan Miller

      I strongly recommend wearing a mask full time . . . I even sleep with mine on.

      MW, I am no health expert (#sitcom-laughter#), but the point of a face-covering is not to give what you might have to others, en masse.  I don’t think you need wear the face-covering in your own home, just in enclosed public spaces.

      1. Matt Williams

        Alan, the reason I’m wearing it at home Alan is that it is positively affecting the health of my breathing airways (throat and lungs).  The tissues of those airways aren’t drying out, as they were when I wasn’t wearing the mask.  The result is the dry throat cough that had persisted after all the rest of my flu symptoms had gone away, subsided as well.

  10. Doby Fleeman

    Alan and Robb,

    Thanks to you both for outing an important concern for us all, and to Robb for sharing your thoughtful approach to addressing such situations.   All good stuff.

    Alan, if you want more strategies, I have a friend who wears full face shield, N95 mask and nitrile gloves whenever he goes out.  He also washes everything he brings back from the market – everything.   I don’t know whether he uses warm or cold water on the lettuce – but I could check.

  11. Alan Miller

    I have a friend who wears full face shield, N95 mask and nitrile gloves whenever he goes out.

    Seems extreme, not to mention the public ridicule for wearing an N95 (“stealing from health care workers”).  If they have an underlying health esp. lung issue, I do understand.  They, like RG, are determined to be in the 30%.

  12. Jeff Boone

    Impressive conversation.

    There is the B-school story of the elephant.  The elephant represents an event or trend.  The common response is reactionary… wait until the elephant is in the village stomping on villagers and then the community elders (aka administrative state) start chattering about a plan for how to make it leave before it stomps on too many.

    The next elephant coming is economic.  But it is a herd of elephants.  But it seems that the elders are going to wait until the herd arrives… and it will before they can even come up with a plan to make the first elephant leave.

    I give the economic shutdown 2-3 weeks… 4-tops before all hell breaks loose.  The hell well be a rebellion of people and businesses starting to ignore the elders as clearly the people realize that the elders don’t really have a viable plan for dealing with any of the elephants.

    It might be too late to fix what has been broken, but unless we put an end to the shutting down of over 50% of business over fear of overrunning the hospitals in every community, we will have created a much bigger mess.

    1. Alan Miller

      The hell well be a rebellion of people and businesses starting to ignore the elders as clearly the people realize that the elders don’t really have a viable plan for dealing with any of the elephants.

      Spending $1 Trillion on a bunch of stuff . . . that isn’t a plan?

        1. Alan Miller

          Two?  I think in CA it’s gonna be through June at a minimum.  Someone in the NYT said they don’t see sports or large concerts coming back until Fall 2021.

      1. Jeff Boone

        Hey Keith.  It took the political establishment’s wrecking of the economy over-reaction to a bad flu to get me to post here again.   Hope you are doing well.

        1. Keith Olsen

          I’m doing well but ready to get life going again.  Only trips to the grocery store and walks around the block are getting old.  The country might take another month or so of this but eventually the inmates are going to rebel.  This version of the flu is bad enough but when coupled with financial devastation it’s putting too huge of a strain on the country.

        2. Tia Will

          Hi Jeff,

          Welcome back.

          Respectfully we have no idea whether or not this will be just a “bad flu”. The things we do not know that have not yet been mentioned or stressed.

          1. Will this virus prove to be a one-time event, a seasonal event, or something else? We don’t know because it is new, unknown and at this point unpredictable, although many are using wishful thinking instead of solid knowledge.

          2. Mutagenicity – we do not know how widely various strains of the virus may very. Much of what is written presumes there will be one effective vaccine, when in reality it may need annual adjustment.

          3. Duration of immunity – a complete unknown which will remain so until we have widespread antibody testing.

          4. Risk factors other than age  & certain chronic illnesses- increasing reports of cases in the < 50 groups leave us not knowing which groups should be considered “more” susceptible and thus should remain isolated.

          I have no answers. I am only adding my voice to Robb’s to point out that this is an extremely complicated situation that should not be taken cavalierly.

           

    2. David Greenwald

      “ I give the economic shutdown 2-3 weeks… 4-tops before all hell breaks loose.  The hell well be a rebellion of people and businesses starting to ignore the elders as clearly the people realize that the elders don’t really have a viable plan for dealing with any of the elephants”

      Doesn’t seem likely. Most people support the move and the state governments not the feds are in control

      1. Jeff Boone

        When this started, a young Bernie Bros supporter friend of mine immediately told me that people not staying home were guilty of killing people.  This is what his news feed told him to say.  Then in about 10 days he told me that business owners were blowing it and were weak to allow the administrative state to trample their rights and should be staying open in protest and to demonstrate their rights.

        As the mortality rate continues to fall with factual and accurate data being reported the administrative state is going to find it more and more difficult to hold the line.

        My business bank is $1 billion in assets.  They have $200,000,000.00 in PPP loan application just from their own portfolio.  The non-business types running the state and bullying the president into this draconian reaction don’t understand the other “virus” they have caused and every day the infection rate is expanding exponentially.

        I keep saying that I hope I am wrong and I will be the first to say I was wrong, but I see 2-3 weeks – maybe four and the leaks will start.   This is a good reason for the response and policy to start combining the economic virus with the biological virus in terms of harm mitigation.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            I think a key point a lot of people are missing – if the virus ran rampant – think NY but worse, it would also shutdown the economy.

        1. Bill Marshall

          Yes, Jeff… Keith and David seem to be missing a point, that I believe you could get… from my experience, when you replace a portion of a water main, you open the shut-off valves slowly… watching for leaks… you do NOT immediately open both valves all the way… all heck could break loose! (not to mention the repair, joints or the pipes themselves!  It has happened!)

          In a press statement/conference Cuomo had today, he used a similar analogy… open the valves slowly, and watch ‘the meter’… incrementally…  and keep close track of new confirmations of infection, and/or hospitalizations (‘the meter’)… if the meter indicates ‘too fast’, back off… makes perfect sense to me… it is not an “on/off” strategy that will be useful, but rather, a measured response… but we need to watch the damn meter!

        1. Alan Miller

          You know what that means.

          Could you clarify what you means?
          I have been stating, here and elsewhere, that May 1 is going to be ugly, and June 1 even uglier, as people can’t/won’t pay their rent.  I think this is going to come more from working-class people going broke than a small-business revolt, but that’s possible, too.  The balance between economy health and virus spread really must be decided top-down.  50 states fighting each other’s policies really isn’t going to cut it.  But I think Newsom has a big enough chunk of land and cooperative west-coast states that he’ll go his own way, and I’m guessing that’s lockdown through June and a slow restart.

          No matter what, you can’t just jump-start the economy all at once.  Even if government said it’s OK, many people, especially the older and the susceptible (just heard about a kid with leukemia who died of CV) may be even more afraid to go out and hunker down further, with all the healthy people running around spreading the virus.  This isn’t going to be easy, and it might not go well.

        2. Jeff Boone

          I meant that when it gets to the point of civil disobedience… large protests etc., it exceeds the capacity and capability of the administrative state to control.  That is the rules for radicals game.   I am seeing quite a lot starting to pop on social media.

          Those that believe we should focus in a linear fashion on the healthcare capacity concerns, and next to restart the economy… will end up causing a mess of both problems.  There is limited time to just switch off the economic engine of the US and expect all impacted souls are just going to keep taking it.  At some point the fear of economic impacts will start to exceed the fear of the virus.   The point I am trying to make is that the economy restarting as early as possible is to assist to optimize the healthcare outcomes.

    3. Richard McCann

      Jeff

      I already answered you on this on a Facebook thread and I’ll repeat it here. The economic literature (including the article that you referenced on Facebook) finds that a severe recession increases mortality by as much as 20,000 in the U.S. As of April 13, the US has already experienced over 25,000 deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic. And initial projections showed 100,000 to over 2 million deaths from the pandemic, while Dr. Fauci has now alluded to forecasts of reduced deaths due to the actions taken so far, including shuttering big segments of the economy. So simply making a life-for-life trade off comes down on fighting the pandemic at an economic cost.

      Our biggest problem is that 86% of the newly unemployed earn less than $40,000 a year (far below the national median income). How are we going to help them?

       

      1. Mark West

        “Our biggest problem is that 86% of the newly unemployed earn less than $40,000 a year (far below the national median income). How are we going to help them?”

        By stop bailing out corporations and their wealthy investors and using the money instead to directly support the working poor with direct payments, subsidized food, and free ‘pandemic’ related healthcare. Major corporations are capable of borrowing all the money they need at near-zero interest rates in order to weather the storm, and that is the limit of government aid that they should receive. It is their workers and the poor who need help, not CEOs and shareholders.

         

  13. Alan Miller

    Welcome back, JB.

    Frankly, because I’m not, it’s good to have your voice back on these pages.  Hopefully, you and TW can get into it again with your epic disagreements.

    [edited]

    1. Ron Oertel

      Oh, cool!  I “looked” because I saw the moderator comment below (not sure why it’s there), and now I see this!

      That ought to keep the Vanguard busy, for awhile.

      Welcome back, Jeff.

  14. Don Shor

    Biden gets it.

    First, we have to get the number of new cases of the disease down significantly. That means social distancing has to continue and the people on the front lines have to get the supplies and equipment they need.

    Second, there needs to be widespread, easily available and prompt testing — and a contact tracing strategy that protects privacy. …. we are far from achieving this goal.

    Third, we have to make sure that our hospitals and health care system are ready for flare-ups of the disease that may occur when economic activity expands again. Reopening the right way will still not be completely safe. Public health officials will need to conduct effective disease surveillance. Hospitals need to have the staff and equipment necessary to handle any local outbreaks, and we need an improved federal system to get help to these places as needed.

    As public health experts have said, we should expect activity to return gradually, with sites like offices and stores reopening before arenas and theaters.

    …. convene top experts from the private sector, industry by industry, to come up with new ideas on how to operate more safely.
    …. direct the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, working with organized labor and employee groups, to figure out what protections workers need on the job during this period.
    Getting protective gear to our health care workers and emergency medical workers is the top priority — and one where we are still lagging. But once that need is met, I’d ask the experts to figure out what delivery workers, waiters, clerks and so many other professionals need to be safe. And I would focus like a laser on the racial disparities in Covid-19 cases.
    1. Bill Marshall

      Agree in the main… similar to what Cuomo is saying… however,

      And I would focus like a laser on the racial disparities in Covid-19 cases.

      We’d have to understand the virus better to do much meaningful… for all we currently know, there may be genetic groups that have less resistance… may not be a function of economic/social factors…

      To be meaningful, would have to compare racial/socio-economic factors/cultural factor, etc., across a number of countries/societies… but, might as well get started…

      1. Alan Miller

        I’m sure there are researchers working on that right now.  My guess is it is mostly economic/social factors.  Certainly, sickle-cell shows that certain racial populations can be more susceptible to certain diseases; there is also a disease (I forget which one) that Ashkenazi Jews are particularly susceptible to.

        1. Bill Marshall

          That would be Tay Sachs… but that is more a hard-wired thing (the only question is when) kinda’ like CF… with CF, if you get the recessive gene from both parents, you’re pretty much SOL.  In both cases, it would be almost heard of, to live past 30. Unless there have been new breakthroughs.

          Any study should include inoculations against other things… the availability of which may or may not have socio-economic factors…

          Witness the effect of smallpox and measles on Native American folk, once they interacted with the Europeans…

    2. Alan Miller

      Great statement by Biden, or whoever wrote it for him.  To be fair, Biden has the position of seeing everything that Trump did wrong before issuing this statement.  But clearly, Trump’s mixed/changing messages and lack of ability to unite the country in a unified war-footing effort to fight CV are gravely harmful.  If Biden can sustain this message and unify his base behind it, he has a shot.  How Trump handles the next six months and how the virus spread reacts to his actions may very well be the determining factor of if he is re-elected.  It sure won’t be the strong economy that pulls him across, as everyone thought up until . . . a month ago.

      1. Jeff Boone

        To be fair, Biden has the position of seeing everything that Trump did wrong before issuing this statement.  But clearly, Trump’s mixed/changing messages and lack of ability to unite the country in a unified war-footing effort to fight CV are gravely harmful.

        To be fair, Biden does not have to contend with a hostile MSM, fake Trump-Russia collision and fake impeachment and likely would never… even though he is a walking groping and gaffe machine with money ties to Ukraine.

        Agree that the strong economy argument is likely gone.  And it makes a person wonder given the obvious shared interest and goals that the MSM, globalists and the American political establishment have.  Some people might start generating conspiracy theories similar to how they did so when the Trump-Russia collusion stories started to break… and they were called tinfoil mad hatters… until they were proven right.

        Even without the conspiracy theories, it seems reasonable that the draconian shutting down of the economy by the ruling class is at least partially motivated by a desire to see Trump’s platform of economic success be destroyed.   Of course they will never admit this, but then we have Chuck and Nancy on record saying that small business does not need so much help.

        1. Alan Miller

          but then we have Chuck and Nancy on record saying that small business does not need so much help.

          That move stumps me.  If that is an end-run to take down Trump, it’s unforgivable.

          Pardon, I’m sure I’ll go ‘oh of course’ and slap my head, but what is MSM?

        2. Jeff Boone

          David, she is on record.  So is Schumer… who seems to take his orders from Nancy.

          “On Tuesday morning, [Treasury] Secretary [Steven] Mnuchin called — that would be two days ago — Secretary Mnuchin called and asked for a quarter of a trillion dollars in 48 hours, with no data, just a quarter of a trillion dollars in 48 hours,” Pelosi said in her weekly press conference. “This morning, [Senate Majority] Leader [Mitch] McConnell honored that request — I say ‘honored,’ really, dishonored the needs that we have — with a stunt on the floor of the Senate, requesting that $250 billion, no data as to why we need it and the rest, when there are outstanding needs we should’ve been doing. And what we offered to do was to sit down and figure out what the numbers are that are needed most urgently.”

          “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared the Senate vote merely a ‘stunt’ as the country faces an ‘epic’ crisis,” the Associated Press reported. “She ridiculed the administration for trying to jam a $250 billion request through Congress with 48 hours notice with little data to back it up.”

          “‘Really?’ Pelosi said on a conference call with reporters.”

          https://twitter.com/CalebJHull/status/1248294363815448576?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1248325640308359170&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonexaminer.com%2Fnews%2Fconservatives-slam-pelosi-for-suggesting-no-data-to-support-gop-small-business-package

        3. David Greenwald

          I’m not seeing in that statement what your claiming it says.  Nowhere does she say small business does not need so much help.  In fact, I see the opposite – that this is not enough.

        4. Keith Olsen

          Biden gets it?

          Did Biden get it when he replied to Trump’s China travel ban at the end of January when Biden framed it as racist and xenophobic?

           

           

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            I’ve restored this comment, but any further comments down this path or in this thread shall be removed.

        5. Tia Will

          Jeff

          Just wondering if you consider the county health officers part of the “ruling class”? Many of these folks were talking about social distancing before any of the governors, including Newsom, made statewide policies.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Most of the governors took the lead from the local health officials and likely averted a far worse problem than we have

        6. Jeff Boone

          I’m not seeing in that statement what your claiming it says.  Nowhere does she say small business does not need so much help.  In fact, I see the opposite – that this is not enough.

          This just goes to prove that two people can read, listen to and watch the same reports and come away with the exact opposite conclusion depending on their political orientation.

        7. Alan Miller

          This just goes to prove that two people can read, listen to and watch the same reports and come away with the exact opposite conclusion depending on their political orientation.

          This is why I have made a point throughout my life with listening to people I (think I) disagree with, listen to multiple news sources, and appreciate your presence on this blog.

  15. Alan Miller

    Those are the guidelines.  I think we all can see how quickly this could go completely off the rails if some people started suggesting insulting casting suggestions for others, especially with the sniping that goes on here.  It could get ugly, and that’s not my intent.  My intent is for some light-hearted fun in the middle of this worldwide cluster-F.  So let’s keep it to self-casting.

      1. Alan Miller

        I can understand that from a moderator’s point of view.  Perhaps there’s a way this can be done without going off-track in the comments section.  I will cease.

  16. Alan Miller

    Just announced: California, Washington and Oregon are working together (as I predicted) on a plan to jointly re-open the West Coast economy, based on ‘science’.  The plan will be announced tomorrow.  THAT will be interesting!!!

      1. Alan Miller

        Science!

        I worry ’bout the world that we live in
        I’m worried by all the confusion
        I wonder ’bout the lies I’ve been reading
        I wonder where this madness is leading

        Is this a road going nowhere?
        Or is someone leading us somewhere?
        I can’t believe we’re here for no reason
        There must be something we can believe in

        Blinded by science, I’m on the run
        I’m not an appliance, so don’t turn me on
        What’s in the future, has it just begun?
        Blinded by science, I’m on the run

            — “Blinded by Science”, Foreigner

        1. Jeff Boone

          Love that song.  Was/am a big Foreigner fan.  Tried to sing like Lou Gramm during my rock band days, but failed miserably.  Maybe one of the most under-recognized top rock singers of all time.

           

        2. Alan Miller

          I saw Foreigner with Lou Gramm in 1978 at Day on the Green #3, just after release of their first album.  Also there Aerosmith, Pat Travers, AC/DC with Bon Scott, and Van Halen with Diamond Dave touring on their first album.  As the magnet on my refrigerator says, “I may be old, but I saw all the cool bands”.

  17. David Greenwald

    Everyone read up – This was an article about the need for testing.  The discussion has veered toward a partisan debate over policies.  I want to give a bit more leeway on some of the COVID discussions, but the purpose of this article was not a partisan debate, it was a local article.  Please either stick closer to the subject or posts will be pulled.

    1. Ron Oertel

      but the purpose of this article was not a partisan debate, it was a local article.

      I see Trump’s name mentioned a couple of times in the article above. I’ve seen this before, as well. And then, you start “blaming” those who respond to it.

      Truth be told, you initiate these debates (which personally, I don’t mind).  What “harm” does this do?  It’s not like others are being “blocked” from commenting.  (Well, “one” guy is, regardless.)  😉

      Thought I’d go ahead and “quote” one of your citations, to demonstrate this. Note that I’m not making a judgement on it, just noting that you’re the one bringing it up:

      I understand President Trump wants to get the economy moving—for good reasons and also self-interested ones. But right now that would be foolish (and foolish is perhaps too soft a word).

    1. Alan Miller

      I’d like to see about 30% of the world die off.  So much more space, cleaner air, less traffic, lower rents, and no more g*d d*mned debates about development.

      (So to answer your question, about 2 billion is acceptable, plus a trillion bats and seven tigers)

      1. Keith Olsen

        How many common flu deaths are acceptable?  CDC estimates that 12,000 and 61,000 deaths annually since 2010 can be blamed on the flu in the U.S.?  We haven’t shut down the economy yet over the flu.  So John Hobbs, how many flu deaths are acceptable to you before the economy should be shut down?

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          Remember there are a lot of factors here. One is that you are not looking at how many deaths occur with COVID, you are looking at the difference between the number of deaths that will occur versus how many would have occurred without these measures. That number could be one million or even higher. Think of this as the X-Y=Z factor.

          But that’s just one factor.

          Second factor is the lack of a vaccine for this versus a vaccine for flu

          Third factor is the unique amount of resources for this – ventilators for example that would overwhelm the system

          Fourth is that this is occurring on top of the normal flu load

          Fifth is the unknown factor – we are dealing with something that was new and unreliable. We saw what happened in China and Italy.

          In the end, probably X-Y=Z and the lack of vaccine and the resources are likely why we reacted as we did.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Again, I think that’s the wrong question. the question is whether the current policies allow for a management of the flu season. We can and probably should do more than we have traditionally done to mitigate it however.

          2. David Greenwald Post author

            For instance from CDC: “During past seasons, approximately 80% of flu-associated deaths in children have occurred in children who were not vaccinated. ”

            That stands to reason that one way to greatly reduce deaths from flu would be more thorough vaccinationation.

        2. Robb Davis

          So David, how many flu deaths are acceptable to you each year?

          I was stepping away from this thread because of the unnecessary politicization of the discussion but I cannot sit by with this utter b—–t.  I am angry and you have got to stop this Keith.

          People die of flu each year DESPITE all the efforts we put into a public health response. Year after year top researchers study flu to develop the best vaccine to treat the strain that is most likely to circulate.  Public health officials and doctors implore the population to be vaccinated.  We spare no effort to provide the means to save the most lives possible.  We certainly do not sit by and just let deaths happen.  In fact, just the opposite.  We do everything we can to spare lives.  Unfortunately, DESPITE these efforts too many die. We ACCEPT no deaths to this largely preventable virus.

          Your argument seems to be that we merely stand by and allow these flu deaths;  that they are somehow acceptable.  That is grotesque.  No, it is obscene. The public health community organizes to stop the spread of flu, it does not “accept” these deaths.

          But in the case of COVID-19 YOU are advocating policies that could, by choice, lead to deaths 10 to 20 times as numerous as those that occur for flu.  You are advocating a policy that will lead to this.  How dare you compare the Herculean efforts of many in the health fields to save lives to policies that you are advocating, and that given the nature of this novel coronavirus could lead to hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths.

          You are advocating a form of social Russian roulette that I personally find repugnant.

        3. Ron Oertel

          I’m only casually following this conversation, but it seems to have gotten too personal.

          Note that Keith was challenged (rather aggressively), which initiated this.

          Perhaps the larger point is that there is always “more” that can be done, but that we (as a society) do, in fact, put limits on how much is done to save lives.  That’s always been the case, even if it’s not acknowledged.  (There’s lots of examples of this.)

          A more general observation, not a comment regarding the flu or coronavirus, or how these and other life-threatening conditions are handled.

          (And – certainly not a personal comment, or a knock on any profession, etc.)

        4. Keith Olsen

          I was stepping away from this thread because of the unnecessary politicization of the discussion but I cannot sit by with this utter b—–t.  I am angry and you have got to stop this Keith.

          Rob, if you follow the thread there’s a commenter who keeps asking me, Jeff Boone, Alan Miller and who knows how many others how many deaths due to COVID are acceptable to us. I have not answered him because of course, zero deaths are acceptable.

          We spare no effort to provide the means to save the most lives possible.  We certainly do not sit by and just let deaths happen.  In fact, just the opposite.  We do everything we can to spare lives.  Unfortunately, DESPITE these efforts too many die. We ACCEPT no deaths to this largely preventable virus.

          The medical community does a great job.  Where did I say that the medical community accepts flu deaths?

          Your argument seems to be that we merely stand by and allow these flu deaths;  that they are somehow acceptable.  That is grotesque.  No, it is obscene. The public health community organizes to stop the spread of flu, it does not “accept” these deaths.

          No, you seem to be projecting things into my words.

          How dare you compare the Herculean efforts of many in the health fields to save lives to policies that you are advocating

          I don’t even get what you’re saying here, how am I comparing anything to the “Herculean efforts of many in the health fields”?

          You are advocating a form of social Russian roulette that I personally find repugnant.

          So what exactly am I advocating for since you seem to know what I’m thinking?

          But so you don’t have to project I’ll tell you what I’m thinking.  I feel the sooner the economy is opened the better but on a regional rolling basis with input from medical experts.  This is what the White House and several governors have been touting lately.

           

           

        5. David Greenwald

          “ But so you don’t have to project I’ll tell you what I’m thinking.  I feel the sooner the economy is opened the better but on a regional rolling basis with input from medical experts.  This is what the White House and several governors have been touting lately.”

          The key question is how do you do this in a way that doesn’t simply trigger a secondary outbreak?

    1. Alan Miller

      Sounds like it’s time to start building walls between blue regions and red regions.  First it was for health, then it was political . . .

      1. Keith Olsen

        We’ll see, but I don’t know how smart it is of these governors to take control of the reopening policy.  If it goes well both the governors and Trump will take credit because Trump will say he was all for reopening.  But if things go south Trump will be able to point the finger straight at the governors.

        1. David Greenwald

          Maybe that’s a good reason not to make policies based on politics, but rather based on what is most likely to produce the best outcome.

        2. Alan Miller

          I doubt there is going to be a restart anytime soon, based on Garcetti’s speech this afternoon.  Seemed to be preparing us for a long lockdown.

    2. Richard McCann

      Because the U.S. Constitution under Article X gives authority over state economic activity to the states (i.e., governors) unless specifically allocated to the federal government. This is entirely consistent with states’ rights.

      1. Doby Fleeman

        Presumably, then, all economic hardships or damages suffered by each state acting under this authority would likewise be their burden alone to bear.   Whereas if the the states were to take their direction from the Federal government, it could be argued that such economic damages should in part be shared by the Federal government.  Two different was of looking at the same issue.

        As far as I know, there are books on best practices for anticipating, responding to and recovering from a major flood caused by mother nature.  I am unfamiliar with any “how to” economic models addressing the voluntary shutdown of the world economy.

        So far in California, I haven’t seen the face or even the name of the person assigned to manage the restart in the “small business” community – likewise haven’t experienced any outreach from any agency – state or local – seeking input as to what our various business will need most or how we would each would like to proceed once the “restart is authorized”.

        Like the “testing issue”, where it is still no clear evidence of an “all hands on deck” approach to testing development, deployment, analysis and feedback.  Abbot Labs – is that really the only pathway to success and the only option being pursued?   Who do we ask for an update?

        Same question for whomever is to be charged with this authority for re-opening shuttered businesses – how are they going about seeking input, buy-in and rigorous support from the small business community?

        A lot of this is about optics and confidence in leadership – and the optics aren’t encouraging on these two fronts – testing and small business restart.   Uncertainty is the result.  Timetable is uncertain and confidence about those to be tasked with leadership and roll-out is unknown.

        Both of these are issues which could be effectively acknowledged followed by rapid communication strategies to address this seeming flaw in the battleplan.

        1. Alan Miller

          DF, awesome write-up.  RD’s comments on the need for a disaster-footing on this for health including slowly-unfolding disaster relief, and your comments here on the need for a disaster relief footing for small business I see as very similar, parallel, and complimentary.  That was very insightful to consider that there is no hint of any program or path to prevent mass extinction of, and provide aid to, small businesses.

          Having run a small business once, and failed, I came to understand that many who have not done so oddly view small businesses with a similar demonetization as they do to giant corporations.  It may partially be this demonetization that is preventing a gelling of government support for small business.  This is a terrible mistake, because of course small business is what provides the employment that will be so badly needed when the recovery comes.  Building new businesses from the ashes will take years; far better to keep those that closed mid-March and build on what they have already built, then to allow these to fail.

          BTW, I consider having run a small business, and failed, a far more valuable part of my life education than my degree from UC Davis.

  18. Alan Miller

    EPILOGUE:

    In viewing this rather passionate and heated thread, I have some suggestions:

    1)  It’s great to have all sides back on this forum.

    2)  There is a tedium to a devolution to national politics — but we will not change each other’s politics.  I suggest rather than banning nation politics, that they be banned when they are not mentioned in the article, and OK when they are.  Might also lean the author to keep articles on local issues local.

    3) Both RD and KO/JB have valid points coming from seemingly opposing viewpoints that they are passionate about.  I doubt that in a room together, face-to-face (currently an impossibility) they would not find common agreements — but internet forums seem to ground people into their corners.  RD is passionate about public health, KO/JB on business/economics.  RD likely knows more about the spread of disease and focuses on how to stop that; KO/JB are warning of the economic crash ever-worsening if balance is not sought between health and economy.  All this is washed over in fireworks, jabs and extreme examples, but that’s the core of it.

    I love a passionate discussion and passionate people, hammering it all out.  As long as it doesn’t devolve to personal attacks.  The Davis Vanguard is getting good again. 🙂

    1. Keith Olsen

      Geez, next time when someone asks me how many COVID deaths are acceptable I’m going to borrow A.M.’s comment:

      I’d like to see about 30% of the world die off.  So much more space, cleaner air, less traffic, lower rents, and no more g*d d*mned debates about development.
      (So to answer your question, about 2 billion is acceptable, plus a trillion bats and seven tigers)

    2. Robb Davis

      Actually Alan – I have spent more time over the past month reviewing economic/fiscal responses than I have spent looking at basic epidemiology.  First, there is by now a pretty broad literature demonstrating (never conclusively of course) that past economic crashes have NOT increased mortality (except for suicides, which, thankfully make up a small proportion of deaths, and alcohol related deaths after the fall of the USSR, likely due to very low prices for vodka).  So, an economic collapse of Great Depression depth does not, a priori lead to reductions in life expectancy.  Interestingly, the past decade plus of expansion have seen US life expectancy plateau.  There is even a suggestion in the studies that mortality is counter-cyclical (vis-a-vis the economy).

      Second, you raised the 2-trillion dollar number yesterday and this is definitely part of the key.  States, with federal support can now allow people to collect enhanced unemployment benefits for 39 (not 2 or 5 or 10) weeks.

      This is just one example of policy levers that can keep demand for basics going in the midst of this disaster.  They key, of course, is getting this cash (and things like eviction prevention) rolling out as soon as possible. It is NOT partisan to say that this is the responsibility of the executive branch of the federal government.

      The problem I see in the discourse on “re-opening” the economy is that it is not painting an accurate picture of what is causing the shutdown.  In my view we must change the way we talk about what is happening.  We are in the middle of a disaster. If this was a massive flood, fire, or tsunami we would not, in the midst of the burning/flooding tell shop owners whose businesses are burning to the ground or flooding out to re-open.  We would say “get the hell out of there.” The problem we face is that this is a slow disaster, but it is a disaster nonetheless.

      To reopen the service/entertainment sector of our economy—a sector that made up 2/3 of our national GDP in recent years—at this time simply will not happen if someone says “re-open.”  People are not going to start taking vacations, head out to their local restaurant, or go skiing because a governor or president says they can.  Why?  Because we are in the midst of a disaster and they do not want to risk death.

      We need to let this sink in: potentially 2/3 of our economy cannot function as normal in these times of crisis.  The response? We need to treat all fiscal policy at this moment as disaster relief.  I am not saying this, many economists are saying this.  Provide cash and protections—including access to health care—to enable people to weather the disaster safely—to purchase the basics and not lose their housing.

      Then, if we can massively roll out testing and tracing (we can), people can begin to have confidence in doing the things that 2/3 of the economy requires to function “normally.”

      1. Bill Marshall

        Yes we should be treating it as a disaster… but, for all the extraordinary costs, ‘the piper must be paid’… one way or the other… be it taxes, ‘inflation’/’deflation’, loss of income, etc. [disclosure]… but, it’s what we most assuredly need to do… there is a disruption, for sure, and that hits some folk more than others…

        There is no rational, humane/moral, civil reason why we should not be aiding/supporting each other, particularly those most affected… the alternatives could be much worse, and as a recreational gambler, who weighs odds before placing bets, I prefer the odds of going with aid and support… I figure those odds as being favorable by 2-10 X.

      2. Alan Miller

        We are in the middle of a disaster. If this was a massive flood, fire, or tsunami we would not, in the midst of the burning/flooding tell shop owners whose businesses are burning to the ground or flooding out to re-open.  We would say “get the hell out of there.” The problem we face is that this is a slow disaster, but it is a disaster nonetheless.

        That is an excellent metaphor.  I’m gonna use that one.  You’d be surprised how many seemingly intelligent people are completely oblivious/in-denial; add to them: stupid people.

        To reopen the service/entertainment sector of our economy—a sector that made up 2/3 of our national GDP in recent years—at this time simply will not happen if someone says “re-open.”  People are not going to start taking vacations, head out to their local restaurant, or go skiing because a governor or president says they can.  Why?  Because we are in the midst of a disaster and they do not want to risk death.

        You are absolutely right about this, except for one thing – those in denial are going to risk death, and they are going to f*ck it up for the lot of us.

      3. Alan Miller

        RD, what you wrote today is so well said that it is worthy of widespread distribution.  I have not heard it explained so clearly before.  I know you are a very busy man, so let this not burden you.  If possible I suggest polishing that into an article for at least the Enterprise.  And if you can, larger media outlets.  I know well a reporter at the SF Chronicle who I could outreach to – no guarantee of course.

  19. John Hobbs

    Alan Miller:3b deaths acceptable. Certainly consistent with your comments on the homeless.

    Banker Boone: Northwestern University economists are using an SIR model (Susceptible, Infected and Recovered) to simulate how a disease moves through a population based on how infectious and lethal it is, and how much contact people have with each other. They then take the number of predicted deaths and calculate  an economic estimate of the value of the lost lives. The approach is similar to the price that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency used to gauge the costs and benefits of environmental regulations: $9.5 million per life.

    Their initial modeling efforts showed that even a one year lockdown made sense to allow time for a vaccine to be developed. That would shrink the economy by approximately 22% or about $4.2 trillion. The model also showed that without containment measures, the economy would contract by about 7% over that year—but as many as 500,000 additional lives would be lost, which translates into a loss of roughly $6.1 trillion.

    The model is simplistic, they are working on improving it with better data which can only be acquired by BETTER TESTING.

    1. Bill Marshall

      John… will let Alan M speak for himself, but I took his comment, as I understand it, more along the lines of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”… an essay burned into my brain, as why NOT to be oblivious to others, who suffer… I really like the writings of Jonathan Swift… “Gulliver’s Travels” has multiple levels of meaning… for those who look… as did “Rocky and Bullwinkle”… my favorite episode is when Boris took the “goof-gas” gun to the Senate chambers… Natasha asks why he didn’t fire it… he responded, “Too late, someone already has”… Rocky and Bullwinkle, Jonathan Swift, aimed at two (or more) levels…

      I actually got more out of Rocky and Bullwinkle as an adult, than I did as a child…

    2. Alan Miller

      Alan Miller:3b deaths acceptable. Certainly consistent with your comments on the homeless.

      You exaggerate, I said 2 billion deaths was acceptable, not 3 billion.  That is not an insignificant difference to those billion people you just snuffed out.

      What particular comments on the homeless are you referring to?  Please, be specific.  I will take your lack of answer with specifics as an admission that you have no idea what the f*ck you are talking about.

  20. Ron Glick

    “You are advocating a form of social Russian roulette that I personally find repugnant.”

    Thank you Robb and may God bless those who work so hard and risk so much trying to save those who might otherwise die.

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