As the COVID case count rises dramatically in Texas, and even in my little county, which sprang from 5 to near 40 cases in a few weeks, the controversy I'm following most closely is whether the case increase also portends an increase in deaths.  So far, thank goodness, there have been no deaths in my county.  The death rate in Texas has increased modestly, but nowhere near as quickly as the case rate.  I'm not inclined to celebrate just yet, because death is a lagging indicator, but the case increase has been going on for several weeks now.  If the death rate were going to spike, it probably ought to have spiked by now. I'm holding my breath and hoping for good news in the coming week or two.

This Reason article has some encouraging statistics in it.  The sad news is that one reason the death rate was so high early in the pandemic, besides the doctors' need for time to develop better treatments, was that we gave it carte blanche to rip through nursing home populations.  Now that the average age of patients is dropping, so is the death rate.

The mask/no-mask controversy continues to rage, distorted by a bizarre insistence that masks must be either 0% or 100% effective, and that all masks are alike.  My own view is that passing laws equating bandanas with effective N95 masks is basically an admission that what we're talking about now is a government-mandated symbolic expression, never a good idea in my book.  Still, I readily admit that I can't prove the widespread wearing of masks outside the home is useless, much as I suspect it is.

Locally, we're also at each other's throats over whether closing the beaches is prudent and compassionate, or useless and fascist.  On the one hand, the beaches are an excellent place to be, far better than hanging out indoors for all but the most severely isolated and careful people.  On the other hand, in my county, keeping the beaches open inspires visions of a huge human wave of tourists from the dirty, dangerous cities--and tourists will pack bars and restaurants rather than staying on the nice, clean beach.  My approach is not to frequent bars and restaurants, but my neighbors legitimately fear that when others frequent bars and pick up the virus, they don't keep it to themselves.  Again, that's why I'm not going out much.  Barhoppers are not coming into my house.  But that approach is cold comfort to people who still have to encounter the public at work every day.

There's a lot of fear-fueled fury.  I continue to urge people to be more patient with each other about how we all interpret some unclear and contradictory data.  As usual, that's a losing battle with many.   Facebook is even more hysterical than usual.  I view my job there as pointing out as politely and dispassionately as I can that we're leaping to conclusions about some things, and that while caution is useful when the data are unclear and the maximum downside is severe (however rare it may be), we don't have to believe passionately in the most pessimistic possible interpretation of events.  Surely that message reaches a handful of people.

I'm particularly interested in one area of confusion.  We know that a large percentage of virus carriers are asymptomatic, maybe something like 40% overall, with huge differences in specific populations like jails or children.  We also hypothesize that asymptomatic carriers are X% as contagious as symptomatic carriers.  There are pretty good ways to get a handle on the first number, while the second remains elusive.  A surprising number of people conflate the two, and become convinced that 40% (if not 100%) of asymptomatic carriers are contagious, and not just a little bit contagious, but just as contagious as a severely ill coughing, sneezing patient with a high fever, and furthermore, that "science has proved it."  This conviction appears impervious to information or argument in most sufferers.  If I say we have no consensus yet on how contagious the asymptomatic carriers are, I get back, "But how can you deny that lots of carriers are asymptomatic!"  There's just no disentangling the two ideas in many people.


Christopher B said...

This conviction appears impervious to information or argument in most sufferers. If I say we have no consensus yet on how contagious the asymptomatic carriers are, I get back, "But how can you deny that lots of carriers are asymptomatic!"

And this is unfortunately likely to get worse as the latest media hysteria seems to be that COVID can float like an unseen fog through the air without any need for carriers.

ymarsakar said...

So I am supposed to take some kind of recommended or mandatory "vaccine" from the same people who put mommas and grandmas in nursing homes so that they die from Covid 19 to ensure totalitarian Demoncrat power rule, all while bending my knee in fealty to the System?

How about I just call down the Divine Apocalypse and skip the Seals entirely?

Godhead: Don't do that, that's not allowed.

Y: SH.

ymarsakar said...

In truth, these "tests" give false positives. In effect, they can't tell the difference between Covid 19 and the common cold or even flu that people have had and still have from last year.

This is due to how the tests are constructed. A bunch of technical stuff that the public isn't smart enough to read let alone understand.

ymarsakar said...

that "science has proved it."

AH, the "science god" speaks. The new secular religion and cult that demands obedience to this fake priest god system called "science".

Anonymous said...

If you start with the idea that corona viri have to get into the naso-pharynx (basically, you have to inhale them) in order to latch on and start putting up "Home Sweet Home" signs, then if you are not close enough to breathe in what other people are breathing out, your odds of catching ANY corona virus are low. If a carrier who has no symptoms does not swap air with you (or cough or sneeze at you in an enclosed space), your exposure should be very low. Also, being outdoors, in a breezy place with lots of UV light, is a very low risk situation. Any bugs floating around are going to be very diluted out, plus corona viri don't like UV.

That much I am 99.99% sure about, based on all the data I've seen and the virologist friend of the family I've talked to. My personal opinion on masks . . . Make them optional, UNLESS someone is sick (with anything) and they need to be out and about buying food or going to the doctor. Like we do in flu season. But that's strictly my personal opinion.


Texan99 said...

Medically my view of masks is that I would be reluctant to go into any situation WITH a mask if I thought the situation was dangerous WITHOUT a mask. Obviously I'd go into a dangerous situation anyway if I had a duty--I hope. If my husband comes down with COVID, I won't weld him into the spare bedroom. If I were a first responder or medical professional, I wouldn't resign--I hope. But the mask wouldn't make it much easier for me to face these painful duties, other than in a coughing/sneezing scenario, when I guess the mask might be helping somewhat.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Good distinctions here. Thank you.

Masks seem to be good on the basis of small cumulative effects. Very good ones will protect you some, bandanas very little. However, good ones will protect other people, and bandanas likely provide at least some effect, if only in relation to coughing and sneezing. Think of your financial responsibility courses and "the miracle of compound interest." Masks reduce the overall rate of infection slightly, but over time, that "slightly" matters. The difference between 5 people coming out of the bar exposed enough to contract the illness and 6 people doing that is small at first. 5 will spread to 1-15 initially. 6 is more like 2-20. There's enough overlap between those two that you can say "It doesn't matter." But over a county, it does matter. It is hard to get people to do something that doesn't benefit them directly. Just a sad bit of human nature, I suppose.

With all that said, sharing air with people indoors is absolutely the biggie. Whether 6' is required or 3', outdoors in sunlight or just open spaces like Home Depot, AC/no AC, 30-second handwashing vs light rinse, or avoiding singing/laughing/exertion breathing are enough we will know in time, and each is unlikely to change our risk that enormously. At least one of those is likely to show a larger effect, while it is unlikely that all of them will. But for now, we know that the one big one is sharing air indoors. Don't do that, and stay away from people who think they are invulnerable to even that, because they are certainly not following other guidelines.

Texan99 said...

I've reverted to home-delivery groceries. Otherwise we never have been much in the habit of going into public. I'm really catching up on a lot of gardening.

I'd like to think that masks help a little in casual, fairly distanced public interactions among asymptomatic people. The problem is I see no evidence of it. It beats shutting down businesses and destroying jobs, but the authorities who would like to influence public behavior by relying on science are squandering their credibility. If mask rules can't be taken seriously as actually applied, they will become associated with arbitrary demands for symbolic compliance. The next demands for compliance will be met with more skepticism, especially if they are more costly than masks.

E Hines said...

Locally, we're also at each other's throats over whether closing the beaches is prudent and compassionate, or useless and fascist.

This, and the argument over mask/bandana mandates, are a microcosm of the argument over whether individuals are capable of making our own assessments and resultant decisions, or whether we're just too grindingly stupid for that and must be led by our Betters.

As to rising cases (I'm seeing evidence that the recent so-called spike has already peaked in many States), as you've intimated, the numbers of new cases (which term is itself inaccurate: from testing increases, a significant fraction of those cases are newly confirmed, already extant cases, not de novo new) is one of the most useless statistics, for all that it's the one the NLMSM hypes for its panic-mongering and political narrative.

What I'm watching for is any rise in hospitalizations (itself an inaccurate statistic, distorted as it is with so much reporting of hospitalizations with the Wuhan Virus as being because of the virus) and any rise in actual deaths (again, a thoroughly inaccurate statistic, with deaths regardless of the true proximate cause being recorded as being from the virus if the virus was also present--even if it played a minimal or no role).

Even hospitalizations, though, are less important overall, since their primary effect is in discomfort and inconvenience to the patient and financial damage done the patient's pocketbook.

With the latest so-called spike in...cases...having begun in late June, incubation periods running 2-14 (-ish) days, and dying, if that's the outcome, taking 4-11 days more (again, -ish), I'm looking for a rise in deaths from mid-July through the end (-ish) of the month.

And given vastly improved palliative drugs and treatment techniques, a much lower mortality rate than obtained at the beginning of this situation, some months ago.

I like my odds and those of my wife's even more today.

Eric Hines (-ish)

ymarsakar said...

I'm 99% not worried about this cabal created viral whatever thing for 2020.

The 1% has to do with the governments and their pre planned "reactions".

Counter: But you are going to get sick and die and spread it to others.

Y: So let me get this straight, a Son of God, on the same class as Buddha or Yeshua of Nazareth, is going to get sick and die from a daemonic inspired plague?

Well, if that happens, the world is going to hell, now isn't it.

ymarsakar said...

But it's not going to hell and it isn't going to happen, because I object to Satan's point of view.

Hell doesn't even exist. Humans create it with the "rule of law" or just anarchy as the law.

Anonymous said...

As a follow-up:

Just another data point, for those interested. The part in the letter from the hospital attorney about how people are being ordered to get tested, even to lie about having symptoms, by their employers caught my eye. I'm really getting a sense that liability-suit fears are starting to play more of a role than actual public health concerns.


E Hines said...

I'm really getting a sense that liability-suit fears are starting to play more of a role than actual public health concerns.

Hence the push in the Republican-led Senate for liability protections. And the push in the Progressive-Democrat-run House to not have liability protections.

Eric Hines

Texan99 said...

Agreed. A tort, strictly speaking, is a breach of a duty other than a duty created by contract. It's necessarily a little vague and unpredictable, because we're always redefining our unwritten duties to each other. If we don't want to live in complete chaos, however, we do have to come up with some predictable standards, or we'll be at the mercy of juries who believe their role is to award (someone else's) money to whichever party they feel the sorriest for, or to exact a financial punishment from whichever party inspires them with the most anger or envy.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ E Hines - some people are too grindingly stupid to make their own decisions. I see plenty of them all the time. I don't hold with the "wisdom of the people" idea at all. The issue is what we should do about it. America is a republic, and we have set down our marker on "We elect good people to sort these things out for us." Yet right from the start there was the follow-on idea "And if they don't we'll get new 'good people.'"

CS Lewis wrote: "Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters."

E Hines said...

America is a republic, and we have set down our marker on "We elect good people to sort these things out for us." Yet right from the start there was the follow-on idea "And if they don't we'll get new 'good people.'"

No. We have set our marker down on "We elect good people to work for us and execute our mandate"--"And if they don't, we'll elect other good people in our stead."

Our principles statement centers on Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, and our blueprint opens with We the People. Government, and the men and women with whom we populate it, works for us. It was never intended to do for us.

CS Lewis is irrelevant. He didn't participate in the development of either of our social compact documents, and that's the compact in which we exist, however imperfectly we do so.

Aristotle is irrelevant, not only for that, but for having lived in a time with an even more incomplete understanding of men and of God's endowment in each of us.

Eric Hines