Arsenic and Old Lace, BAME, Black Asian and Minority Ethnics, BLM, CDC, Coronavirus, Covid-19, Dr. Einstein, Flattening the Curve, Hydroxychloraquine, Jonathan Brewster, Lockdowns, Masks, Operation Warp Speed, Vitamin D Deficiency, World Health Organization
This post is devoted to a few coronavirus policies and positions that trouble me.
Counting Deaths: People have the general impression that counting COVID-19 cases and deaths is straightforward. The facts are more reminiscent of the following exchange in the film Arsenic and Old Lace, when Jonathan Brewster angrily insists he has offed more souls than his sweet little aunties have poisoned with elderberry wine:
Dr. Einstein: You cannot count the one in South Bend. He died of pneumonia!
Jonathan Brewster: He wouldn’t have died of pneumonia if I hadn’t shot him!
Here, Dr. Einstein wears the shoes of public health authorities who claim that C19 deaths are undercounted. But lives counted as lost from C19, in many cases, are individuals who also had the flu, pneumonia, stroke, kidney failure, and a variety of other co-morbidities. Yes, other causes of death might be induced by the coronavirus, but like Johnny’s victim in South Bend, many would not have died from C19 if they hadn’t had a prior health event. In addition, otherwise unexplained deaths are often attributed to C19 with little justification.
In fact, the C19 death toll has been distorted by a perverse federal hospital reimbursement policy that rewards hospitals for COVID patients. Death certificates seem to list C19 as the cause for almost anyone who dies in or out of a hospital during the pandemic, whether they’ve been tested or not. In fact, deaths have been attributed to C19 despite negative test results when officials decided, for one reason or another, that the test must have been unreliable!
Lockdowns: almost all of the “curve flattening” in late March and April was accomplished by voluntary action, which I’ve covered before here. The lockdowns imposed by state and local governments were highly arbitrary and tragic for many workers and business owners who could have continued to operate as safely as many so-called “essential” businesses. Lockdowns in certain areas were also blatant violations of religious rights. There is little to no evidence that lockdowns themselves led to any actual abatement of the virus. And of course, people are fed up!
The Beach: Right now I’m at a wonderful beach condo in Florida for a week. There are other people on the beach, mostly families and a few groups of friends, but there is plenty of open space. You will not catch the coronavirus on a beach like this. And there is almost zero chance you’ll catch it on any beach. In fact, the chance you’ll catch it anywhere outside is minuscule unless you’re jammed so tightly among hundreds of protesters that you can’t even turn around. Yet government officials have closed beaches in many parts of the country while allowing the protests to go on. Oh sure, they think people will CROWD onto beaches as if they’re at a BLM protest… except they’re not. Ah, then it must be banned! That takes a special kind of dumbass.
Waiting for Results: How could we have spent trillions of dollars as a nation on economic stimulus, much of it skimmed off by grifters, but we can’t seem to get sufficient resources to make calls to those awaiting test results? This is a case of misplaced priorities. Even now, people are waiting more than a week for their results, and many are wandering around in the community without knowing their status. Wouldn’t you think we’d get that done? We can conduct well over a half million tests a day, but can’t we find a few bucks to deliver results via phone, email, or text within 24 hours of processing results. This is truly absurd.
Vaccine Candidates: A similar point can be made about vaccine development: We are spending $5 billion on Operation Warp Speed to build capacity in advance for five promising vaccine candidates. These will be identified over the next few months, and it looks as if all five will come from established pharmaceutical majors. There are many more vaccine candidates, however, some being developed by smaller players using inventive new techniques. The OWS expenditure looks pretty meager when you compare it to the trillions in funds the federal government is spending on economic stimulus, especially when finding an effective vaccine would obviate much of the stimulus.
Treatment: Hydroxycloroquine has been found to lower the death rate from COVID-19 in a large controlled trial. Congratulations, morons, for trashing HCQ as a potential treatment, solely because Trump mentioned it. Way to go, dumbasses, for banning the use of a potential treatment that could have saved many thousands of lives.
Air Conditioning: I’m shocked that public health experts haven’t been more vocal about the potentially dangerous effects of running air conditioners at high levels in public buildings. The virus is known to thrive in cool, dry environments, which is exactly what AC creates, yet this seems to have been almost completely ignored.
Vitamin D: Likewise, I think public health experts have been far too reticent about the connection between Vitamin D deficiencies and the severity of C19 (also see here and here). The accumulating evidence about this association offers an explanation for the disturbingly high severity of cases among Black, Asian and Minority Ethnics (BAME), not to mention a possible role in C19 deaths among the generally D-deficient nursing home population. For the love of God, get the word out to the community that Vitamin D supplements might help, and they won’t hurt, and otherwise, tell people to get some sun!
Masks: I’m not in favor of strict mask mandates, but I have trouble understanding the aversion to masks among certain friends. Of course, there’s been way too much mixed messaging on the benefits of masks, and it didn’t all come from politicians! Scientists, the CDC, and the World Health Organization seemingly did everything possible to squander their credibility on this and other issues. However, a consensus now seems to have developed that masks protect others from the wearer and seem to protect the wearer from others as well. It should be obvious that masks offer a middle ground on which the economy can be restarted while mitigating the risks of further contagion. But even if you don’t believe masks protect the wearer, but only protect others from an infected wearer, donning a mask inside buildings, and when social distancing is impossible, still qualifies as a mannerly thing to do.