The incoming administration has signaled conflicting intentions concerning a pending U.S. lockdown. But if it happens, I’ll escape the U.S. first…
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COVID-19 Infections at All-Time High*
The last week has been the worst for reported infection rates of COVID-19. There is an asterisk behind the “highest infection” for a few reasons. First, testing has finally rolled out to a level that is available ubiquitously. Positive results will undoubtedly rise when more are tested. Whether more people are actually sick is less conclusive.
Second, false positives have been an issue with some forms of testing. Elon Musk highlighted four tests he took on one day this week, two positive results and two negatives:
Something extremely bogus is going on. Was tested for covid four times today. Two tests came back negative, two came back positive. Same machine, same test, same nurse. Rapid antigen test from BD.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 13, 2020
Third, while there have been some question as to mortality as a result of COVID-19 vs. other co-morbidities in the past, the correlation between excess deaths and COVID-19 deaths seem relatively comparable. But what is not being discussed along with “highest infection rates” is that mortality rates continue to fall. Through the week of November 7th, (according to the CDC) deaths involving COVID-19 (including co-morbidities) was just 1,143 while infections reached 328,119 – an effective mortality rate of 0.348% in line with the flu which has a 0.56% mortality rate in the US.
But that number is inconclusive as those infections have not moved through the process as of yet. A reader, Ed, compiled a more realistic number of about 1% (available in the comments with his math for your review.) That doesn’t take into account the untested, and asymptomatic cases but is a more exact number for the current state of affairs than historical mortality.
There’s no doubt that mortality will rise as those cases move from new infection to treatment to recovery or fatality. But there’s also a great number of asymptomatic people that have the virus, are never tested and therefore don’t factor into the true mortality rate of the disease, falsely propping the number higher than it actually is.
This week infections have risen even higher reaching 153,400 on one day but the most deaths on any day of the week was just over 1800. Each of the last four weeks, mortality has dropped (from the beginning of the virus) from 2.6 to now 2.2%.
So, yes, infections are at an all-time high – but the virus is increasingly less lethal, treatment appears to be more effective and when high infections once meant high death rate – that’s no longer as true.
Conflicting Information From President-Elect
President-elect Biden has stated both that he will and that he will not issue a nationwide lockdown. His coronavirus staff has stated that they would impose a four-to-six-week lockdown of the entire country. But also that they would not.
President-elect Biden has also stated that a nationwide mask mandate is unconstitutional while Vice President-elect Harris has stated that it would be one of the first actions upon taking office. She’s since walked that back stating that the mandate would be toothless (there’d be no penalty for non-compliance.)
When asked if he would “use your federal leverage to mandate that,” Biden replied: “Yes, I would. From an executive standpoint, I would….I would do everything possible to make it required that people had to wear masks in public.”
Biden reiterated that promise at the Democratic National Convention last month. “If I’m your president,” he said, “on day one we’ll have a national mask mandate.” then…
“I cannot mandate people wearing masks,” the Democratic presidential nominee admitted during a CNN “town hall,” adding that he could still require masks in federal buildings and on federal land.”
It seems the administration will let the states decide, which is not a marked departure from the current model.
Why I Will Avoid the Lockdown and How
As evidenced above, whether a lockdown is in the cards appears to depend on the day, who asks the question, and whether it’s a full moon or not. Regardless of whether President-elect Biden issues a nationwide lockdown or not, my home state of Pennsylvania will probably lock down again anyway. The state has been overly aggressive with aspects of COVID-19 shutdown enforcement as it sees fit. For example, permitting 200,000 monthly arrivals into Pittsburgh International Airport, but refusing to host the heavily tested and tiny 100-person contingent from the Toronto Blue Jays on travel concerns.
Restaurants, for example, have to engage in health safety theater, requiring a mask from the front door to the table, but nothing once seated a few meters away from the door. It’s not that I am not in favor of having practical measures in place to protect employees and the public, and I am not in favor of shutting down places of business entirely – but good intentions seem to make for maddeningly stupid policy choices.
I’m not saying I will avoid the US lockdown because I have to wear a mask to walk 15 feet. I don’t care that much about the topic to let that dictate my decisions. What I’m demonstrating is that I don’t believe the government is capable of making competent logical restrictions and solutions that deliver a safer environment or reasonable experience for citizenry.
Based on the falling mortality rate highlighted above, I’ll skip the hysteria. I’d rather find myself in Croatia, newly opened Costa Rica who has done away with their selective tourism model, or Mexico. Croatia, in particular, has been open for some time to Americans and hasn’t encountered the struggle with the virus nor the business challenges other nations have.
In case you thought I’m some irrational nut job (many of you thought this before I typed this post, that won’t change) the French have also sought an exit from Paris ahead of their lockdown this week. Escapees from Paris created the longest traffic jam in French history – more than 434 miles (700 km) – fleeing the city. Some are sick from COVID-19, some are sick of COVID-19.
It’s not just Parisians. More than 300,000 New Yorkers have changed their address and bailed from locked down New York too.
I’m saddened to see increased infection numbers, even if those numbers shouldn’t be seen with the same concern as initial results. And I don’t know what to expect from the Biden administration who spent the summer talking about a mask mandate that they’d implement, only to recant it as unconstitutional, or discussing a national lockdown only to walk that back days later. Even though my own state governor’s measures were found to be in violation of the Commonwealth’s constitution, those remedies have remained anyway. Any amplification of this madness is enough to send me packing, at least until it calms down some.
What do you think? Are you staying put for a national lockdown (or state lockdown if applicable?) Do you think lockdown is necessary? Which of the statements the new presidential administration has made will match their decisions?