Saturday, April 11, 2020


Yesterday I said that we need a new model projecting what will happen if there's a campaign to reopen the country soon. Via The New York Times, we can see what that might look like:
... new federal projections, obtained by The New York Times, come from the departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services, and outline three possible situations. The first imagines policymakers doing nothing to mitigate the spread of the virus. The second, labeled “steady state,” assumes schools remain closed until summer, 25 percent of Americans telework from home, and some social distancing continues. The third scenario includes a 30-day shelter in place, on top of those “steady state” restrictions.

The government’s conclusions are sobering. Without any mitigation, the death toll from the virus could have reached 300,000. And if the administration lifts the 30-day stay-at-home orders, the death total is estimated to reach 200,000.

The projections foresee a bump in the demand for ventilators 30 days after stay-at-home orders are issued, a major spike in infections about 100 days after, and peaking 150 days after the initial order. (Those timelines assume further shelter-in-place policies are not put in place to reduce future peaks.)
Maybe numbers like these will be enough to prevent a campaign to reopen the country too soon. But the numbers are already being criticized, by right-wingers and by a gadfly reporter whose work they've seized on.

From Breitbart:
... the Times story omits the fact that the modeling that HHS and DHS used here is not from April 9–but actually from March 31, when models were notoriously incorrect because of a lack of actual data based in reality about the spread of the disease.

... former New York Times former New York Times health reporter Alex Berenson–a critic of the national lockdowns whose reporting has shed a light on much of the inaccuracy in the data and modeling used to make public policy decisions–quickly pointed out that the DHS and HHS model is outdated and comes from a time when the government was relying on modeling that has been significantly flawed.

... as Berenson noted in his thread on this, the modeling has changed multiple times since the model that HHS and DHS had in this document was first crafted:

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) model from the University of Washington in Washington state has been considerably wrong throughout this crisis. Originally, the IHME model predicted 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the United States....

But IHME has revised its models multiple times as real-world data has proven them incorrect. First, it dropped the numbers of expected American deaths down to about 93,000, then again down to about 81,000. Now, the IHME model stands at around 61,000 dead Americans–equivalent to the total in a really bad flu season
Yes -- the new numbers project death totals equivalent to those from "a really bad flu season" because we locked down much of the country and lowered the death toll. The numbers in the IHME model assume we'll continue to do that until the end of May. And now we might not. It's a battle from Trump's brain.

We need a strategy for a reopened America, but The Washington Post reports that the White House is dumping the problem onto the states.
A national plan to fight the coronavirus pandemic in the United States and return Americans to jobs and classrooms is emerging — but not from the White House.

Instead, a collection of governors, former government officials, disease specialists and nonprofits are pursuing a strategy that relies on the three pillars of disease control: Ramp up testing to identify people who are infected. Find everyone they interact with by deploying contact tracing on a scale America has never attempted before. And focus restrictions more narrowly on the infected and their contacts so the rest of society doesn’t have to stay in permanent lockdown.

But there is no evidence yet the White House will pursue such a strategy.

Instead, the president and his top advisers have fixated almost exclusively on plans to reopen the U.S. economy by the end of the month....

“It’s mind-boggling, actually, the degree of disorganization,” said Tom Frieden, former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director.

... when it comes to ... the labor-intensive work of contact tracing ... local health departments lack the necessary staff, money and training.
And there's no evidence yet that they'll get the money they need from the federal government. States such as Massachusetts and Utah are trying to set up systems of their own. But this won't work if it isn't done consistently across the country.

Meanwhile, there's an answer Trump gave to a reporter's question at yesterday's press conference that's getting a lot of attention for Trump's simpleminded musings about antibiotics (which, of course, fight bacterial infections, not viral ones) and the "genius" of the "brilliant enemy." But please note the way Trump talks about contract tracing.

Yesterday was April 10. He's known about the threat of this virus for three months, yet he's talking about contact tracing as if the concept is completely new to him ("they were on it, like, so fast, you wouldn't believe it").

We're so screwed.

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