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Corona Part 2

Some things I have been reading, hearing, and pondering…

For posterity’s sake, we are in the midst of an unprecedented time in the life of anyone walking the planet. In the past week: the U.S. has restricted international AND domestic travel and groups larger than 10 have been banned. In Florida, bars, nightclubs, and restaurants have been ordered closed by the governor. In Duval county, all beaches have been closed. All in the past week!

Florida has not yet called for a residential lock-down, though an increasing number of states have, and Florida is likely not far from doing so. The logic behind these restrictions is to “flatten the curve”, a term so frequently regurgitated now as to render it almost meaningless. Anything is okay, as long as it “flattens the curve”. I do understand the idea, articulated nicely in a recent NY Times op-ed: if we could freeze everyone in place, exactly where they are, for the next 14 days, we would be in the clear.

This is not possible, so what is? What is realistic? And what are the impacts of these policies? And what is the objective reality, not just the subjective suggestions? Depending on the news channel you follow, or the particular person or department in the federal government you listen to, we are either a) heading towards Armageddon, or b) generally safe as long as we use caution and common sense.

Regardless of where one falls on the doomsday clock, a larger issue for me is the concern about these policies impacting the country going forward. JR McNatt told me, “trillions of dollars, millions of jobs, and millions of students are being upended by this. The impact is years long and life-altering. It seems like we would want a better understanding of the benefits of these restrictive policies.” Certainly no one would argue against health and safety, but at what cost? In the long term, what determines the overall health of our population?

As I have written in previous posts, we cannot separate economic and social health from physical health. Innumerable people are going to be without jobs and health care as businesses close. Parks and other healthy spaces are closing, narrowing outlets for people to cope with this epidemic and remain in a positive physical AND mental state. What are these people to do? What impact will this widespread recession have, on national resources, mental health, and our ability to create opportunity going forward? My brother is a long-tenured member of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and he fears the increase in ‘domestic incidents’ as people are holed up in isolation without work and healthy outlets. Can we say these Covid-19 safety measures are really going to keep us safe, in the long run? I hope so, but am not convinced…

Many of you have probably read that some other nations, particularly European and Scandinavian nations, have taken more extreme measures to limit public interaction that might spread the virus. The difference is that most of those nations have much larger social safety nets than the U.S., so keeping people home in Denmark, for example, where they are isolated AND maintain their jobs, or receive comparable remuneration from the government, makes much more sense than here. These are political issues- there is no such thing as a non-political pandemic- and America should balance a respect for life, with a respect for LIFE.

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Thanks for sharing Dr. Ioannidis's article. The lack of reliable data is simply a fact. In Jacksonville, Florida, when testing began on March 20, it was essentially limited to health care professionals, first responders, individuals ages 65 and over, and those with compromised immune systems. Two days later, they opened testing up to all ages, but maintained limited access to those with an on-site temperature of 99.6 or higher and respiratory symptoms. Obviously I understand the need to prioritize high risk populations, but that also means that we are extrapolating predictions from high risk populations. I won't pretend to know how disease modeling works or how it accounts for biased sampling or how generally reliable it is, but in the…

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J.R. Woodward
J.R. Woodward
25. März 2020

Thanks for the comment. For further reading in this vein, I'll post the link to an article a friend shared with me written by a professor at Stanford. I look forward to hearing people's comments...

https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/17/a-fiasco-in-the-making-as-the-coronavirus-pandemic-takes-hold-we-are-making-decisions-without-reliable-data/?fbclid=IwAR1AMz4kWD0AjJPpKI2zYsjaJaDjZMQ0kBLKhfzEZp-5wLEbVpm7QNqnqqA

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Well said. The universe has certainly served up a brutal example of just how intertwined health, social, economic and political outcomes really are. As economic experts, political leaders, disease modelers etc. grapple with the long term outcomes, I find myself struggling too... one expert modeler predicted that for the US, our best case is that in a year, there would be 1.1 million dead, worst case, 2.2 million dead. That is mind-blowing. On the other hand, today I don't have enough fingers and toes to count my friends who are currently unemployed or furloughed. I don't need to be an expert to play out the individual, community and global economic fallout that is already well under way.


Thanks for pointing…

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