Lots of truth in JP’s sardonic wit.
As represented by our cinema and other media, Western society expects too much of masks. In the public’s mind, the still-legitimate use of masks for source control has gone off-label; masks are thought to prevent infection. From here, another problem arises: because surgical masks are thought to protect against infection in the community setting, people wearing masks for legitimate purposes (those who have a cough in a hospital, say) form part of the larger misperception and act to reinforce it. Even this proper use of surgical masks is incorporated into a larger improper use in the era of pandemic fear, especially in Asia, where such fear is high.1 The widespread misconception about the use of surgical masks — that wearing a mask protects against the transmission of virus — is a problem of the kind theorized by German sociologist Ulrich Beck.
The surgical mask communicates risk. For most, risk is perceived as the potential loss of something of value, but there is another side to risk, memorably formulated by Beck in his Risk Society.2 Beck states that risk society is “a systematic way of dealing with hazards and insecurities induced and introduced by modernisation itself.”2 For Beck, risk occurs not only in the form of threat and possible loss, but also in society’s organized management and response to these risks, which create a forwarding of present risk into the future. Furthermore, Beck writes of the “symptoms and symbols of risks” that combine in populations to create a “cosmetics of risk.” He suggests that people living in the present moment conceive of risk in terms of the physical tools used to mitigate risk while still “maintaining the source of the filth.”
Three months ago, Dr. John Ioannidis of Stanford University predicted dire social consequences if states enforced social distancing measures to curb a virus scientists didn’t yet understand.
“I feel extremely sad that my predictions were verified,” Ioannidis said in a recent interview with Greek media.
“There are already more than 50 studies that have presented results on how many people in different countries and locations have developed antibodies to the virus,” Ioannidis, a Greek-American physician, told Greek Reporter. “Of course none of these studies are perfect, but cumulatively they provide useful composite evidence. A very crude estimate might suggest that about 150-300 million or more people have already been infected around the world, far more than the 10 million documented cases.”
Ioannidis said medical data suggest the fatality risk is far lower than earlier estimates had led policymakers to believe and “is almost 0%” for individuals under 45 years old. The median fatality rate is roughly 0.25 percent, however, because the risk “escalates substantially” for individuals over 85 and can be as high as 25 percent for debilitated people in nursing homes.
“The death rate in a given country depends a lot on the age-structure, who are the people infected, and how they are managed,” Ioannidis said. “For people younger than 45, the infection fatality rate is almost 0%. For 45 to 70, it is probably about 0.05-0.3%. For those above 70, it escalates substantially…”
“Major consequences on the economy, society and mental health” have already occurred. I hope they are reversible, and this depends to a large extent on whether we can avoid prolonging the draconian lockdowns and manage to deal with COVID-19 in a smart, precision-risk targeted approach, rather than blindly shutting down everything…”
There’s little question that the lock-downs have caused widespread economic, social, and emotional carnage. Evidence that US states that locked down fared better than states that did not is hard to find.
Though not yet certain, the COVID-19 pandemic may well turn out to be another example of central planning gone wrong.
As I previously noted, it’s a sad irony that many of the greatest disasters in modern history—from Stalin’s “kolkhoz” collective farming system to Mao’s Great Leap Forward and beyond—are the result of central planners trying to improve the lot of humanity through coercive action.
“This is not a dispute about whether planning is to be done or not,” Hayek wrote in The Use of Knowledge in Society. “It is a dispute as to whether planning is to be done centrally, by one authority for the whole economic system, or is to be divided among many individuals.”
Does it seem like we’re all in a scene from the movie Idiocracy, or that Earth has suddenly turned into htraE, as in Bizarro-world? Here are a few headspinning examples.
Evidence indicates that summer sun kills the virus, but school-age kids – THE lowest risk group – are prohibited from congregating at the pool or baseball field or outdoor basketball court. If grandmother lives with you, then don’t attend or make adjustments to protect her.
Businesses can open, but stay-at-home is still in effect (no political fence-straddling going on here, no way). I guess it’s a Michigan thing.
Big-box and large sundry stores which sell “necessary” business products or food items are viewed as “essential” and people can go in/out by the hundreds without temperature checks or mandatory masks enforcement, but you couldn’t get a haircut or eye exam; even with temperature check, symptom screening and patron/client both wearing masks. And working-out at the gym at safe distance between low-risk patrons??? Forget about it!
On their days off, nursing home workers interact with family & go to the grocery store, then return to the facility where they interact with multiple at-risk residents; yet family of a elderly patient who is gravely ill with COVID in same facility are prohibited from doning PPE & visiting their dying loved-one.
Business are allowed to open by appointment-only, yet stay-at-home is still in effect? As if people are going to want to VOLUNTARILY be in a crowded store with strangers that might be infected! Appointments to browse for candles or running shoes?! Appointments for price comparing, really???
Never mind that the data shows absolutely NO correlation between the intensity of the lockdown measures and time to virus peak, number of cases per 100k population, or deaths as % of population. But yet we already knew that socioeconomic deprivation leads to major mental & physical health problems & family dysfunction, including drug abuse and even suicide. Despite these obvious contradictions, we continue to hear the mantra of “Stay home – Stay safe”. Never mind that 66% of 1200 COVID19 positive NYC hospital patients surveyed in April were made up of people sheltering at home. Never mind that 15 – 40% of cases are asymptomatic, or so mild, as to go undetected, which translates to a much higher prevalence than the number of confirmed cases would have us believe, thus a much lower case mortality rate than we were quoted initially.
So not only is much of the advice we are hearing not based on the evidence, but it is HURTING us is ways that will have negative effects long after the virus is gone. Our overseers have taken basic common sense guidelines designed to minimize spread of a very contagious virus and extrapolated them, stretched them, distorted them, magnified them and misapplied them. The citizens have suffered unnecessarily as a consequence of ceding our individual responsibilities & rights to these self-proclaimed experts and inept officials. The result has been a foul tasting layer-cake piled high with their mistakes.
It is time to take care of ourselves, our families, our communities and our businesses which sustain us all and allow us to weather this storm.
Criminalizing what used to be lawful, peaceful and productive endeavors should not be tolerated from our governing elites. If that means some peaceful civil disobedience, then so be it.
We were told that millions were going to die in America if we didn’t shut down the economy to “flatten the curve” to prevent the medical system from being overwhelmed. Actually, after putting over 30 million people out of work, bankrupting countless businesses, and taking on trillions in new debt, we’re learning that the curves in states and countries that didn’t shut down “flattened” in almost the same manner as the curves in states and countries that did.“
Another humorous but insightful perspective from J.P. Sears
Let’s get this under control and protect workers for sure. But this is also an ideal opportunity to get some very important data regarding factors which influence spread within these meat plants and within homes/contacts of these infected workers.
We desperately need data to validate the reliability of various antibody tests on the market, those approved, waived and unapproved. I would encourage local/state governments to partner with universities to acquire this vital information.
And these cluster outbreaks are a perfect setting to get more information regarding true number of asymptomatic cases, how long people are pre-symptomatic and timing of immune responses to infection.