Monday, April 27, 2020

Closing down the country

     This is probably going to annoy a lot of people, but I’ve just read a couple of persuasive articles urging people to speak out about the general lockdown imposed on us in order to “bend the curve” of serious cases and deaths. And it’s probably too late to change anything, because I also read articles saying that more and more people are ignoring their state-imposed rules; consider the crowded beaches In California this weekend.
     Small businesses and their employees are still suffering, though. So are the health care workers who are being sent home because their hospitals are all but empty. It’s mainly on their behalf that I’m speaking out.
     First, full disclosure: my family is not seriously affected - yet - by the lockdown as implemented here in Texas. Both my husband and I are over seventy and hence, I am given to understand, in the high-risk group. We are both working at jobs that don’t require us to leave home. Furthermore, the local market has resumed grocery deliveries.
     One of our daughters and her husband live in Brooklyn and I do worry about them. So far, though, they haven’t left their apartment in weeks, and they too can get things delivered; they too can work from home; and they work for large companies that haven’t yet made any noises about shutting down or laying people off. The other daughter is a stay-at-home mom with two children. I’m mildly worried about her because her husband is a grocery store manager and considered essential. However, the safety precautions at his store are intense. And he hasn’t missed a paycheck yet.
     So it’s on behalf of others that I’m speaking. The owners of the small restaurants we used to frequent. The nurses who have been sent home because our hospitals are virtually empty. The waiters, cooks and bartenders who can ill afford to miss a paycheck and tips. The owners and employees of the nail salon where my daughter gets her nails painted in unnatural colors. The hairdresser who used to put streaks of even more amazing colors in her hair. How are these people managing?
     Now, about this lockdown. The models we’ve been shown have vastly overestimated deaths. Furthermore, the people and institutions waving the curve we’re supposed to worry about don’t show us the data and algorithms they’ve using, and most of them lump all the states in with New York City, which skews the hell out of their models. I don’t give any more credence to the models than I give to models of global warming (which are known to use worst-case scenarios and tend to rely heavily on many nonlinear differential equations (mathematicians, you may tear your hair out now.))
     It appears to me that most of the country is in for terrible economic suffering on the basis of what’s happening in nursing homes and one extremely overcrowded city. Speaking for myself, I’m perfectly willing to take reasonable precautions until a vaccine or a universally valid treatment is developed. But what about the people who are young, healthy, and staring at serious financial problems? Why should they suffer for the minority of people like me?
     Maybe they’ll survive economically, given that more and more people are ignoring state-imposed restrictions.
     But I can’t help noticing that these restrictions are mostly put in place by people who have the luxury of staying home without missing a paycheck. And many of them think ordinary working people aren’t worth paying attention to, and voice death wishes on those who complain. Anyway, the protestors are mostly deplorables, aren’t they?
     And I find that attitude, well, deplorable.
(crossposted at


glasslass said...

Nursing home worker became ill during her shift and the administrator told her she would be fired if she left. She stayed. So, 11 days later 83 people of nursing home and workers have Covid 19. So far 9 have died. We have as of 4/26 104 cases in our county. Prior to the day she got ill our county had 3 cases. She spread it also to family and friends. Health dept. can trace 97 outbreaks to this one woman. All in 11 days. This seems much more contagious than any flu I've ever seen.

Francis W. Porretto said...

Glasslass: Part of the reason it's so contagious at this time is that no one has ever had it before. After it's "made the rounds" of the human population, such that our bodies have had a chance to react to it, data meaningful over the long term can be collected.

I'd venture to guess that there are many viruses -- perhaps millions or billions -- that have entered our biosphere unknown. We contracted them and reacted to them before medical science acknowledged that microbes exist and can cause diseases. That might still be going on today, as viruses do mutate rapidly. Not a pleasant thought, until we take note of how much lower the rate of death from infectious diseases is today than it was even a single century ago. We're made of pretty tough stuff. We might even be getting tougher as time passes, though you might not think so to look at some of our "snowflake" brethren.

Linda Fox said...

The case of nursing homes is a special situation. States should set up teams:
- Nurses/nurse assistants
- Cleaners (trained in high level disinfecting techniques)
- Kitchen staff/other patient contact workers

On being informed of a contagious outbreak, the teams immediately converge on the home/rehab facility, and:
- Takes all staff off the floor, and does not return them until they are tested and cleared. Staff that replaces them are paid by the state (original staff continues to receive a paycheck for the duration).
- Home is thoroughly disinfected. Before cleaners and direct patient care staff can return, they need to attend training on high level cleaning/disinfection procedures. All new staff must receive the same training before working their first day on the job.
- Those patients testing positive/ambiguous (err on the side of caution) are removed to a secure, clean facility until cleared to return. They may NOT return until they have fully recovered. Their place is held for them, and the cost of the off-site housing is, again, picked up by the state.

Any facility not adhering to the highest standards will lose their license to operate, and staff will have their licenses suspended until mandatory re-training is complete.

The cost of the special teams is less than to shut down schools and businesses. By acting quickly, a local infection outbreak may avoid becoming a state-wide emergency.

glasslass said...

I don't disagree with either of you. But since yesterday have an additional 5 more cases tied to this one person. We are a small community of 10K in a county of 30K. But the ones that will profit off of this will be the attorneys who are panting in the wings for a chance to represent one or all in a wrongful death suit. The admin has already been fired.