Pixel Scroll 5/3/20 NCIS: Ringworld

(1) B.C.V. / A.C.V. Kim Stanley Robinson argues “The Coronavirus Is Rewriting Our Imaginations” in an article for The New Yorker.

…On a personal level, most of us have accepted that we live in a scientific age. If you feel sick, you go to a doctor, who is really a scientist; that scientist tests you, then sometimes tells you to take a poison so that you can heal—and you take the poison. It’s on a societal level that we’ve been lagging. Today, in theory, everyone knows everything. We know that our accidental alteration of the atmosphere is leading us into a mass-extinction event, and that we need to move fast to dodge it. But we don’t act on what we know. We don’t want to change our habits. This knowing-but-not-acting is part of the old structure of feeling.

Now comes this disease that can kill anyone on the planet. It’s invisible; it spreads because of the way we move and congregate. Instantly, we’ve changed. As a society, we’re watching the statistics, following the recommendations, listening to the scientists. Do we believe in science?  Go outside and you’ll see the proof that we do everywhere you look. We’re learning to trust our science as a society. That’s another part of the new structure of feeling.

(2) SOMETIMES IT DOES TAKE A ROCKET SCIENTIST. Here’s an excerpt from yesterday’s Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me on NPR: “Who’s Bill This Time”

SAGAL: Yes. And what do you do there when you’re allowed out of your house?

TIBERI: I am an electrical test engineer for the spacecraft Orion, which is the world’s only deep space human exploration spacecraft.

JOEL KIM BOOSTER: Whoa.

SAGAL: No kidding. So, wait a minute. You’re helping to build the Orion, which is supposed to take us to Mars, right?

TIBERI: Yes, that is correct. So I work as a test engineer. I do software and electrical integration. And next year, we are launching for the moon.

(3) A VISIT WITH MANAGEMENT. “The Astronaut Maker: How One Mysterious Engineer Ran Human Spaceflight for a Generation” – video of a 2019 event.

The Baker Institute Space Policy Program hosts a conversation with senior space policy fellow George W.S. Abbey and author Michael Cassutt, whose new biography “The Astronaut Maker” chronicles Abbey’s rise from Air Force pilot to NASA power broker.

(4) YOU WOULDN’T GUESS THIS. CinemaBlend writer Adam Holmes, in “John Belushi’s Last Day On Earth Was Apparently Spent On The Set Of Star Trek II”, quotes Star Trek historian Mark A. Altman saying that John Belushi’s last activity before dying of a drug overdose was visiting the set of Star Trek II, because he “wanted to perfect his Shatner impersonation” and spent time watching William Shatner at work.

(5) RESISTING THE TEMPTATION. Roger Wolfson has “Advice for a Science Fiction Writer During the Time of Covid” – and where else but at ScienceFiction.com?

…Also like many writers, I have several projects in active development.  But all my projects require answering the same question.

“How much or how little Covid do I put into this project?”

This is particularly important in the realm of Science Fiction, which is at heart, social commentary.  And some of the best Science Fiction tries to take current social issues and expand them into the future in order to comment on them most effectively.

For me, when it comes to my projects, I want to talk about this pandemic. I want to talk about the social implications. The governmental implications. Personal implications.

Especially since I had Covid myself. I have a lot to say.

The problem is, any project I write won’t be on air – – if I’m lucky – for another year, or more…..  

(6) BREAKING IN AND REMAKING. “NK Jemisin: ‘It’s easier to get a book set in black Africa published if you’re white'” – so the author told Guardian interviewer Alison Flood

…She wrote another, The Killing Moon, which got her an agent. Set in a world based on ancient Egypt, it had an almost exclusively black cast – and didn’t find her a publisher. “It was the mid 2000s, and at that time science fiction and fantasy publishers were not super interested in stories with black casts by black writers. They had done some stories with black casts by white writers, but they were not interested in those stories coming from people who actually were black.” Rejection letters would say things like, “we like this, but we’re not sure how to market it. We like this but we’re not sure who its audience would be”– the implication from publishers being “that fantasy readers don’t want to read about black people. Black people don’t want to read fantasy. So what do we do?”

Jemisin decided to rewrite The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, making nearly the entire cast white. “All of them were horrible people. They’d shank each other for, like, nothing. And I wrote this angry story about this lone brown girl going into this place full of mean white people,” she says. It went to auction, with three different publishers fighting over it. “And I’m like, this is what you want?” she says. “I was pretty bitter … I’d taken such care in [The Killing Moon] to include sympathetic white people, but that wasn’t what they wanted.” …

(7) MAY 8 DEADLINE IF YOU WANT IN. The UC San Diego Library is producing a new edition of Short Tales From the Mothership, time coming in a more futuristic/modern event format — via Zoom! The event is scheduled for May 19, 2020 from 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm.

In the 1970s, sci-fi magazine editor George Hay encouraged authors such as Arthur C. Clarke, the namesake of UC San Diego’s Clarke Center, to write short postcard stories. Taking inspiration from Hay, this annual sci-fi micro fiction event allows participants to submit short stories inspired by UC San Diego’s iconic Geisel Library building, designed by famed architect William Pereira.

You have a chance to participate. Submit a science fiction or fantasy story (250 words or less) to Exhibit and Events Coordinator Scott Paulson at spaulson@ucsd.edu by May 8. Participants will be invited to read their works at our virtual event on Zoom on May 19. This virtual event is free and open to the public. Registration details are forthcoming.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • May 3, 1996 Barb Wire premiered.  Brad Wyman produced the film, and It was directed by David Hogan from a screenplay by Chuck Pfarrer and Ilene Chaiken. The story was by Ilene Chaiken based on Chris Warner’s Barb Wire comic series. It stars Pamela Anderson in the titular role with the additional cast of Temuera Morrison, Victoria Rowell, Xander Berkeley, Udo Kier and Steve Railsback. It received overwhelmingly negative reactions by critics and was a box office bomb. It holds a fourteen percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes among audience reviewers.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 3, 1896 Dodie Smith. English children’s novelist and playwright, best remembered for The Hundred and One Dalmatians which of course became the animated film of the same name and thirty years later was remade by Disney as a live action film.(Saw the first a long time ago, never saw the latter.) Though The Starlight Barking, the sequel, was optioned, by Disney, neither sequel film (101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure and 102 Dalmatians) is based on it. Elizabeth Hand in her review column in F&SF praised it as one of the very best fantasies (“… Dodie Smith’s sophisticated canine society in The Hundred and One Dalmatians and The Starlight Barking…”) she read. (Died 1990.)
  • Born May 3, 1928 Jeanne Bal. In Trek’s “The Man Trap” episode, she played Nancy Crater, in reality a lethal shape-shifting alien. This was the episode that replaced “The Cage” which the Network didn’t like. She also had one-offs in Thriller and I-Spy. (Died 1996.)
  • Born May 3, 1939 Dennis O’Neil, 81. Writer and editor, mostly for Marvel Comics and DC Comics from the Sixties through the Nineties, and was the Group Editor for the Batman family of titles until his retirement which makes him there when Ed Brubaker’s amazing Gotham Central came out. He himself has written Wonder Woman and Green Arrow in both cases introducing some rather controversial storytelling ideas. He also did a rather brilliant DC Comics Shadow series with Michael Kaluta as the artist.
  • Born May 3, 1951 W. H. Pugmire. S. T. Joshi has described Pugmire as “perhaps the leading Lovecraftian author writing today.” Let the debate begin. I don’t have a dog in this fight as I’ve never even heard of him. I will note that he shows up in most of the digital Cthulhu anthologies from the usual suspects and of course he’s in all of the Joshi Cthulhu anthologies that I looked at. (Died 2019.)
  • Born May 3, 1962 Stephan Martinière, 58. French artist who was the winner of the Best Professional Artist Hugo at Devention 3. He’s done both genre covers such as Ken MacLeod‘s Newton’s Wake: A Space Opera, and conceptual work for such films as The Fifth ElementRed Planet, and, errr, Battlefield Earth.
  • Born May 3, 1969 Daryl Mallett, 51. By now you know that I’ve a deep fascination with the non-fiction documentation of our community. Mallett is the author of a number of works doing just that including several I’d love to see including Reginald’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards: A Comprehensive Guide to the Awards and Their Winners written with Robert Reginald. He’s also written some short fiction including one story with Forrest J. Ackerman that bears the charming title of “A Typical Terran’s Thought When Spoken to by an Alien from the Planet Quarn in Its Native Language“.  He’s even been an actor, appearing in several Next Gen episodes (“Encounter at Farpoint” and “Hide and Q”) and The Undiscovered Country as well, all uncredited. He also appeared in Doctor Who and The Legends Of Time, a fan film which you can see here.
  • Born May 3, 1982 Rebecca Hall, 38. Lots of genre work — her first role was as Sarah Borden in The Prestige followed by being Emily Wotton in Dorian Gray and then as Florence Cathcart in The Awakening which in turn led to her being Maya Hansen in Iron Man 3. Next up? Mary in Roald Dahl’s The BFG. Is she done yet? No as next up is the English dub of the voice of Mother of Mirai no Mirai. (She might’ve wanted to have stopped there as her most recent role was Dr. Grace Hart in Holmes & Watson which won an appalling four Golden Raspberries!) 
  • Born May 3, 1985 Becky Chambers, 35. Her Wayfarers series won the Best Series Hugo at Dublin 2019: An Irish Worldcon. A Closed and Common Orbit was a finalist at WorldCon 75 for Best Novel but lost out to another exemplary novel, N. K. Jemisin’s The Obelisk GateRecord of a Spaceborn Few would be on the ballot at Dublin 2019 but lost out to yet another exemplary novel, Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Calculating Stars. (A digression: The Wayfarers are the best series I’ve listened to in a long time.) “To Be Taught, if Fortunate” is a finalist this year at ConZealand in the Best Novella category and I’ve got in my short list to be listened to. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • What might other planets be like? Here’s Garfield’s idea.
  • Free Range shows what happens when someone opens the wrong door.

(11) TIME TO REFILL YOUR LID. Alasdair Stuart’s “The Full Lid 1st May 2020” takes a look at newly announced Doctor Who transmedia story “Time Lord Victorious” and what it tells about the show and its relationship with fans and the world it exists in. 

Also, this week, Stuart looks at Lorcan Finnegan’s chilling suburban horror Vivarium and Jules Scheeles’ wonderful comics work. Interstitials are some of the best bits of week one of DC Comics’ daily digital offerings.  

The Full Lid publishes weekly at 5 p.m. GMT on Fridays. Signup is free and the last six months are archived here.  

Earlier this week, Time Lord Victorious was announced. It’s Doctor Who‘s first (as far as I can tell) trans-media project, telling one story from multiple perspectives across audio drama, books, comics, escape rooms (!!) and collectibles. It’s Crisis on infinite Gallifreys, it’s X-Men vs UNIT, it’s a crossover. A big ‘we fill the stage with goldfish and angst!’ crossover that will tell a massive flotilla of new stories forming one unified narrative. Oh and it features three of the Doctor’s best loved faces.

So of course a lot of people have decided this is a bad thing.

Let’s talk about the crossover, about why some folks feel that way, and why I don’t.

(12) SUPERMARIONATION REVIVED. Two episodes so far. Be sure to watch the “Making Of” at the end of the first episode – begins at 10:35.

‘Nebula-75’ is a new puppet lockdown drama made entirely during confinement in 2020 using only existing puppets and materials. Filmed in Supermarionation, it follows in the tradition of ‘Thunderbirds’, ‘Stingray’ and ‘Fireball-XL5’ while at the same time also being filmed in SuperIsolation and Lo-Budget! ‘Nebula-75’ charts the exploits of Commander Ray Neptune and the crew of the spaceship NEBULA-75 as they make their way across the stars, encountering strange worlds and forms of life hitherto unknown by mankind. It has been created and produced by a small group of filmmakers during the British lockdown on 2020. Although team members from around the world contributed remotely to pre and post production, the entirety of the filming for NEBULA-75 was undertaken by a crew of three who happened to already live together in a small flat in London. Their living room was transformed into a makeshift movie studio – with bookshelves, cardboard boxes and other household objects becoming the interior of the show’s hero spacecraft. This flat was also fortunately home to many of the puppets, props, and costumes that have been accumulated over the course of different productions.

(13) NOT MORE SPARKLY VAMPIRES! J-14 tries to interpret the cryptic clues — “OMG: Author Stephenie Meyer Drops Major Hint She’s Releasing New ‘Twilight’ Book”.

Get ready, people, because it looks like Bella Swan and Edward Cullen’s story may not be over just yet! Yep, that’s right. Almost 15 years after the first Twilight came out, the author of the book series, Stephenie Meyer, just dropped a major hint that she’s got a new book in the works, and fans are seriously freaking out over it!

Get this, you guys — Stephenie has upgraded her website with a very mysterious countdown that has everyone convinced she’s dropping another part of the series.

…The countdown is set to stop at midnight on May 4, 2020.

For those who forgot, back in 2008, rumors spread that the author was working on a new Twilight book, called Midnight Sun, which was going to be the same story but told from Edward’s point of view instead. The first twelve chapters were seemingly leaked online at the time, which in the end, caused Stephenie to shut down the book….

(14)NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Stanley Johnson Pushes For New Release of His 40-Year-Old Virus Novel” in The Guardian, Mark Brown says the British prime minister Boris Johnson’s father, technothriller author Stanley Johnson, is trying to get British publishers to reissue his 1982 novel The Marburg Virus, saying it’s topical and that copies of the paperback are currently selling for 57 pounds on Amazon.

The SF Encyclopedia says this novel is sf (I looked it up!)

…In Johnson’s story, the equivalent of Wuhan is New York, the virus breaks out at the Bronx zoo. Soon the rest of the world bans planes travelling from the US. The main characters are involved in a desperate attempt to track down a rare breed of green monkey, which was the source of the virus.

Some subplots are more improbable than others. One involves the Brazilian head of the World Health Organization and his deputy, a sinister, monocle-wearing Russian with an upper-class English accent, travelling to the Congo to personally oversee the destruction of monkeys responsible for the virus … or so they thought….

(15) RETIRE TO A SAFE DISTANCE. “Coronavirus Fears Have NASA Urging Space Fans To Stay Away From Historic Launch” – NPR has the story.

Because of the coronavirus, NASA’s top official is asking space fans not to travel to Florida later this month to watch astronauts blast off from American soil for the first time since the retirement of the space shuttles in 2011.

“When we look back to the space shuttle launches, we had hundreds of thousands of people that would descend on the Kennedy Space Center,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a pre-flight briefing. But, he noted, now is unfortunately not a good time for people to gather in large crowds.

“We’re asking people not to travel to Kennedy, but to watch online or watch on your television at home,” said Bridenstine, who confessed that it made him feel “sad” to have to say this.

The upcoming test flight is historic because the two astronauts, Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, won’t be flying in a NASA vehicle. Instead, they’ll go up inside a capsule created by SpaceX, the rocket firm founded by wealthy entrepreneur Elon Musk.

This first launch of people in a company-owned spacecraft, currently scheduled for 4:32 p.m. EDT on May 27, will be a milestone for both NASA and commercial spaceflight.

(16) REMEMBER THAT MAN-MADE VIRUS? “Love Bug’s creator tracked down to repair shop in Manila”.

The man behind the world’s first major computer virus outbreak has admitted his guilt, 20 years after his software infected millions of machines worldwide.

Filipino Onel de Guzman, now 44, says he unleashed the Love Bug computer worm to steal passwords so he could access the internet without paying.

He claims he never intended it to spread globally.

And he says he regrets the damage his code caused.

“I didn’t expect it would get to the US and Europe. I was surprised,” he said in an interview for Crime Dot Com, a forthcoming book on cyber-crime.

The Love Bug pandemic began on 4 May, 2000.

Victims received an email attachment entitled LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU. It contained malicious code that would overwrite files, steal passwords, and automatically send copies of itself to all contacts in the victim’s Microsoft Outlook address book.

Within 24 hours, it was causing major problems across the globe, reportedly infecting 45 million machines. It also overwhelmed organisations’ email systems, and some IT managers disconnected parts of their infrastructure to prevent infection.

(17) FROST ON THE PUMPKIN. Bob Burns’ Hollywood Halloween shows a unique haunted house put together in 2002 by some well-known special effects creators.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Lise Andreasen, Michael Toman, Contrarius, Mike Kennedy, Cliff Ramshaw, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

184 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/3/20 NCIS: Ringworld

  1. @Lis Carey

    No, there are not reliable reports that non-COVID-19 deaths are being reported as COVID-19 deaths.

    It’s really dangerous to say that something doesn’t exist, if you don’t survey everything first.

    For example, The Telegraph in the UK reported on Mar 23
    “Prof Walter Ricciardi, scientific adviser to Italy’s minister of health . . . added that Italy’s death rate may also appear high because of how doctors record fatalities. “The way in which we code deaths in our country is very generous in the sense that all the people who die in hospitals with the coronavirus are deemed to be dying of the coronavirus.””

    And on May 1, it reported about UK nursing homes “Care home deaths are being recorded as Covid-19 related even if the victim has not had a positive test or shown any symptoms, it has emerged.”

    This has gone on in the US, as well, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette of Apr 30 [quoting a statement from Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center (nursing home), which had a large number of deaths]
    “It should be understood that some of these people passed from non-Covid-related illnesses, or natural causes. Once a person is diagnosed, the death is mis-recorded as a Covid death, even when Covid played no role.”

    But these were explicit statements that non-Covid deaths were being recorded as Covid. What is far more common is that deaths are being recorded as Covid when there is no lab test or autopsy that says so. It is being done when symptoms (that may be influenza or pneumonia, or any other respiratory disease that routinely kills old people every year) are similar to those of Covid.
    Current CDC guidance is “In cases where a definite diagnosis of COVID–19 cannot be made, but it is suspected or likely (e.g., the circumstances are compelling within a reasonable degree of certainty), it is acceptable to report COVID–19 on a death certificate as “probable” or “presumed.” ”

    Dr. Deborah Birx said, in reference to federal statistics, “if someone dies with COVID-19, we are counting that as a COVID-19 death.”

    The Washington Post said, on Apr 16, “[Maryland] is now counting probable deaths, which officials say refer to patients whose death certificates list covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, as the cause of death but whose samples have not been subjected to confirmatory laboratory testing. The Washington Post is including both confirmed and probable deaths in its tally for Maryland.”

    Bradenton [FL] Herald May 8 2020
    “Dr. Russell Vega, District 12 Chief Medical Examiner, [said] “we’re probably doing few autopsies on cases that we might have otherwise autopsied in the past and we’re certifying more deaths without viewing the bodies.” ”

    So, not only do we have clear statements that non-Covid deaths are being reported as Covid, we have thousands of deaths being reported as Covid on the presumption of whoever fills out a death certificate. While this presumption is no doubt often correct, sometimes it will be wrong.

    (And I am not arguing that in general, the death toll is overall too high. I agree with many here that overall, it is probably too low. I am simply making the point that we don’t have good data, and that comparing X to Y where X and Y vary in time or place is extraordinarily unreliable.)

    The New York Times has made its COVID-19 coverage free to all, so no, Contrarius’s far more useful link should be accessible to everyone.

    I tried to access it, and it was blocked. I looked again and it said that registration was required to read it. So “free” in the sense that no money is involved, but it is behind a wall.

    Even if there’s a hiccup on that, a link to a Texas Aggies chat group is not at all useful.

    There is no Texas Aggies chat group. That was a gratuitous insult. Contrarius didn’t like the fact that real data showed his statements were wrong, so he cast aspersions on it. The data I provided came from the state of Texas Health Dept.

  2. @Camestros Felapton

    A decision-maker trying to set local policy on stay-at-home orders or relaxing restrictions will need to look at a range of indicators but the day-to-day mortality data is data that is really telling them about a situation weeks ago.

    Given that the stay-at-home orders were based on the need to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed, decision-makers should look at current and recent hospital occupancy trends. If they are at capacity, or being overwhelmed, the local curve isn’t flat enough to re-open things. If hospitals are not near capacity (as is the case in almost everywhere in the US other than the NYC area), then there is room for relaxing restrictions.

    The idea that stay-at-home orders will keep people from getting sick at all is a false one — the area under a “flattened” curve is just as great as one that has not been flattened. The only way that a flattened curve will actually prevent deaths is if the shutdown lasts so long that a vaccine comes into play. And killing the economy for a year or longer will cause just as much or more damage as would the disease itself.

  3. And killing the economy for a year or longer will cause just as much or more damage as would the disease itself.

    I keep seeing that a lot on the internet, but it’s generally not backed up, unless it’s backed up with fake data (“7 million Americans starved to death in the Depression!”). I gather the death rate in the Great Depression did not rise significantly due to starvation or any other cause. So saying that keeping the economy shut down will cause ‘as much or more damage’ as the disease is basically considering economic damage to companies as equivalent or greater harm than human deaths. Which I’m squeamish about.
    As I’ve seen said repeatedly – economies can revive, dead humans cannot.

    Not to mention that a severe economic depression is inevitable at this point. Even if all businesses reopen, people will not start to travel in planes, or cruise ships, or go to restaurants (to name a few) in sufficient numbers for most of these businesses to prosper or even remain open; it’s too dangerous. So what we have is a choice between an economic depression WITH a huge immediate death toll that overwhelms hospitals or one without one.

  4. @Jayn

    I keep seeing that a lot on the internet, but it’s generally not backed up,

    Most mornings, NPR’s Morning Edition includes a report on the potential for increased suicide due to economic stress. This morning, the report suggested that suicides pause in the moment of a crisis, but then surge in the months after while the world returns to “normal”.

    They have also run stories about mental health professionals seeing clients with increasing stress due to economic loss.

    I take their concern seriously even if it has yet to unfold in the fullness of time.

    Regards,
    Dann
    Freedom works…each and every time it is tried.

  5. @bill —

    There is no Texas Aggies chat group. That was a gratuitous insult. Contrarius didn’t like the fact that real data showed his statements were wrong, so he cast aspersions on it. The data I provided came from the state of Texas Health Dept.

    Yeah, no.

    First, my statements were correct, as I and others have demonstrated.

    Second, I made the comment about your numbers because I Googled those numbers — and, surprise surprise, I found the same numbers from the same set of days being used in the same way that you did, on a Texas Aggies chat forum.

    Imagine that.

    Third, I’m a “she”. 😉

  6. @Dann:

    While I don’t minimize the potential for an adverse economic situation to increase the rate of suicide – there was an increase in suicide during the Depression, though the death rate overall actually FELL in the US…

    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/great-depression-had-little-effect-on-death-rates-46713514/

    …I don’t think that we could consider the loss of loved ones through COVID as less of a risk factor for suicide than economic stress. And as I said, we are not going to get rid of economic stress by trading COVID deaths for prosperity.

  7. @bill–

    For example, The Telegraph in the UK reported on Mar 23
    “Prof Walter Ricciardi, scientific adviser to Italy’s minister of health . . . added that Italy’s death rate may also appear high because of how doctors record fatalities. “The way in which we code deaths in our country is very generous in the sense that all the people who die in hospitals with the coronavirus are deemed to be dying of the coronavirus.””

    That’s a nicely imprecise statement. COVID-19 in the hospital, or COVID-19 in the patient? I’d consider it a very suspect practice if the COVID-19 is only present in the hospital, and correct if the patient has COVID-19. I suspect you disagree. I view that as a determined desire to downplay the impact–to call something else “the cause” with any excuse at all.

    In any case, what’s being done in other countries is not informative of what’s being done in the US.

    And on May 1, it reported about UK nursing homes “Care home deaths are being recorded as Covid-19 related even if the victim has not had a positive test or shown any symptoms, it has emerged.”

    You don’t provide any attribution on that. Without a source (more meaningful than that it was in the Telegraph on May 1), I’m not impressed. But even if accurate, again, not revelatory of what is the practice in the US.

    This has gone on in the US, as well, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette of Apr 30 [quoting a statement from Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center (nursing home), which had a large number of deaths]
    “It should be understood that some of these people passed from non-Covid-related illnesses, or natural causes. Once a person is diagnosed, the death is mis-recorded as a Covid death, even when Covid played no role.”

    So these were patients who had COVID-19, and the source of the claim that those deaths were “mis-recorded” when they were described as COVID-19 deaths, is the nursing home itself.

    Do you sincerely not understand that the nursing home has a strong interest in downplaying the problem?

    From The Post Gazette, article updated May 8:

    Mr. Lamb, in an interview, said he felt compelled to ask federal officials to intervene after he was notified last weekend the facility’s managers were cited for failing to wash their hands and to properly clean equipment that comes into contact with residents who have been infected and those who had not.

    The congressman, whose district includes Beaver County, said he was frustrated by the severity of the citation, the delays in management’s reporting and that the state has not acted to change up the facility’s leadership.

    Rep. Lamb demands federal probe of Brighton nursing home, cites poor practices by managers

    But these were explicit statements that non-Covid deaths were being recorded as Covid. What is far more common is that deaths are being recorded as Covid when there is no lab test or autopsy that says so. It is being done when symptoms (that may be influenza or pneumonia, or any other respiratory disease that routinely kills old people every year) are similar to those of Covid.
    Current CDC guidance is “In cases where a definite diagnosis of COVID–19 cannot be made, but it is suspected or likely (e.g., the circumstances are compelling within a reasonable degree of certainty), it is acceptable to report COVID–19 on a death certificate as “probable” or “presumed.” ”

    What you’re missing, or don’t want to accept, is that flu deaths don’t look like COVID-19 deaths. If the death is in the hospital, it was attended by medical personnel who have seen a lot of flu deaths over the years, and a lot of COVID-19 this year.

    The CDC is recording flu deaths roughly comparable to last year.

    Fact Check: CDC has not stopped reporting flu deaths, and this season’s numbers are typical

    We’re seeing a high rate of excess deaths, though, and those deaths are coming from somewhere. And we’re not seeing an increase in people jumping out windows, right? We’re seeing a large and in some areas hospital-straining increase in patients who, yes, have some symptoms in common with flu–but also things flu doesn’t do, damage to the heart, kidneys, liver, and yes, damage to the lungs that isn’t similar to flu-related pneumonia.

    And we have a name for that disease. It’s commonly called COVID-19.

    Dr. Deborah Birx said, in reference to federal statistics, “if someone dies with COVID-19, we are counting that as a COVID-19 death.”

    Yes. Absolutely. The COVID-19 was the new thing affecting these patients. They may have had any number of other medical conditions, quite serious ones. Then they got COVID-19, and the additional impact of that killed them. Try though you will, you can’t make their deaths “not COVID-19 deaths.”

    The Washington Post said, on Apr 16, “[Maryland] is now counting probable deaths, which officials say refer to patients whose death certificates list covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, as the cause of death but whose samples have not been subjected to confirmatory laboratory testing. The Washington Post is including both confirmed and probable deaths in its tally for Maryland.”

    And you regard this as a form of cheating, I guess.

    Probable deaths, whose samples can’t be subjected to testing right now because there is a criminal lack of tests available here in the richest and one of the most advanced countries in the world, is not a reason to deliberately undercount the deaths.

    Bradenton [FL] Herald May 8 2020
    “Dr. Russell Vega, District 12 Chief Medical Examiner, [said] “we’re probably doing few autopsies on cases that we might have otherwise autopsied in the past and we’re certifying more deaths without viewing the bodies.” ”

    What’s missing, of course, is what information they did have when they certified the deaths. It matters.

    So, not only do we have clear statements that non-Covid deaths are being reported as Covid,

    No. You choose to regard them as non-Covid deaths, in happy disregard of normal practice when a person with underlying medical conditions dies of something else.

    we have thousands of deaths being reported as Covid on the presumption of whoever fills out a death certificate. While this presumption is no doubt often correct, sometimes it will be wrong.

    Who do you think is filling out the death certificates, file clerks? No. They are experienced medical personnel.

    Yes, sometimes they will be wrong.

    Far more often, they will be correct. You seem deeply concerned about a small possible overcount, and to favor instead a much larger undercount.

    (And I am not arguing that in general, the death toll is overall too high. I agree with many here that overall, it is probably too low. I am simply making the point that we don’t have good data, and that comparing X to Y where X and Y vary in time or place is extraordinarily unreliable.)

    You certainly do seem to be arguing that the count is overall too high, and your “evidence” is the same stuff I see from the “COVID-19 is a hoax” crowd.

    And I really am very tired of the “let’s ignore the experts, reopen, and see what happens” nonsense.

  8. @Lis
    Some numbers:
    https://twitter.com/thehowie/status/1260028422417342466
    (((Howard Forman))) @thehowie · 16h
    What a complete shock! Wasn’t this supposed to be just like the flu?

    Axios @axios · 16h
    The CDC says about 24,000 more people died in NYC from March 11 through May 2 than would normally be expected by researchers, suggesting that the coronavirus death toll may be significantly higher than the official tally of nearly 19,000.
    https://axios.com/cdc-nyc-corona

  9. bill on May 12, 2020 at 7:58 am said:

    Given that the stay-at-home orders were based on the need to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed, decision-makers should look at current and recent hospital occupancy trends. If they are at capacity, or being overwhelmed, the local curve isn’t flat enough to re-open things.

    If the hospitals are overwhelmed that would be an indication that the current level of measures need to be INCREASED not maintained. If they are not being overwhelmed that’s just part of the picture as to whether measures should be relaxed. The question would be whether the hospitals would be overwhelmed IF the measures were relaxed to some lesser level PLUS whether measures would need to be re-imposed.

    Once you reach a crisis point in the hospitals then you are exacerbating the mortality rate and there will be even greater impacts on any patients or anybody needing any kind of immediate hospital care. You absolutely want to avoid that by a substantial margin. Now remember that you won’t know whether a lower level of restrictions is too low (i.e. will result in compromising your region/state/city/country etc) until weeks after restrictions are lowered.

    In terms of disruption to the economy and people’s lives, weekly shifting restrictions up and down and up again would be worse than maintaining a set of restrictions in some sweet spot. However, nobody has any way of knowing in advance where that sweet spot is.

    //The idea that stay-at-home orders will keep people from getting sick at all is a false one — the area under a “flattened” curve is just as great as one that has not been flattened. The only way that a flattened curve will actually prevent deaths is if the shutdown lasts so long that a vaccine comes into play. And killing the economy for a year or longer will cause just as much or more damage as would the disease itself.//

    It’s not a false one but it isn’t guaranteed and it very much depends on where we are talking about. Slowing the rate of infection may well prevent people from getting sick in multiple ways.
    1. Local elimination. Which is very hard and not a plausible option for a US state (except maybe Hawaii or Alaska I guess) but it might be an outcome for New Zealand. NZ went for a big short, sharp shock lockdown.
    2. Testing and tracing capacity. There are multiple races going on between the virus on the one hand and the medical technology and infrastructure on the other. The more a region has the capacity to test for the virus in the general population and trace contacts of people infected, the more the rate of infection can be controlled by specific measures (i.e. isolating likely carriers). This is the South Korea strategy who were geared up for this approach quickly.
    3. Even a less than flat curve means that there will be people who don’t get infected before vaccines or improved treatment becomes available.
    4. I’m less certain of this bit because I haven’t read what the latest is on it. Depending on the nature of the virus, repeated exposure increases the chance of becoming sick rather than just infected. Some viruses that really doesn’t matter but others (eg flu), severity can be linked to how much you’ve been exposed to. If covid19 is in the second camp (and at least it looked like that) then hospital workers are at a greater chance of becoming sick rather than infected. That also means for the general population the less repeatedly exposed to the virus you are in a short time the less chance you have of getting sick rather than just infected. So a slower rate of infection should mean fewer sick people for the same total number of infected people (maybe – usual disclaimers)

    //And killing the economy for a year or longer…//

    Hold on a moment. It’s not a matter of killing or not killing the economy. The economy worldwide has already taken a massive hit. Even a given US state lifts all its restrictions that won’t magically bring the economy back up to speed because 1. economy of state X is dependent on the other US states and 2. the US economy is dependent on the world economy. Add to that, all sorts of businesses aren’t just going to bounce back once restrictions are lifted AND an uncontrolled rate of infection will definitely have its own economic impact AND fear of infection will impact business regardless of official restrictions.

    The fallacy is that the only policy level for the economy is the level of restrictions and that the restrictions are the only reason why the economy took a hit. Neither is true.

    The biggest economic hit is the loss in confidence in short term future prosperity. To get the economy into a recovery phase you need people and business and investors thinking that things will be getting better and that isn’t going to happen substantially until the virus is well under control (i.e. effective treatments and/or vaccines). The second best option economically is a stable ‘new normal’ where businesses know what the rules are and what the rules will be in the next few months so they can plan and find ways of operating. Relaxing rules and then having to wham on the brakes again would be far worse economically than maintaining a given set of restrictions within which a lot of business activity can continue.

    Keeping things going in such circumstance and reducing the impact on individuals and business during this phase requires public spending. Sorry! That’s just a fact. It means governments increasing deficits and handing out money at a level where it gets into people’s pockets and it requires them to do so repeatedly and in large quantities. Do that and people can still pay their rent and can still pay their mortgages and still keep shopping. It means companies can retain workers and hence skills and capacity for when the economy can grow again. That last bit is important because if companies lay people off or close down completely then the time it takes for the economy to recover will be longer.

  10. Camestros Felapton:

    //And killing the economy for a year or longer…//

    Hold on a moment. It’s not a matter of killing or not killing the economy. The economy worldwide has already taken a massive hit. Even a given US state lifts all its restrictions that won’t magically bring the economy back up to speed

    And even if e.g. restaurants are allowed to open doesn’t mean that they will immediately be filled to (their previously-normal) capacity, because a significant proportion of the population doesn’t want to risk infection.

  11. Have y’all been looking at the Financial Times charts & graphs? The ones I find most informative to the current discussion are the excess deaths ones. The ones for the USA clearly show increased deaths compared to compared the recent years’ average. If those deaths are not coming from COVID19, then what is the cause of that spike?

  12. @Soon Lee —

    If those deaths are not coming from COVID19, then what is the cause of that spike?

    Lots of causes associated with, but not directly caused by, the pandemic in general — people avoiding hospitals when they need one, delayed diagnosis or treatment of various other disease problems, widespread increased frustration leading to violence, loss of social safety nets, and so on.

    There are undoubtedly costs (in lives as well as in money) associated with keeping society shut down, just as there are costs associated with opening it back up. We need to find the balance.

  13. @Contrarius,

    New Zealand has seen a decrease in its road toll because of lockdown (people not driving, freeways virtually empty) & much fewer incidence of other infectious diseases. The big one is our COVID death toll remains at 21.

  14. @Soon Lee —

    Yup, it’s a complex puzzle. There may be fewer road deaths, but more domestic violence deaths; fewer deaths from surgical complications, but higher deaths at home due to lack of cancer treatments; and so on. There’s no simple answer.

  15. I keep seeing that a lot on the internet, but it’s generally not backed up, unless it’s backed up with fake data (“7 million Americans starved to death in the Depression!”). I gather the death rate in the Great Depression did not rise significantly due to starvation or any other cause. So saying that keeping the economy shut down will cause ‘as much or more damage’ as the disease is basically considering economic damage to companies as equivalent or greater harm than human deaths. Which I’m squeamish about.
    As I’ve seen said repeatedly – economies can revive, dead humans cannot.

    “Companies” does not only mean huge multinational corporations, it also means small businesses and self-employed people. And since a lot of the businesses and professions impacted by the lockdowns are the latter, there are a lot of people suffering high economic losses and maybe facing the loss of their livelihood and a business they have built up over years or even decades.

    And while I see a lot of dismissal of crashing stock markets as problems of the ultra-wealthy, a lot of middle class people rely on the stock market and investment funds or real estate for their retirement savings. If such savings are wiped out, that’s again a huge hit for many people, not just a few billionaires.

    People losing their retirement savings and/or livelihoods exercarbates the stress and depression many already feel and will likely increase the suicide rate. Not to mention that poverty tends to lead to ill health and earlier deaths, exercarbated in the US by people losing their health insurance when they lose their jobs.

    Children and teenagers being under- or unschooled for months will also negatively impact their school performance and eventually test scores, which again leads to fewer prospects in the future.

    None of this means that everything should be reopened at once with no regard to the risks to the health of vulnerable people. But the economic effects need to be considered and mitigated, especially since even businesses and professions that don’t seem to be immediately affected take a hit as well. See all the reports about the current troubles of the publishing industry, even though publishing is not a business that would seem to be immediately affected, as people supposedly read more during the pandemic. Which they do, but if they’re mostly reading old comfort reads and AO3 that doesn’t help publishers and authors at all.

    And yes, mitigation means government spending, but it should be better targeted. Germany is supposedly generous and has created stimulus packages worth billions, but nonetheless the aid often doesn’t reach the ones who need it the most. For exemple, self-employed people who work from home and don’t have business premises and running expenses don’t get support payments in Germany, even though those people of course need to eat, pay rent/mortgages, pay health insurance, pay taxes, etc… But corona support payments don’t cover living expenses, so those people are referred to the welfare offices, where they’re often treated like dirt and told to use up their savings or sell off assets first, even though those savings are usually retirement savings, because self-employed people are excluded from the public pension system.

  16. @Cora

    “Companies” does not only mean huge multinational corporations, it also means small businesses and self-employed people. And since a lot of the businesses and professions impacted by the lockdowns are the latter, there are a lot of people suffering high economic losses and maybe facing the loss of their livelihood and a business they have built up over years or even decades.

    No doubt. But you’ll notice in my original posts that I did not specify huge corporations, just ‘companies’ in general. And while I agree that the demise of small companies upon whose livelihood middle-class and poor people depend can be tragic, I still say that their importance is outweighed by the importance of preserving the lives of people – which was my point.

    And as I mentioned to Dann, while I do agree that economic stress can promote suicidality, I really don’t think that forcing people to work in unsafe environments for a living, therefore unavoidably exposing themselves and their loved ones to infection while the companies they work for are protected from liability, and more and more people know friends and family who have died is any LESS likely to lead to suicidality. That’s exactly what the US government is pushing for now, and it seems to me perfectly calculated to lead to depression, anxiety and PTSD. Check out Criterion A here.

    Not to mention that economic stress is unavoidable at this point. The restaurant industry, the entertainment industry, the airline industry – many industries are not going to recover for months, if not years, even if all restrictions on commerce were removed tomorrow. Given that we’re unavoidably in for a depression, it seems to me preferable not to have one with a massive loss of life due to hospitals being overwhelmed because of politicians’ magical thinking that if only they open everything the economy will be right back where it was.

  17. Soon Lee: Have y’all been looking at the Financial Times charts & graphs?

    Thanks for that. The Financial Times has dug up data for numerous countries as to how their 2020 death rates compare to historical rates. It’s very sobering — for example, the US chart shows 30,800 extra deaths as of April 11, but the reported number of Covid-19 deaths in the US on April 11 was 18,777. In the UK the excess on May 1 was 50,000 but reported Covid-19 deaths on that date were 26,771. So it’s quite possible that actual US Covid-19 deaths as of right now are around 130,000 and in the UK 60,000.

    Scroll down the page for the graphs.
    https://www.ft.com/content/a26fbf7e-48f8-11ea-aeb3-955839e06441

    (There is a large data file of reported worldwide Covid-19 death totals by country by date, provided at https://ourworldindata.org/covid-deaths.)

  18. I went out walking for exercise today. There’s a steakhouse / sushi restaurant a couple of blocks from where I live in Houston. I could see people in the dining room: it wasn’t packed, but it was far from empty.

    Going by this post by Dr. Erin Bromage, that’s one of the worst things to do. I wouldn’t do it myself for any money. But it’s happening.

  19. @Cora Buhlert

    “Companies” does not only mean huge multinational corporations,….

    Very thoughtful and reflects many of my concerns. I don’t think there are any easy answers to those issues. I also don’t believe that there is a one-size-fits-all solution.

    In a world where we seem inclined to rush to disagree, I appreciate having an opportunity to rush to agree. Thank you for the opportunity.

    @Soon Lee

    I’ve seen the ft.com site before and referenced it a time or two in other places. The excess deaths data compared to past years is very interesting. A week or so ago, the US was at +12% which compared reasonably well to most of the European countries. Today we are at +19% which is certainly not the direction I’d like to see.

    I appreciate that they are including relevant and relative contextual data along with the “hey a big number” data that neglects any sort of context.

    @jayn

    I’m really working on not going off on an extended rant, so please excuse any obviously missing points.

    Our NPR has a history that precedes the Covid crisis of discussing the medical ethics of applying resources that extend life for a small group of identifiable people that will negatively impact a group of hard-to-identify people. The exchange is presented as adding low-quality months/years to a small group while diminishing the number of high-quality months/years for a much larger group of people. Which option represents the best use of our resources?

    It’s a difficult issue with few easy answers.

    IMO, we…every nation….were destined to have to deal with a pandemic at some point. Bill Gates was right. There are points where we all might have done better; in some cases significantly better. Responding to Covid has morphed into something that is more dependent on political perspectives and less dependent on science and data.

    Science and data suggest that there are some parts of the US that could begin to restart their local economies….with some proper precautions such as more use of sanitizers, greatly reduced interpersonal contact, and near-universal use of masks; even homemade cotton masks will make an impact. But if opening up an economy is the sign of Republican sympathies and wearing a mask makes one subservient to Democrats, we are never going to arrive at a balanced, common-sense method of moving forward.

    Kind of a long-winded version of “I get where you are coming from, I think your perspective is worthy of serious consideration, and maybe there are some areas where reasonable people might ask you to give a little bit.”

    Regards,
    Dann
    “Too often … we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” – John F. Kennedy

  20. My 2 cents – Lockdown restrictions need to be relaxed because people are going to stop following them. Even the ones who take the health threat the most seriously are only willing to sacrifice so much for so long, and are reaching the limit. That doesn’t mean that things will go back to normal – people will choose one or two group activities that are most important to them and do just that. Some percent of the population will go get a haircut, and if salons remain closed, they will get a hairdresser to come to their house illegally (yes, I know someone who has done this). Some will continue to avoid haircuts but have a gathering with friends (I’ve been reminded a couple of times that it’s not illegal if it’s under 10 people) Etc etc.
    This is how we operate in the rest of our lives, making trade offs between wants and health. I don’t plan to stop eating chocolate despite everyone in my family having diabetes, not because I don’t accept the science but because I think it’s worth giving up a year of my life expectancy for. Covid is a little more complicated because there is also the risk of infecting others, but at this point I’ve been told by the higher risk people in my life that they are done with lockdown as well.
    The economy debate is a distraction- the point is that people need quality of life as well as quantity, it’s not just about the time spent on Earth.

  21. I’ve been baby-sitting a plumber today, and could not get any real work done. So excuse me for re-opening a discussion that many were probably glad had closed.
    @jayn

    So saying that keeping the economy shut down will cause ‘as much or more damage’ as the disease is basically considering economic damage to companies as equivalent or greater harm than human deaths.

    No, that’s not what I meant or what I was saying.
    Lockdown causes bad health effects in addition to those directly attributable to CV. Newly unemployed people (30+ million, so far) can’t afford to go to the doctor, particularly if their health insurance was through their job.
    Hospitals are in danger of closing.

    It’s damaging mental health.

    But even if you ignore the direct healthcare issues associated with a lockdown, you can’t just say all of the economic damage is on companies, which can recover. For one thing, companies hire people, and they lay them off when they go out of business. So the damage is on people. And many (most?) companies are small businesses. Losing everything you’ve worked for your whole life because you go out of business due to a lockdown is pretty bad, especially if live in an area which hasn’t been hit very hard with the disease, but were shut down anyway.
    You can’t compare directly, not without making some value judgement of comparing thousands of people having shortened lives due to CV to millions of people losing their jobs due to the shutdown. I don’t want to make that judgement for anyone else; but given that many tens of thousands are dying with the shutdown anyway, and that Sweden’s situation is not drastically different with a very loose shutdown compared to other similar Nordic countries with a tight shutdown, it seems to me that we are getting all of the pain of a shutdown without all of the promised (?)/hoped-for (?) benefits. That being the case, I think it is entirely appropriate to open back up some areas that have relatively low CV, and see what happens.
    Some say that even if we open things back up, the economy will self-shutdown due to the deaths that occur. I’m not sure that will happen, for two reasons:
    1. Most of the health impact is on people who are old enough, or are so sick already, as to be out of the workforce. When a 70 year old with heart disease passes, it is tragic, but it doesn’t damage the economy all that much. Yes, some 35-year old otherwise healthy people are going in to the hospital, and some are dying, but they are a small, small fraction of those getting sick.
    2. It may be useful to compare CV to the 1957-58 influenza pandemic. 116,000 Americans died (which would scale to 222,000 if you adjust for today’s population levels). But there was nothing like the economic misery that is associated with the current shutdown.

    we are not going to get rid of economic stress by trading COVID deaths for prosperity.

    OTOH, we are not going to grow out of a depression until we start growing out of a depression. Economically, there is no calculus that shows delaying an economic recovery is better.
    We borrowed $2 trillion 2 months ago to finance the shutdown, and it is gone; there’s another $3 T on the table right now. We can’t finance things like this for very much longer without risking a serious long-term collapse.
    @contrarius

    First, my statements were correct, as I and others have demonstrated.

    ??? You said on 5/7 “For instance, see Texas, where daily cases spiked to a new high on the very day the state opened back up for business”. The recent Texas reopening started May 1.
    https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-announces-phase-one-to-open-texas-establishes-statewide-minimum-standard-health-protocols
    On that day, Texas had 1142 new cases. This was not a new high; the high was on 4/10, with 1441 new cases. _ Your statement was not correct._
    And to compare new case rates now to early April, without allowing for the fact that tests are being conducted in much greater numbers (mean # of tests 5/10 – 5/14 is 26,798; mean 4/10-4/14 is 8,067) means you are (either ignorantly, or dishonestly) skewing the numbers to show the trend you want. It was not correct to compare that way.
    On 5/8, you said Texas cases were “Nearly a straight line up, no leveling off in sight:”.
    On 5/1 (when things reopened) for every 18.8 people tested, they found a positive result. On 5/14 (yesterday), they had to test 24 people to find a positive result. This is not “straight up”; it is a downward trend. Your statement was not correct.

    [Texas Aggies chat forum.]

    It was bad faith to characterize the data the way you originally did, especially since it was good data.

    Third, I’m a “she”.

    My apologies for that; it certainly wasn’t my intention to misgender you. But in my defense, your avatar sure looks like a dude, and your handle ends in -ius rather than -ia, in the form of a Latin masculine name (compare Julius to Julia). I read signs that seemed obvious to me, but I was wrong.
    @Lis Carey (5/9 6:24)

    And, of course, the claims that hospitals are mischaracterizing flu as COVID-19 in order to profit from higher Medicare payouts…
    No. With a confirmed diagnosis, Medicare will sometimes bundle payments. And COVID-19 is more expensive to treat than flu–but that bundled payment comes with a confirmed diagnosis. I.e., a positive COVID-19 test.

    Sect 3710 of the recent CARES act “Increases the payment that would otherwise be made to a hospital for treating a patient admitted with COVID-19 by 20 percent.”

    This is above and beyond the costs of treatment, it is a COVID “bonus”. I have no evidence of hospitals intentionally misdiagnosing respiratory diseases as CV, but clearly the incentives are there to make all the mistakes in one direction.

    @Lis Carey (5/12 9:50) — As I clearly stated at the front of my post, I was making one point: That the statement “there are not reliable reports that non-COVID-19 deaths are being reported as COVID-19 deaths” is not correct. If you don’t accept mainstream media reports (not facebook conspiracy randos) as being “reliable”, that’s on you. I stuck to the sorts of newspapers that are routinely cited here as supporting all sorts of positions. (And I purposefully didn’t include the recent recordings of multiple funeral directors in NYC telling about how CV death counts are being inflated, because I knew that some would reject their statements because of who recorded them.)

    I don’t think that routinely treating every patient who dies with CV as having died of CV is accurate. For one thing, CV isn’t always fatal. You can have it, and die of something else. If you have heart disease, test positve for CV, and have a heart attack, it gets counted as a CV death. That may be appropriate some of the time, but not all of the time. For another thing, we don’t treat other diseases that way. When my uncle died, he had prostate cancer. It didn’t kill him (although untreated it can be fatal), and his death certificate did not list it as a cause of death. And finally, many deaths are a combination of multiple causes. If a person with COPD gets CV and dies, then certainly CV contributes. But so did COPD — if he or she had not had COPD, then they probably wouldn’t died. But counting all COPD-CV deaths as CV deaths inflates the contribution of CV, and minimizes the COPD.
    I think it is obvious that some small number of cases are being counted as CV when they are not; I’m happy to agree that there are probably more covid cases being missed than this, and that overall, it is more likely that CV numbers are too low than too high. But regardless, the data are not accurate, and when base counts of cases or deaths are used to inform debate, we should at least acknowledge that the margin of error is often bigger than the differences between two numbers (as was done when recent TX stats were compared).
    @Camestros Felapton

    weekly shifting restrictions up and down and up again would be worse than maintaining a set of restrictions in some sweet spot.

    30 million people have filed for unemployment. I submit that we are not at a sweet spot.
    No one is talking about changing things up and down on a weekly basis. The discussion here is driven by Texas opening partially back up, while still maintaining social distancing, minimizing unnecessary contact, and continuing to wear masks and wash hands. Texas has 29 million people, and has had 1158 deaths. Brooklyn (Kings County), otoh, has less than 1/0th the population, and 4 times the deaths. Fear of NYC-level statistics shouldn’t be driving rural state policies.
    Most of America has been under some sort of restriction for going on two months now. Many areas still haven’t been hit hard by CV, and they have room to open things back up. For example, Knox County TN, where Knoxville is, has 260 ICU hospital beds, and (as of today) ZERO hospitalized CV patients. How much lock down should they be under? Is it appropriate to tell 470,000 people that they should stay home for fear of a disease that has killed 5 of their neighbors?

    It’s not a matter of killing or not killing the economy. The economy worldwide has already taken a massive hit. Even a given US state lifts all its restrictions that won’t magically bring the economy back up to speed

    As I said above, things won’t get better until we start making them better. Much of the unemployment in America was externally driven – companies were told not to do business, and without customers, they had to lay off staff. If they are allowed to do business, customers can return and workers can be rehired. Just because things are bad is not a good reason to keep them bad.

    The fallacy is that the only policy level for the economy is the level of restrictions and that the restrictions are the only reason why the economy took a hit. Neither is true.

    And neither is it true that restrictions have no impact on the economy. Airlines will suffer for a while (probably even after a vaccine is deployed), but many businessses can reopen and reemploy their staff.
    @contrarius (5/12 12:29)

    And no, that page isn’t pay-walled, and no, it doesn’t require registration to view either.

    It is for me. Must be a cookies issue.
    (5/12 1:38)

    There are undoubtedly costs (in lives as well as in money) associated with keeping society shut down, just as there are costs associated with opening it back up. We need to find the balance.

    THIS!!! This is all I’ve been trying to get across. We shut down things hard, harder and for longer than was probably necessary in many areas. We don’t need to go back to 2019 behavior (and many won’t, regardless of what their governor or mayor says), but we can certainly do better than we did in April.

  22. And apropos of nothing, here is a man whose blood alcohol level was 0.55 (0.3 is generally considered fatal), but because he had previously tested positive for CV, the state recorded his death as a Coronavirus death.

  23. @Dann

    But if opening up an economy is the sign of Republican sympathies and wearing a mask makes one subservient to Democrats, we are never going to arrive at a balanced, common-sense method of moving forward.

    The economy has never been entirely closed anywhere in the US, even in the Democratic states worst struck by COVID. Nor has the position in those states been to keep it partially closed indefinitely with no end point in mind except a vaccination (which IMO is unlikely to come into practical use in the next year, nor be capable of covering the entire population). Even New York is planning phased reopenings of different industries in different regions based on risk. The intent in closing was always to reduce the rate of infection to keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed while much humbler goals like lowering the number of infected while getting adequate PPEs, ventilators and testing for all who need it was attained. So saying keeping the economy closed is a baseline Democratic position is a bit of a straw man.

    However, the refusal to wear a mask seems IMO to be a lot closer to an official Republican position, as it is tacitly endorsed by no less than the president in his utter refusal to wear one, and the vice president, and various senators, and so forth.

    Even if it were utterly true that all Democrats want to maintain closure at its current level until some hazy future vanishing of COVID, at least the current dip of cases in states like New York that have implemented partial closures shows that the tactic has proven effective in reducing the spread of a deadly disease.

    Whereas the opposition to wearing masks in public gatherings – a practice which has also been proven helpful and has no health downside – is actively aiding the spread of disease.

    So saying, “Eh, both sides are being rather unreasonable here. We have to compromise,” is a false equivalency, and a dangerous one, because it posits an unreasonable hazardous practice as something that must be accomodated and demands that the window of compromise be moved toward that irrational danger.

    I appreciate your impulse not to go on a prolonged political rant. I feel the same impulse myself to rant. I live in New York, and I work in the healthcare field. I only work with a few patients personally, so I’m not taking a risk that most of the population here isn’t taking already, but the staff in the ER? In the hospitals? Suicidality is spoken of here as a possible future consequence of economic depression, but among medical personnel overwhelmed by their patients and colleagues dying en masse, it’s not a theoretical possibility; it’s already been happening.

    @bookworm1398
    The lessons of the 1918 influenza epidemic shows that MD recommended measures that politicians and the public deride as too extreme and impractical suddenly become much more acceptable after a second wave of deaths caused by premature relaxation of those measures. I sincerely hope the US at large won’t have to go through that again before taking the lesson to heart.

  24. @Bill —

    1. Most of the health impact is on people who are old enough, or are so sick already, as to be out of the workforce. When a 70 year old with heart disease passes, it is tragic, but it doesn’t damage the economy all that much.

    It is just as true to say that most of the health impact is on the leaders of society — the wisest, most experienced, and most accomplished. We have already lost greats in multiple fields, ranging from music to architecture to medical research. That’s a huge amount of knowledge and cultural resources lost.

    2. It may be useful to compare CV to the 1957-58 influenza pandemic. 116,000 Americans died

    Bad comparison.

    The 57-58 flu pandemic killed those people over the course of more than a year. We have already lost not far from that many people over the course of TWO MONTHS. Entirely different thing.

    ??? You said on 5/7 “For instance, see Texas, where daily cases spiked to a new high on the very day the state opened back up for business”. The recent Texas reopening started May 1.
    https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-announces-phase-one-to-open-texas-establishes-statewide-minimum-standard-health-protocols
    On that day, Texas had 1142 new cases. This was not a new high; the high was on 4/10, with 1441 new cases. _ Your statement was not correct._

    “Texas reports record coronavirus deaths the day before stores open.”

    You’re welcome.

    But I do apologize — I said “daily cases” when I should have said “daily deaths”. My bad.

    And to compare new case rates now to early April, without allowing for the fact that tests are being conducted in much greater numbers (mean # of tests 5/10 – 5/14 is 26,798; mean 4/10-4/14 is 8,067) means you are (either ignorantly, or dishonestly) skewing the numbers to show the trend you want.

    Umm, Bill. You yourself compared older case rates to newer case rates in your earlier post. I am being no more dishonest than you were. And there is nothing dishonest about posting the best data that any of us have. As I mentioned somewhere earlier in this discussion, you can’t just throw up your hands and say “Well, we don’t have perfect data, so we can’t say anything at all!”

    Also — new daily cases in Texas are STILL rising as of today. This is not true of many other states. Do you really think there is that much difference in how much testing Texas is doing, compared to those other states? If so, please show the class your homework.

    On 5/8, you said Texas cases were “Nearly a straight line up, no leveling off in sight:”.
    On 5/1 (when things reopened) for every 18.8 people tested, they found a positive result. On 5/14 (yesterday), they had to test 24 people to find a positive result. This is not “straight up”; it is a downward trend. Your statement was not correct.

    Yeah, no.

    My statement was referring to the cumulative total cases per 1000 Texans. I provided a link, which you apparently refused to look at. And yes, it’s STILL going up in nearly a straight line (a rising line as opposed to parabolic or log or whatever). Here’s that link again:

    Total Cases per 1000 persons

    [Texas Aggies chat forum.]

    It was bad faith to characterize the data the way you originally did, especially since it was good data.

    LOL!

    As opposed to your false claim that “There is no Texas Aggies chat group”? Seriously??

    Sorry, no. If somebody uses the same numbers to make the same claim in the same way, it’s entirely logical to make the connection from one to the other. Not so logical to fire back with something silly like “there is no Texas Aggies chat group”.

    But in my defense, your avatar sure looks like a dude

    My avatar is a dude — specifically, it’s a Harry Dresden Lego. Spoiler alert: I’m not Harry Dresden, either.

    , and your handle ends in -ius rather than -ia, in the form of a Latin masculine name

    Aaaaaaaaand now we’re going to grammar police people’s user names? Again — seriously??

    I’ve told this story before, but I don’t remember whether I’ve mentioned it on 770 lately. My user name came from the Jim Butcher fan forums, years ago. I made it up initially as a “fake” Latin word in parallel with the “fake” Latin spellnames that Harry Dresden uses, with I suppose also a nod to Harry-Potterish words like “expelliarmus” and so on. I only found out later that it was an actual Latin word, and I certainly didn’t care that its gender didn’t match mine.

    Guess what — I prefer wearing blue to wearing pink, too. Oooooo, I’m such a rebel. 😉

    @contrarius (5/12 12:29)

    And no, that page isn’t pay-walled, and no, it doesn’t require registration to view either.

    It is for me. Must be a cookies issue.

    Aaaaand your cookie problems continue to not be my problem.

  25. @me —

    My statement was referring to the cumulative total cases per 1000 Texans. I provided a link, which you apparently refused to look at. And yes, it’s STILL going up in nearly a straight line (a rising line as opposed to parabolic or log or whatever). Here’s that link again:

    Total Cases per 1000 persons

    Somehow I can’t get the link to go directly to the “total cases per 1000 persons” graph. You have to click the link I provided, and then click on the “total cases per 1000 persons” button to see it. Sorry about that!

  26. bill: As I clearly stated at the front of my post, I was making one point: That the statement “there are not reliable reports that non-COVID-19 deaths are being reported as COVID-19 deaths” is not correct. If you don’t accept mainstream media reports (not facebook conspiracy randos) as being “reliable”, that’s on you. I stuck to the sorts of newspapers that are routinely cited here as supporting all sorts of positions.

    See, here’s the thing. You didn’t include citations, which made me wonder why. So I Googled this: “Care home deaths recorded as Covid-19 related even if victim has not had positive test” and it led me to a Telegraph article. The piece is paywalled, but I could read the first few paragraphs. The very first sentence (an echo of the headline) is a link to a previous Telegraph article. That article is headlined “Care homes see rise in deaths not linked to coronavirus as hospitals refuse to take ill residents”.

    Now, maybe that piece buried the lede further down, but the first few unpaywalled paragraphs don’t say that those deaths were recorded as Covid-19 related, it says “Care homes have seen a rise in deaths that have nothing to do with coronavirus as hospitals fail to take in residents as patients. HC One, the UK’s biggest care home provider, said the death rate among its 17,500 residents was around three times last year’s, but only half those additional deaths were directly linked to Covid-19.”

    So the piece (at least the visible part of it) doesn’t actually say what you claim it said. Maybe it actually does say that further down, but since you didn’t include an citation and quote where the piece actually says what you claim it says, it certainly looks as though you’re palming a card. And then you got affronted that you weren’t believed.

    You included a number of claims from various sources just in that one comment that you didn’t back up with citations. If you’re going to make arguments, you need to actually back them up with citations instead of expecting other people to accept unverified statements as truth. And yes, you quoted a post from a Texas Aggies chat group, even though you hadn’t dug down enough in the source you were reading to realize that’s what you were doing.

  27. Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has been following the coronacrisis very thoroughly, and published this yesterday: Thinking about Risk and Reopening.

    I haven’t read the Washington Post story he mentions near the end:

    One of the big public flash points and controversies has been people hanging out in parks and on beaches. But there seems to be a growing amount of negative evidence (lack of spreading, lack of super spreading events) that these just don’t tend to be places that drive a lot of COVID cases. If this is true and can be backed up with more granular data that’s probably a good place where relative loosening can happen to relieve some of the general house-bound-ness and stress of the COVID semi-lockdown.

    This all seems borne out by this Post write-up of what a selection of public health experts plan to do themselves. Indoors vs outdoors is one of the biggest things. Not surprising but helpful to know. At beaches, if you can effectively social distance, that is likely relatively safe.

    It sounds very much like the sort of harm reduction typical for chronic public health issues we’re used to. It would be best for people not to shoot up drugs. In the interest of fewer overdose deaths and not spreading diseases, and recognizing some people will not stop unless they die first, we provide safer ways to do it.

    If we were talking about Substance D, which was immediately addictive and basically a death sentence from the start, that wouldn’t be a sensible public health strategy. It wouldn’t make sense with Naomi Kritzer’s 32% fatality rate bird flu to loosen up now, nor would you see so many people demanding to die by doing so.

    But this is either not that big a deal (which I don’t think is so–the death rate is significant and some survivors just aren’t recovering well) or it’s going to be a long, miserable slog (my bet). For that long slog, people–especially those who are extroverted and need other people’s company–need relatively safe outlets.

    I’m not going to get what I need for at least a year, unless I’ve missed my guess. I badly need a loud, sweaty rock show, packed in with a few hundred of my closest friends. In other words, a super-spreader event. I doubt I’ll get even an outdoor concert for a year. Maybe next summer. But I do plan to go to the park.

  28. @John —

    I agree 100% about opening the outside before the inside. Naturally inside spaces (crowded, still air, imperfect ventilation) are going to be higher risk, with or without masks, and I for one have been avoiding them assiduously. Curbside pickup for me, baby! But you do also have to keep in mind the choke-points inherent in outdoor activities — like parking lots, boardwalks, elevators, staircases, whatever. You can’t just step from your door to the beach — you have to get there somehow.

    I’m not going to get what I need for at least a year, unless I’ve missed my guess. I badly need a loud, sweaty rock show, packed in with a few hundred of my closest friends. In other words, a super-spreader event. I doubt I’ll get even an outdoor concert for a year. Maybe next summer. But I do plan to go to the park.

    I saw a story today that Keith Urban has just given a concert for healthcare workers. He did it like a drive-in movie, with the audience in their cars.

    I am still crossing my fingers for indoor concerts by September. I have tickets, dammit!

  29. @Contrarius: “I am still crossing my fingers for indoor concerts by September.”

    I admire your optimism. The last time I went to a rock show was an annual event in February. We’re expecting not to be there next year.

    Oddly enough, there was a big of an SF connection to that show. Here’s a little dystopian vision beginning I spend my days reading Chinese science fiction, between the real world and the orphan master’s son.

    It wouldn’t be the worst last show. I mean, that was just the opening act.

    “I have tickets, dammit!”

    Cued up to the exact moment you made me think of:

  30. @jayn

    Sorry for the delay. I’m going to blame shiny bright objects or something.

    I’m not making a “both sides” argument. I am suggesting that we need to be flexible in our response. If the objective was to bend the curve to prevent the hospitals from being swamped, then those areas where hospitals are not being swamped can probably start to open things up a bit. At some point we may need to switch from keeping everyone isolated to focusing on keeping at-risk people isolated; especially nursing homes. And hopefully those….individuals….that conflate wearing a mask with submitting to state power can get a clue; I think masks will be a part of the future for quite a while to come.

    Making any of those elements out to be a partisan step undermines the national effort to get ahead and stay ahead of this thing. So does a lot of the reporting (and responses to that reporting) that suggests that various state outcomes are indicative of the party holding each state’s governors office.

    It’s hard for any officeholder to flexible and productive when their every decision is perceived by the media through a partisan lens.

    Good luck and stay safe. New York has a deep hole to dig out of. Michigan…Detroit in particular…has work to do as well.

    Regards,
    Dann
    I don’t have issues. I have subscriptions.

  31. I’m doing a lot of reading on Talking Points Memo about the coronacrisis. I appreciate that Josh Marshall’s pre-journalistic background is history, and that he’s spending time looking at actual data, with good sourcing. I also appreciate the caution with which he uses statistics and is careful not to compare disparate objects.

    Their COVID-19 coverage is outside their paywall; I’m about to renew my subscription partly for that reason.

  32. Pingback: Top 10 Posts for May 2020 | File 770

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