We’re in line for a rash of morality tales emerging out of school re-openings around the country. That high school in Georgia that had the viral photo of kids crowded into a hallway between classes has now reported at least 9 new cases – students and teachers – and is at least temporarily moving to remote instruction.
These stories also provide new evidence of how little emerging science is figuring into decisions on the school reopening question. North Paulding High School is moving to remote instruction today and tomorrow during which time the facility will be closed for cleaning and disinfection. The problem is that most of what we’ve learned over the last eight months tells us that this sort of cleaning addresses what is likely only a minor or even trivial source of infection. COVID virus can persist on surfaces for significant periods of time, at least in laboratory settings. But surfaces contaminated hours or days earlier appear to account for very little disease transmission.
President Trump’s COVID relief decrees are poor policy (setting aside legality) on their own, inasmuch as they only go to people who have jobs. The COVID era is rough for everyone but obviously it’s much less rough for people who haven’t lost their jobs. But what I find remarkable is a part of this plan that Trump managed to avoid getting in the headlines. If you get COVID “relief” in the form of a payroll tax holiday, you still have to pay it back! After the election!
This is an incredibly important oped. You should take a moment to read it. It’s by Michael T. Osterholm, a respected epidemiologist who runs a major center in Minneapolis and Neel Kashkari, now President of the Minneapolis Fed but earlier a key player in the Bush portion of 2008 financial crisis response and a Republican candidate for Governor of California. Their argument is simple: we need another lockdown.
Here is an example of where visualizing data can be very illuminating even if you’ve been steeped in the data in numerical terms. As I mentioned earlier, here is a graph of per capita COVID fatalities to date in the US and the other peer nation states around the globe.
We now have a new projection of 300,000 US COVID fatalities by December. I’ve wanted over recent days to put together a chart showing just how much worse the death toll already is in the US compared to almost any other peer country – ‘peers’ here meaning countries with comparable affluence, state capacity, etc.
The US is now well over 150,000 fatalities. Japan has had just over one thousand. Germany is approaching 10,000 fatalities. These countries have small populations of course. If Germany had the same population as the US that number would be about 40,000. Japan would be about 3,000. But the magnitude of the difference speaks for itself. How many of these 150,000 and counting US fatalities are the product of negligence and policy abdication? 100,000? 75,000? The number is staggering.
As I’ve tried to make clear repeatedly, I think an audit of the executive branch after Trump leaves office (whenever that is), is absolutely essential. Equally so, disclosure – a full airing of everything that happened during this corrupt, transgressive era – is a higher priority than punishment or criminal investigations.
1403 COVID deaths were reported in the United States yesterday. That’s roughly 10 times the number of fatalities reported so far in that cataclysmic blast in Beirut and almost four hundred more COVID fatalities than Japan has recorded since January 2020.
Let’s be honest: good news on the COVID front is very hard to come by. So let’s note some very limited but still real good news. The post-“reopening” outbreak in the United States – almost entirely a self-inflicted harm – appears to have peaked and is possibly beginning to subside.
As I’ve mentioned a few times, we are so locked in the house with Trump, so surrounded by his predation, that the nature and scope of much of his abuse and wrongdoing are only partly visible to us. We all see the constant attacks on vote by mail, the incessant claims that the election will be rigged, that he’ll have to decide at the time whether he’ll accept the verdict of the election. But taken together he is actually depriving the whole nation of the ability to conduct a free and fair election. He is hanging over us as we do the normal work of campaigning and election-ing the possibility he’ll disrupt the process, won’t accept the result or most directly that the whole process won’t end up mattering at all. This in itself is a grave crime against the constitution and the republic.