Staying Safe

Cover Image is from neonnettle.com by Jay Greenbert - April 1st, 2019.

I don't know how to respond to people when they tell me to “Stay Safe”. Being in my 40's I am a 20,000/1 favorite over COVID-19. Those in their 30's are a 100,000/1 favorite. Younger than that and there aren't even enough deaths to calculate the odds (based on data complied into bar charts and released May 4th by the Massachusetts Dept of Public Health. All odds are based on the death rate [deaths/total population] - not the Infection Fatality Rate [deaths/total infected]).

Seems like decent odds to me. One of the biggest upsets in boxing history was when Mike Tyson lost to Buster Douglass as the 42/1 favorite. A Buster victory wasn't seriously contemplated, the only question was how long could Buster last – 30 seconds, maybe 2 minutes? But Buster had other ideas and knocked Tyson out in the tenth shocking the boxing world. Lesson learned, occasionally the underdog wins. So an underdog winning at 42/1 is an inconceivable once in a lifetime upset while an underdog at +20,000/1 is now supposed to be feared and which could quite possibly kill us all? What? Forget Buster, this is like Tyson in the 1980's fighting a 12 yr old girl and being terrified for Tyson's well being. (I didn't start or perpetuate this absurd fear, but more than happy to gift them an absurd analogy.) The only thing actually getting their ass kicked is COVID-19. Not us. We own this pathetic virus. Heck, even Joe Biden (with odds better than 113/1) is likely to make COVID-19 crawl up and die after some unwanted touching. Some of you will need to find that article where some young person died of The COVID to shore up your fear. Cults demand repetition so make sure to read it again and again. I have a better suggestion, lock yourself in your padded room and put some corks on the fork (old movie reference, figure it out). Honestly, I don't care what you do, just don't expect or force the rest of us to join you. We have better things to do.

So damn straight I am staying safe! By letting people know that they are not alone in thinking our current path doesn't seem right. That this path is doomed to fail. That many or our leaders, like Cuomo, are dangerously incompetent fools. That this is one of the biggest mistakes in human history. We desperately need and want to get back to work, not only for us but for the rest of humanity.

We are Americans. We persevere. We overcome. And we always win.


Quarantine This

“Nothing about this makes any sense!” That was the conclusion of myself and my three new friends while we ate breakfast at a beach hotel on March 20th in Puerto Vallarta.

None of us were in the right place. From Colombia to Thailand our vacations had been canceled but we each persisted until we found short-lived sanctuary in Mexico from what we saw as mass hysteria. I ate my chiliquiles under a warm sun listening: What is going on? Are we were missing something? This doesn't feel right. And too few are concerned about the consequences.

Closures, quarantines, masks and blue rubber gloves, hand sanitizer and a run on toilet paper and the new ubiquitous slogan of “social distancing” - they all seemed wrong. It was too fast, it was too complete and it was terrifyingly too easy. Has anyone actually thought this through? Has everyone lost their minds?

I get it – partially. Our elders and those with medical issues need to be concerned. They need to take precautions. They need to be careful. But I am concerned about the rest of us.

I get conformity too - Living in Mill Valley and San Francisco California for over 20 years I have finally come to terms with conformity. Ask the same question to 10 liberals and you will receive 8 or more virtually identical responses – often word for word. Their answers were written for them and their questions are rarely their own. It's frustrating and boring and something I had trouble with for a long time.

But this kind of mass conformity is different. It's world wide and it was too damn easy. Seemingly overnight millions of people joined the same fear based cult complete with new rules and thoughts that everyone must follow. Those that resist or question it must be reported, publicly shamed and fined.

Kellie Miller brilliantly explains this in her May 2nd American Thinker article. [AT1]

She goes on to explain how well intentioned policies have a history of going tragically wrong. While I have been worried about the unintended consequences of increased suicides, drug overdoses, child and spousal abuse, financial ruin to millions, and divorce, Miller points out another concern that never occurred to me: "the Third World is at risk of massive famines — famines that, according to the U.N., could kill hundreds of millions of people."

David Beasley told the UN's security council. "There is also a real danger that more people could potentially die from the economic impact of Covid-19 than from the virus itself." [CNN1]

How many people are going to die because of this quarantine?

How many peoples lives will forever be destroyed because of this quarantine?

These are fair questions. These are the right questions.

I have little doubt about the ruin that will come if we continue any longer down our current quarantine path. Not only to the United States but to the rest of the world. We need to rethink what we are doing.

COVID-19 is bad. People are going to die no matter what we do. But it seems like we managed to make it worse. We need to allow people willing and wanting to work to do so and respect those that wish to quarantine.

Miller “When time passes and the hysteria recedes; …. will we admit that we were swept up by the groupthink, pointing disapprovingly at dissenters? Or will we be like the students in my professor's class, still fooling ourselves into thinking we have the courage and independence of mind to stand up to a mob that we marched side by side with not so long ago?”

Count me as never being part of this "groupthink". I want no part of this quarantine or mass-hysteria.

Full disclosure: I put myself on a partial quarantine. I spent 3 days without a mask, blue gloves or hand sanitizer with my friend who is as positive as one can be that he has COVID-19 without being tested (girlfriend and business partner tested positive and he had the symptoms etc.)

Wish me luck in my attempt to get infected.

And to COVID-19 - your ass is mine now - say goodbye.

[AT1] https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2020/04/covid1984.html

[CNN1] https://edition.cnn.com/2020/04/22/africa/coronavirus-famine-un-warning-intl/

Featured image is of me in Puerto Vallarta on my alma mater's bench and of course using proper social distancing. Rare because I didn't have my Trump hat on.


Its time for a COVID Party!

Boat parties, beach parties, pool parties. Anything with sun, warm water, cold drinks and lots of bikinis.

Count me in to let the beer flow and the COVID spread.

Many of you are absolutely positive that this is a reckless and foolish idea. Are you sure? Might be time to man-up to some painful truths.

Currently we seem to be following the suppression strategy as detailed in the March 16th, 2020 report by the Imperial College. Imperial presented three strategies with the goals of flattening the curve in hospitalizations and reducing total deaths.

Suppression Strategy: The population hides in the closet cutting off the spread. “It will be at least 12-18 months before a vaccine is available. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that initial vaccines will have high efficacy.” [Imperial pg 3]

Mitigation Strategy: The population is gradually exposed to the virus. “In this scenario, population immunity builds up through the epidemic, leading to an eventual rapid decline in case numbers and transmission dropping to low levels.” [Imperial pg 3]

Adaptive Triggering of Suppression Strategy (hybrid): This is a hybrid strategy. Two months in the closet (suppression) followed by one month of freedom and exposure (mitigation) – until November 2021.

To be clear - Intentionally letting the virus spread is a plausible and possible solution. It's called "Mitigation". It was proposed and modeled by the Imperial College. From the New York Times: “With ties to the World Health Organization and a team of 50 scientists, led by a prominent epidemiologist, Neil Ferguson, Imperial is treated as a sort of gold standard, its mathematical models feeding directly into government policies.” [NYT1]

Imperial College rejected mitigation in their March 16th report: “Perhaps our most significant conclusion is that mitigation is unlikely to be feasible without emergency surge capacity limits of the UK and US healthcare systems being exceeded many times over.” [Imperial pg16] “We therefore conclude that epidemic suppression is the only viable strategy at the current time .” [Imperial pg16].

While mitigation was rejected it didn't mean they thought suppression was a significantly better solution. “However, we emphasize that is not at all certain that suppression will succeed long term; no public health intervention with such disruptive effects on society has been previously attempted for such a long duration of time. How populations and societies will respond remains unclear.” [Imperial pg 16]. (Added by DB on 4-30-20 - I suggest that Neil might want to take a guess

Imperial didn't conclude that they had a clear winning strategy. All were bad. Every strategy modeled resulted in large numbers of people dying with significant collateral damage. I argue that Imperial College simply recommended the “least worst” strategy of suppression based on their current assumptions.

I can promise you that I, and millions others, are not hiding in a closet for 12-18 months and even if we all did good luck trying to get any semblance of our lives back. The lives destroyed by actually implementing this plan would be catastrophic. Forget about money, this is about lives. Millions of lives would be irrevocably destroyed. [Reason1]

Now, over a month later and armed with new data and common sense we must re-evaluate.

First we must accept that we aren't actually doing a total suppression strategy. Some people would be able to live in near isolation but if we all did it then society would crumble long before we reached 12-18 months. At the very least we need people to grow food, process it, package it and eventually we need to get it. Person to person contact is unavoidable for survival. Regardless of any “planned strategy” there will be some level of mitigation occurring.

Next, there is evidence that Imperial grossly overestimated the fatality ratio (IFR) because the number of people infected was grossly underestimated. This is not meant to disparage Imperial in any way. They didn't have the data that we have now. Two recent studies indicate that as many as 28 to 85 times more people have been exposed to the virus than previously believed lowering the IFR to roughly that of the seasonal influenza. To be clear, I am not saying that COVID-19 is the flu. It's not. I am simply relaying the results of these new studies which suggest that the IFR of COVID is similar to that of the flu as opposed to the horrifically terrifying figures that have been widely reported. See tables below.

Imperial College IFR vs Adjusted IFR based on new studies. Adjusted IFR = Imperial IFR x 0.15/0.9 All of these numbers need to be confirmed.

Finally, I am not convinced that Imperial College modeled a common sense hybrid strategy. Their hybrid strategy consisted of 2 months of quarantine followed by 1 month of liberation and then repeated. This is an entirely unrealistic strategy to implement on a scale suitable for the United States. Imagine trying to quarantine the USA like we are on a traffic light. It also assumes a uniform number of cases throughout the USA which as shown by New York City vs California is clearly incorrect.

We are a nation of free-thinkers and builders. We adapt, we overcome. That's what we do and what we have always done. Sitting back and letting our lives and fortunes be dictated and decided by un-elected scientists with faulty and inaccurate assumptions doesn't make any sense to me.

Here is what I know....

  • We can't live under a suppression strategy for 12-18 months.
  • Mitigation is going to happen regardless of any plan.
  • Many more are going to get COVID. Some of us are going to die. No way around that. I want to say "suck it up" but I won't.
  • COVID disproportionately kills the elderly and other at-risk-population segments.
  • Young and healthy people have the highest chance of surviving COVID.
  • Data suggests that the IFR is much lower than previously reported or believed.
  • It doesn't feel right to me to keep our elderly and at-risk population locked up in the attic for years like Ann Frank or giving them a pain pill.

I know this could infuriate a lot of people. I get it. You want everyone to do exactly what you want them to do and what you feel is right. Like a little mini closet dictator tattling on your neighbor's lack of social distancing. Fortunately there will be Americans who aren't going to take this lying down and they will be the ones to liberate you from your closet - not the other way around.

Time for the young, like me, to give back and contribute and shield the vulnerable.

References.

[Imperial]https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/sph/ide/gida-fellowships/Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf

[NYT1]https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/17/world/europe/coronavirus-imperial-college-johnson.html

[Reason1] https://reason.com/2020/03/18/coronavirus-quarantine-imperial-college-london-covid-19/

[Reason2] https://reason.com/2020/04/20/l-a-county-antibody-tests-suggest-the-fatality-rate-for-covid-19-is-much-lower-than-people-feared/

[Reason3]https://reason.com/2020/04/17/covid-19-lethality-not-much-different-than-flu-says-new-study/

Cover image is me on March 19th in Puerto Vallarta Mexico looking for a party.