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After seeing this morning’s Randy’s Random post about Covid-19 (reproduced below), I got this comment by email from an old friend, Terry in Colorado:
Long time, no talk. But this one gets me. The survival rate for COVID19 is about 99%. We are neglecting herd immunity. I’m tired of the state telling me I have to wear a face diaper as a method of control. That is what is at stake here. We are SO close to completely loosing our Constitution, in my opinion. There exists allowances for quarantine in statutory law. But until I have it, I should not be quarantined. And every authoritative guidance I’ve seen says to wear a mask OR social distance. You should know that a rag on your face does not stop ANY virus. They are MUCH smaller than the spaces between the threads. And N95 masks stop NOTHING from being expelled by anyone.
I would like to hear your opinion on all of the above.
I’m happy to give my opinion on all of the above. First, Terry doesn’t know that the Randy’s Random post is absolutely coincidental to the lead story in this week’s column, since I made that graphic back on July 14(!), and this week’s column hadn’t been sent out yet. Here’s that lead story:
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has continued to study the novel coronavirus and its transmission, and the results are very clear: more than half of all Covid-19 infections are caused by people who don’t yet know they have the disease, and don’t wear masks, or don’t wear them correctly, for instance leaving their noses uncovered. Also, masks do help healthy people from becoming infected, though it’s obviously much better when infected people wear them also. Not only that, says the lead researcher in the study, Dr. Monica Gandhi of the University of California/San Francisco, those who do get Covid while wearing a mask have less severe illnesses thanks to the mask reducing their viral load. “I am thrilled!” to confirm the findings, she said. Other researchers are finding that at least two layers of tight-weave 100 percent cotton material works best. The CDC says not only do both infection and death rates dramatically drop when people adhere to “universal masking policies,” but increasing compliance by just 15 percent would reduce the economic impact from lockdowns by about $1 trillion. (RC/NPR) …And don’t say you didn’t know covering the nose is important: where do the test swabs go?
So as you can see, Terry’s comments fit in nicely with the story — which, again, she hadn’t seen yet. Let’s get to them.
First, kudos to Terry for being open-minded (“I would like to hear your opinion on all of the above.”) That’s a good thing, because I’m definitely not going to hold back with my “opinions” here.
- Terry: “The survival rate for COVID19 is about 99%.”
Well, you’re off by a notable amount: in the U.S. it’s 97.8 percent. Still, lucky us it’s that high, thanks to the evermore exhausted American medical community!
Yet that is just one statistic: it completely ignores that the millions needing hospital treatment are causing huge costs to the country, especially considering the ongoing health problems that I’ve discussed earlier, such as most people who have caught Covid — including those who had few or no symptoms — have developed ongoing (perhaps life-long) cardiac problems.
“That’s just heart damage: there is also neurological damage, kidney damage, and more,” I said in that episode. “When someone says it’s just like the flu, no: in a few months Covid-19 has killed many more people in the United States than have died from flu in any year since 1918, and it’s far from over.” (And that was early August….)
Oh, and by the way? You know how health insurers want to exclude “pre-existing conditions”? Guess what a Covid infection is …if you survive it?
Even ignoring the human costs, we haven’t even begun to add up the ongoing costs to our economy by our blatant failure to contain this disease, as other countries have proven is possible. It’s going to be a big, big drain on us, dramatically affecting our ability to compete in the world economy for decades to come.
The other problem with Covid patients flooding hospitals: they’re taking up room and other resources that the regular day-to-day patients need: those suffering heart attacks, strokes, and auto crash trauma (the latter of which, luckily, is way down thanks to significantly reduced driving because of Covid…).
- Terry: “We are neglecting herd immunity.”
The infectious disease specialists are certainly not. To assume that those spewing propaganda at you know better than they do is to …well… not only buy in to their propaganda, but foolishly buying into the denial of science in general.
“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been,” Isaac Asimov said …in 1980, and it’s not only true, it’s significantly worse 40 years later. He continues: “The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge’.” (Emphasis added — and which is also posted at Randy’s Random.)
- Terry: “I’m tired of the state telling me I have to wear a face diaper as a method of control. That is what is at stake here.”
Wrong. What’s at stake here is millions of lives — with more than 1.3 million dead around the world so far. “The state” isn’t trying to control you, it’s trying to control something that has evolved to kill you.
Yet the state’s not trying all that hard! Let’s compare the incredibly weak response of the U.S. with South Korea’s tough measures:
On 20 January 2020, South Korea reported its first case. After a full month (19 February), the number of confirmed cases had increased by a mere 20, but on 20 February their case load jumped by 58-70 cases (various sources differ), and the next day they had 346 confirmed cases, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. The sudden jump was mostly attributed to “Patient 31,” who participated in a gathering at a Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony service in Daegu.
That’s when the country (along with Singapore, Taiwan, and Vietnam) ramped up one of the largest and best-organized epidemic control programs in the world. Their program included mass testing, quarantine for those who tested positive, and aggressive contact tracing — yet no countrywide lockdown. (Example sources from March: Science, and BBC.)
Today, according to Korea’s Covid-19 Realtime Dashboard, the country of 52 million has had 28,769 confirmed cases and 494 deaths — a case rate of 554 per million and a death rate of 9.5 per million.
The United States? Despite much more limited testing, we have still reached 11,435,583 (11.4+ million) cases and 252,165 deaths — or a case rate of 34,472 per million and a death rate of 760 per million, as of this afternoon, per my favorite tracker, nCoV2019 Live. That site, by the way, shows Korea’s numbers to be pretty close to the above KDCPA numbers: a case rate of 561/M and a death rate of 10/M.
Again, look at that stark difference: the U.S. death rate is 760/M vs Korea’s 10/M — we are at 76 times Korea’s death rate. (Worldwide, by the way, the nCov2019 Live numbers as of this writing are 7,096 cases/M, and 171 deaths/M. If only our case/death rate was even that low!)
Therefore, we should have been just like South Korea and instituted strict measures? No …because that wouldn’t work here. Rightly or wrongly, we have quite the long history of resisting any sort of government control, which certainly started for the right reasons — yet we stupidly also insist on our “right” to be very, very wrong, no matter who we hurt. This is where thinking comes in: you know, the sort of thinking I’ve pushed for in True for the past quarter-century plus!
Yet our leaders could have done much more to encourage common sense measures, which definitely would have resulted in tens of thousands of lives saved, much reduced human misery, and massively less economic impact.
Not That This Problem Is New
That’s why our Spanish Flu numbers were also dismal in 1918–1920: All told, in 1918’s first and second “waves,” there were 477,467 deaths from flu and pneumonia in the U.S. (Source: U.S. Census Mortality Statistics of 1918, PDF). In 1919 (the “third wave”), there were 189,326 more (U.S. Census Mortality Statistics of 1919). In 1920 (U.S. Census Mortality Statistics of 1920), it finally ramped down to a “mere” 62,097, for a grand total of around 719,000 — in the United States alone.
Yet today we have a population of 330 million. In 1920, the population was less than a third of that, at 106 million (U.S. Census).
We learned nothing from our mistakes of a century ago, and sure enough, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana in The Life of Reason: The Phases of Human Progress — Volume 1, 1905)
So, yes: when in public, be a patriot and wear your god-damned mask!
- Terry: “We are SO close to completely loosing our Constitution, in my opinion.”
Again, you’re buying into scare tactic propaganda. Because Biden “hates America” and will take away our guns? Just like Obama didn’t? (The only legislation he signed regarding guns was to allow those with concealed carry permits to carry their firearms in National Parks. Gosh, that radical leftie!)*
Stop listening to stupid propaganda, Terry, and think for yourself after researching facts. I know you’re a smart person who is easily capable of that.
- Terry: “There exists allowances for quarantine in statutory law. But until I have it, I should not be quarantined.”
I mostly agree, but how, exactly, will you know you have it? Before you answer, remember that the majority of the people who have Covid don’t know it for the first five days or more — at the exact time when they’re the most contagious. And that is exactly why we must mask up in public — to protect the most vulnerable in the population, in addition to protecting ourselves from the absolute obliviots who are still buying into that deadly propaganda and endangering us all by refusing to wear masks.
- Terry: “And every authoritative guidance I’ve seen says to wear a mask OR social distance. You should know that a rag on your face does not stop ANY virus. They are MUCH smaller than the spaces between the threads.”
Again, very — and very dangerously — wrong. Here is the source for the lead article (included above) in this week’s column. I don’t just want you to read it, I want you to follow the links there to look at the source material for that article. Why? Because I want you to get objective, intelligent understanding — and I don’t want you to kill people or wreck their health if you end up with Covid and go out into public without a mask because you don’t know you have it.
- Terry: “And N95 masks stop NOTHING from being expelled by anyone.”
Again, wrong: that is only true when masks specifically have unfiltered exhalation relief valves, which is not (repeat: not) the case with the sort of N95s specified for medical use. Kit and I were on our county’s Pandemic Flu planning team in 2006-2007. One result of that was our county bought several thousand N95 masks to hold in reserve for the county health department, EMS, and other first responders. They specifically do not have relief valves, nor do the ones that hospitals and others are trying to buy today.
Construction workers trying to keep sawdust out of their lungs? Absolutely: those have relief valves …and are not certified for medical use.
Again, this comes down to reading up-to-date, factual, unbiased research, rather than allowing yourself to be spoon-fed by clearly biased organizations and politicians with an agenda.
In other words, THINK, dammit!
Update: What About CDC’s “Admission”?
Added November 21
In the comments below, Michelle in California asked me to address one other point that Terry didn’t raise. Summer headlines like the one shown here:
…as if that’s some sort of revelation — that the CDC had to “admit” some sort of wrongdoing. (And really: “The Thinking Conservative”?! There’s clearly no thinking going on in this case.)
Because, of course: wrong yet again.
Some have extrapolated this one to even more ridiculous levels, including “CDC admits that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the name for the novel coronavirus, does not exist.” Another went so far as to allege, “What the CDC organization is admitting here is that it has no measurable amount of the ‘convid’ [sic] that every psychopathic authoritarian has used as justification to shut down the world’s economy.”
Yeah, you should certainly bet your health on someone who has researched this so thoroughly he thinks it’s called “convid”! (No, not a simple typo: this was in one of those crackpot videos.)
They’re all trying to find some sort of conspiracy. Here’s another a reader sent, which he had translated from French:
The [novel coronavirus] was created by the Pasteur Institute to exterminate 3.5 billion poor people.
…and, just a few paragraphs down in the exact same “exposé”:
By the way, numbers prove that there are no more deaths during this harmless fake pandemic aimed at killing billions of people than before this deadly harmless virus appeared.
This is the mentality of some people: the virus was designed to kill 3.5 billion people. You know, that “harmless fake” virus. Which is it?
But hey, there are numbers! We have no idea which numbers, but …numbers! So, speaking of numbers…
What Do the CDC Numbers Really Mean?
In my opinion, they mean whoever signed the death certificates didn’t do their job correctly, because that number should be zero! Yep: zero percent.
Here are the CDC’s latest general guidelines for how death certificates are supposed to be filled out — from August 2004:
As it clearly shows on the form, the “IMMEDIATE CAUSE” of death — the final, not underlying, cause of death — should be listed first. Then, what was that caused by, and what was that caused by?
So for this example, “big nasty blood clot in coronary artery” (a “thrombus” in medical speak) is definitely not the “immediate cause” of death, a rupture of the heart wall was. But what was that caused by? “Acute myocardial infarction” (aka “heart attack”). But what was that caused by? An arterial thrombosis (big nasty blood clot) in a coronary artery. And what was that caused by? Coronary artery disease caused by artherosclerosis, aka a buildup of plaque in the arteries. The underlying cause of death is the last thing listed …just like it says on the standardized form.
This is how we understand the underlying causes of death. Death certificates — every single one of them — “could” say “Cause of death: heart stopped,” and that would be true in some sense, but what understanding would that bring? None. We want specific data that can be crunched by computers to understand the causes of death.
That’s how the World Health Organization was able to announce that of the 56.7 million deaths recorded worldwide in 2016, the leading cause was cardiovascular disease, at more than 17 million deaths (about 31 percent of the total).
And that’s why having the sole cause of death read “Covid-19” isn’t the full picture either, which is why I say zero percent of death certificates should only list “Covid-19” as the cause. The scandal isn’t that “only 6 percent” of deaths are solely due to Covid-19, the scandal is that so many lazy-ass doctors didn’t lay out the details required on the forms they signed. Although, I guess I can sympathize some: they’re horribly overworked because obliviots can’t wear a god-damned mask to save their own miserable lives.
In the CDC’s Guidance for Certifying Deaths Due to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19) issued in April, they carefully laid out how this applies to Covid, and included this example:
The “immediate cause” of death is ARDS — acute respiratory distress syndrome. What was that caused by? Pneumonia, which was secondary to the underlying cause of death: Covid.
It really is as simple as that. So the people who made this into some sort of scandal are totally ignorant …at best. And willfully spreading harmful propaganda at worst.
One Last Thing
Reader Glen in Wisconsin sends this graphic:
Even if the bullet points are correct (and even in some sort of unspecified averaging sense they strike me as inflated), the paragraph after them doesn’t logically follow. Being at a gathering with even a confirmed Covid-infected person definitely does not result in a “near guarantee” of “spreading” the disease. That’s why (for instance) 100 percent of nurses tending to a Covid patient on any given day don’t get Covid (though some do). Masks help. Distancing helps. Proper decontamination helps. All those combined help a lot. But all that said, a google search for the wording in the graphic returns zero hits, so it is either altered, or at the very least clearly not from an authoritative source.
But how do we know these protective measures help? Because of examples like this incident revealed in July, where two hair stylists were found to have Covid-19 and had been seeing clients until diagnosed. How many of the 140 customers the two women served during their highly contagious period caught the disease from them? Zero. What about their six co-workers, who spent much more time near them? Zero.
How is that possible? Because the salon 1) had a strict policy that everyone must wear masks in the store, all the time — stylists and customers alike; 2) had a policy of “distancing” the barber chairs from each other, and 3) limited and spread the appointments to help keep customers apart from each other.
The lesson here isn’t just that the suggested safety measures work, which is “Blatantly Obvious”, but rather that the willful ignorance of these measures is absolutely responsible for more than a quarter-million Americans deaths. It didn’t have to happen this way: it was a coldly calculated choice.
Since graphics don’t function the same way in comments, I’m adding these here to go with my reply below to the comment from Cris in the U.K.
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