Why is today unlike any other day?
1. What’s wrong with this picture? This, courtesy of ABC News, was the scene on a New York City subway yesterday:
My question is this: how can everyone be cheering Governor Cuomo’s leadership during the pandemic crisis when this is still going on? I heard Cuomo say, in one of his briefings, “You can’t stop public transportation. You just can’t.” Yet if you are going to allow the above scene all day, every day in your state’s largest city, why bother with the rest of the measures? Just wall off the Big Apple and let everyone get sick.
2. And speaking of New York…and while we’re justly bashing China for all the lies and disinformation, this blogger finds the charts , models and projections showing how the health care system will be overwhelmed by April 15 puzzling, and asks,
Did the modelers take into account the fact that elective surgeries have been stopped?
Did they take into account the tent hospitals that are being built, or the ships that are being sent to various coastal cities that need them, or the medical personnel who are being recruited (from the military, retirees, etc) by the government? Do they assume this peak of April 15 will be reached all over the US all at once? That seems unlikely to be the case.
Also, I see (for example) that on their graph of predictions for ICU bed needs (go here and click on the “ICU beds” tab to see the chart), it says that for Mar 31 (yesterday) 21,569 ICU beds would be needed. But on the chart for the USA at Worldometers (which may or may not be accurate, although it’s what everyone seems to use) it says the number of cases in the US that are serious or critical is presently 5004, and that yesterday it was 4576. That’s a huge disparity between the model and what’s actually being reported. And I’m not at all sure that all serious cases go to the ICU rather than regular hospital beds, so the disparity may even be greater than it seems…Did about a fifth of all the ICU cases in the US die in a single day? Seems unlikely, although I have no figures on whether it’s possible I can’t really tell who’s right and who’s wrong, and how many people are actually in ICUs in the US right now….
Am I doing the math wrong? I’m tired of the number crunching and checking and re-checking, so I may be getting careless and making errors. But I just can’t make head or tail of that ICU bed chart compared to reality – not that reality is easy to get figures for, either.
Read it all. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the United States has some kind of profession or institution that had the job of clarifying such issues, even if all it communicated clearly was “all of the models and projections are just guesswork, we really have no idea what’s going to happen”? I would call that profession “journalism.”
3. You know those other “first world nations” that we’re always being told America is backwards if it doesn’t do like they do? Here’s what “democracy” looks like under stress in Australia:
The State of Western Australia has given itself the power to install surveillance devices in homes, or compel people to wear them, to ensure that those required to isolate during the coronavirus crisis don’t interact with the community…they’ll only be used if: “Someone who is directed to self-isolate and fails to comply.”
The law enabling the regime, passed yesterday after very brief debate, is the Emergency Management Amendment (COVID-19 Response) Bill 2020 … the State Emergency Coordinator has the power to…
- Direct the person to wear an approved electronic monitoring device.
- Direct the person to permit the installation of an approved electronic monitoring device at the place where the person resides or, if the person does not have a place of residence, at any other place specified by the officer.
- Give any other reasonable direction to the person necessary for the proper administration the electronic monitoring of the person.
Attempts to damage, remove or interfere with the operation of the devices, or refusal to hand one over to authorised officers, can result in a year behind bars, or a fine of AU$12,000 (US$7,400, £5,900).
4. On the plus side, at least it wasn’t torn down by students who felt it memorialized a period in German history that offended them. A 196-foot chunk of the Berlin Wall was removed suddenly this week. Developers tore down a section of the historic structure in a borough in northeastern Berlin so they could construct luxury condominiums. The Berlin Wall Foundation, established in 2008, was not informed about the removal. Because the wall fragment had no special heritage designation, developers did not have to meet any requirements to tear it down.
“The partial demolition of the continuous piece of the hinterland wall … is a clear loss of original wall remains,” Manfred Wichmann, head of the foundation said in a statement.
5. The Ethics Alarms position: letting the perfect be the enemy of the good is usually unethical…and stupid. From reader Mark Metcalf comes the news that public school districts are not providing online instruction for their students because some of the poorer students don’t have WiFi capability. In other words, all of the students are being forced to have their education constrained by the limitations of a few.
A father writes in the Wall Street Journal that his child’s school district in Berkley District told him, essentially, that they would “rather let everyone drown than save as many as possible and fulfill their educational mission,” saying “There are existing inequities in our educational system and right here in Berkeley that will only be exacerbated by going fully online.” He adds that school districts in Kentucky and Washington state have made similar decisions, and the Philadelphia school system, with enrollment over 200, 000, ordered its teachers not to offer “instruction to some students unless all students can access it.”
Let’s guess which of the Democratic candidates for President would endorse that approach. Maybe it would be simpler to guess which of the candidates, past and present, wouldn’t support this approach.
NOTE: On this one, you can vote as many times as it takes to register all your choices.