Do Legal Restrictions Account for the Downward Trend in New COVID-19 Cases?

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Michael Ejercito

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Aug 25, 2020, 9:41:25 AM8/25/20
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http://reason.com/2020/08/24/do-legal-restrictions-account-for-the-downward-trend-in-covid-19-cases/?utm_medium=email#comments


Do Legal Restrictions Account for the Downward Trend in New COVID-19 Cases?
The New York Times thinks so, but the data do not fit that hypothesis very
well.

Jacob Sullum | 8.24.2020 2:45 PM
CoronavirusEpidemicDown
(Ffikretow | Dreamstime.com)

Three weeks after newly identified COVID-19 cases began falling in the
United States, The New York Times is acknowledging the downward trend, which
it attributes to "effective restrictions." That explanation fits neatly with
the paper's reflexive enthusiasm for lockdowns, but it does not fit the data
very well.

Consider Arizona, where the seven-day average of daily new cases, according
to Worldometer's tallies, rose more than tenfold between Memorial Day and
July 7. Alarmed by that increase, Gov. Doug Ducey ordered gyms, bars, movie
theaters, and water parks to close on July 23, while indoor dining in
restaurants continued at 50 percent of capacity, a cap Ducey imposed on July
11. But the downward trend in new cases, which had fallen by 82 percent from
the July 7 peak as of yesterday, began well before the new restrictions
could have had a measurable impact (taking into account the typical five-day
lag between infection and symptoms that might cause people to seek testing).
That suggests other factors are at least partly responsible for the decline.

Newly confirmed cases are also falling in Georgia, which did not respond to
this summer's spike with new business restrictions. The seven-day average,
which rose fivefold between May 25 and July 29, has fallen by 35 percent
since then.

In Texas, the seven-day average of newly identified cases rose tenfold
between May 25 and July 15. It has since fallen by nearly half. Gov. Greg
Abbott closed bars and reduced the cap on indoor dining from 75 percent to
50 percent of capacity on June 26. Yet cases continued rising for nearly
three weeks, longer than the maximum incubation period. The story is similar
in Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis closed bars the same day as Abbott. The
seven-day average of daily new cases peaked three weeks later, when it was
nearly 16 times higher than it was on May 25, then fell by two-thirds as of
yesterday.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom closed bars, zoos, and museums on July 13, when
he also banned indoor dining in restaurants. The seven-day average of daily
new cases peaked 12 days later, when it was nearly five times the number on
May 25, then fell for two weeks before rising again. The decline resumed in
mid-August, and as of yesterday the average was down 42 percent from the
July 25 peak. That pattern likewise does not easily fit the hypothesis that
new legal restrictions account for most or all of the decline.

California's restrictions, including a total ban on indoor dining, are more
severe than the statewide limits in Arizona, Florida, or Texas, which
enforce a 50 percent cap. Yet the latter three states have seen bigger
declines in confirmed cases, although they also saw bigger increases in June
and July.

It is plausible that limiting the options for people to get together,
especially indoors in close quarters, would reduce virus transmission. But
it is difficult to disentangle the impact of government edicts from the
impact of increased voluntary precautions, both of which can be expected in
response to spikes in cases. Just as it is hard to assess the additional
contribution of general lockdowns at a time when Americans were already
responding to the COVID-19 epidemic by dramatically changing their behavior,
it is hard to say how much credit relatively modest legal restrictions
should get for reversing the recent surge in cases.

Given the timing of the downward trends in these Sunbelt states, attributing
them mostly or entirely to new legal restrictions seems more than a little
hasty. The Times alludes to voluntary changes in behavior just once in its
story, citing a University of Arizona professor of public health policy who
mentioned "news media coverage of the heightened risk" as one factor that
helps explain the decline in cases. The implication, which the Times
predictably fails to unpack, is that people responded to that "heightened
risk" by being more careful—e.g., by limiting social interactions, avoiding
crowds, following physical distancing guidelines, and wearing face masks in
public places.
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What about face mask mandates? Even if businesses were already requiring
customers to wear masks, a legal requirement could help reduce disputes
about those policies and increase compliance. Yet Newsom mandated masks in
California on June 18, more than a month before new cases peaked in that
state, while Abbott followed suit in Texas on July 2, nearly two weeks
before that state's peak. Neither Arizona, Florida, nor Georgia has a
statewide mask requirement, although some local governments in those states
have imposed their own mandates.

"Of the states that are driving the decrease" in new cases, the Times says,
"all have at least some local mask mandates, and most have paused or
reversed statewide reopening policies." That gloss, which dismisses the
absence of statewide mask mandates, elides the difference between imposing
restrictions and delaying their removal, and ignores the states without new
restrictions, makes the Times seem desperate to credit government policies
for positive trends that ultimately depend on how people decide to behave.

Granting that legal restrictions have some impact on virus transmission, the
extent of those restrictions is still a matter of controversy, given their
substantial costs and uncertain benefits. The Times describes a "flattening"
of the COVID-19 curve in states where restaurants are still serving
customers indoors, for example. Does that mean Newsom went too far by
banning indoor dining? Is there an important distinction between bars and
restaurants, as DeSantis, Abbott, and Ducey seem to think, or is that
premise dangerously mistaken? One thing seems clear from recent COVID-19
trends: The curve can be flattened without general lockdowns, without
statewide mask mandates, and even (as in Georgia) without new, post-lockdown
restrictions on businesses.

In all of these states, the decline in new cases has been followed by a
decline in daily COVID-19 fatalities since earlier this month. Nationwide,
according to Worldometer's numbers, the seven-day average of daily new
cases, which exceeded 69,000 on July 25, had fallen to about 43,000 as of
yesterday. The seven-day average of daily deaths fell from nearly 1,200 on
August 4 to fewer than 1,000 yesterday. Independent data scientist Youyang
Gu, who has a good track record of predicting COVID-19 fatalities, is
currently projecting a nationwide death toll of about 227,000 by November 1,
compared to about 176,000 now.

Is that number lower than it would have been without last spring's
lockdowns, and will the ultimate death toll likewise be lower than it
otherwise would have been? On that question, the Times seems to be hedging.

In late June, the paper noted that "the shared sacrifice of millions of
Americans suspending their lives—with jobs lost, businesses shuttered, daily
routines upended—has not been enough to beat back a virus whose staying
power around the world is only still being grasped." The implication of that
story was that lockdowns were lifted too soon and too quickly. But since the
sweeping social and economic restrictions that most states imposed could not
feasibly have been sustained until effective vaccines were deployed, it was
inevitable that we would eventually face the situation we now confront.

The virus is still here, as everyone knew it would be. And to the extent
that lockdowns were effective in reducing transmission, they left a
population more vulnerable to infection than it otherwise would have been.
In this context, it makes sense to concentrate on protecting Americans in
high-risk groups rather than younger, healthier people who face a negligible
risk of dying from COVID-19.

Recent data suggest we have had some success on that score. Even as cases
spiked this summer, the nationwide crude case fatality rate—deaths as a
share of confirmed cases—continued to decline, dropping by nearly 50 percent
since mid-May. That trend largely reflects a younger, healthier mix of
patients. The key to minimizing the death toll while we wait for a vaccine
is preventing new cases among older, frailer people. The debate should focus
on the best ways to do that rather than recriminations about what went wrong
with lockdowns. And in weighing our options, it would be foolhardy to assume
that government policy is all that matters while overlooking the crucial
role of the decisions that each of us makes every day.

Andrew B. Chung, MD/PhD

unread,
Aug 25, 2020, 10:10:49 AM8/25/20
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MichaelE wrote:

> http://reason.com/2020/08/24/do-legal-restrictions-account-for-the-downward-trend-in-covid-19-cases/?utm_medium=email#comments
>
>
> Do Legal Restrictions Account for the Downward Trend in New COVID-19 Cases?
> The New York Times thinks so, but the data do not fit that hypothesis very
> well.
>
> Jacob Sullum | 8.24.2020 2:45 PM
> CoronavirusEpidemicDown
> (Ffikretow | Dreamstime.com)
>
> Three weeks after newly identified COVID-19 cases began falling in the
> United States, The New York Times is acknowledging the downward trend, which
> it attributes to "effective restrictions." That explanation fits neatly with
> the paper's reflexive enthusiasm for lockdowns, but it does not fit the data
> very well.
>
> Consider Arizona, where the seven-day average of daily new cases, according
> to Worldometer's tallies, rose more than tenfold between Memorial Day and
> July 7. Alarmed by that increase, Gov. Doug Ducey ordered gyms, bars, movie
> theaters, and water parks to close on July 23, while indoor dining in
> restaurants continued at 50 percent of capacity, a cap Ducey imposed on July
> 11. But the downward trend in new cases, which had fallen by 82 percent from
> the July 7 peak as of yesterday, began well before the new restrictions
> could have had a measurable impact (taking into account the typical five-day
> lag between infection and symptoms that might cause people to seek testing).
> That suggests other factors are at least partly responsible for the decline.

It is likely that folks residing in Arizona were just as alarmed as
their Governor by the July 7th news of the "tenfold" increase of
COVID-19 cases since Memorial and started staying home soon after July
7th which is many days before the legal restrictions were ordered on
July 23rd.

This illustrates how the pandemic can be stopped if **everyone**
volunteered to stay at home until there are no more COVID-19 cases.

Thus, the only **healthy** way to end the COVID-19 pandemic is for us,
the people of America, to rapidly find out at any given moment,
including while On-line, who among us are unwittingly contagious (i.e.
pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic) in order to convince them to call
their doctor and voluntarily self-quarantine per their doctor in hopes
of stopping this pandemic so that our economy can recover here in the
U.S.

In the interim, I am indeed wonderfully hungry (
http://bit.ly/RapidTestCOVID-19 ) and hope you, Michael, also have a
healthy appetite too.

So how are you ?






...because we mindfully choose to openly care with our heart,

HeartDoc Andrew <><
--
Andrew B. Chung, MD/PhD
Cardiologist with an http://bit.ly/EternalMedicalLicense
2016 & upwards non-partisan candidate for U.S. President:
http://bit.ly/WonderfullyHungryPresident
and author of the 2PD-OMER Approach:
http://bit.ly/HeartDocAndrewCare
which is the only **healthy** cure for the U.S. healthcare crisis

Michael Ejercito

unread,
Aug 26, 2020, 9:37:24 AM8/26/20
to


"Andrew B. Chung, MD/PhD" wrote in message
news:ch5akflmpg7tg86o4...@4ax.com...
One big problem is that the public health establishment discredited
itself.


http://ethicsalarms.com/2020/06/08/oh-no-its-monday-ethics-review-6-8-2020-a-yoos-rationalization-orgy/


"However, as public health advocates, we do not condemn these gatherings as
risky for COVID-19 transmission. We support them as vital to the national
public health and to the threatened health specifically of Black people in
the United States. We can show that support by facilitating safest
protesting practices without detracting from demonstrators' ability to
gather and demand change. This should not be confused with a permissive
stance on all gatherings, particularly protests against stay-home orders.
Those actions not only oppose public health interventions, but are also
rooted in white nationalism and run contrary to respect for Black lives.
Protests against systemic racism, which fosters the disproportionate burden
of COVID-19 on Black communities and also perpetuates police violence, must
be supported."


http://reason.com/2020/06/04/george-floyd-protesters-coronavirus-health-officials-disease/


"
After saying no to so many things, a significant number of public health
experts have determined that massive protests of police brutality are an
exception to the rules of COVID-19 mitigation. Yes, these protests are
outdoors, and yes, these experts have encouraged protesters to wear masks
and observe six feet of social distance. But if you watch actual footage of
protests—even the ones where cops are behaving badly themselves—you will see
crowds that are larger and more densely packed than the public beaches and
parks that many mayors and governors have heavily restricted. Every
signatory to the letter above may not have called for those restrictions,
but they also didn't take to a public forum to declare them relatively safe
under certain conditions.

"For many public health experts who have spent weeks advising policymakers
and the public on how to reduce their risk of getting or inadvertently
spreading the coronavirus, the mass demonstrations have forced a shift in
perspective," The New York Times tells us.

But they could have easily kept the same perspective: Going out is
dangerous, here's how to best protect yourself. The added well, this cause
is important, though, makes the previous guidance look rather suspect. It
also makes it seem like the righteousness of the cause is somehow a
mitigating factor for spreading the disease.

Examples of this new framing abound. The Times interviewed Tiffany
Rodriguez, an epidemiologist "who has rarely left her home since mid-March,"
but felt compelled to attend a protest in Boston because "police brutality
is a public health epidemic." NPR joined in with a headline warning readers
not to consider the two crises—racism and coronavirus—separately. Another
recent New York Times article began: "They are parallel plagues ravaging
America: The coronavirus. And police killings of black men and women."

Police violence, white supremacy, and systemic racism are very serious
problems. They produce disparate harms for marginalized communities:
politically, economically, and also from a medical standpoint. They
exacerbate health inequities. But they are not epidemics in the same way
that the coronavirus is an epidemic, and it's an abuse of the English
language to pretend otherwise. Police violence is a metaphorical plague.
COVID-19 is a literal plague.

These differences matter. You cannot contract racism if someone coughs on
you. You cannot unknowingly spread racism to a grandparent or roommate with
an underlying health condition, threatening their very lives. Protesting is
not a prescription for combatting police violence in the same way that
penicillin is a prescription for a bacterial infection. Doctors know what
sorts of treatments cure various sicknesses. They don't know what sorts of
protests, policy responses, or social phenomena will necessarily produce a
less racist society, and they shouldn't leverage their expertise in a manner
that suggests they know the answers.

It's clear that we've come to the point where people can no longer be
expected to stay at home no matter what. Individuals should feel empowered
to make choices about which activities are important enough to incur some
exposure to COVID-19 and possibly spreading it to someone else, whether that
activity is reopening a business, going back to work, socializing with
friends, or joining a protest against police brutality. Health experts can
help inform these choices. But they can't declare there's just one activity
that's worth the risk."- Robby Soave


http://reason.com/2020/06/09/public-health-experts-are-embarrassing-themselves/


"It's not that public health folks are wrong that racism and police
brutality have significant public health consequences; while coronavirus has
the potential to kill hundreds of thousands in a short period of time, over
the long-term racism and state violence can cause even greater harm.

But here's the thing: while it's understandable that people want to take to
the streets to protest racism and state violence, there is no
epidemiological or other scientific evidence that such protests will have
positive public health effects by spurring positive social and political
change. Any scientist or public health expert who suggests otherwise is
engaging in political and sociological speculation that is not only beyond
their expertise, but that really beyond anyone's expertise. But it's worse
when such speculation purports to be scientific, from experts whose
credibility is crucial for containing the current and future pandemics."-
David Bernstein

http://reason.com/2020/06/03/what-happened-to-the-public-health-emergency/


"
Some of my social media friends have been insisting for some time that many
of the hardcore lockdown/social distancing advocates were less concerned
about public health and more about imposing their own value system against
what they considered an unenlightened public, and some subset of those
people actually welcomed the lockdown because they prefer people to live on
the government dole that to allow "capitalist exploitation." I'm not, to say
the least, a big fan of the political and public health establishment, but I
nevertheless thought this was too cynical, and I did (and still do) think
that many aspects of the lockdown were justified by public health needs.

Yet today we see Mayor DeBlasio arguing that protesting racism is more
important than being banned from attending religious services indefinitely,
and Governor Murphy of New Jersey stating that protests against racism may
flout social distancing rules, but he's going to continue to enforce them
against lockdown opponents.

Worse yet, Slate reports that:

Facing a slew of media requests asking about how protests might be a risk
for COVID-19 transmission, a group of infectious disease experts at the
University of Washington, with input from other colleagues, drafted a
collective response. In an open letter published Sunday, they write that
"protests against systemic racism, which fosters the disproportionate burden
of COVID-19 on Black communities and also perpetuates police violence, must
be supported."… By Tuesday afternoon, more than 1,000 epidemiologists,
doctors, social workers, medical students, and other health experts had
signed the letter.

So much for the "expert public health community."

I don't think anyone who knows me would describe me as at all credulous, but
I think I need to get even more cynical.

A final thought: For many of the left, anti-racism is basically a religion,
and they don't want the Covid crisis to interfere with an important
anti-racism ritual, protest. But when it comes to accommodating actual
religion, like having a religious quorum at a funeral? Feh, that's not
important."- David Bernstein
>Thus, the only **healthy** way to end the COVID-19 pandemic is for us,
>the people of America, to rapidly find out at any given moment,
>including while On-line, who among us are unwittingly contagious (i.e.
>pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic) in order to convince them to call
>their doctor and voluntarily self-quarantine per their doctor in hopes
>of stopping this pandemic so that our economy can recover here in the
>U.S.

>In the interim, I am indeed wonderfully hungry (
>http://bit.ly/RapidTestCOVID-19 ) and hope you, Michael, also have a
>healthy appetite too.

>So how are you ?

I am wonderfully hungry!


Michael

Andrew B. Chung, MD/PhD

unread,
Aug 26, 2020, 10:16:28 AM8/26/20
to
MichaelE wrote:
Psalm 127:1
Again, Psalm 127:1

>> Thus, the only **healthy** way to end the COVID-19 pandemic is for us,
>> the people of America, to rapidly find out at any given moment,
>> including while On-line, who among us are unwittingly contagious (i.e.
>> pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic) in order to convince them to call
>> their doctor and voluntarily self-quarantine per their doctor in hopes
>> of stopping this pandemic so that our economy can recover here in the
>> U.S.
>
>> In the interim, I am indeed wonderfully hungry (
>> http://bit.ly/RapidTestCOVID-19 ) and hope you, Michael, also have a
>> healthy appetite too.
>
>> So how are you ?
>
> I am wonderfully hungry!

While wonderfully hungry in the Holy Spirit, Who causes (Deuteronomy
8:3) us to hunger, I note that you, Michael, not only don't have
COVID-19 but are rapture (Luke 17:37) ready and pray (2 Chronicles
7:14) that our Everlasting (Isaiah 9:6) Father in Heaven continues to
give us "much more" (Luke 11:13) Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) so
that we'd have much more of His Help to always say/write that we're
"wonderfully hungry" in **all** ways including especially caring to
http://bit.ly/ConvinceItForward (John 15:12 as shown by
http://bit.ly/RapidTestCOVID-19 ) with all glory (
http://bit.ly/Psalm117_ ) to GOD (aka HaShem, Elohim, Abba, DEO), in
the name (John 16:23) of LORD Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Amen.

Laus DEO !

Be hungrier, which really is wonderfully healthier especially for
diabetics and other heart disease patients:

http://bit.ly/HeartDocAndrewToutsHunger (Luke 6:21a) with all glory to
GOD, Who causes us to hunger (Deuteronomy 8:3) when He blesses us
right now (Luke 6:21a) thereby removing the http://bit.ly/HeartVAT
from around the heart
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