Confusing a means-to-an-end with being the goal -- Shelter-in-Place | A Pragmatist's Take | Douglas Moran | Palo Alto Online |

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A Pragmatist's Take

By Douglas Moran

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About this blog: Real power doesn't reside with those who make the final decision, but with those who decide what qualifies as the viable choices. I stumbled across this insight as a teenager (in the 1960s). As a grad student, I belonged to an org...  (More)

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Confusing a means-to-an-end with being the goal -- Shelter-in-Place

Uploaded: Apr 23, 2020
A common problem in carrying out plans is to become so focused on your part of the plan that you think of it as a goal. As a goal, it is immutable, whereas you should be adapting your task to the evolving situation. It may even involve recognizing your task has become irrelevant or worse.

This problem is addressed by some of the most famous sayings of military science: "No plan survives first contact with the enemy" and "Plans are useless. Planning is essential."(foot#1)(foot#2)

A ^comment on my previous blog^ ("Resident" at 2020-04-20 4:35 pm) reminded us that Shelter-in-Place (SIP) is not a goal, but a method to achieve "flattening the curve", that is, slowing the spread of the disease to avoid hospitals becoming so overloaded that people unnecessarily die from lack of treatment. "Flattening the curve" works by a combination of reducing demand at a given time and by giving the medical system time to expand its capabilities.

When the original SIP was issued, there was limited knowledge about COVID-19, and much of it was wrong. For example, statistics from China were not credible, but were better than nothing. And the lack of US data resulting from unforgivable errors by the CDC.(foot#3)

With current knowledge/beliefs about the disease indicating that it is much less dangerous, I would have expected the SIP Order to have been adjusted to take this into account, for example, loosening up restrictions where reasonable. But as discussed in ^my previous blog^, restrictions were made stricter in case where I thought they could be loosened.

----Optional: Details on how the situation has changed----

With hospital capacity as the major justification for the SIP Order, let's look at stats from the ^Santa Clara County's (SCC) Public Health Dashboard for hospital utilization^ as of 2020-04-21.
There are currently 175 hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
• Acute Hospital Beds: total of 771 in use. Available beds (665) is 7.73 times the current usage by COVID-19 patients (86).
• ICU Beds: 134 in use. Available (105) is 1.46 times current COVID-19 usage (72).
• Surge Capacity of 1617 is only 1% used (17).
• While 28% of ventilators (186 of 671) are currently in use, recognize that there is now a well-established practice of excess ventilators from other areas to where there are shortages, as well as releasing them from storage. Recognize also that intubation ventilators are being used on a smaller percentage of severe cases because they have significant risk of serious harm, even death, and there are more effective replacements.(foot#4) SCC has a cumulative total of 1949 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 88 deaths for a fatality rate of 4.5%.(foot#5) This death rate is now widely accepted to be invalid because of the massive undercounting of COVID-19 cases (limited testing). A study in Iceland randomly tested almost 10% of its population and found an infection rate of 0.3-0.8% in that snapshot, with roughly half of those who tested positive being asymptomatic. This was without a national shutdown. Studies elsewhere have reported an asymptomatic rate of 25-50%.

Similarly, at the time of the original SIP Order, the public statements from the medical community seemed to have a consensus that 20% of COVID-19 cases were "severe". However, my reading of the fuzzy definition of "severe case" included cases where the person had a virtually incapacitation fever extending over multiple days but did not require hospitalization, or possibly not even a telephone consultation with a doctor. With limited testing available at that time, the number of non-severe cases would have been substantially under-counted, and the count of "severe" cases would have overstated the need for hospital facilities. Consequently, I would not give any credibility to this (old) ratio.

Stanford sampled SCC residents for antibodies that would indicate that the person had had COVID-19. The study found a raw rate of 1.5%, which became 2.5% to 4.2% after various statistical adjustments.(foot#6) This study has been criticized for whether the adjustments in the statistical analysis were adequate and sophisticated enough, and whether the false positives that the test was known to produce were adequately compensated for. However, my assessment of the critiques is that they involve potential small adjustments in the results. A similar study in the Los Angeles area by the University of Southern California (USC) produced similar results.

Notice that: Although the knowledge of COVID-19 has greatly increased and its severity is assessed to be far less than earlier thought, the SIP restrictions have gone in the opposite direction without any explanation of why.

Note: Although many current assessments place the fatality rate of COVID-19 to be near that of the flu, that does not mean that it can be treated as similar to the flu. Recognize that because of vaccines, accumulated personal immunity, and herd immunity and thus is limited in the number of people it infects. In contrast, COVID-19 has the apparent potential to infect large numbers at the same time, and a small percentage of that large number could be a large enough number to overload medical facilities.

----You must obey orders!!! The authorities know more than the public and we must trust that they have made good decisions (even if they say 2+3 equals 8) ----

"Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed" - US Declaration of Independence.
I am disheartened by the number of comments on my previous COVID-19 blogs and other blogs that advocate for what is essentially blind obedience of orders. They reject attempts to question if rules make sense or if they are effective (^Raised in a comment on another blog^).

Point out errors and bad decisions is criticized distracting, or even undermining, the authorities. Similarly for trying to point out that the situation has changed enough that what had been a good policy no longer is.

It is discouraging the number of petty-tyrant officials that appear in online videos: front line police officers, their supervisors, local officials, governors. It is disturbing to see the number of officials who see their role as getting people to obey orders, the literal rules, rather than the intent of those rules. Does being in an apartment in a large multi-story apartment complex with interior hallways somehow block the transmission of the virus whereas being in an open field on a windy, sunny day with the nearest person 100-yards away create a serious threat requiring police enforcement and a fine. There are some (how many?) jurisdictions that act in this manner.

----Attitude toward small businesses: Carelessness, Cluelessness or Unconcerned??----

I submitted my comments to our ^County Supervisor Joe Simitian^ and receive a stock reply that was largely text from a Public Health Department FAQ that is now a dead link. While it is encouraging that there were enough emails on this issue to warrant creating a stock message, it is disconcerting that we Palo Altans also got a Cupertino-specific paragraph.

Stock message received 2020-04-21, the web link is dead as of this writing:
Thank you for your input on plant nurseries being categorized as non-essential under the most recent Public Health Order. We have heard from many members of the public on this topic so we reached out to the County Executive's office for more information. Here is what they had to say:

"The goal of the shelter-in-place Order is to maximize the number of people who are staying home and limit activity as much as possible to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The Order's exemptions for allowable activities are intended to be narrow. If in doubt, the Order asks us to err on the side of avoiding activity and staying home. It is with this principle in mind that plant nurseries have been deemed non-essential businesses. Larger stores (such as Home Depot and Lowes) are allowed to stay open because they provide essential materials that help maintain the habitability of one's home (such as home plumbing emergencies). However, in our FAQ ^https://www.sccgov.org/sites/phd/DiseaseInformation/novel-coronavirus/Pages/public-health-orders.aspx#businesses^ 's, we state that plant nurseries can operate to provide for the delivery of existing inventory to residences or businesses. The decision whether or not to not operate in this capacity is up to the individual plant nursery's owner."

Additionally, our office has been alerted to the closure of Yamagami's Nursery in Cupertino. We have reached out to both County Counsel and the District Attorney in regards to this closure, so please know it is being taken seriously. If you would like further information about Yamagami's, I suggest you reach out to the DA's office at [email protected]

In closing please know that as conditions change, it's likely the directions provided in the shelter-in-place order will change as well. For that reason, it's great that you got in touch with our office and we were able to forward your concerns on to the Emergency Operations Center team. They will benefit from being informed by your concerns going forward.

Most importantly, I hope you are safe and well during this unprecedented time.


Another recipient of the stock message was upset enough about this response to post it as a ^comment on my previous blog^.

Of course I was troubled by the FAQ's first sentence -- that is the theme of this blog. But it was the last sentence that hit me hard, one that seemed to tell the owners they had their choice of poisons. The danger of having narrow specialists make decisions on "broad picture" issues is that they often don't realize how much damage they are doing outside their scope. Does anyone know of a good quote for this situation in the sense of The Great Gatsby's "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy -- they smashed up things and creatures ..." (chapter 9, pg 170)??

----Requests to commenters----

Many discussions on this topic have quickly become cluttered by commenters who are there to state a position, not to add to the discussion.
If you don't try to understand other perspectives, I may well interpret your comment as misrepresenting others, and potentially delete it as a violation of the guidelines.
Similarly for comments that I interpret what is being said as "There is only one correct position: Mine!".
Statements that reduce down to "The authorities must be trusted and obeyed" add nothing to the discussion (except clutter).

Aside: To begin to understand my skepticism of government, be aware that I came of age during the Vietnam War. By the mid-1960s the US leadership was aware that the war was unwinnable militarily, but built up troop levels to over 500,000, resulting in 58,000 US dead and over 300,000 wounded. Then in the Iraq invasion, the Bush Administration "allowed" themselves to be deceived by discredited intelligence in order to do what they already planned to do. They sent under-equipped National Guard units into the war -- families and towns were buying equipment such as body armor for their soldiers. Once in Iraq, the troops had to use scrap steel to provide their vehicles with non-trivial armor against IEDs (bombs). Well into the war, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld was asked about these persistent failures and replied "You go to war with the army you have, not the army you want". Many of these failures resulted from him rejecting the issuing of additional contracts for equipment that the existing contractor couldn't deliver in sufficient volume. Better the troops suffer and die from shortages than the DoD fund a competitor to the incumbent contractor.

----My other blogs on coronavirus (COVID-19)----

"Is Palo Alto prepared for a Coronavirus outbreak?", 2020-01-30.

"Coronavirus (COVID-19): Underappreciated Unknowns & inexplicable failures", 2020-02-28.
"Preparing for COVID-19: An epidemic is not a hurricane. Panic buying harmful", 2020-03-03.

"COVID-19: Critiquing News Releases: What's missing + teachable opportunities", 2020-03-19.

"Remember the failures for when it's time for fixes: COVID-19", 2020-03-27.

"Profiteering off medical equipment and its export unimpeded", 2020-04-03.

"America held hostage ... by Congressional Democrats (COVID-19)", 2020-04-09.

"Open Letter to SCC Public Health on excessive restrictions, esp Nurseries", 2020-04-18.


----Footnotes----
1. Quote attributions:
"No plan survives first contact with the enemy." - ^Helmuth von Moltke the Elder^, Prussian Field Marshall, reformer (revolutionary?) in the management of armies in the field, especially organization and tactics.
"Plans are useless. Planning is essential." - US General Dwight D. Eisenhower on D-day (WW2 landing in France).
Many other variants, including "Rely on planning, but never trust plans"and "The plans are nothing, but the planning is everything".

2. Famous example of failure resulting from treating method as the goal:
The German invasion of France in 1940 was as much a French self-defeat as a German victory.The French Maginot Line work well and as intended.The French discovered the Germans moving through the Ardennes in time to respond.The French statistically had the superior army, including more tanks and better tanks.Negating all this was a communications doctrine that prioritize security of communications over speed.My favorite example is off a major French unit receiving orders over the telephonebut needing to wait for a hardcopy before they could execute on the order -- that hardcopy arrived the next day via motorcycle,long after it became irrelevant.The French were routinely unable to respond to German movements in a timely manner.Similarly for local French victories, which were routinely followed by the need to retreat.Even after the severity of the communications problem became obvious, the French army failed to respond.

3. Unforgivable errors by the CDC:
"^The Infuriating Story of How the Government Stalled Coronavirus Testing^" by Julia Ioffe in GQ.
"^CDC's failed coronavirus tests were tainted with coronavirus, feds confirm^" - Ars Technica, 2020-04.
"^How testing failures allowed coronavirus to sweep the U.S.^" - Politico, 2020-03-06.

4. Harm from intubation ventilators (tube inserted down your wind pipe):
"^Ventilators are overused for Covid-19 patients, doctors say^" - STAT.

5. Santa Clara County cumulative COVID-19 case count and deaths:
April 21 update of ^Palo Alto Online's cumulative update article^.

6. Stanford antibody study:
"^Way more people may have gotten coronavirus than we thought, small antibody study suggests: Between 50 and 85 times as many people in Santa Clara County have coronavirus antibodies as have tested positive for the virus^" - Live Science, 2020-04-19.


----
An ^abbreviated index by topic and chronologically^ is available.


----Boilerplate on Commenting----
The ^Guidelines^ for comments on this blog are different from those on Town Square Forums. I am attempting to foster more civility and substantive comments by deleting violations of the guidelines.

I am particularly strict about misrepresenting what others have said (me or other commenters). If I judge your comment as likely to provoke a response of "That is not what was said", do not be surprised to have it deleted. My primary goal is to avoid unnecessary and undesirable back-and-forth, but such misrepresentations also indicate that the author is unwilling/unable to participate in a meaningful, respectful conversation on the topic.
A slur is not an argument. Neither are other forms of vilification of other participants.

If you behave like a ^Troll^, do not waste your time protesting when you get treated like one.
We need your support now more than ever. Can we count on you?

Comments

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 23, 2020 at 7:57 am

The statement in the standard reply from the County implies that restrictions will change when the situation changes, implies as easing of restrictions.

Unfortunately, there have only been more strict restrictions. E.G. Masks are not necessary, to masks must be worn every time a person is out in public. Whereas I agree about wearing masks in grocery stores and was doing it myself from as soon as the SIP was put in place, walking around my neighborhood to my local park where I only pass at a wide distance others who are walking, it doesn't seem sensible, even less so when walking in the Baylands. Yet, there are those who say and yet want to make the rule that all must wear masks for those activities. Now a separate argument could be made for those who are riding bikes at 20 mph and jogging where the aim is to work up a sweat, but that activity is not the same as a gentle walk where no sweating is involved.

Getting out for activity is crucial not only for our physical health but for our mental health. Rates of domestic violence have increased according to all groups. However, rates of domestic non-violence are probably increasing too. How many marriages are going to survive this SIP? Are we going to see inceases in divorces, suicides, drug and alcohol excesses?

In other words, surviving this SIP and coming out the other side being sane and as happy as before with our life situations is questionable.


 +   12 people like this
Posted by Chris, a resident of University South,
on Apr 23, 2020 at 9:03 am

Do people understand that testing is still very limited? Until testing increases substantially, there is not the capability to test, trace, and isolate enough cases to keep a surge from breaking out.

In Taiwan, they have very very few cases but they wear masks everywhere. They also test everybody's temperature before entering a building? As a result, they are one of a very few countries where school is being held.

Who knew there were so many amateur untrained epidemiologists? Why not look at a country that has had success rather than repeat the disasters of the 1918 flu epidemic by relaxing before testing is in place?


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Iron Mike, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Apr 23, 2020 at 10:25 am

• "No plan survives first contact with the enemy."
• "Plans are useless. Planning is essential." -
• "Rely on planning, but never trust plans"
• "The plans are nothing, but the planning is everything".

I used to try to explain to football players that the play's 'plan' was one thing, but with 11 defensive players having different thoughts on the matter, each player had to know and prepare for multiple options as the play developed, hence my explaining via various quotes, including the famous one listed above ("no plan survives..').

But I found all the rest, including 'failing to plan is planning to fail' are dwarfed by the simplicity of:

'Everyone has a plan until they're punched in the mouth' - Mike Tyson

Not surprisingly, that quote seemed to resonate with young men in a more direct way than Prussian Field Marshalls.

Any cogent pandemic plan requires ample testing and tracing. Without that data, we're all just guessing.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Accountability, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Apr 23, 2020 at 11:23 am

[[Deleted: Ridicules those that don't agree, rather than adding to the discussion. Repeats an extremist "proposal" from the media designed to be divisive (rage bait).]]


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Rick, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Apr 23, 2020 at 12:19 pm

[[Deleted. Disparagement, not discussion. Guilt by Association fallacy.]]


 +   3 people like this
Posted by S_mom, a resident of Community Center,
on Apr 23, 2020 at 1:17 pm

S_mom is a registered user.

I agree with much of what you are saying. The lack of transparency in decision making makes me a little less trusting of our government's decisions, particularly when their actions don't have an obvious explanation. When our shelter in place was working so well and yet they tightened restrictions, it didn't make sense to me and I started to wonder what they were thinking. I think adding a mask requirement at this point would feel the same. I do think people should wear masks indoors but I just don't see the need to mandate that when our numbers are so low. I also tend to think that the government is erroneously viewing the shelter in place as a goal rather than a means to an end. I'm not saying that they want us to shelter in place for sinister purposes, but just that they are making decisions about tightening restrictions based on whether they think people are complying with current restrictions, rather than on whether our numbers are rising or falling. If people aren't staying perfectly 6 feet away in open space parking lots but our infection numbers are falling, do we really need to close the parking lots?

In response to people who say that we need more testing before we can open back up, why can't we just monitor hospital usage? If we start to get too close to capacity, then we tighten restrictions again. I'm not saying we open back up fully or do something with big potential risk, because there is a lag time between infection and hospital, but I do think right now given that hospitals are not even close to fully utilized, they should be loosening up restrictions a fair amount. Schools will remain closed, they can still tell the vulnerable to remain sheltered, they could ask anyone who can work from home to do so, but they otherwise should try to allow people who cannot work or earn a living at home to start earning money again. I think it would be reasonable to add an indoor mask requirement in conjunction with allowing stores to reopen and people to go back to work, as a non-onerous way to mitigate some additional risk.

But overall I do not think our hospital utilization is high enough to justify the huge harm we are doing to the economically vulnerable by continuing to shelter in place like this. Hopefully they are already planning to loosen up after May 3.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 23, 2020 at 1:29 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

@Chris

> Who knew there were so many amateur untrained epidemiologists? ...

I have presented what the medical experts have posted and questioned the internal logic of their policy.
That you need to misrepresent this as a means of disparaging my questions about that logic says much about your inability to participate in a rational discussion.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Iron Mike, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Apr 23, 2020 at 1:31 pm

" I also tend to think that the government is erroneously viewing the shelter in place as a goal rather than a means to an end. ... but just that they are making decisions about tightening restrictions based on whether they think people are complying with current restrictions, rather than on whether our numbers are rising or falling. "

Fascinating. What did someone say about compliance that makes you feel that way?

[[Blogger: the passage being responded to is the end of the first paragraph of the comment by S_mom, second comment above this one.]]


 +   4 people like this
Posted by irrational rationalization, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on Apr 23, 2020 at 2:31 pm

[[Deleted: Violation of multiple guidelines.]]


 +   6 people like this
Posted by chris, a resident of University South,
on Apr 23, 2020 at 5:01 pm

There are a number of highly respected epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists at Stanford. The procedures that the county has ordered at this time are in line with the current best thinking of them. Engaging with them is the best way to get a social consensus.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Accountability, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Apr 23, 2020 at 7:00 pm

[[Deleted: Characterizes statement about why a previous comment of his was deleted for being a violation of guidelines as me having ridiculed him.]]


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Accountability, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Apr 23, 2020 at 7:04 pm

[[Deleted. The reason has been omitted so that he doesn't feel he is being ridiculed]]

it hasn't escaped my attention, nor that of other readers, the Palo Alto Online is soliciting paying subscribers.
As long as the PAO [[Deleted]] they haven't earned my trust or confidence or respect to get my dollar. And I'd encourage other readers who have disagreed with Doug and been ridiculed or edited out to hold back as well.
[[The above was retained because it is addressed by the following comment.]]


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 23, 2020 at 7:31 pm

@Accountability

You lost my confidence in your opinion when you decided that you would only pay for something that you obviously find of value (since you read and comment) if you like what is being said.

An op ed piece is just that, it is opinion from someone. I am not sure how PA Online chooses who gets to write a blog, but you could choose to do that and see if the Weekly would be interested.

Intelligent discourse comes from all opinions. I don't always agree with Doug, and have definitely been deleted or edited out in the past. So what, I don't write the rules. I like to think my opinions are as valid and as interesting as anyone else's and when I get edited or deleted it is very annoying. However, that would not stop me from paying for something I value.

Newspapers have always had value. When they cost me something (I used to pay for a daily newspaper to read on my commute) I value it more than when it is just dumped on my driveway each week. However, I expect to find things in a newspaper I do not agree with. Why do I expect that? Because it is only when I disagree that I have to search my mind to find why I disagree. It makes me more discerning. Therefore I am learning about myself and my opinion.

OK, I digress and have gone off topic. But the idea that we should only pay when a newspaper column only does things the way I feel is right, annoys me. Sorry, but that is how I feel.

Now to get back on topic. I expect most of what I said here will be deleted as being off topic. Never mind, I at least got to think it through.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 23, 2020 at 11:38 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

@Resident,

On "off-topic" comments: I tend to allow those that are only minor tangents. What I want to avoid are comments that are likely to turn the discussion away from designated topic -- I want readers who arrive late to the blog to be able to see the on-topic comments, and should they add a comment, to have it seen by others.

If the blog inspires a comment that is off-topic, one can create a topic-thread on Town Square Forums (it's easy) and add a comment to the blog advertising that new topic-thread.


 +   11 people like this
Posted by Dan, a resident of Professorville,
on Apr 24, 2020 at 10:41 am

Doug - you said "I am disheartened by the number of comments on my previous COVID-19 blogs and other blogs that advocate for what is essentially blind obedience of orders. They reject attempts to question if rules make sense or if they are effective"

It's not just this. It's even worse. Many of these same people also resort to name calling and personal attacks and dehumanization for those who question the wisdom of the government's actions.

People who have valid questions and concerns about the regulations are quickly denigrated as idiots and morons. There is no attempt to engage in an intelligent or nuanced discussion, or to make any attempt to understand why other folks have a different opinion than you do.

The media makes this worse - by showing pictures of the handful of folks who are protesting the rules while hugging their high school buddies and toting their AR-15's - they don't show the thousands of other protestors who are social distancing and wearing masks. This is all designed to fuel the narrative that anyone who questions the government is an ignorant fool.

My Facebook is so full of this stuff I can't even look at it anymore.

So much for civil discourse...


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 24, 2020 at 12:09 pm

Dan. I'm with you 100%. You are not alone, we may be few, we may be called names, nobody listens to us just ridicules us, but we are here.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Green Gables, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Apr 24, 2020 at 12:15 pm

Green Gables is a registered user.

I am wondering why the County tells us that we cannot have "gardeners" but can landscape. Also, I see and hear lots of "gardeners" in Palo Alto. Obviously, like everything else, some obey while others think they know better.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Sophie, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Apr 24, 2020 at 12:53 pm

Sophie is a registered user.

Listen to the interview that two doctors give sharing their experience and studying scientific facts - sheltering in place is doing more harm than good!

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) " Doctors, scientists and government officials across the world have encouraged " even ordered " people to stay home to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Now, two doctors in Kern County are sharing a differing opinion. They say sheltering in place is doing more harm than good.

Web Link


 +   7 people like this
Posted by chris, a resident of University South,
on Apr 24, 2020 at 4:00 pm

Dan,

If you look at how South Korea and Taiwan controlled COVID-19, they had strong and competent CDC leaders who took quick and decisive action.

You should vibe complaining about an incompetent CDC and broken political system. The people in South Korea and Taiwan respected their CDC leaders and followed what needed to be done.

Here, Americans wasted 2 months before taking decisive action, which then required measures individualistic Americans have trouble accepting. Americans who are complaining should try to understand why their denial and individualism resulted in delaying action that could have controlled COVID-19 before it got out of control.

The Taiwanese acted fast and did not have to close schools. What is America's excuse?


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Jennifer, a resident of another community,
on Apr 24, 2020 at 4:54 pm

When it comes to the pandemic, agree to disagree. It's a healthier approach.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 24, 2020 at 5:00 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

@chris

The meaning of "vibe complaining" is unclear. At first I thought "vibe" was a typo for "be", but that would be highly at odds with how I interpret what you wrote subsequently.

If you want this corrected, you can post a comment to that effect, optionally including requesting in that comment to have me correct it in the original.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Iron Mike, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Apr 24, 2020 at 5:25 pm

> should vibe

* should be

Is consistent w/ his point.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 24, 2020 at 5:53 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

@Iron Mike

My interpretation of the chris' argument:

1. "South Korea and Taiwan ... had strong and competent CDC leaders who took quick and decisive action."

2. "You should (vibe) be complaining about an incompetent CDC and broken political system."

3. "Americans who are complaining should try to understand why their denial and individualism resulted in delaying action that could have controlled COVID-19 before it got out of control."

Does "chris" think people should be complaining? #2 says they should; #3 they shouldn't.

The CDC (and FDA) prevented the US from having testing during the critical time (footnote 3 of blog), and then made unreasonable assumptions about who was worth testing (no transmission by asymptomatic people,...). By this time, the spread was beyond control other than flattening-the-curve.
Yet somehow "chris" appears to attribute this delay to the American public's "denial and individualism" (not the CDC's many errors).
Recognize that in early February, organizations were starting to cancel large events, including Chinese Lunar New Year gatherings, and many events were seeing sharply reduced attendance. "chris" might want to explain how this "individualism" contributed to the spread of the disease. At this time, the CDC was telling Americans that they were at little risk unless they had recently traveled to Wuhan/China, been in contact with someone who did, or been in contact with someone who had tested positive for novel coronavirus.
Was this rejection of the CDC's assessment "denialism"??


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Sophie, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 24, 2020 at 6:11 pm

Sophie is a registered user.

Bret Stephens in the NYT:

As of Friday, there have been more Covid-19 fatalities on Long Island's Nassau County (population 1.4 million) than in all of California (population 40 million).
Yet Americans are being told they must still play by New York rules -- with all the hardships they entail -- despite having neither New York's living conditions nor New York's health outcomes. This is bad medicine, misguided public policy, and horrible politics.

Web Link


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 24, 2020 at 6:32 pm

Back in January, Trump wanted to stop flights to China. WHO rejected that idea as unnecessary. The American people called the decision racist. Pelosi wanted everyone to go to Chinatown and Lunar New Year to show they were not racist. Back in December/January Taiwan tried to warn WHO about how serious the novel virus in China was. WHO paid no attention.

There was more fear of being called racist than of the virus. By the time flights from China were being monitored for healthy arrivals, there were problems in Europe. It took a lot longer before any monitoring of flights from Europe for healthy arrivals. CDC were slow to act.

WHO and CDC could have acted earlier.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Truth?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 24, 2020 at 7:16 pm

Resident- maybe you are stretching the truth

Web Link


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 24, 2020 at 8:05 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

@Resident

Clarifications, corrections, details

> "Back in January, Trump wanted to stop flights to China."
I think you are referring to the restriction on foreign nationals on flights from China, annouced on January 31. Two days earlier, a preparatory rerouting of flights from China to designated airports which had the capabilities to screen those passengers was announced/implemented. US citizens and permanent residents were allowed to return although self-isolation was strongly recommended.

> "WHO rejected that idea as unnecessary. The American people called the decision racist."
The American people didn't. It was the Progressives -- who never squander an opportunity to call something racist -- and those who never squander an opportunity to call Trump and his actions racist -- leading Democrats and the DNC-aligned media. BTW, it was also called "xenophobic". This got new life when China staged a major propaganda campaign claiming the virus originated in the US and was taken to China. When Trump countered by labeling it the "Chinese virus", the Chinese propaganda machine countered with the accusation of racism and xenophobia which was almost certainly expected to be echoed by Democratic politicians and the media. The accusations continued at least into mid-March, including a tweet from presumptive Presidential nominee Joe Biden on March 12.

> "Pelosi wanted everyone to go to Chinatown and Lunar New Year to show they were not racist."
Not true. Although Pelosi attended the Lunar New Year celebrations in SF Chinatown, I haven't seen any citation of her promoting it, which almost certainly means she didn't. It was later -- Feb 24 -- that Pelosi toured SF Chinatown to encourage customers to return. My judgment is that she was focused on "fear" of the virus rather than "racism": Pelosi Tours San Francisco’s Chinatown To Quell Coronavirus Fears -- KPIX-TV ch 5.

> "Back in December/January Taiwan tried to warn WHO about how serious the novel virus in China was. WHO paid no attention."
Not quite. At the insistance of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), W.H.O regards Taiwan as a province of China. The reports were rejected because they didn't come through the correct channels. Deferring to the CCP was more important than the health of the world's people.

> "It took a lot longer before any monitoring of flights from Europe for healthy arrivals. CDC were slow to act.
Details: NY Times, March 19: "They Fled Coronavirus in Europe. Border Agents Asked if They'd Visited China or Iran". They were returning because the US State Dept had publicly issued a "Get Home Now" advisory. Apparently, the CDC and Homeland Security don't read memos from State or the front pages of major newspapers.


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Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 24, 2020 at 10:01 pm

I stand corrected.

Thank you for clarifying my points. I was commenting from memory, but you get my train of thought.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by touchdown!!, a resident of Barron Park,
on Apr 25, 2020 at 6:00 pm

Oh sorry our politicians keep moving the goal post. First it was "flattening the curve" to give our hospitals the time to get ready. Now it's testing and tracing, and of course for our politicians there will never be enough of that to satisfy them so also need antibody testing to see if you had it but are immune, but what a minute how long does immunity last???? we need a vaccine !! Unfortunately we live in a risk averse and litigious world. Those the will suffer the most are the people on the bottom of the economic ladder.

Meanwhile 26 million unemployed, we need to accept Covid is going to continue to kill people for months if not years. But is anyone tallying the impact to the 26 million who lost there jobs??

And sorry if I made anyone spill their cocktail while zooming


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Fear mongering, a resident of Mountain View,
on Apr 26, 2020 at 9:27 am

Democrats and “progressives": [[Deleted: excessive hyperbole]]. The chance to pontificate and poke fun and tell everyone what idiots they are!

I'm with Dan, I don't post my opinions on social media because I'll be ridiculed and shot down. Pretty sure this is how Trump won to everyone's surprise....there's so many out there who aren't saying anything but we're here.


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Posted by Fear mongering, a resident of Mountain View,
on Apr 26, 2020 at 10:29 am

Very interesting article in WSJ
Web Link


 +   3 people like this
Posted by mauricio, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Apr 26, 2020 at 11:22 am

mauricio is a registered user.

[[Deleted. Pushing false partisan propaganda that is refuted by readily available video.]]


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Truth, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 26, 2020 at 11:48 am

[[Deleted because it was based on a deleted portion of a previous comment that was being "moderated" when this was posted.]]


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Ha k, a resident of Downtown North,
on Apr 26, 2020 at 1:09 pm

LOL. Doug. The part of fear mongering post that you deleted was up for a few hours. You only deleted it when truth called you out on it. You moderated maurucio post also.
So claiming that you were moderating fear mongering post when truths post was posted is BS.

[[Blogger: Readers: This is the sort of malevolence that I deal with in deciding what needs to be moderate.
Details: The email notifying me of the "maurico" comment arrived shortly before I turned my computer on for the day and it got dealt with quickly. I was delayed in dealing with the "fear mongering" post because there were intervening emails that needed to be dealt with first.
]]


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Reality, a resident of Mountain View,
on Apr 28, 2020 at 8:11 am

Another excellent blog post. You hit the mark once again.

If I told you that three months ago, that a group of 7 unelected leaders would collude with elected officials to strip people of their civil liberties, their businesses, and their well being, you would have laughed at me.

Yet that is what has happened. We are living in a bizarre version of "The Handmaid's Tale" -- with each of us paying the price.

The reality is this group of politicians has zero intent on rolling anything back. There's always a "mysterious unknown." Or the Governor, who now has taken to speaking to the electorate as petulant children.

If only there was fact. There is none. The lack of testing is driving and understatement of infection rate and overstatement of fatality rate. The undertesting is driving the spurious correlation that this ridiculous deprivation of constitutional rights is somehow justifiable (however illegal) -- and made worse with soaring unemployment.

To those that get righteous and claim that "lives are at stake" -- they always were. We are sacrificing 100% of the economy for 1% that might get ill. If we have a hospital capacity problem, solve it, but continuing on this path is one to mutually assured destruction.

The Government can't borrow money it doesn't have forever. It can't print money forever. There is no vaccine coming to save you.

This is about dealing with personal choice and the way of life. Take legal action now while you still one to return to.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Old Steve, a resident of St. Claire Gardens,
on Apr 29, 2020 at 11:37 am

Old Steve is a registered user.

Hey Reality!

Health Officers are empowered by elected County Boards of Supervisors in accordance with State Law. Not following lawful direction is like expecting the First Amendment to protect you if you yell "BOMB" in a TSA security line, or "FIRE" in a crowded arena. Assuming you can remember either of those activities, I would assume you would not want to get trampled in either situation. More people have died in two months than from influenza in any YEAR in the last ONE HUNDRED. You are certainly free to acquire the virus, but I'd rather you not unwittingly infect any of the rest of us. If you just need to get out, feel free to volunteer for Gov, Newsom's Health Corps, so at least you can be useful.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Sweden, a resident of Mountain View,
on May 23, 2020 at 11:20 am

Please take a look at the year to date deaths in Sweden versus the annual totals over the past 10 years. If Covid-19 is truly a pandemic of epic proportions, then why is theIr year to date death total pretty on a pace to be on par or lower than the average? While Sweden did place some restrictions on large gatherings, they mostly just focused on protected the high risk groups. Based on this data, I feel many more people are dying WITH Covid versus dying DUE TO Covid. This is A HUGE difference In the statistics.

Web Link


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on May 23, 2020 at 12:27 pm

Some comments about the way the numbers are being reported.

We are told on a daily basis how many cases there are in SCC and the number of deaths due to Covid (presumably from death certificates) in the past 24 hours. These numbers for cases continue to rise, but presumably a percent (large I expect) have now recovered. Being told the number of new cases is a better number to make decisions in my opinion. Presumably, the cases are from people being tested and then sent home because their symptoms are mild. If they are mild enough to be sent home rather than being hospitalized I would think that makes a big difference to how decisions should be made.

Likewise the number of deaths. When the first deaths started to be reported we were given information on the age of the deceased and whether said deceased had other health issues. This information has no longer been available for many weeks. Should the information about the ages and health status of those deaths be taken into account when making decisions?

If we have more accurate information about the types of cases and the types of deaths, we can see whether decisions about how we should move into the next stage of SIP can be fairly judged. If however we have no more information other than cases and deaths, the decisions being made cannot be judged by the public as being fair reactions to the numbers.

Otherwise, how can we take these decisions seriously?

Or is there a reason why we are not being given this type of information so that we are unable to criticize the decisions?

My gut feeling is that at this time we are being fed poor information deliberately to enable us to turn into a population that follows blindly rather than intelligently.


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