The Left tells us we need to believe the scientists. You would think with a pandemic afoot, their reliance on science would be especially strict. However, it seems they have been more than selective in who they choose to listen to and it might be more political than you think.
In the last twenty-four hours a few things happened that did not hang together in any sensical way.
- Dr. Deborah Birx talked about the data in some apocalyptic studies being widely shared that have likely significantly over estimated the impacts of coronavirus.
- One of the most widely shared studies came from the Imperial College of London. This morning one of the lead researchers in that study significantly downgraded his assessment of the potential impact.
- The mayor of my small town in Georgia extended shelter in place until the end of April.
- Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles set a deadline similar to the one in my small town.
More Scientists Weigh In
Now, it seems that in light of a downgraded significance, mayors of two very different cities on two different coasts would not be making this announcement on the same day. This is especially strange when two professors of medicine and one Nobel Laureate from Stanford have similarly questioned the modeling currently being used.
Dr. David Katz of Yale evaluated the global mortality data as well. He also looked at South Korea’s testing of the population. If you take this with data compiled by Oxford University researchers, there seems to be a reasonable assumption that a much higher portion of the population has already been infected. These models are based on the date of suspected transmission into the country and the r-naught, or number of people one infected person will infect.
In fact, they tend to echo some comments made by the President and the members of the Task Force. This group has repeatedly reiterated that the intention is to take a granular approach, using by-county data to make very specific recommendations based on geography and population demographics. Like President Trump said, an approach endeavoring to do two things at once, protecting the most vulnerable while allowing the economy to begin functioning again.
This approach would appear to make sense. My town of about 23,000 people has significantly lower social networking connections than a metropolitan area like Los Angeles with nearly 4,000,000 residents. We do not have public transportation, we do tend to frequent the same, limited number of shops and I can count on seeing very few strange faces in the restaurant I frequent once or twice a week to socialize. Of course we should be treated differently. And both cities should be treated differently than New York which is producing over 50% of all new cases in a four county area. Yet there seems to be what I call a “peanut butter” approach.
An Interesting Organization
While recent studies based on global data seem to provide a more positive outlook regarding the pandemic, states and cities across the country are announcing draconian shelter in place timeframes. They are doing this in the absence of new direction from the Coronavirus Task Force due early next week. According to an article in The Federalist, a significant number of cities and states are relying on information from a group named COVID Act Now.
Oddly this group seems to be made up of far more technical professionals than health professionals. In fact, there are only two Public Health professionals on the team. One is of particular interest. Professor Rebecca Katz, Ph.D., MPH, Director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security, was appointed to Joe Biden’s advisory panel on the pandemic on March 11th. This is not the only link to Democrats or Democrat causes according to The Federalist article:
Founders of the site include Democratic Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins and three Silicon Valley tech workers and Democratic activists — Zachary Rosen, Max Henderson, and Igor Kofman — who are all also donors to various Democratic campaigns and political organizations since 2016. Henderson and Kofman donated to the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016, while Rosen donated to the Democratic National Committee, recently resigned Democratic Rep. Katie Hill, and other Democratic candidates. Prior to building the COVID Act Now website, Kofman created an online game designed to raise $1 million for the eventual 2020 Democratic candidate and defeat President Trump.
The article also details many flaws in the experience of various states against the model purported by the group. This may be because they based their model almost exclusively on the Imperial College assumptions. The model is public and oddly, the first sheet contains this disclaimer:
Disclaimer: The information herein is provided for informational purposes only, is just the author’s opinion, and should not be misconstrued as medical or expert advice. There are many unknowns, and the author of this document makes no warranty, expressed or implied, as to the results obtained from the use of the information, and shall have no liability for the accuracy of the information and cannot be held liable for any third-party claims or losses of any damages. The information contained in this web site does not constitute a confirmed offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any product or service, and should not be relied upon in connection with any investment decision or action. Author may, at any time, revise the information on this web site without notice and makes no commitment to update this information.
Despite that, my home state has shelter in place nearly statewide. Yet as of March 23, the model was off by over 50%. It predicted Georgia would see 688 hospitalizations. There were fewer than 300.
The Politics of Panic
So, a Joe Biden advisor and many Democrat donors have developed a model that encourages a near shut down of economies nationwide. These models are being shared on social media and being cited by leaders nationwide as the rationale for these economy-crushing actions. Unsurprisingly, unemployment claims shot up at a record-smashing 3.3 million today.
And here is what Joe Biden had to say about those numbers:
The harsh reality is that at least 3 million people now don’t have jobs because our president didn’t do his job when it mattered,” the former vice president and likely Democratic presidential nominee said in a statement Thursday.
The simple fact is extraordinary measures have been taken across the nation at the urging of COVID Act Now. This is despite the fact the model they are using does not match any reality on the ground in countries measured so far. This is according to Dr. Birx in the Task Force Presser on March 26. She stated there has not been an impact rate in any country of more than 1 per 1000. She added there is no reality where 60-70% of Americans would become infected. Yet this is what the COVID Act Now model predicts with no action or social distancing for every single state on their maps.
Given the flawed predictions for almost every state, their call to action at the top makes a lot of sense:
Public leaders & health officials: The only thing that matters right now is the speed of your response. This model is intended to help make fast decisions, not predict the future.
The only thing that matters is that you do what we ask. Destroy local businesses, cause mass panic and impact the ability of people to organize. This ask is being made by on overtly partisan organization that supports Democrats and even works with the presumptive nominee on this very issue.
So, no Joe. Today’s numbers have nothing to do with President Trump’s inaction. I would propose they have everything to do with a very coordinated action in support of you.
The Coronavirus Task Force should be cautioning every state and local official against using these models and await their more robust and granular data studies due shortly. State and local officials need to be following the guidance of the CDC and other agencies experienced in disease monitoring, containment and mitigation, not a blatantly political organization that is supporting the Democrat nominee.