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About Alan_A

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    Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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  1. I have to say that covid thread sure went south. Not a surprise, what with people like @Alan_A posting in it. I can help with that. I'm out, too. 'Bye, everybody!
  2. That doesn't answer my question.
  3. A genuine question - are we allowed to discuss the cause? I honestly wasn't clear from the final post on the other thread whether you were just shutting down that discussion, or whether all discussion of the novel coronvavirus is now forbidden. If you could clarify, that would be very helpful. Thanks in advance.
  4. Agreed. The distinction may matter more from a clinical standpoint (especially if it tells you something about viral load, or allows you to project the course of the person's infection) than from a public health standpoint, where an asymptomatic and a presymptomatic patient represent pretty much the same thing - a person with no symptoms who might be contagious, but who isn't going to be detected by temperature checks or other kinds of symptom-focused screening. It could be that at some future point, we find out that the presymptomatic patients are more contagious, and then you'd want a quick, reliable way to measure viral load. But right now, it makes more sense to cast a wide net. If it does turn out that higher viral load predicts symptomatic illness, then that would factor into projections and make them more accurate.
  5. Models are just forecasting tools - in some sense, they're simulations, and they simulate different things. The model that was used in the White House briefings - the IHME model - used data and trends about covid deaths to forecast hospital capacity (it's since been revised to take more information into account). It was designed for and used by hospital administrators. These models have a different purpose - they're designed to look at different mitigation strategies (like lockdowns and more limited social distancing) and project how the number of cases might grow. The variables are the number of infected people, the number of encounters they have, and the transmission rate. They don't tell you what's going to happen - they tell you what might happen in different scenarios depending on what actions you do or don't take to regulate behavior. Early on in the pandemic, there was a lot of attention paid to the UK's Imperial College model, which similarly looked at a range of policy options from total lockdown to no restrictions at all. At the high end of the forecast, it projected 2 million deaths in the US. That wasn't a prediction of what was going to happen - it was a simulation of what would happen in the most extreme scenario, where there were no steps taken to reduce transmission. Not what will happen, but what could happen. Each model is different, and to work with it you need to know what question it's trying to answer.
  6. Thanks for staying with the Covid-19 thread.

    Putting quasi-science and quasi-intelligent comments in their place amounts to a public service.


  7. A new publication in Science, the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/05/27/science.abc6197 Short version: wear a mask.
  8. The asymptomatic stage is an early stage of infection, when the virus is in the upper respiratory system and has not yet begun to produce symptoms. People with asymptomatic infection often proceed to develop symptoms, and some of them die. While asymptomatic, they are highly contagious. "Asymptomatic" does not equal "mild" or "not serious" or "not ultimately fatal."
  9. But as we've been discussing, the reality is - based on the numbers - that illegal immigration is an infinitesimal risk compared to community transmission. Immigration is a major issue and I agree it needs to be addressed - I say that even though I disagree with some of the recent approaches. But it's a separate issue, and not where the public health center of gravity is right now.
  10. I thought we'd negated the validity of that argument purely from a public health perspective - again, because there's no difference, from the perspective of viral transmission, between the contagious untested illegal immigrant and the contagious untested US citizen and churchgoer. You know, Bob, if I met someone from a different background, and that person found something I said objectionable, I think I'd try to find out more about why the person felt that way - especially if I wasn't overly familiar with that person's background and culture. If you'd like to find out more, I'd be happy to engage in that converation. Are you willing to do that?
  11. As does a US citizen who visits a nursing home and then goes to a family reunion - or who goes to a church service where she sings loudly, recites the prayers out loud and embraces her fellow congregants. There's minimal chance this person has been tested. So from the standpoint of disease transmission, there's absolutely no difference between the asymptomatic US citizen and the "illegal invader." That's culture-wars fodder. We're not a monolithic community, but we have plenty of physical and social mobility and can do this to ourselves. My objections to the invasive-pathogen-in-the-body-politic narrative don't seem to be getting traction. Please allow me to suggest some background reading - this, and also this. For the second piece, I recommend searching on the word "maggot." I'm going to persist about this because it isn't an abstraction to me.
  12. What this discussion misses is that we're months past the point where border control measures are any kind of answer. Community spread is here and well established on a large scale. The virus is doing quite well for itself thanks to the pool party at Lake of the Ozarks and the massive crowds on the Ocean City boardwalk. We're as much of a danger to the immigrants as they are to us.
  13. Exactly. The issue is concentrations of people and transmission paths, and that's it. The New York outbreak - and as a result, the US outbreak - was the result of legal immigration, helped along by unnecessarily and the near-total failure to screen, isolate and trace.
  14. I don't think the counts are that detailed yet, and there are too many reporting inconsistencies. In many jurisdictions, case counts are based on "clinical confirmation" - that is, an antigen test. Others are also counting probable cases based on clinical signs in the absence of a test. But both methods miss counting people who get ill, and then die or recover at home without coming near the healthcare system. The ones that die aren't recorded as covid deaths - which explains why researchers are looking at "excess deaths" (above the annual average, adjusted for seasonality), to correct the likely undercount. And those that recover aren't officially logged as recovered because their data was never picked up by any official reporting mechanism. And there are probably asymptomatic people who are going uncounted as well. All of that means that official data on infections, deaths and recoveries probably represents an undercount. The excess death research attempts to get closer to an accurate total. As testing levels go up, the data on prevalence of infections should become more accurate - but with the caveat that accuracy depends on how broadly the population is being sampled (i.e. if it's only sick people, it inflates the total) and how accurate the tests are. Total case numbers are valuable, but not for assessing current risk in a community. They help show the overall trajectory of the infection so we know whether it's slowing down or accelerating. I don't think anyone is trying to deceive - it's just that the reporting system is still coming up to speed, and has some inherent flaws. The numbers in your area show very low counts for cases and deaths.
  15. The article you linked describes legal immigration at a border checkpoint, not illegal immigration. The danger is presented by a large concentration of people - the same as it is by a pool party at Lake of the Ozarks, or a crowd jamming an airport entrance hall as a result of confusion caused by a botched travel ban announcement. There is no special danger posed by illegal immigration. You haven't chosen good ground to fight on. EDIT: And "Your discomfort is noted" doesn't exactly bridge any gaps.
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