Jump to content


  • Content Count

  • Donations

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Alan_A

  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. 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.
  7. 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."
  8. 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.
  9. 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?
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. It seems I've been too subtle. Please allow me, as a Jewish person, to express my extreme discomfort with immigrant-as-contagion narratives and imagery. We've been on the receiving end of them too often, and not for the good. Thanks for your attention in this matter.
  16. A boatload of illegal invaders is every bit as risky as a planeload of business travelers, or a bunch of wealthy New Yorkers fleeing the city for the Berkshires or the Poconos.
  17. Good roundup of the relative risk of a variety of routine activities: https://www.sltrib.com/news/2020/05/23/your-guide-how/
  18. Good Twitter thread by a researcher (retweeted by Dr. Carl Bergstrom of the University of Washington) about the relative risks of overreacting and underreacting to covid based on uncertain information: Short version: If you overreact, you can back off. If you underreact, you can't catch up. Worth a look.
  19. Good discussion - but just to clarify, I wasn't thinking of the draft as an instance when vaccinations were mandatory. I was trying to draw a broader analogy - that a military draft is another instance in which the state can take full control of your body. It can take you out of your home and your civilian life and order you into harm's way. So the question is, do people who disapprove of mandatory vaccinations also disapprove of the military draft, for example during the Second World War? I'm going to guess that there might be a disconnect there. But as always, I could be wrong.
  20. And I'm not a lawyer - I'm married to one, and I can always walk down the hall and get an opinion, but since she does US securities law, I'm not sure how helpful that'll be. But with that caveat - I agree with your take. Emphasis mine. So... many powers (and not just these), but, in contrast to the US, no possibility of mandatory vaccinations, at least under these laws. I'd still want to hear from someone versed in UK law whether there's any other pathway that could lead to compulsory treatment.
  21. Excellent - and gnarly - questions. As we're finding, there's been a lot of debate over this over the years, with conflicting findings. I'm wondering if the military draft analogy doesn't apply here in some sense. In both cases we're talking about bodily integrity. The end result of a draft can be that the state compels you to go physically in harm's way. It can do other physical things (like quarantine, as you note) but being forcibly vaccinated and being forced to shoot and be shot at do seem to have something in common. You're right to raise concerns about vaccine dangers and it's one of the reasons why the rush to get a vaccine out is a bit worrisome. Obviously the urgency is there, and there's every reason to move quickly, but not so quickly that an unsafe vaccine gets into distribution. I don't know my UK law very well, so I'll need help with this one. The article you linked to seems to be about the Coronavirus Act of 2020. Is there anything in broader UK law - like the US Supreme Court decision in Jacobson v. Massachusetts discussed in @MartinRex007's link - that gives the state some equivalent of the police power to mandate behavior for public safety? This is a very interesting hornet's nest we've turned up...
  22. Just updated my previous post with a precedent - at least a partial one.
  23. Those could be two separate questions. An employer could, as a private matter, decide to fire someone. But the government could, separately, decide that such a person qualifies for unemployment or some other kind of benefit. I'm trying to think of whether there's a precedent. There are plenty of examples of people losing their civil liberties for public health reasons - but generally, those are people who actually have a disease or can transmit it, like Typhoid Mary. Many such people have been forced into quarantine. I'm not sure if there's an equivalent case where someone was quarantined for being unvaccinated, or otherwise having the potential to transmit without being infected. That's going to take some digging. It's a really interesting problem. EDIT: And in fact, there is a precedent: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/briannasacks/los-angeles-ucla-measles-quarantine-outbreak-vaccinations Still not quite the same thing because there were two factors in play here - lack of vaccination records and potential exposure. So that takes it a step closer to a traditional public health action where there's an active outbreak, not just a lack of documentation.
  24. You could, I suppose, argue that if a sufficient number of people are vaccinated, and if the disease becomes endemic (as suggested in the Scientific American article that @MartinRex007 linked to earlier), then you could, with reasonable safety, leave some part of the population unvaccinated - the idea being that most would have immunity, and newly developed antivirals could keep the virus in check in anyone that got it (or if not, mortality would be at a very low level). That still leaves open the question, though, of how you'd get to that sufficient number. Can you count on people to volunteer, or does there need to be some form of compulsion. The military draft analogy may apply here - in a crisis, can you defend the country with volunteers, or do you need to raise so many troops that you have to draft people into military service? I honestly don't know the answer, but that's how I'd start framing the question.
  25. The best possible example of how to protest (alongside Gandhi, his major influence). Although... depending on the context, the analogy may or may not hold. If we're talking about the overall course of the civil rights movement, then it's worth noting that that wasn't only the result of individuals acting on matters of conscience. It also took large-scale federal effort at several critical points. President Eisenhower deployed the 101st Airborne to Little Rock, AK to enforce federal school desegregation orders against state and local authority. Congress passed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, both of which required federal enforcement against state and local governments and individuals. So it's not just a matter of individuals on the one hand and authority on the other. I think these discussions may be another example of my PR mentor's point - we seem to be debating issues but we're really debating values. Those debates are hard to resolve. We'll all cite examples to prove our case, but if we're driven by values we can wind up using them inconsistently. Another example - those that are arguing for the valor and moral standing of previous generations don't seem to dwell on the fact that the Greatest Generation may have gone to war out of a sense of conviction and mission, but they also did it because they were drafted. That is, they got a letter from the federal government that carried the force of law, and that compelled them to give up their civilian lives and report for service. There was actually a lot of resentment about it - you can find it in the contemporary literature (have a look at James Jones' The Thin Red Line, for example). People also enlisted, but that was often a way to avoid winding up in the infantry (my father enlisted in the Coast Guard the day before he would have been draft-eligible, and many people enlisted on similar timing). The point is - they were obeying state authority. I'd be surprised if anyone arguing against mandatory covid testing or contact tracing or vaccination is also in favor of draft evasion. But wouldn't that be a similar expression of personal freedom in opposition to the state? Seems to me those two positions would be logically consistent. I'm not posting this in order to call any one member out or show anyone up. I'm as guilty as the next person of this kind of inconsistency. All I want to do is get it out in the open so we can be more aware of the hidden parts of the argument and - with luck and maybe also some skill - argue better.
  • Create New...