How Many Lives Have Shutdowns Saved?

A new study estimates how many lives were saved in 30 American cities.

When I saw the headline “Drexel study: 45-day shutdown saved 6,202 lives, kept 57,072 out of hospital” at memeorandum, I was rather surprised. Were the Trumpers right, after all? That’s a negligible number compared to the vast number of people who have lost their jobs, if not their homes and businesses.

But the actual report from Philadelphia’s WPVI Action 6 was quite different.

Drexel’s experts from Urban Health Collaborative and the Big Cities Health Coalition used real-life numbers to estimate how many lives were saved, and how many hospitalizations didn’t happen in 30 cities around the country

For Philadelphia, it estimates that 45 days of being shut down, and doing social distancing spared 62-hundred lives, and kept 57-thousand people out of hospitals than if life went on as usual.

There were sizable results in other cities – in Baltimore, the model estimates nearly 23-hundred fewer deaths.

In Dallas, 10-thousand lives saved, while in New York City, 25-thousand lives may have been saved by changing our behavior.

“All of the many sacrifices they’re making by staying home are not in vain, that it actually has this impact that affects all of us,” says Amy Carroll-Scott, Ph.D., M.P.H., co-leader of the project, and associate professor at the Dornsife School of Public Health.

“It’s important for policymakers to see that these stay-at-home orders, and social distancing measures are really important, and that if we lift them too soon, we’re likely to see another spike, and that we need to be monitoring those new cases, and hospitalizations and lives saved as we inch closer to re-opening,” said Caroll-Scott.

So, the headline relates only to Philadelphia—a much more impressive outcome!

I can’t find the study itself; it’s not currently on Carroll-Scott’s faculty page or that of the Dornslife School.

Whether the trade-off is “worth it” is, I suppose, a judgment to be left to the individual. But we’re near 91,000 dead in the United States. We’ve clearly saved more lives than that.

UPDATE: Brian Wagner points me to the press release from the study itself. The above report undersells it considerably:

Today, the Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC) released estimates that show that early actions by BCHC members, leaders from America’s largest metropolitan health departments, to get the public to stay home led to an estimated 2.1 million hospitalizations avoided and over 200,000 lives saved. These estimates, based on 45-day shelter-in-place/stay-at-home orders, were calculated by the Urban Health Collaborative at Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health using a model published by The New York Times.

“Ordering people to shelter in their homes was unprecedented and difficult. Everyone’s collective action has dramatically slowed the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Sara Cody, health officer for the County of Santa Clara and chair of the Big Cities Health Coalition. “These measures have prevented many infections, hospitalizations and deaths. It’s tempting to let up, but we need to massively scale up two essential guardrails-testing and contact tracing-to protect the progress we’ve made, as well as the most vulnerable among us.”

Emphasis mine.

Presuming these estimates are accurate, that’s a massive impact, indeed. We would currently have triple the known death toll without the lockdowns.

Shutting down a huge chunk of the national economy by government dictate is unprecedented. Tens of millions unemployed and countless businesses shuttered is a terrible price to pay. And that’s to say nothing of graduations canceled, people unable to be with their loved ones while they were dying, or console their grief with funerals.

It’s hard to put a price on all of that, which is why simply “listening to the experts” is insufficient. But 200,000 lives saved is a hell of a lot on the other side of the scale.

FILED UNDER: COVID-19
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Kari Q says:

    Their results sound plausible, but of course we need to see their methodology. I’m sure this is only the first of many studies to determine how successful the mitigation efforts have been.

    2
  2. The Monster says:

    “We’ve clearly saved more lives than that.” What justifies that assertion?
    To be clear, we need to be talking about the total number of people who will have been killed by C19 before it stops spreading. A death delayed a few weeks is still a death, so it shouldn’t be counted as “saved”.

    And how many lives have been cut short by the lockdowns? We know some medical procedures deferred due to the lockdowns have contributed to deaths, that unemployment causes increases in suicides, domestic abuse, stress-related illnesses, etc. In third-world countries, people now unemployed because we stopped buying their products are literally starving to death. But all of those costs of the lockdowns are “unseen” (in Batistat’s classic terminology).

    Focusing exclusively on the lives the lockdowns pretend to save, without any consideration of the costs, is a form of Tunnel Vision guaranteed to produce policies that go far past the point of diminishing returns and start hurting more than they help.

    5
  3. Brian Wagner says:
  4. Moosebreath says:

    James,

    I am reading it as saying 6,200 lives were saved in Philadelphia alone due to the shutdown. Note both that Drexel and the TV station whose website you saw the study on are located in Philadelphia, it is not surprising that they focused on the Philadelphia numbers.

    Since CNN’s tracker has the total number of deaths in all of Pennsylvania to date as 4,495, that seems pretty significant.

    5
  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Whether the trade-off is “worth it” is, I suppose, a judgment to be left to the individual.

    Pretty sure the question comes down to whether it was “those people” or not.

    11
  6. steve says:

    “A death delayed a few weeks is still a death, so it shouldn’t be counted as “saved”.”

    I think that goes back to the original models which did not assume any successful treatments since we didnt have any when the outbreak started. What we have seen in our network is that we had a mortality rate of just over 18% for all pts admitted when the outbreak started. We now have a mortality rate of just over 13%. So lives really have been saved. (To keep that in perspective the few published studies suggest a mortality rate in the 20% range.)

    Steve

    3
  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @steve: No no, the lockdowns are just pretending.

    2
  8. Teve says:

    @The Monster: you’re welcome to write up your calculations and submit them for publication. After your analysis passes peer review please be sure to give us a link.

    27
  9. Kingdaddy says:

    @The Monster: It’s absolutely correct to point out the possible deaths during sheltering, from missed medical procedures, suicides, and the like. That possibility is not a magical talisman that banishes all arguments for the importance of sheltering and a very cautious re-opening. I’m not saying that’s what you’re arguing, but certainly there are a lot of people who are making that argument. So where are the data? Or even the estimates? If we’re going to make important public policy trade-offs, what numbers do we put on both sides of the scales?

    Everybody needs to play by the same rules of data-driven decision-making.

    18
  10. Michael Reynolds says:

    @The Monster:

    Focusing exclusively on the lives the lockdowns pretend to save, without any consideration of the costs, is a form of Tunnel Vision

    Deaths from car accidents will be down as a result of less traffic. So will work related deaths and injuries. So will deaths from elective surgeries that have been postponed. Street murders as well. School shootings. Workplace shootings.

    Those would be some factors undercutting your argument. Factors you’d spot as easily as I just did. If you you were interested in an honest evaluation, that is.

    32
  11. Jen says:

    @The Monster: Don’t forget to *subtract* out the reduced number of auto fatalities, reduced flu deaths (stay at home prevented infections from the flu from spreading too), etc.

    Some conservative pops in and trots out a bunch of hypotheticals every time there’s a post on the number of deaths, and not once have I seen an acknowledgement that stay at home orders also prevented non-covid deaths from occurring.

    Edit to add: I see Michael beat me to it! 🙂

    20
  12. Michael Reynolds says:

    Consider just how depraved one has to be, in the middle of a pandemic, to spend one’s time lying to minimize the number of deaths, lying in order to bolster the political chances of the one man most directly responsible for the US’s pathetic response to C19.

    What kind of a person does that?

    26
  13. James Joyner says:

    @Moosebreath:

    I am reading it as saying 6,200 lives were saved in Philadelphia alone due to the shutdown. Note both that Drexel and the TV station whose website you saw the study on are

    Yes—I meant to note the source of the headline “confusion” in the OP. 6200 lives in the US would be pretty minimal. In Philly alone, it’s a lot.

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Pretty sure the question comes down to whether it was “those people” or not.

    Given what kinds of businesses have been deemed “essential,” the death toll has fallen disproportionately on poor and minority citizens—precisely because they’ve been less likely to be able to shelter at home.

    Still, while the comparisons with the flu, driving, and the like are all rather silly given the sheer speed at which this disease is killing people, we make judgments about trade-offs all the time. I tend to think it’s been worth it here but I’ve been blessed with continuing to be able to do my job and draw a full salary. But the shutdowns have had significant downside as well.

    9
  14. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    If you genuinely believe that Donald Trump is the greatest president we’ve ever had, then you’ll do what you have to do to ensure he gets another four years.

    4
  15. Crusty Dem says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Too easy.

    2
  16. Kathy says:

    @Kingdaddy:

    It’s absolutely correct to point out the possible deaths during sheltering, from missed medical procedures, suicides, and the like.

    Let me complement this by saying hospitals overflowing with COVID-19 patients would also mean missed medical procedures, either because there’s no capacity for them, or because it’s too dangerous to go to the hospital for needed surgery, radiation therapy, dialysis, etc. Not to mention additional deaths of medical personnel (who are most at risk for getting COVID-19).

    There are no good choices in a pandemic, except to crack down on it early, which hardly any countries did (though most did not waste six weeks inditing there was no pandemic, as corpses piled up).

    18
  17. Kingdaddy says:

    @Kathy: Excellent point.

    4
  18. KM says:

    Were the Trumpers right, after all? That’s a negligible number compared to the vast number of people who have lost their jobs, if not their homes and businesses.

    Here’s the thing: those losses would have happened if mass death occurred. Does anyone outside the truly hardcore Cult-45ers think that if we were racking up deaths in the millions that the economy would have not taken a hit? That businesses wouldn’t have closed out of fear or concerns about liabilities? If something was killing people left and right and the government wasn’t doing jack shit, who here doubts the invisible hand of the market wouldn’t have stepped in via the public actively shunning and self-isolating? The death rate is below 5% with extreme measures – it would easily have topped 10% simply because we wouldn’t have had the resources to save even those with mild symptoms but in need of hospitalization. Not to mention all those heart attacks and car accidents would would suddenly be 100% fatal since there’s no spare doctors around…..

    MAGAts think that if a plague went roaring through America nobody’d be losing their jobs. BULLSHIT – you cannot lose a significant portion of your population without having an effect on money. In fact, I’d wager it would be even worse since the government wouldn’t be trying to mitigate the losses with a stimulus package and unemployment. There’d be even more uncertainly since nobody would be doing anything to stop it so bye-bye consumer confidence and hello Great Depression. The number of homes lost, businesses destroyed, finances ruined would be the same or WORSE because on top of lost jobs you’d now have a lost workforce and no providers left for a family.

    We can rebuild now since most of us are still alive but think about the economic impact of a flood of orphans nationwide suddenly needing care. Mommy and Daddy are dead because they went to work during a pandemic – how do you think Jr’s going to feel about capitalism? Think they’re going to just accept the machinery of the system is oiled with the blood of the workers or might they decide to do something about it? Historically, plagues get us political revolutions and economic upheavals. The ME is full of young, angry jihadists who had no real economic future and no reason to accept a government that let it happen. We already have a militia problem that’s willing to bring guns to a legislative session trying to deal with this mess- what do y’all think would have happened if lockdown hadn’t happened and the death toll took the economy down with it?

    24
  19. Dutchgirl says:

    With or without stay at home orders, the world is now different. Travel abroad for fun or business? Who would risk it? Sending Junior off to live in a dorm? Sounds risky. Attending a concert like its 2019? I’ll pass. Managing global materials supply, shipping things here and there for just in time manufacturing? That’s gonna take a hit. So, for me, yes, saving lives is 100% worth it, because their deaths would not protected the status quo.

    14
  20. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    The flip side of this is Cult45’s notion that the number of Covid-19 deaths is being hugely inflated in order to damage Trump’s re-election chances.

    5
  21. Nightcrawler says:

    @KM:

    That’s what I’ve been saying all along. The Branch Covidians think that all ~2 million of those deaths would have happened in a vacuum. The dead would have just gone POOF and vanished into the cornfield, with no reverberations, no consequences.

    Because they don’t care if their co-workers, neighbors, acquaintances and (in many cases) even family members drop dead, they think that nobody cares.

    They’re sociopaths, the same as serial killers. They are incapable of feeling grief.

    7
  22. Jay L Gischer says:

    We are seeing why information warfare, and winding up people full of rage and hate is a very bad idea, and a terrible way to govern. It’s great while it lasts, they ignore any facts in front of them except for the ones that fuel their anger and paranoia.

    But sometimes those facts are important.

    9
  23. Nightcrawler says:

    @Dutchgirl:

    I’ve been saying this all along, too. Even if “only” 50% of consumers don’t feel comfortable with taking vacations, going to the movies, attending concerts, etc., that’s still an enormous hit for any business to take.

    Employers can force some percentage of employees back into the office, but they can’t force those people to take vacations, eat at restaurants, or expose themselves to crowds outside the office.

    Additionally, a lot of employers want to continue having white-collar employees work remotely because it’s saving them money on office space and things like liability insurance and office supplies. This is going to have a significant impact on things like car purchases. We have two cars. Were it not for the apocalypse, I’d have ditched one prior to paying $1100 to have it moved 800 miles. If the market clears up, I probably will sell it. We don’t need it.

    10
  24. James Joyner says:

    @KM:

    Here’s the thing: those losses would have happened if mass death occurred. Does anyone outside the truly hardcore Cult-45ers think that if we were racking up deaths in the millions that the economy would have not taken a hit?

    Well, sure.

    But that’s really the point of the titular question. Based on this one study, the answer seems to be “around 200,000.” That’s a lot! But it’s not “millions.”

    3
  25. Kathy says:

    On the “I just thought about this” department: It’s a good thing we haven’t had any earthquakes during the pandemic. (so far). The safety protocol is to evacuate the building as soon as the seismic alert goes off (if it does), and head across the street to the median.

    Well, granted the building isn’t as full as in normal times, we still have plenty of people working here. Imagine all of them trying to get down the stairs as quickly as possible. What social distancing? People are more afraid of quakes than germs, too. Add the haphazard use of masks, and all you can do is pray no one is sick and shedding SARS-CoV2.

    Or what I now plan to do: calmly save any open work and slowly sit under the desk.

    I judge this to be far less of a risk. 1) We’re located in an area of solid bedrock, 2) the building has been declared likely to withstand even a major quake, though likely not one above 7.6 or so, with minor damage, and unlikely to collapse. So getting under the desk to protect from falling objects makes more sense, during a pandemic, than a mad rush down the stairs.

    3
  26. Gustopher says:

    @The Monster:

    To be clear, we need to be talking about the total number of people who will have been killed by C19 before it stops spreading. A death delayed a few weeks is still a death, so it shouldn’t be counted as “saved”.

    And the obsession with opening up the population to greater exposure is very likely to result in those deaths merely being delayed, so you do have a point.

    The purpose of the lockdowns is n-fold:
    1. Contain and eliminate the virus — not going to happen at this point.
    2. Keep hospitals from being so overwhelmed that people die from lack of care — so far, so good.
    3. Delay infections until we have a better treatment plan — some success there as remiscivir (?) shortens stays, which helps 2, and likely has an impact on mortality.
    4. Delay infections until we are better prepared with PPE — modest success could have been a larger success with a stronger federal response
    5. Delay infections until we have better testing— we are at less worse testing, and aren’t where we need to be
    6. Delay infections until we have better contact tracing — no idea where we are.

    If we had better testing and contact tracing, we could safely reduce some of the lockdown policies without reducing their effectiveness. Everyone would like that.

    I have no idea why the Trump Administration is being so fucking useless, and setting us up for increased deaths and a second wave before the election.

    7
  27. Michael Reynolds says:

    @The Monster:
    I’m curious about people like you. Did you know when you showed up here to spread your Cult45 bullshit that it would be instantly blown apart? Or were you surprised, because in the MAGA silo no one ever bothers to, you know, think? It goes to my core question about you people: Idiot or Liar?

    Help me out. Are you genuinely so dumb you don’t know you’re talking rot? Or are you a deliberate liar?

    13
  28. Gustopher says:

    @Nightcrawler:

    Additionally, a lot of employers want to continue having white-collar employees work remotely because it’s saving them money on office space and things like liability insurance and office supplies.

    If my employer’s office were to reopen, with proper social distancing, they would need to double the amount of floor space, and massively increase the number of bathrooms.

    I suspect work-from-home will be the norm for some time as the employer gets to offload a lot of these costs onto employees, while simultaneously caring about the employee’s health. Those employees who suck at remote work will be fired.

    5
  29. Scott says:

    @Kathy:

    On the “I just thought about this” department: It’s a good thing we haven’t had any earthquakes during the pandemic. (so far).

    Phillipines just got hit by a typhoon. It remains to be seen how that impacts the COVID-19 pandemic there.

    1
  30. KM says:

    @James:
    Ah, but that 200,000 isn’t the whole of the US, just those cities. Your bolded quote had an estimated 2.1 million hospitalizations for less then 3 months. That’s *way* beyond what we could handled and thus their 10% fatality rate (200K of 2.1M) is frankly generous to a fault. Had 2.1M hospitalizations happened on top of what we actually got, the death toll would be north of 500K for us by this point….. and that’s just for those 30 cities. Right now, people are going through apartments in NYC and finding the dead that never made it to a hospital. What’s a rural area going to look like then? Neighbors finding bodies months later in remote houses because there was nowhere to go and nobody to notice them gone. In fact, give it a few weeks and we’ll just how the rural areas feel about people prioritizing the economy over lives when its them dying and their economy taking a dive while the cities start getting back on track.

    This really isn’t a hard concept. We avoided millions of deaths, not necessarily because the virus is that lethal, but because without medical help lethality increases exponentially. Millions would have died because they maybe only needed a saline drip, some help breathing and an attentive nurse to keep an eye out if they crashed…. and they would have gotten nothing. It’s amazing to me that people are arguing this because they want to focus on the economic damage separate from it’s context. If you can’t breathe and you’re so tired you can’t roll out of bed, you ain’t going to work. Enough people have it at once and the system shuts down. No supply chain to get stuff to the hospital – more dead then necessary. All the medical staff get sick or walk off so they won’t? Whoops, more dead then needed. Much like with a heart attack, your circumstances dictate your survival. Able to get to medical help quickly – good chance; alone or the ER’s got no room for you, a body bag’s waiting.

    100K dead in a few months is bad. I don’t want to see worse. Winter’s going to give us that x2, x5, x20 all because Repubs won’t agree to lockdowns again. We’ll get that million James – barring a miracle, it’s coming.

    10
  31. CSK says:

    @Gustopher:
    I’m curious: How would you suck at remote work? (Provided it’s the kind of work that can be done by telecommuting and not something that requires actual hands-on at a particular place or time.) All it seems to mean, from my experience anyway, is that you operate your computer and use your phone at home instead of in an office. Are you suggesting that some people can’t work–because they’re easily distracted, say–outside an office environment? Don’t misunderstand; I really am rather mystified.

    3
  32. Kurtz says:

    @The Monster:

    We know some medical procedures deferred due to the lockdowns have contributed to deaths, that unemployment causes increases in suicides, domestic abuse, stress-related illnesses, etc. In third-world countries, people now unemployed because we stopped buying their products are literally starving to death.

    This is why we elect policymakers to craft legislation to mitigate the impact of reductions in economic activity. If they did what needed to be done rather than following an ideology, those deaths could be reduced.

    Using increases in suicide rates as a cudgel to protect your ideology is intellectually unsound and morally bankrupt.

    8
  33. KM says:

    @CSK:

    Are you suggesting that some people can’t work–because they’re easily distracted, say–outside an office environment?

    Considering one of my remote team was let go shortly before all this, yes you can absolutely suck at remote work. He never responded to chats in a timely fashion (within the hour is more then reasonable), never did work assigned to him but checked it off like we couldn’t tell and used his work-assigned VPN for…. well, leave it to your imagination. He had several chances to turn it around but since the company was paying for his internet (claimed he didn’t have it!!), we got to see all his search history and what exactly he *was* doing and what he *wasn’t*. Pro-tip: don’t claim to have completed a job when I can plainly see you did zero work all day, if you even bothered to log in.

    Now don’t get me wrong – we all get distracted. Hell, I’m typing this while “at work” and have Disney+ running a Simpsons marathon for me right now. But I got my deliverable out early today, do my work in a timely fashion and regularly keep in touch with my team. It’s the difference between the office gossip who’s never doing anything useful vs the guy that stops by your desk to chat for 20 min. One is productive while enjoying non-work pursuits while the other’s just…. not working. There’s a lot of people who can’t not do housework or watch the game instead of doing their remote job.

    Think of all the time-wasting and procrastination that happens in the office….. now remember how people act when they think nobody’s watching. We’re absolutely going to see people lose their jobs for not being able to keep home /office separate and keep up productivity levels.

    7
  34. Kathy says:

    @Scott:

    I’m sure not positively.

    @Gustopher:

    On the work from home front, of the 3 weeks when we were supposed to do that, with one or two days at the office per week, I managed a whole two days fully at home, and two half days.

    The first caveat is that our obsessive boss will allow this only at times when we’re not busy. But now that the cluster-f**k from the ten times moronic state of Puebla* is over, as far as assembling the proposals goes, we can return to lock down normal.

    I liked those few days at home. partly it was the novelty, but mostly it was the much more relaxed atmosphere, few interruptions, and a faster internet. Also, as an introvert, from not having people around at all times. IN fact, I’m hoping to convince the boss we could all work from home, after the pandemic is over, once or twice a week, when things aren’t busy. We’ll see.

    *Puebla is the happenstance site of Mexico’s only victory against the French army in the 1860s. It happened to be the place that offered such a good defensive position, that general Ignacio Zaragoza set up there to await the French, and overcame disadvantages in both man-power and weaponry.

    Since then, the city of Puebla styles itself as “The Heroic City of Puebla of Zaragoza,” neatly appropriating Zaragoza’s achievement. Over time, it has become, for some reason, “The Four Times Heroic City of Puebla of Zaragoza.” Since they issued ten open invitations for proposals so ineptly, I thought I’d correct the record, especially since we are required to date document sin our proposals in that silly fashion. (at that, you should see how I wrote the date in a couple of economic proposals to see whether those checking them were paying attention; it’s rather very puerile)

  35. Joe says:

    *Puebla is the happenstance site of Mexico’s only victory against the French army in the 1860s.

    Is this battle, not the source of Cinco de Mayo, Kathy?

    1
  36. Kathy says:

    @Joe:

    That’s the one.

    Do you know it was a national holiday, but it isn’t one any more? This irks the Poblanos no end. Within that state, it’s still a holiday.

    1
  37. Jen says:

    @Kathy: I’ve been thinking a LOT about hurricane season and Covid-19. If this is still circulating if/when a hurricane hits, how are we going to handle shelters? It’s incredibly challenging to shelter people during a hurricane in the first place, but while trying to establish social distancing protocols? It’s going to be impossible. June 1 – Nov. 1 is hurricane season, and this could get awful pretty quickly in the Gulf/Eastern seaboard states.

    2
  38. Nightcrawler says:

    @Gustopher:

    I don’t know if it’s going to be “the norm,” but it will definitely be a lot more common. Here’s one forecast.

    Our best estimate is that we will see 25-30% of the workforce working at home on a multiple-days-a-week basis by the end of 2021 … Before the crisis, surveys repeated showed 80% of employees want to work from home at least some of the time. Over a third would take a pay cut in exchange for the option. While the experience of working at home during the crisis may not have been ideal as whole families sheltered in place, it will give people a taste of what could be. The genie is out of the bottle and it’s not likely to go back in. … A typical employer can save about $11,000/year for every person who works remotely half of the time.

    This article also brings up something I hadn’t thought about prior to reading it. The ability to deploy an army of remote workers will now be considered a fundamental part of employers’ disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity plans:

    …work-from-home initiatives will save U.S. employers over $30 Billion dollars a day during the Covid-19 crisis. This may be the tipping point for remote work.

    1
  39. Nightcrawler says:

    @Jen:

    That’s another reason why I’m glad we got out of Florida.

    1
  40. CSK says:

    @KM:
    That person on your remote team was f*cking off, and I bet he did it as much as he could get away with in the office as well. I was thinking more of people who might have some cognitive or psychological problem with working outside an office. There are people like that, people who can’t function unless they can rigidly compartmentalize their lives.

    P.S. I’d have fired that guy, too.

    5
  41. Nightcrawler says:

    @KM:

    100K dead in a few months is bad. I don’t want to see worse. Winter’s going to give us that x2, x5, x20 all because Repubs won’t agree to lockdowns again. We’ll get that million James – barring a miracle, it’s coming.

    Yep, unfortunately, the GOP is going to get exactly what it claims to want: Millions of Americans dead. However, it’s not going to work out the way they want it to. They seem to think that only liberals will die or become disabled from COVID, and again, that all those people are just going to vanish into the cornfield, with no repercussions.

    2
  42. JKB says:

    @Gustopher: If my employer’s office were to reopen, with proper social distancing, they would need to double the amount of floor space, and massively increase the number of bathrooms.

    And that will drastically reduce the value of commercial real estate as the productivity per square foot will decline. In the last 30 years, the sq ft/employee increased dramatically for manufacturing and manufacturing moved out of urban districts to outer rings where the land prices were cheaper. The need for the “plant” to be near where the workers lived having long been overrun by commuting.

    If the sq ft/employee goes up for other types of businesses, they too will leave dense urban districts or the commercial rents will decline. If they leave, then the support businesses will fail or adapt.

    We also shouldn’t ignore that a lot of support businesses are/were owned by individuals nearing retirement. If those businesses are nailed by the shutdown, they may not re-open as it would drain retirement savings in a very uncertain time. Or the business will be sold to younger owners who will move them to the outer ring.

    We should acknowledge that many urban corpses will become enforcement/fine hellholes for businesses as the city officials look to regain the revenue they destroyed with the lockdowns.

    2
  43. Dutchgirl says:

    On the topic of hurricanes, atmospheric dust appears to suppress storm formation and intensity. We have way less particle pollution from China and everywhere else. It could be a bad storm season.

    1
  44. wr says:

    @The Monster: ” A death delayed a few weeks is still a death, so it shouldn’t be counted as “saved”.

    Why stop there? Everyone is going to die someday, so clearly these people shouldn’t be considered unless they can prove immortality. Combine that with all the third-world people the right is momentarily pretending to care about, and it’s clear that the Shutdown is actually the worst mass-murder in human history, dwarfing the holocaust.

    7
  45. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Here is the thing… this really doesn’t show the scale of the problem. If 10,000 people were saved, but 90,000 are dead, it is a failure.

    To track this failure, there is a now a website called Trump Death Clock. This specifically tracks the number of additional preventable UC Coronavirus deaths that are directly attributed to this administration when they clearly KNEW but INTENTIONALLY did not take action.

    This Trump Death Clock, besides being available at the link above, is now prominently in Times Square.

    (It seems that video billboard rents have dropped dramatically if the world’s tourists are no longer filling the area.)

    2
  46. wr says:

    @JKB: “We should acknowledge that many urban corpses will become enforcement/fine hellholes for businesses as the city officials look to regain the revenue they destroyed with the lockdowns.”

    That’s a lovely masturbation fantasy for you. Here’s another thought, though — if businesses don’t need their employees to work in a central location, then a lot of people who currently need to be living in cities will be free to move into cheaper, more rural communities… and they’re going to keep voting Democratic. How many people have to move to the rural corpses you worship as “real America” before they all start turning blue?

    10
  47. Jen says:

    @CSK:

    How would you suck at remote work?

    Years ago, a former coworker and I were talking about working from home–I was saying how much I loved it and that I was way more efficient and that it was just easier for me to get my work done. She stated that there was no way she’d be able to WFH–she recognized that she needed the structured environment that work provided.

    That’s from someone what was very self-aware and knew how she worked best. Some people are just really easily distracted and WFH can be very detrimental/hard for them.

    Editing to add: One client is looking to get certain team members back in the office because their home setups are proving to be impossible to work from–that’s a different issue entirely, but still under the “can’t really work from home effectively” umbrella. They didn’t elaborate, but sounded like some people had space issues, some had connectivity issues, and some had home/environment issues.

    2
  48. MarkedMan says:

    @KM:

    Does anyone outside the truly hardcore Cult-45ers think that if we were racking up deaths in the millions that the economy would have not taken a hit?

    Actually, there is a sort of real world experiment going on with that. Sweden has decided to pursue the “accept higher death rates to get to herd immunity so as to keep the economy strong” path. How has that gone? 4 times the per capita deaths as their neighbors with their economy suffering equally.

    5
  49. CSK says:

    @Jen:
    This is pretty much what I meant: people who need the office environment in order to function efficiently. Clearly your colleague did, and was astute enough to recognize that need. Like you, I enjoy working at home and do very well at it. I don’t need someone breathing down my neck.

    And yes: I imagine it would be difficult to work from home if you had to care for a toddler and infant while so doing. Or did not have the space.

    2
  50. Dutchgirl says:

    @MarkedMan: It’s almost as if countries are part of a global economy!

    3
  51. Kit says:

    @CSK:

    There are people like that, people who can’t function unless they can rigidly compartmentalize their lives.

    We naturally multitask in an office setting, but away from that many people like to focus on the task at hand. Your minor request goes into a queue where it may be handled later. Maybe not—managing a queue is a skill of its own. Now your ten-minute favor takes a couple of days to get done during which time you spin your wheels. Your cultivated charm counts for nothing and might even work against you. Time to kick ass, but that’s a skill of its own, too.

    Working in an office is a team sport, and teams run on personal connections. Always go out for that drink. Always find some time for chitchat around the coffee machine. Otherwise risk being an electronic nag given the lowest priority.

  52. Monala says:

    @CSK: reminds me of a cartoon I saw recently: a disheveled woman shows up at a Zoom meeting, and apologizes to her colleagues: “Sorry I’m late. The commute this morning was terrible!”

    In the image, the house is a wreck, she has a toddler clinging to her leg, is holding an infant who is squalling, has a dog howling in the background, and her husband is holding up one sock – I presume he’s asking her why she hasn’t done his laundry, instead of helping her with the kids and the dog.

    6
  53. Kurtz says:

    @JKB:

    It’s interesting that you hold such contempt for cities, given the numerous empirical studues that show a strong connection between city-size and economic efficiency. (There are limits, of course.)

    Also, a large part of the reason that rural land is cheaper is the result of exposing a non-human-produced resource (land) to market forces. See: Smith, Adam and Ricardo, David. I assume you have heard of those guys.

    4
  54. Northerner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Pretty sure the question comes down to whether it was “those people” or not.

    That presumes they care even for “their people”. My (admittedly cynical) guess is that it simply comes down to how its affected their own finances.

  55. CSK says:

    @Monala:
    There are people in that situation. I don’t know how they cope. I’d kill myself.

  56. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Kurtz:
    No, no, no, the fact that a four bedroom home on an acre of land in Gooberville costs $60,000 and sits on the market for five years is proof of just how wonderful rural life is. Conversely the fact that a one bedroom apartment in San Francisco costs $1,000,000 and you have to show up at 6 AM with an actual million dollars in your pocket proves what vile hellholes cities are.

    Cuz @JKB are real smart.

    11
  57. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kit: For me, the bigger problem of working at home was that because I had been a common laborer for 15 years in my early employment life, home is where I go when the work is done. I never got used to bringing home papers to correct and such as a teacher. I always did all my work at my office. When I was adjuncting and didn’t have an office, I worked at the student center, the school coffee shop, the library, Starblechh’s, wherever. Just as long as I didn’t have to bring work home, it was all good.

    5
  58. Kathy says:

    A few minutes ago, we had samples taken for a COVID-19 test.

    It’s interesting. The test is done by a private lab, and has this price structure for corporate clients:

    20-100 tests, approx $100 US each.
    101-200 tests, approx $80 US each.
    201-300 tests, approx $65 US each.

    This is for samples collected by their mobile unit (more on that later). If the samples are taken to or at their lab, it’s $80 each (I assume a discount for higher volume anyway). They do the PCR, Polymerase Chain Reaction type of test. I’m not familiar with testing methods, but I know PCR is a lab tool to make massive amounts of copies of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), so I suppose they copy the RNA in the sample to be able to test if it is from the SARS-CoV2.

    The mobile unit, which we used, is a van with a big side door. The technicians use that door to enter a room with a Plexiglas wall with openings for their arms. You go in through the back door, where you stand while they take the sample. They use one swab at the back of the throat (I managed to suppress my rather sensitive gag reflex, but only just), and then one at the nose. I had thought they just inserted the nose swab and reached the throat through it.

    They parked the van on the other side of the street, across the median, which drew a lot of attention. No idea whether they will take samples from anyone who can pay. I’ve heard some private labs quote much higher prices, and I know the work of this lab (we sue them for analyses of personnel, food, water, surfaces, etc.), so I’m confident to get an accurate result.

    Results are due within 48 and 72 hours.

    2
  59. Scott says:

    @Kit:

    Working in an office is a team sport, and teams run on personal connections. Always go out for that drink. Always find some time for chitchat around the coffee machine. Otherwise risk being an electronic nag given the lowest priority.

    Right now, working from home is just as productive. Why, because I know all the players on the team. We haven’t had any turnover. I’m wonder, though, once turnover starts happening how the process of acculturation is going to go. I suspect we will have to find some new ways of accomplishing that.

    1
  60. James Joyner says:

    @KM:

    Ah, but that 200,000 isn’t the whole of the US, just those cities. Your bolded quote had an estimated 2.1 million hospitalizations for less then 3 months. That’s *way* beyond what we could handled and thus their 10% fatality rate (200K of 2.1M) is frankly generous to a fault. Had 2.1M hospitalizations happened on top of what we actually got, the death toll would be north of 500K for us by this point….. and that’s just for those 30 cities.

    I think you’re engaging in double-counting. The death counts are surely factoring in the survival rates for those hospitalized.

    Yes, it appears that the 200,000 figure just applies to America’s 30 largest cities. But those cities account for a sizable share of the entire US population and an even larger share of the impact of the virus, given proximity issues. The NYC metro area alone is roughly a third of all deaths.

    Again, 200,000 is a huge number. Probably enough to justify the toll of the shutdowns. But “millions” is at least ten times 200,000; we don’t have any evidence for that.

    2
  61. Kit says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    home is where I go when the work is done

    Yes, very much this. What I’ve learned about lockdown is how much of my life was built upon good habits, habits which have withered in strange circumstances. And I say this as someone who has changed countries every two to three years on average over the past couple of decades. I miss the gym. I miss the miles I would walk every day just getting around. I miss the pulse of the city and its serendipity. Working from home is like learning to walk after an accident.

    1
  62. Kurtz says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Yes. All liberals are just masochists who like to live in shitholes so much, we are willing to pay through the nose for the privilege.

    Or maybe all of us are just getting ourselves used to burning in Hell for all eternity once we shuffle of this mortal coil.

    3
  63. Joe says:

    @Kathy:

    I know the work of this lab (we sue them for analyses of personnel, food, water, surfaces, etc.), so I’m confident to get an accurate result.

    From context, I am going to guess you intended the anagram, “use” them.

    2
  64. Kathy says:

    @Jen:

    Masks and hand sanitizer would help a little. In the end, the calculus will be which kills more people, the hurricane or the virus?

  65. Kathy says:

    @Joe:

    I tend to jumble letters when typing. I get all the letters in the word, just not always in the right order. I depend too much on the spell-checker to do my proofreading.

    Odd fact: when I enter numbers through a keypad, I tend to notice input mistakes even when I’m not looking at the keypad or at the output on the screen.

  66. Kit says:

    @Scott:

    Right now, working from home is just as productive. Why, because I know all the players on the team. We haven’t had any turnover. I’m wonder, though, once turnover starts happening how the process of acculturation is going to go. I suspect we will have to find some new ways of accomplishing that.

    Team building might go from a well intentioned waste of time to something profoundly important.

    Now I’m wondering about what the nature of office politics might mean in this brave new world (not that I ever much understood the old one). Riches await the guy who can come out with the first compelling book!

    1
  67. Nightcrawler says:

    @Jen:

    This is why I’ve been so busy.

    Deploying a massive remote workforce, suddenly and with no warning, isn’t as simple as just sending everyone home with a laptop, or worse yet, just telling them to work on their home machines.

    Even if employees have very high-speed internet at home (and a lot of people don’t), organizations quickly ran into issues with employees being able to remotely access work systems and apps, and do so securely.

    Sometimes, things that seemed very simple when everyone was on-prem, like passwords, became enormous issues. One of my clients sells a SaaS password manager, and their business has exploded as enterprises have come to realize that password security is more important than ever when everyone is working remotely.

    Google suddenly found itself with a captive market for its BeyondCorp solution, which allows remote employees to access internal web apps without needing a VPN.

    Google and my password client were ready to see their business take off into the stratosphere. Other SaaS providers were woefully unprepared for a sudden and massive influx of customers. I’m looking at you, Zoom.

    This is another reason why a lot of organizations will keep at least some of their workforce remote, at least part-time. They had to spend a lot of money enabling and securing these people, and they’ll want to get a return on those investments.

    2
  68. Nightcrawler says:

    I don’t see urbanites suddenly moving to Boomfahook en masse, especially when there’s a middle ground between living in the city and living in a rural area. It’s called the suburbs, and that’s where I live. I get the best of both worlds here. It’s not as congested or expensive as the city, but I have access to the resources the city has to offer.

    Many rural areas in the U.S. lack high-speed internet access, so WFH urbanites can’t move to those places even if they want to.

    2
  69. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: I’m not sure that’s all that odd. On the 10 key set up that I’ve used on my computer each finger has only 3 total choices (if that)–up, down, and center. I think it’s a lot easier to realize your mistake in that situation.

  70. James Joyner says:

    @Nightcrawler:

    I get the best of both worlds here. It’s not as congested or expensive as the city, but I have access to the resources the city has to offer.

    Yup. We’re on five acres surrounded by woods and a pond. But we have high-speed internet access and are 15-20 minutes from pretty much anything we’d want, 25 minutes away from an international airport, 30 minutes to another major airport, and 40 minutes from downtown DC.

    3
  71. gVOR08 says:

    @Kurtz:

    Yes. All liberals are just masochists who like to live in shitholes so much, we are willing to pay through the nose for the privilege.

    I glanced at RedState a couple weeks ago and saw a commenter explicitly talking about urban living as an ideology. Not as an aspect of liberalism but as a distinct ideology, as was his own rural living. Just as some people are Catholic, some are Baptist.

    1
  72. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    It’s one of those things I do but don’t know how I do it.

  73. Moosebreath says:

    @James Joyner:

    “Yes, it appears that the 200,000 figure just applies to America’s 30 largest cities. But those cities account for a sizable share of the entire US population and an even larger share of the impact of the virus, given proximity issues. The NYC metro area alone is roughly a third of all deaths.”

    Any potential deaths averted in the parts of the NY metro area outside the 5 boroughs of NYC aren’t included in the 200,000 calculation. It’s only the 30 largest cities themselves.

  74. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @JKB:

    And that will drastically reduce the value of commercial real estate as the productivity per square foot will decline. In the last 30 years, the sq ft/employee increased dramatically for manufacturing and manufacturing moved out of urban districts to outer rings where the land prices were cheaper. The need for the “plant” to be near where the workers lived having long been overrun by commuting.

    I don’t think so. I think that’s possible to see more people working or doing some work from home, but do not to expect Google and KPMG closing down their corporate HQs to have all their employees working from home.

    And even people working from home full time are not going to move to Wyoming or South Dakota. They’ll still live in urban centers.

    1
  75. Kathy says:

    It seems El PITO Pequeño is dosing himself with hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic measure. I wonder if he’s even taking it under medical supervision. Organ damage could be a nasty surprise for him.

    2
  76. CSK says:

    @Kathy:
    I was so hoping he’d decided to guzzle Clorox.

    4
  77. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    If he gets sick, he might, even if it’s not COVID-19.

    1
  78. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Kathy:

    It seems El PITO Pequeño is dosing himself with hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic measure

    In Brazil, hydroxychloroquine has been sold with the same restrictions that antibiotics have after Bolsonaro began talking about this drug. This is a nightmare.

  79. CSK says:

    @Kathy:
    He claimed he asked his doctor, and that the doctor said something along the lines of, “If you want to take it, you can,” which sounds to me like, “Shit, man, do what you like; you will even if I tell you not to.”

    3
  80. Kathy says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    Last week my mom asked me to get her some medicines at Walmart. I did, but one wasn’t available: plaquenil. This a form of hydroxychloroquine, which she was prescribed to treat arthritis.

    So either idiots in Mexico are also taking it, or the idiot demand elsewhere is driving global stocks down.

    @CSK:

    He may be taking such a ridiculously small dose, say one tablet per day or even less, that it’s immaterial. And for all we know, the doctor or El PITO’s aides are giving him Tic Tacs. A cehap placebo is about as good as an expensive one.

    2
  81. CSK says:

    @Kathy:
    He did say he was taking only one tablet per day. And you’re right; he could be taking a sugar pill without knowing it.

  82. Kurtz says:

    @gVOR08:

    That’s kind of an interesting idea. I have to think about that for a bit.

  83. Michael Reynolds says:

    Trump is likely lying about hydroxychloroquine. Consider the odds against Trump saying anything true.

    4
  84. Jen says:

    @Michael Reynolds: My husband and I were just debating if he’s:

    a) actually taking hydroxychloroquine
    b) not taking it and lying
    c) being given baby aspirin or a placebo by his doctors and being told he’s taking hydroxychloroquine

    I’m leaning toward b, my husband thinks c.

    7
  85. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Quoting from MSN:
    “Trump said his doctor did not recommend the drug to him, but he requested it from his White House physician. ‘I started taking it because I think it’s good,’ Trump said. ‘I’ve heard a lot of good stories.'”

    1
  86. CSK says:

    @Jen:
    B and C seem equally plausible to me. I can’t make up my mind.

    2
  87. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    In this instance it’s hard to say, but on occasion he is truthful. Example, the time he said “Fake (negative) news,” or words to that effect. and he has had other slips like that.

    That, BTW, was a clue in deciphering Trumpish.

    This is speculation, but here’s my take: he may be telling the truth that he’s taking hydroxychloroquine, but not that he consulted with any doctor or that any doctor told him “whatever floats your boat, Donnie boy.”

    2
  88. Jax says:

    @James Joyner: Oh, just rub it in already, would ya?! I’m 100 miles from the closest hospital, Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, or delivery pizza. 😉

    That said, I’ve got (looks out the front window) 4 twenty-acre lots I’d be willing to sell. Right off the highway, you’re still 3 miles from me and “town”, your closest neighbors would be the other 4 lot owners. Internet is….well, there is some. The power mostly stays on. No state income tax. And the VIEWS….Two full mountain ranges! (Nobody mentions the -40 in the winter part when they’re trying to sell stuff)

    I like to call it my future commune. 🙂

    4
  89. EddieInCA says:

    @Jax:

    That said, I’ve got (looks out the front window) 4 twenty-acre lots I’d be willing to sell. Right off the highway, you’re still 3 miles from me and “town”, your closest neighbors would be the other 4 lot owners. Internet is….well, there is some. The power mostly stays on. No state income tax. And the VIEWS….Two full mountain ranges! (Nobody mentions the -40 in the winter part when they’re trying to sell stuff)

    I’ve got a 4/2 on 10,000 sq ft lot in Northridge, and it’s valued just north of $900K. I like to call it my retirement fund. 🙂

    2
  90. Jax says:

    @EddieInCA: Mine ain’t worth that much….yet. Maybe for all four lots. I’m just waiting for global warming to hit in full, and then it’s Ocean Front Property in Wyoming! The 50 year “outlook” looks like my area may be one of the last with “habitable” temps….no word yet on that -40 crap. My experience so far is the weather we already have is just getting more unstable, not “warmer”. So 20 degrees above 0 to -40 in a day. 🙁

    Plus Yellowstone could blow up, soooo….

    3
  91. Kathy says:

    @Jax:

    Plus Yellowstone could blow up, soooo….

    Oh, if (when) the Yellowstone Caldera blows up, it will likely take out all of the US, Canada, Mexico and parts of Central America and the Caribbean.

    Maybe.

    It will definitely be bad for all of them, and none to good for the rest of the world.

    I just jope it waits until after I’ve checked out. Oh, it would be nice if it waited until the Big Rip, or Big Bounce, or the Heat-Death, but that’s not likely. A few decades is a more reasonable request.

    3
  92. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Kathy:

    So either idiots in Mexico are also taking it, or the idiot demand elsewhere is driving global stocks down.

    I don’t know. In Brazil Bolsonaro talks so much about hydroxychloroquine that it became part of Meme culture. I don’t know how this is being handled in other countries, but Trump talking about taking the drug can be extremely problematic.

    1
  93. Nightcrawler says:

    I sincerely wouldn’t mind living someplace where I wouldn’t be around other people at all. But I need high-speed internet access in order to work, so that’s just not an option for me.

    3
  94. Jax says:

    @Kathy: I’m close enough that I have some “soapholes” (bottomless, alkali mudholes) that are supposedly connected deep underground to the caldera. Those mudpots that have boardwalks inside the park are just cow/horse killers here. Humans, too, should they fall in one.

    I fell in one, once. They move, you see, based on the local ground water levels and the aquifer. I was mapping it out on foot so I could see where to put a corner post to fence it off so the animals wouldn’t fall in this new one. One minute I was on solid ground and the next my right foot just…tipped off into nothing. Ass deep in sticky, clay mud, no footing and no bottom under my right foot, I turned to look at my kids, fell back and threw my arms out on top, lost my right boot, my kids were screaming and grabbed my left boot, pulled it off, and grabbed my foot. Scariest damn thing I’ve ever experienced, really.

    But if the caldera blows, I should get some warning from my own mudpots, so I got that going for me. 😉

    2
  95. Michael Reynolds says:

    I’ve been working at home since about 1992.

    Work in an office and you’re there for eight hours of which three hours is work. Working at home I put in that same three hours and the rest of the time I’m free to watch David Mitchell clips on You Tube, raid the fridge, get high, daydream, drink…

    Three hours of self discipline and you buy yourself so much freedom.

    4
  96. Kathy says:

    @Jax:

    Scary would hardly begin to describe it.

    Bill Bryson tells of a group of park employees who died falling into a pool of very hot mud at night in Yellowstone. It’s terrifying.

  97. CSK says:

    Nancy Pelosi says Trump should not be ingesting hydroxychloroquine because he’s “morbidly obese.”
    Snicker.

    4
  98. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    Methinks Madam Speaker is deploying reverse psychology.

    2
  99. CSK says:

    @Kathy:
    Could be. Could well be.

    1