Drop some knowledge,
Steven L. Taylor
Tuesday, May 5, 2020
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective.
He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog).
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Five Eyes network contradicts theory Covid-19 leaked from lab
WHO says it has no evidence to support ‘speculative’ Covid-19 lab theory
“It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”
US daily coronavirus deaths reportedly projected to double to 3,000 by June
The Florida headline of the day-
Florida sales tax collections down by more than $750 million, preliminary reports show
The headline of the day-
5-year-old Utah boy allegedly takes parent’s car in bid to buy Lamborghini in California
Krugman on Kevin Hassett:
In other words it’s a feature, not a bug.
@Bill: “Doesn’t trump know asking a Floridian for advice is Florida’s leading cause of death?”
Pure projection, why is it these assholes always think poor black people (in their minds it is always “strapping young bucks buying t-bone steaks”) are going to do what only rich entitled white folks should be allowed to?
Heaven forbid a poor family have food for the table when a rich Republican department head hasn’t been to the Caribbean in over 6 months.
@OzarkHillbilly: according to US News and World Report, Mississippi is the 48th best state in the union.
Our esteemed AG thought it would be a good idea to set up a twitter account, #AskAGBarr. Not.
When are you resigning for being a grossly corrupt AG whose overriding position in all things is to cover for an even more criminally-corrupt president? #AskAGBarr
What the fuck is wrong with you?
Tara Dublin Is Staying Home
Why are you such a fucking complicit traitor? #AskAGBarr
Etc., etc., etc.
@sam: With that news, I am sorely tempted to join Twitter.
This is a normal person who we want in charge:
‘They’re all LOSERS’: Trump lashes out at conservative critics over new coronavirus ad
@Teve: So, I had to go look. Alabama and Louisiana are 49th and 50th, for those who are curious.
@Michael Cain: I have spent more than a little time in all 3 and in my opinion, Mississippi is worse then either of them.
@Michael Cain: also very appropriate rankings. South Carolina should’ve been given a worse score than 42 though.
Great. Just great.
A mutant coronavirus has emerged, even more contagious than the original, study says
Wait a minute, isn’t that supposed to be ‘Florida boy’?
Looks correct to me. Note “Lamborghini”, not “Monster Truck”.
@Michael Cain: An odd thing that I noticed once when I was looking at historical changes in the electoral college votes is the unevenness of population growth in the South. While Texas, Florida, and Georgia have exploded in the EC, all of Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Mississippi have lost at least one electoral vote in the last 30 years. Alabama will almost certainly lose one after the 2020 census.
Fuck the state of Puebla.
I was doing rather well working from home. I wasn’t happy, but relieved. It’s stressful to be out every day, especially with lost of people who don’t understand, or don’t care, about social distancing.
But now the government of Puebla is issuing open invitations to supply their welfare programs with foodstuffs. That in itself is not that bad, except there are 10 major such programs, and they are issuing an invite for every one.
The dates are all messed up, too. One published April 30th has a delivery date of May 20th. One published yesterday, may 4th, is due on May 15th. How does that make any sense?
So I’ve had to come to the office all but two days over the past ten days.
And they still have three invitations left to publish.
Ok, yes, they have to supply these programs.It’s important. but they could assign them monthly to the existing suppliers, sans competition, as the law plainly allows, in order not to expose literally hundreds of people to the SARS-CoV2 virus.
Well, if it ain’t the prodigy of Princeton College
@Scott: Beat me to posting it.
Not just more contagious, but also might make people MORE vulnerable to a second infection after surviving the first.
@wr: Someone didn’t throw away their shot.
Aw, man, surely Bama is better than Mississippi? And New Orleans alone makes LA way better.
Generally those California and Yankee retirees aren’t stupid enough to move to states that have third world healthcare systems.
@Michael Cain: @Steven L. Taylor:
Mississippi checks in as having the lowest average I.Q. of any state at 94.2.
Gilead is spending a lot on lobbying.
I don’t think this says anything about their drug, but it does say something about our system. I wonder if some B-schools has data on the yield of enterprise spending on research vs spending on lobbying.
The Alabama/Georgia difference is interesting insofar at one point, decades ago, the states were quite similar. Atlanta became Atlanta (helped immensely by getting a major airport) and embraced a more modern economic approach. Birmingham (which has its charms) stayed weighed down by the past (in many ways, but in this case economically tied to mining and related industries).
It’s really not surprising as a virus’ main purpose is to reproduce. To be more successful evolutionary, it needs to (1) be able to spread easier to gain new hosts or (2) keep the host alive for longer to enable spread. Virii are either flash-in-the-pan and kill too fast (think Ebola) or they mutate to strains that kill you slower so you can spread the love around. COVID-19 already has an abnormally long 2-week incubation and contagion stage so the next step for survival is to make sure you can nab as many hosts as possible.
This is going to be a problem for a LONG time. The world’s been blessed with decades of freedom from major infectious plagues; even the ones we had like AIDS have specific vectors that can be contained and controlled. People have forgotten what our ancestors lived with for millennia: the notion that disease is ever-present and can destroy your economy and civilization rather quickly. We’re getting a rude re-introduction to the concept and the culture shock is real. Those railing against their “freedoms” being taken away forget that not too long ago, you’d be confined to a pest house if ill or just run out of town at gunpoint if you refused to isolate. None of this “nobody tells ME to wear a mask!!” – they’d be treated as lunatics for forgoing protection.
COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon and it’s not going to magically get better. We may see hundreds of thousands of Americans dead by the end of the year and goes “meh”. When it mutates, it’s not just going to take the “vulnerable” but anyone it can get. Danse Macabre came about in the Middle Ages due to the Black Death – what kind of mentality and social change is COVID-19 going to bring?
From yesterday’s thread:
You’re right, I’m wrong, and I’m sorry. I should have said there’s no evidence that the excess deaths are C19 fatalities, fatalities due to C19 complications, or fatalities in which the victims were infected with coronavirus. I’ve been trying to be clear on the point, but I failed there. Thanks for catching it.
In his book “A Short History of Nearly Everything,” Bill Bryson makes the claim that “The purpose of DNA(*) is to make more DNA” or words to that effect, and that life is a consequence of that.
He also notes that some DNA sequences prevalent in many species don’t seem to be good at much except reproducing, which kind of makes his point for him.
The eventual fate of a host is of no evolutionary/reproductive concern for a virus. Overall viruses that don’t kill achieve greater success, as they get passed around more between hosts. But it’s all blind evolution.
I wonder if human motivation may have an effect. Consider, we’re more likely to try to eradicate viruses that kill lots of people, than more benign ones that rarely or never kill. The viruses don’t know this, naturally, but it is an environmental pressure. Could viruses become less deadly as that best guarantees reproductive success?
Ok, thus far we’ve eradicated 1 (one) virus, the one for smallpox. The one responsible for Polio could be eradicated, and would have surely been, were people not suspicious of vaccines. The potential is clearly there.
(*) this also applies to RNA
I could almost feel sorry for Trump. The best he can do to insult George Conway is to call him “Moonface.” Conway is now referring to Trump as “Moron in America.”
No evidence? What do you think constitutes evidence? If a tornado sweeps through a town and 100 more people are found dead the next day then would have happened on a normal day, would you say that absent a video recording there is “no evidence” the tornado has anything to do with it?
Wait, that’s exactly the Trumpian response to deaths in Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria. I withdraw my question.
Does anyone have an opinion about Politico reporter Dan Diamond?
Oct 17th headline: Vicious Bear Escapes From El Dorado Zoo
Oct 18th headline: 8 People Found Mauled to Death in El Dorado
Oct 19th headline: Detective South Says No Clue What Caused Maulings
@Scott: I never stop being terrified of these unhinged rants.
@95 South: Would you not agree, however, that one can make a very strong logical inference that historically and usually high death rates in the context of a pandemic are the likely cause of a significant percentage the unaccounted for deaths?
Deviation from a norm is not evidence of why something is happening, but it is evidence that something is happening. Context clues can lead to reasonable inferences and hypotheses.
I thoroughly agree that we cannot know for certain what caused the unaccounted for deaths, and so cannot blithely add them to the totals. But surely the probabilities are that most, if not all, are Covid-19. Why else would there be this spike? The only alternative hypotheses are 1) lack of access to medical procedures and 2) suicide or lack of food due to lack of work.
The numbers appear too high for H1 (it isn’t like all non-Covid-19 medical access is cut off) and H2 has not had enough time for social distancing and economic hardship to cause a spike of this kind (and past data do not support that such a spike would result in any event).
@Slugger: It does say something about our system but might not be exactly what everyone thinks.
The law is pretty clear on what constitutes lobbying, and any contacts have to be reported. So, as interest goes up, members of congress/congressional staff start making calls asking, all of that has to be reported as lobbying contacts.
@Steven L. Taylor: I fear you are arguing to no effect. Trump world has embraced the idea that only thirty some-odd people died in Hurricane Maria. There are no facts or common sense that will move them from that position because they don’t inhabit the real world. In these new circumstances they are starting out with “Those excess deaths could be anything and no reason to pin it on C19.” And they are quickly moving to “Even the confirmed C19 cases are suspect and probably inflated by physicians who hate Trump.”
They don’t take responsibility for anything and don’t feel they are obligated to deliver anything, so facts and figures are just fungible blobs of goo in their hands, to be manipulated into a shape that matches their desired outcome.
@Steven L. Taylor: Cities count. Even more important — speaking as a hack social scientist — are cities’ attitudes. In particular, cities with an attitude of “we’re going to do new sh*t” count. My limited experiences are that metro Atlanta has that attitude but metro Birmingham does not. Oversimplified, many Rust Belt cities have exactly that problem. As long as Pittsburgh was just going to do steel, it was doomed. Now that it’s embracing new stuff, it’s having a modest renaissance. Business took me to California a lot back in my technical career, and California has always had that “we’re going to do new stuff” energy.
I live in metro Denver, which is quite possibly the leading boom-and-bust city in the country. But every boom has been something different — the list includes but is not limited to mining, railroads, telecom, and software.
@Michael Cain: I totally agree.
The interesting thing about Birmingham is that it was once the “Magic City”–the new city with new ideas, but once those new ideas ran out it, the city stagnated. It has changed some in the last ten years-ish, but it was left behind by Atlanta quite some time ago.
I will say that the vibe in Montgomery is well behind the vibe (to use, of course, very technical terms) in Birmingham.
But yes: cities are very important and clearly affect the broader state.
You’re an empty little man repeating Trump lies. Nothing more. Yesterday’s talking point: Nuh uh, no one is dying of Covid-19.
Same bullshit today or is it on to blaming China?
He doesn’t care, he has zero interest in truth. You’re wasting your time.
Just giving him the chance to demonstrate that he is the fair-minded, non-partisan that he claims to be.
I am open to alternative hypotheses about the excess deaths if he would kindly provide them.
@Michael Reynolds: I’m going to change my wager with you. I had said that I’d donate $10 to the Nashville Rescue Mission if you showed me where I said I supported Trump, and you should donate $10 if you couldn’t. Here’s my new proposal: I’ll donate $50 to the Nashville Rescue Mission either way. You find that support of Trump or admit you can’t, and I’ll make the donation.
Your support for Trump appears to be implicit rather than explicit, in the sense that you express all the views that are characteristic of a Trump adulator.
@Steven L. Taylor: If you assume the excess deaths are primarily due to undetected coronavirus, then you’re going to be more inclined to take the lockdown argument more seriously, but if you assume the excess deaths are primarily caused by other factors you’re going to lean toward the restart argument. I don’t know what’s causing the excess deaths. I’m sure there are some due to the disease, and some due to the changes in our conditions. I await the analysis of the experts.
@CSK: This site is so far over on one side you can’t make out the difference between people so far away.
20 years of Vietnam killed 58,209 Americans.
Not even considering the excessive deaths, the novel coronavirus killed 58,760 Americans in April.
@Teve: Hmm, that looks familiar:
Jan 1 – Sep 30: white guy makes numerous comments in person and on social media about how he hates [pick one: blacks, Jews, Muslims, Mexicans, immigrants]
Oct. 1 – Oct. 14th: white guy acquires enough weapons and ammunition to power a small army
Oct. 15th: white guy posts manifesto on Reddit about how he is ready to take action and defend the white race by killing [pick one: blacks, Jews, Muslims, Mexicans, immigrants]
Oct. 16th: white guy kills a woman in his life, then commits mass killing of [pick one: blacks, Jews, Muslims, Mexicans, immigrants]
Oct. 17th headline: Troubled loner from a good family carries out inexplicable attack; childhood babysitter remembers him as “a sweet kid.”
Oct. 18th headline: Police: no indication of a motive at this time.
@Scott: This may be partly why the West Coast states where it first appeared are doing much better now with slowing the rate of cases and deaths than the East Coast.
But before we rest on our laurels, we now have murder hornets.
You’re evading the issue. But let me respond: Well, yes, you can make out the difference. It’s quite easy. Let me draw you an example: I see a middle-aged white fellow wearing a Confederate-flag-themed t-shirt who’s driving a pick-up truck with a loaded-up gun rack to an anti-immigration rally. My guess is that his preferred candidate is…Donald Trump. Why do I think that? Because the fellow displays all the traits of a Trumpkin.
@95 South: To borrow a weather metaphor that someone else already used, your stance is akin to finding trees down around town after a bad thunderstorm and not being willing to infer that most, if not all of them, were downed by the storm.
After all, some of them may have fallen before the storm. Some after. Maybe some of them were about to fall and a puff of a breeze knocked them over, so really the storm didn’t cause them to fall.
No. That is not how it works, that is not how ANY of this works!
A few months ago I was excoriated for suggesting that Covid-19 deaths might be similar to flu deaths. (Not trying to rehash, just a reintroduction.)
Turns out that I was far more off-base than I knew. More than you knew, too, I’d wager.
From the Scientific American
Let’s see if I can summarize the Trumpista position: few people die of COVID-19, more die of the flu, and all the tens of thousands of deaths from COIVD-19 are the fault of China and Obama.
I think we’ve always been at war with Eastasia, too.
@CSK: I meet 2 out of 7 of those conditions.
Meanwhile, Trump is saying that he will only allow the Republican controlled Senate to perform oversight, not the House, which is controlled by Democrats.
“Trump admitted the difference in treatment for the House versus the Senate was who controls each chamber. He said the House is rooting for him to fail in combating coronavirus.”
There is no bottom.
@Steven L. Taylor: Birmingham’s “Magic City” days were a long time ago, though. Far closer to the Civil War than to today.
For a project I’ve been working on, I look for two different population histories in US cities based on the combination of the urban core and the overall metro area, in the period from roughly 1960 to 1990 (in human terms, about one generation). Birmingham has one of the two patterns — the core city declined fairly precipitously at the beginning of that period and the metro area remained fairly constant. In the other pattern, the core city declined somewhat (or growth slowed), the metro area continued to grow strongly, and the core city recovered. Birmingham is in the first group (the city population is still 40% off its historical peak), Atlanta in the second. Geographically, the first pattern occurs almost exclusively from the Mississippi River east, where there are both northern and southern examples.
One of the problems facing the contemporary national Democratic Party is that it draws its strength from two distinct groups of cities. In one, the “urban problem” remains those unrecovered urban cores. In the other, the “urban problem” is almost unmanageable population growth.
And you appear to agree with the classic Trump positions. You’re unlike the typical Trumpkin in other ways as well, in that you’re literate.”
@CSK: Yet I shouldn’t appear that way, and wouldn’t to someone with a broader perspective.
Dude, f-off, your two-bit Jedi mind tricks don’t work on me. Actually they don’t work on anyone here, you’re playing the wrong room. You want the slow class. Some here are bored enough to engage you, but no one buys your bullshit.
Yet you shouldn’t appear what way?
Yeah, I know. I’m bored. I generally don’t engage in this kind of silliness.
Is there any kind of comments policy?
@Steven L. Taylor: I don’t find your analogy apt. There are second-order effects of our policies. You named the two I think are biggest, effects of strain on health care and effects of unemployment or stress caused by unemployment.
I guess, using your analogy I’d say if the experts only reported 1/4 of the trees as having been downed by the storm, I’d be curious. Wouldn’t you?
@95 South: There is. It is under “policies”
OK, I actually know something about that last one, and it is not accurate on any level. And amazingly ballsy, given that he keeps siphoning funds away from defense to pay for his stupid border fence.
He misspelled “deficit” and “debt”.
@Michael whatever happened to your Guns and Dragons blog?
@95 South: Your lack of much in way of anything other than contrariness makes taking your position difficult.
The unemployment/economic impact is too recent to have had a significant effect.
Why would delay in elective surgeries account for so many deaths?
You want to say you are reasonable. Well, bring some reasons for your position.
I do not understand the point you trying to make here save, yes, if experts have evidence contrary to my supposition, I would what to understand why. But how is that analogous to now and the unexplained deaths?
@Steven L. Taylor: Can I report Michael Reynolds in light of his last comment?
@Steven L. Taylor:
But soon. Sometime in the next couple of weeks, my state legislature will reconvene to set the budget for the fiscal year starting July 1. Given the size of the hole the special revenue forecast will show, programs will be cut deeply/terminated as of that date. Some people will die of things other than Covid-19 as a consequence. To borrow a line from the chair of the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee while I was working for them in 2007, “We’re going to make decisions that will kill people. We’re just not sure which ones yet.”
@Michael Reynolds: Could you please tone down the belligerence as aimed at 95 South?
I agree with that. And you are correct, the lack of funding for social programs, to pick one issue, will clearly lead to dire consequences for some.
It is just impossible for that to have been the cause for spikes in death that happened before or immediately after unemployment went south.
@Polimom: Whoa. Thanks for that link. Here’s the thing that jumped out at me:
I wonder if Ol’ 95 will now revise his estimate of the deadliness of C19 given that in one month we had 4 to 15x the annual rate of the flu, if we count them the same way.
Actually, I don’t really wonder…
@Steven L. Taylor:
An MD I follow in Facebook commented on this topic last night.
Most elective surgery can either be treated in some other fashion, or is something that doesn’t threaten a person’s life so it can wait. However, most involve quality of life issues. So a very long delay can mean permanent damage, and lifelong pain and lower quality of life, say in the case of a bad back.
It’s not a good thing elective surgeries are largely suspended, but it’s likely not the cause of additional deaths.
Coronavirus Live Updates: As Threat of Virus Persists, Trump Administration Signals It Will Wind Down Task Force
Trump has an astounding .000 batting average of bad decisions. Truly amazing.
@Kingdaddy: It is a kind of perfection.
For at least 6 years I have had Kaspersky Internet Security on my PCs. When my next subscription renewal ends, I may well use BitDefender instead.
I am not computer savvy and Kaspersky is easy to use. Their customer service is driving me up the wall.
Last December KSP had a sale for Internet Security. Their software priced at 31.99 instead of 74.99. I wanted to renew at the sale price and current customers were allowed to do this. But the hoops I had to go through included.
1 Being rejected for renewal
2 Then get in a internet chat with a KSP customer service rep and be left on hold for about an hour before being able to buy at 31.99.
Part of this involved me needing me to turn off auto-renewal. I did. My coverage runs till May 27th this year. I was told not to enter the new activation code till my current one is almost ready to expire. I was planning that for May 26th.
Guess what KSP does? They renew my current membership for 74.99, 3 weeks ahead of time, and without warning deduct the amount from my business checking account. I was supposed to be off auto-renew but they charged me again.
It took 2 phones to get this mostly straightened out. Mostly- The charge is still showing. My kaspersky page has changed back to me being 22 days left on my subscription, whereas it had been changed to 387 along with the 74.99 charge today.
I don’t like being put on hold, having my directions ignored, and then being charged for something without prior warning and far from when the amount of money is due also. BitDefender was always my backup choice for IS. I have heard nothing but positive things about it. I guess when my next KSP subscription is up, I’ll be changing to BD.
BTW I got KSP originally through Best Buy. Best Buy don’t sell KSP anymore.
It would be 1.000 for bad decisions but I will disagree. Gorsuch was a good supreme court nomination.
What is the saying about a broken clock?
@95 South: No numbnuts–we have a baseline for how many people die daily, monthly, annually from condition A,B,C,D, etc… after taking into account the standard deviation possible from the baseline…we can conclude that the remaining are CV19, CV19-complications, or from lack of care that would have been available pre-CV19.
This isnt hard if you have no agenda beyond the truth. You either like Trump or hate the left…either way you’re not the honest broker you try to pass yourself off ass.
@95 South: So this site isn’t RedState or some other right wing blog. Boo freaking hoo. Those sites aren’t this one. Are you over there posting about how far to one side they are?
It dawned on me the other day listening to a conservative rail about media bias is that his real complaint was that MSNBC wasnt Fox news. Well no shit…Fox News isn’t MSNBC. People have different perspectives. Deal with it.
@Jim Brown 32: You would be correct, all other things being equal, but they’re not. Also, I haven’t seen an article with a breakdown of excess deaths by cause. You should also know this site has a comment policy against personal insults.
@Jim Brown 32: I visit a lot of sites and when they’re being as one-sided as Outside the Beltway, I call them out on it. I try to visit more left-wing sites than right-wing to make sure I’m not missing anything.
@Jim Brown 32: If you look at his reply despite the use of words in a feasible order, it actually says nothing. There is no hope for that one…
@95 South: Well you do. And this from a person that doesn’t give a rat’s ass about Democrat, Republicans, Left, or Right. I can appreciate, however, that reasonable people can live different experiences and come to a range of different conclusions about life. All valid…What I dont appreciate is people that depart from all standards of debate in order to twist facts and logic to come to the predetermined conclusion that is convenient to their political motives.
Your body of posts smells of the latter.
@Bill: Decided to read the comment thread. About 6 or 7 in, I was thinking ‘and these are the *sane* Republicans/conservatives who don’t like Trump.’ We’re in worse shape as a country than we realize.
That’s probably all the money they had left after they finished the State House Parking Center remodel. 😉
@Bill: Questions Bill.. Do you advertise and/or market your Amazon ebook work?
Have to admit, the man does have a point. Priorities matter.
So does the truth, or at least it should…even in that rant of his, half the shit is nothing but lies…
@95 South: Your act is insulting to our intelligence here
@Bill:..What is the saying about a broken clock?
If the clock is digital and is broken because the dog chewed through the electrical cord and there is no battery back up there will be no display.
Clocks that show no time are never right.
You should visit Lucianne.com, where anyone who isn’t an avid worshiper of Trump gets banned.
Based on available evidence, I have to go with yes–although noting that I can’t prove it empirically.
@Jim Brown 32:..Your act is insulting to our intelligence here
You better watch out or Baby Herman will sic the moderators on you!
@95 South: Why not just donate the $50 to Nashville Rescue Mission just as an act of kindness and humanity? Why does it have to be conditioned on humiliating either yourself or someone else? Maybe you should just do good and leave it at that.
And therefore you think all possible causes are equally likely? It could be COVID-19-related, but it could also be rampaging herds of moose trampling thousands of people?
Even if you had that breakdown, what would it tell you? How many of the deaths attributed to pneumonia, kidney failure, heart failure, and “unknown” would you count as C19? It sounds like you want to say “none”, which is silly.
Generally speaking, from what I’ve seen around here people don’t mind being challenged. Smart, secure people thrive on that, and there are a lot of those types here. But it has to be a real challenge, something that makes people think about preconceptions or brings something new to the table.
The commentary you’ve provided with respect to the excess death discussion does none of that. You’re parsing out phrases, to no real effect. That’s because it’s a ridiculous line of argument to look at excess deaths occurring during a pandemic and argue that unless each and every death is verified through testing that it can’t be attributed to the disease that is currently blowing its way through our country.
Very smart people who collect and analyze this type of data for a living are the ones pointing out that the death rate is unexpectedly high, well above seasonal averages (and even that is noteworthy–these are averages and there’s a low/high band above and below). You aren’t providing the “gotcha” push-back that you think you are.
I get that there’s a rather desperate need on the part of the President’s supporters and/or conservatives to keep the numbers of those who have died from this disease as low as possible. His supporters argue that Democrats/liberals/”the media” want a high death rate–that is nonsense. I can’t speak for others, but what I want is the best d@mn guesstimate possible. We’ll never (ever, ever) be able to get an exact count, but an accurate-as-possible count is important, as is an accurate count of how many were infected.
That’s because we’ll only know the true infection rate if we have good data. We’ll only know how truly lethal (or not!) this disease is if we have a good estimate of the number of deaths. None of this is being done to torture the president. It’s because this thing isn’t going away, and the better our data is, the better we can prepare for the next round, the better our policies are, and the safer we all are.
That’s why we’re looking at excess deaths. To *make better decisions.*
Since the page is turning into some dagger throwing… this will be right inline.
You know how some people say: “so, tell me what you REALLY think”
This article makes it very clear, and the digital pages are still burning via flamethrower:
And it does. The rest of the article is a damning indictment of the impeached POTUS.
This is a great piece. The author, Peter Wehner, is a Never Trump Republican.
Gorsuch was a
goodnon-malignant supreme court nomination.
@An Interested Party: I agree that truth should matter, but in the case of Republicans, I question whether it does.
This applies to certain State leaders and a few others, but there is no chance Trump and the other national Republicans would be able to effectively use the truth, and therefore they strike out against it.
When Trump was running I insisted (probably ad nauseum) on two things: Trump was a moron and unstable and putting power and responsibility in his hands would lead to catastrophe, and that Republican leadership would not stand up against him and rein in his worst impulses. Wasn’t going to happen. In the beginning people, even on this blog, pointed to McMaster and a few others and said, “See? The adults are watching him.” But we see what happened to them and who they were replaced with.
My biggest fear was a catastrophe of his own making, such as Trump ordering an unprovoked nuclear strike. I still think this is all too likely, as he is unraveling by the day. But I admit to not giving enough though about a basic and immediate natural challenge, with Trump in the Oval Office and Republicans able to stymie action in the Congress, and willing to cover up and enable for him. But that’s exactly what has happened. Things with Trump and the fellow-traveller Republicans are going to get much worse before this is over, maybe unimaginably worse.
Honest to god, I think our best hope is that he wades into a crowd of MAGA heads and gets the virus.
Is anyone else having flashbacks to the GOP reaction to the idea of using statistical sampling to estimate the population for the decennial census?
My father spent his career in California before retiring to Oklahoma. This is what he says he misses most about California. He’s managing a regional airport and every time he suggests to the board that they make a change, the pushback is “but we’ve always done it this way.” In California, the pushback would be “How much does this improve things? Would making this other change improve things more? Maybe we should explore a larger, more comprehensive change to the whole system.”
About working longer at home, I’ve noticed something in the few days I’ve managed to work from home:
You’re not in a rush to get home (being there already), and it’s easier to check emails in Outlook on the PC than on the phone. So I tend to keep the remote desk software running well past quitting time.
In the morning, there’s no hurry to get to the office (again, being there already). So maybe I turn on the PC when I wake up, rather than after coffee and a shower. In a sense, I get to work early.
But I also spend some time watching TV, making coffee, prepping dinner early, and on the first day, since it wasn’t too busy, I took a short nap after lunch.
I wouldn’t mind working from home a few days a month when things aren’t too busy. It beats sitting at a desk doing make-work tasks, or waiting for something to happen.
@Jen: well said.
@Jen: I want good public policy too. That requires looking at the best data honestly. In a crisis, the data is always going to be a little weak, so we should take the extra step to use it as wisely as possible. I hate the partisanship which has one side looking for ways to reduce the number of coronavirus deaths and the other side looking to increase it. I hope it’s mostly unconscious bias or limited exposure to all the arguments.
Look at what the NYT said last week about excess deaths:
The Never Trumpers seem to make the best and the most cutting arguments against the trash in the White House…I guess having your political party hijacked by a grifter serves as good motivation…
FTFY even further…
@Just nutha ignint cracker: Who says I haven’t? I already gave $10 even though the other guy wouldn’t make a bet about the “Sacrifice the Weak” signholder. I held off on increasing the amount until I was sure I could handle it. But what other tools do I have to deal with Michael? He keeps lying about me even though I call him out. If I keep demonstrating he doesn’t care about the truth or even the poor, maybe I can shame him into being honest. It isn’t about humiliating him though. It’s not about me any more than it’s about the anonymous signholder. It’s about these poisonous caricatures that the commenters hold onto.
Oh, dude, you’re making this too easy.
I hope that’s not too belligerent. If it is, do let me know, I wouldn’t want to hurt your feelings.
@Michael Reynolds: You’re making it pretty easy yourself. Every minute you’d rather spend lying than having me donate to a charity makes my point. If you were interested in truth we could have ended this already.
And why would neither of those be attributable to the Covid crisis?
It may or may not be the main cause, but at the very least it is a contributing cause, and most likely the straw that broke the camel’s back. Why would we discount a death from a heart attack just because the person very reasonably assumed he would never get treatment at an ER? You have been reading the same news I have. People with Covid are being sent home.
Why should I expect anything more? Because this is America? Land of the ill and home of the uninsured?
@OzarkHillbilly: Don’t limit that to physical health either. Anecdotal evidence indicates mental health resources are stretched even thinner. But absent data we don’t know how that’s translating into fatalities.
@OzarkHillbilly: The discussion was about how to explain the bulge in unexplained deaths that happened before all the huge unemployment numbers.
@95 South: Thanks for providing some basis for your position, it is appreicated.
I don’t disagree, but that would be a different category than infection-related deaths.
True. But it is awfully soon for all of that to have resulted in blooms in deaths across states and countries.
Don’t let Trump see this!
So, with the data we have — covid deaths, excess deaths, limits to testing, etc. — should we be opening the country up and increasing the deaths from covid, or waiting until we have better data?
Because ultimately that is the question.
The more we learn about the novel Coronavirus, the more we discover about its deadliness — for instance, it kills people who weren’t reporting symptoms with blood clots, for instance, which we weren’t looking for earlier. That’s some of those excess deaths right there. And untested people. And test failures.
The excess death rate gives a clear upper bound to estimates, and covid is the most plausible cause. It’s not a good picture. Even if you ballpark it out as covid being responsible for 75% of the excess deaths, and social distancing 25%, that’s still a terrible picture.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not inclined to listen to the folks who have failed so badly at testing that we don’t have good data when they say that since we don’t have good enough data we should open things up.
I’m less inclined to trust them when the CDC puts out guidelines for when to restart the economy (declining deaths, testing in place, and contact tracing), and the President is immediately tweeting out how we need to liberate Michigan.
Georgia is going first. They don’t meet the guidelines set by the CDC, and it’s likely to be a disaster. I would be delighted to be wrong about that.
There is also some reporting that the virus is way more widespread than we thought. That could be really good news, as the fatality rate would be way lower. But, the antibody testing that this is based on is kind of shitty, unregulated, and unverified. So, that reporting is just a tease at this point.
Here’s a useful source of data: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid19/excess_deaths.htm
If you look at excess deaths by percentage, you will see that California and Washington has far fewer (25%) than NYC (> 500%).
The west coast states instituted social distancing and shelter in place orders, just as NYC has — so we can roughly say that deaths from side effects of social distancing would be seem in all 3. Washington and California have far fewer covid cases, as they were better able to control the outbreaks (so far).
You have to do a little bit of math, since the graphed data includes the covid deaths, but the rest of the excess deaths scale with the number of covid deaths.
This should not be a surprise to anyone.
Great post, but I suspect that you are too optimistic on this point. Were we on lockdown just as an exercise, I suspect that excess deaths would be negative. Traffic fatalities would be way down, for example. That negative aspect must also, eventually, be taken into account, and so the upper bounds are not really so clear.
@Kit: There are several states reporting negative excess deaths.
@95 South: Link?
@95 South: There are states reporting fewer deaths than would normally be expected?!
Also, I should have been clearer that my point was that the upper bound referred to by @Gustopher is likely even higher, perhaps much higher.
@95 South: For states that haven’t been hit hard, are doing well at social distancing, and are also seeing a major drop in traffic fatalities, that potentially makes sense. Do you have a link to share?
I went to the following CDC site linked below. It took a little work, but here is what I found for Alabama:
ST – YR – Week – Week Ending – All Causes – Natural Causes
Alabama 2019 9 3/2/2019 1,050 966
Alabama 2020 9 2/29/2020 1,133 1,080
Alabama 2019 10 3/9/2019 1,062 964
Alabama 2020 10 3/7/2020 1,004 932
Alabama 2019 11 3/16/2019 1,090 1,015
Alabama 2020 11 3/14/2020 1,021 961
Alabama 2019 12 3/23/2019 1,012 938
Alabama 2020 12 3/21/2020 985 928
Alabama 2019 13 3/30/2019 1,079 999
Alabama 2020 13 3/28/2020 966 916
Alabama 2019 14 4/6/2019 1,044 961
Alabama 2020 14 4/4/2020 1,015 969
Alabama 2019 15 4/13/2019 1,031 932
Alabama 2020 15 4/11/2020 893 852
Alabama 2019 16 4/20/2019 954 896
Alabama 2020 16 4/18/2020 619 597
It works out to the following year to year differences:
Week – Diff
I took only weeks 9-16, because coronavirus and its impacts didn’t hit until March at the earliest and you can see by week 16 the data is so preliminary it’s worthless, at least for Alabama.
Also, here’s Pennsylvania:
ST – YR – Week – Week Ending – All Causes – Natural Causes
Pennsylvania 2019 9 3/2/2019 2,677 2,456
Pennsylvania 2020 9 2/29/2020 1,955 1,810
Pennsylvania 2019 10 3/9/2019 2,797 2,592
Pennsylvania 2020 10 3/7/2020 1,929 1,785
Pennsylvania 2019 11 3/16/2019 2,805 2,617
Pennsylvania 2020 11 3/14/2020 2,045 1,898
Pennsylvania 2019 12 3/23/2019 2,705 2,470
Pennsylvania 2020 12 3/21/2020 2,180 2,027
Pennsylvania 2019 13 3/30/2019 2,717 2,512
Pennsylvania 2020 13 3/28/2020 2,540 2,403
Pennsylvania 2019 14 4/6/2019 2,627 2,392
Pennsylvania 2020 14 4/4/2020 2,803 2,666
Pennsylvania 2019 15 4/13/2019 2,701 2,477
Pennsylvania 2020 15 4/11/2020 3,138 3,014
Pennsylvania 2019 16 4/20/2019 2,641 2,421
Pennsylvania 2020 16 4/18/2020 2,918 2,827
and its year to year differences:
Week – Diff
@95 South: Thanks.
Isn’t this evidence that stay-at-home/the economy aren’t causing more deaths?
And, therefore, in places that are showing levels of unaccounted for deaths that it is, in fact, probable that they are from Covid-19 and not other factors?
Don’t these data, as presented, suggest that stay-at-home leads to less death? (That is certainly what the AL numbers you have provided would suggest).
Here’s what I get for change in year to year fatalities by state (excluding Connecticut and North Carolina), comparing weeks 9-14 of 2020 to weeks 9-14 of the prior year, based on the most current CDC data:
District of Columbia 36
New Hampshire -15
New Jersey 2561
New Mexico -134
New York 1562
North Dakota -98
Rhode Island -148
South Carolina 427
South Dakota -12
West Virginia -155
@Steven L. Taylor: I’m genuinely not arguing for anything on either side. You have to believe me. I’m going where the data takes me. You, Jen, and Kit wanted the information so I provided it.
What you appear to be arguing is that we really can’t infer anything from the data and the prevailing context within which the data have been generated. I would argue that we can, subject to revision going forward (as is the case with all data analysis).
As am I. Where do you think it takes you?
I appreciate that very much, and I prefer this kind of interchange than the tone of most of our previous discussions.
I will give this a closer look when I have a little more time.
@Steven L. Taylor:
I posted numbers. I shouldn’t appear to be arguing anything.
I don’t know. I don’t understand the Pennsylvania numbers at all. My guess is that there’s something missing from the most current data, but the pattern shows up in multiple weeks in data that’s months old. The numbers also make me wary of one-size-fits-all solutions when the data indicates there are a lot of different things happening in different states.
You, Jen, and Kit approached me civilly (although you’re still trying to put words into my mouth).
I was referring to all the previous interactions on this topic. And, I would note, the very act of choosing numbers and posting them have to be guided by something. And, one would presume, once compiled a list of numbers leads to some thoughts (I am not being snarky, lest I be interpreted as such–I just am noting that there really is no such thing as contextless information unless we are talking about randomly posting numbers).
I am trying to understand your position.
@Steven L. Taylor: I visit this site primarily to hear what people outside my beliefs are thinking. I post either to expose them to others’ thoughts or to correct factual errors. Often that overlaps, such as when people comment that Republicans think such and such, and I can correct them and expose them to new ideas.
I realize the result might be disjointed. There’s so little ideological range here and so many mistakes I can find myself making five different, unrelated points on a subject. I think some people can only make it through one of those points (or halfway) before they decide it doesn’t match what they believe, so I must be a Trumpist, so I must really believe something different. I’ve been posting a lot more and being more aggressive since Guerini was banished. Not that he was the greatest, but as things stand a person can carry on a multi-day conversation on this site and never hear a view other than his own.
As for the numbers I chose, I wasn’t trying to massage the data at all. I had heard about the negative excess deaths, but when I looked around I couldn’t find a reliable source, so I went to CDC. I chose what seemed like reasonable parameters and moved the data around on the spreadsheet. I chose Alabama because it was at the top. I had heard Pennsylvania mentioned, and I have a good friend who lives there, so that made me choose it as a second example. I decided that on the fly. I had no idea what the data would reveal. After I posted it, I wanted to make sure no one thought I was trying to lie with statistics, so I posted all the states except for Connecticut and North Carolina which had some missing data. There’s no way to be more neutral.
@95 South: This is actually a great little resource, even if it takes a bit to figure out how to use it.
Based on what I saw, the most interesting data is just starting to roll in. You chose a window of weeks 9-14, but NY City only really starts to move at week 12. So that basically leaves a 2-3 week window of useable data, and the certain knowledge that the disease did not strike everywhere at once. But the data will only get better. In another month, I’d be interested to see what it looks like.
@95 South: Only going by your own statement. Sorry.
There was, some years ago, a fairly wide ideological range here. Although there seems to be a couple of folks who are tolerated, the range generally is much narrower today. I agree with you that deviation in group thinking = the automatic assumption of Trumpster. I’ve encountered it as well.
But this site’s hosts are excellent thinkers who engage with courtesy. That, as far as I am concerned, makes this a place worth visiting. And whether one agrees or disagrees with the overarching ‘group think’, it’s fair to say that comments here, as a whole, are a cut above nearly everywhere else intellectually.
@Polimom: Every site gets steadily worse. The longer you’ve been on a site the better it seems on average. It’s like Grey’s Anatomy. If you’ve been watching it since the beginning it still watchable, but if an objective person watched his first episode today he’d turn it off right away. I don’t know if it’s my imagination but every site has gotten worse faster since 2016. I don’t know what Outside the Beltway used to be like. The best I can say now is most of the commenters try to be nice to people they agree with, so I guess it’s better than Twitter.
Since you’re fond of pointing out other’s mistakes, allow me to point out one of yours: It’s Guarneri, not Guerini.
@95 South: Thanks for the data–probably a bad time to let you know that the NYT did an update to the story yesterday and did some of that work already; had I known before I asked I would have posted it. Here it is.
As I noted earlier this morning, I’m not surprised that some states might have a negative excess death rate. Here in NH, we’ve had fewer than 100 deaths attributed to covid-19, despite being one of the earliest case states. (One of our first documented cases was a medical employee who had been on vacation in Italy, and upon returning to NH went to a private gathering despite having been told to quarantine.)
NH was fairly quick to enact stay at home orders, and the weather in New England in March isn’t really conducive to doing much. Our flu season had peaked early, and people staying home pretty much stopped it in its tracks too (any infectious disease would be reduced by stay-at-home).
Coupled with fewer traffic fatalities, our excess death rate is only 5% above normal averages.
It’s also worthwhile to note that early covid-19 cases in the US have been pushed back, some into as early as January. Again, this makes sense given how frequently business and social travel was going back and forth to China. So, we’re probably muddling the data a bit by not going back even further, to Jan. 1, 2020 as a starting marker.
@Jen: If we’re looking for detectable trends, we shouldn’t go back that far. We don’t have reason to believe there was significant infection back then, and we wouldn’t be seeing the impact of policies or concerns. There’s a lot of noise in granular data. A bad car wreck could affect a state’s numbers.
@95 South: By that same logic, we shouldn’t be looking at last year’s numbers versus this year’s, we should be comparing averages to this year. If a state had a particularly bad flu season last year that peaked late, it would overstate the data.
That’s the thing about working with data, there are always going to be factors that impact. If we want to know exactly how many people covid-19 has killed in this country, we’d have to go back to January–if we’re looking for precise numbers. If we’re looking for trends, then excess death over average works.
Which is all that many of us have been saying from the outset.
@Jen: While I agree with the above, I also think that if @95 South has a hypothesis then he can certainly test it with that data. However, for the reasons that you outlined, the signal must be clear and strong in order to stand out from the noise. And for the reasons I stated, I do not believe such data will be available for several more weeks.