Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, July 10, 2020

It is a puzzlement

Okay, we know that the individual currently occupying the office of president of the United States is insane. But that doesn't explain the entire Republican party choosing to live in his delusional world. Stephen Collinson at CNN offers a lengthy discussion of the party's pandemic denialism. Mark Sumner focuses on Florida and the Resident's Mini-Me Ron DeSantis, but you could write the same column about Arizona or South Carolina or Texas. Repeatedly saying that this isn't really happening and we're the best in the world and making people wear masks or shutting down bars is tyranny is useless because people are getting sick and the hospitals are filling up and people are dying, and you can't hide that. It's happening to people who watch Faux News. It's happening to people who wear MAGA hats. It's happening to people who voted for Ron DeSantis. Magical incantations won't make it go away.

Same goes for anthropogenic climate change. It just keeps getting hotter, and the Southwest U.S. is now in the throes of a multi-year drought that may become the worst modern civilization has ever seen and make it impossible to sustain the population of the region. In the short term, they're headed for an unprecedented heat wave. Again, just pretending this isn't happening is not a winning strategy because you can't hide it. The people who live there are cooking in the heat and running out of water, and they know it.

Now I'm particularly looking forward to the Republican National Convention happening outdoors, in Jacksonville, Florida, in August. That should be fun!

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

I'll say it again: it isn't just about dying

So we're still hearing all this yadda yadda about how yeah, newly diagnosed cases of Covid-19 are soaring in many states but the death toll is not. First of all, that isn't actually true. In the states with the most dramatic increases in cases, the daily death toll is indeed now rising. Deaths are a lagging indicator. It is certainly possible that with more young people in the case mix and improved treatment the case fatality rate will be less than it was in New York, but that's still nothing to be sanguine about. (Actually there were almost 1,000 officially reported deaths yesterday nationwide, so that whole narrative is likely to be inoperative soon anyway.)

However, you must not base your calculations on the assumption that your chance of dying is only 1% or whatever you think it is. Even if you have a so-called mild case, meaning no respiratory distress, no hospitalization, you could have brain damage, a stroke, chronic fatigue, long term respiratory insufficiency, weakness. We don't yet know how prevalent these sequelae are but they are bad enough to be widely noticed and may even be happening to people who never knew they were infected and aren't being attributed to infection. Here's an excerpt from the linked story:

Doctors may be missing signs of serious and potentially fatal brain disorders triggered by coronavirus, as they emerge in mildly affected or recovering patients, scientists have warned. Neurologists are on Wednesday publishing details of more than 40 UK Covid-19 patients whose complications ranged from brain inflammation and delirium to nerve damage and stroke. In some cases, the neurological problem was the patient’s first and main symptom.
But again, if all you care about is dying:



A note on commenting policy: It is not the case, as some have accused, that I only publish comments I agree with. I often publish comments that I would not be comfortable with personally, or that I find worthy subjects for debate or critique. Comments I do not publish are made in bad faith, contain gratuitous and baseless insults, are factually wrong, or based on logical fallacies. As John Holbo discusses, the ideal of allowing unfettered discussion and countering wrong speech with right speech sounds great in the abstract, but doesn't always work in practice. People who engage in the proscribed practices I list commonly don't have insight into what they are doing. But believe me, if I don't publish a comment it is because it fails one of those criteria. Maybe with enough practice you'll figure it out. Also, comparing white supremacists and well, Nazis to Nazis and comparing the autocratic psychopath Donald Trump to Hitler is completely appropriate. These are valid comparisons.

Wednesday Bible Study: God, the compassionate, the merciful?

Leviticus 26 is a structural underpinning of the Tanakh, and for better or for worse, of Zionism. Before I say anything about that, it is also the most succinct and clear description of the character of Yahweh. He is not benevolent, or merciful. He doesn't love humanity or even his chosen people. He demands to be worshiped and obeyed. That is all he cares about. While he has disgorged a torrent of commandments so far, the most often repeated, and reiterated here again for the greatest emphasis, are that he be the exclusive object of worship and that he be worshiped according to the rituals he specifies -- keeping the sabbath and the tabernacle.

Now, as for the future history (much of it actually in the past when this was written, which makes prediction easy) the Israelites will definitely have their ups and downs in the books to come -- maybe not ever quite so bad as the litany of curses that make up the second 2/3 of the chapter -- and the narrative of falling out of God's favor and then having it restored is the basic structure of the Tanakh. But to many contemporary Jews, it is what happened after the Tanakh, that appears to be predicted here, that is most important. The people suffer God's ultimate curse, they are dispersed from the land, and become weak and despised among the nations where they reside. But God nevertheless keeps the land in a sort of escrow for them, and may ultimately restore it to them. No, I don't think this ancient prophecy is any basis for a legitimate claim on land where other people had been living for thousands of years, but there it is.

26 You shall make for yourselves no idols and erect no carved images or pillars, and you shall not place figured stones in your land, to worship at them; for I am the Lord your God. You shall keep my sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.
If you follow my statutes and keep my commandments and observe them faithfully, I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Your threshing shall overtake the vintage, and the vintage shall overtake the sowing; you shall eat your bread to the full, and live securely in your land. And I will grant peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and no one shall make you afraid; I will remove dangerous animals from the land, and no sword shall go through your land. You shall give chase to your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. Five of you shall give chase to a hundred, and a hundred of you shall give chase to ten thousand; your enemies shall fall before you by the sword. I will look with favor upon you and make you fruitful and multiply you; and I will maintain my covenant with you. 10 You shall eat old grain long stored, and you shall have to clear out the old to make way for the new. 11 I will place my dwelling in your midst, and I shall not abhor you. 12 And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and you shall be my people. 13 I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be their slaves no more; I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.

14 But if you will not obey me, and do not observe all these commandments, 15 if you spurn my statutes, and abhor my ordinances, so that you will not observe all my commandments, and you break my covenant, 16 I in turn will do this to you: I will bring terror on you; consumption and fever that waste the eyes and cause life to pine away. You shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. 17 
Yep, this literally means that your enemies will eat your children.
I will set my face against you, and you shall be struck down by your enemies; your foes shall rule over you, and you shall flee though no one pursues you. 18 And if in spite of this you will not obey me, I will continue to punish you sevenfold for your sins. 19 I will break your proud glory, and I will make your sky like iron and your earth like copper. 20 Your strength shall be spent to no purpose: your land shall not yield its produce, and the trees of the land shall not yield their fruit.
21 If you continue hostile to me, and will not obey me, I will continue to plague you sevenfold for your sins. 22 I will let loose wild animals against you, and they shall bereave you of your children and destroy your livestock; they shall make you few in number, and your roads shall be deserted.
23 If in spite of these punishments you have not turned back to me, but continue hostile to me, 24 then I too will continue hostile to you: I myself will strike you sevenfold for your sins. 25 I will bring the sword against you, executing vengeance for the covenant; and if you withdraw within your cities, I will send pestilence among you, and you shall be delivered into enemy hands. 26 When I break your staff of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in a single oven, and they shall dole out your bread by weight; and though you eat, you shall not be satisfied.
27 But if, despite this, you disobey me, and continue hostile to me, 28 I will continue hostile to you in fury; I in turn will punish you myself sevenfold for your sins. 29 You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters. 30 I will destroy your high places and cut down your incense altars; I will heap your carcasses on the carcasses of your idols. I will abhor you. 31 I will lay your cities waste, will make your sanctuaries desolate, and I will not smell your pleasing odors. 32 I will devastate the land, so that your enemies who come to settle in it shall be appalled at it. 33 And you I will scatter among the nations, and I will unsheathe the sword against you; your land shall be a desolation, and your cities a waste.
So the diaspora appears to be predicted here. 
34 Then the land shall enjoy[a] its sabbath years as long as it lies desolate, while you are in the land of your enemies; then the land shall rest, and enjoy[b] its sabbath years. 35 As long as it lies desolate, it shall have the rest it did not have on your sabbaths when you were living on it. 36 And as for those of you who survive, I will send faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; the sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight, and they shall flee as one flees from the sword, and they shall fall though no one pursues. 37 They shall stumble over one another, as if to escape a sword, though no one pursues; and you shall have no power to stand against your enemies. 38 You shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall devour you. 39 And those of you who survive shall languish in the land of your enemies because of their iniquities; also they shall languish because of the iniquities of their ancestors.
40 But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their ancestors, in that they committed treachery against me and, moreover, that they continued hostile to me— 41 so that I, in turn, continued hostile to them and brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, 42 then will I remember my covenant with Jacob; I will remember also my covenant with Isaac and also my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. 43 For the land shall be deserted by them, and enjoy[c] its sabbath years by lying desolate without them, while they shall make amends for their iniquity, because they dared to spurn my ordinances, and they abhorred my statutes. 44 Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not spurn them, or abhor them so as to destroy them utterly and break my covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God; 45 but I will remember in their favor the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, to be their God: I am the Lord.
So there it is.  I have said all I have to say about it.
46 These are the statutes and ordinances and laws that the Lord established between himself and the people of Israel on Mount Sinai through Moses.

Footnotes:

  1. Leviticus 26:34 Or make up for
  2. Leviticus 26:34 Or make up for
  3. Leviticus 26:43 Or make up for

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

The trouble with magical thinking . . .

is that it doesn't work, by definition. That's why they call it magical. Now that Brazilian mini-Trump Jair Bolsonaro is sick with Covid-19  -- though still throwing in some magical thinking about hydroxychloroquine -- his months long dismissal of the virus as "just a little flu" and his continual urging that Brazilians simply ignore it looks, well, completely idiotic.

The officially reported death toll from the virus in Brazil is over 66,000 but we know that is a gross understatement. Aerial photographs show mass graves, and we know that poor Brazilians have little access to health care and most certainly do not receive critical hospital care in the present circumstances. People are undoubtedly dying by the thousands in the favelas uncared for and unreported.

What is happening now in Texas and Arizona threatens very soon to overwhelm the hospitals there, even in our wealthiest of nations. Then, even here, people will die without recourse to medical care and, in many cases no doubt, unreported. We know that happened in New York and New Jersey, where ambulance crews found people dead in their apartments and in New Jersey, where authorities reported over 2,100 deaths on June 25 that were deemed "probable" but had not been attributed to the virus. Again, deaths are not the sole, or even necessarily the most important measure of the magnitude of harm caused by the virus.

Getting sick and almost dying was what it took to get Boris Johnson to take this seriously. We'll see what affect it has on Bolsonaro. Draw your own conclusions about the United States. And no, that observation does not mean I am wishing it on anybody. But having a conscience distinguishes me from at least one other person I can think of.

Also, Mark Sumner "does" Bolsonaro so I don't have to.

Monday, July 06, 2020

99% of cases are harmless

Yep, that's what the Resident said. Obviously we know that isn't so -- it isn't entirely clear what the percentages are because we've never done enough testing but something like half of the people do get sick, maybe 20%  end up in the hospital, and 1-2% die. Something like that. (Deaths from Covid-19 are clearly underreported; many are attributed to other causes. But that's for another day.)

But we pay far too much attention to the reported deaths. Hospitalization is very expensive, it crowds out health care resources and so harms people with other conditions, and it causes prolonged absence from work and other responsibilities as well as causing people to be horribly miserable for a long time. It turns out, however, that the situation is worse than that. Many people, even people who had what is termed "mild" disease and were never hospitalized, are experiencing prolonged, maybe permanent, misery and disability.

Doctors now know that Covid-19 not only affects the lungs and blood, but kidneys, liver and brain – the latter potentially resulting in chronic fatigue and depression, among other symptoms. Although the virus is not yet old enough for long-term effects on those organs to be well understood, they may manifest regardless of whether a patient ever required hospitalization, hindering their recovery process.
Another troubling phenomenon now coming into focus is that of “long-haul” Covid-19 sufferers – people whose experience of the illness has lasted months. For a Dutch report published earlier this month (an excerpt is translated here) researchers surveyed 1,622 Covid-19 patients with an average age of 53, who reported a number of enduring symptoms, including intense fatigue (88%) persistent shortness of breath (75%) and chest pressure (45%). Ninety-one per cent of the patients weren’t hospitalized, suggesting they suffered these side-effects despite their cases of Covid-19 qualifying as “mild”. While 85% of the surveyed patients considered themselves generally healthy before having Covid-19, only 6% still did so one month or more after getting the virus.

So you really, really do not want to get this. You really, really do not want to give it to anybody else. You do not want your friends, family or even people you don't particularly like to get it. The long-term consequences to population health may be profound --  massively prevalent misery and disability. How long will people experience these symptoms? We don't know yet, but some of this may be permanent heart or lung damage. The linked Guardian article also says that some people have strokes after "recovering." So you must take this seriously. It is not the flu. It is not just about the death rate. Stop wishing it away. And for those who know better, stop lying about it.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

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I've started blogging again at Windham County. This time I really am going to keep it going. Check it out if you want to have a more personal conversation with me.

Sunday Sermonette: This evidently seemed like a good idea at the time . . .


This chapter is actually vaguely familiar to most people, I think, but it does not have any application to contemporary Jewish or Christian life. In fact, there is no evidence that these rules were actually followed even in the Second Temple period. The seven year fallowing is highly impractical. The intent of the Jubilee in the context of Hebrew life in the 7th Century BC et seq has been discerned by some commentators, and I'll do my best to summarize my understanding of it. However, the likelihood that it would be strictly observed knowing what we do of human nature seems small.
25 The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying: Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: When you enter the land that I am giving you, the land shall observe a sabbath for the Lord. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in their yield; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of complete rest for the land, a sabbath for the Lord: you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. You shall not reap the aftergrowth of your harvest or gather the grapes of your unpruned vine: it shall be a year of complete rest for the land. You may eat what the land yields during its sabbath—you, your male and female slaves, your hired and your bound laborers who live with you; for your livestock also, and for the wild animals in your land all its yield shall be for food.

Now, some people try to justify this by saying that fallowing is a sound agricultural practice. This is true, but farmers don't fallow all of their fields at once, they rotate. That's because they don't want to starve. This seems to be saying that every seven years the people can let their livestock graze and they can eat wild plants but "you shall not reap the aftergrowth of your harvest" seems to mean that you can't even consume whatever volunteers come up in your fields, although as I understand it this is not the contemporary interpretation. Orthodox Jews today consider this applicable only within the land of Israel, and they have come up with various workarounds. These are called the laws of Shmita. For one thing, produce grown in greenhouses is exempt, as is produce grown on land owned by non-Jews. The latter allows you to sell your land temporarily and buy it back. Apparently there is controversy about this. Some people think Shmita is no longer binding at all, but evidently some people do observe it in one way or another. Maybe somebody knows more about this and can help us out.

You shall count off seven weeks[a] of years, seven times seven years, so that the period of seven weeks of years gives forty-nine years. Then you shall have the trumpet sounded loud; on the tenth day of the seventh month—on the day of atonement—you shall have the trumpet sounded throughout all your land. 10 And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you: you shall return, every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family. 11 That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you: you shall not sow, or reap the aftergrowth, or harvest the unpruned vines. 12 For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you: you shall eat only what the field itself produces.
According to my math, this means you have two fallow years in a row, the 49th and the 50th. That seems even more impractical, but it's confusing. 
13 In this year of jubilee you shall return, every one of you, to your property. 14 When you make a sale to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor, you shall not cheat one another. 15 When you buy from your neighbor, you shall pay only for the number of years since the jubilee; the seller shall charge you only for the remaining crop years. 16 If the years are more, you shall increase the price, and if the years are fewer, you shall diminish the price; for it is a certain number of harvests that are being sold to you. 17 You shall not cheat one another, but you shall fear your God; for I am the Lord your God.
The justification I have read for this is that it is intended to insure that no family becomes permanently impoverished. If a farmer gets into financial trouble and has to sell his fields, it's really only a lease; families won't be permanently reduced to sharecropping or laborer status. Again, however, there is no good evidence that this was observed.
18 You shall observe my statutes and faithfully keep my ordinances, so that you may live on the land securely. 19 The land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and live on it securely. 20 Should you ask, “What shall we eat in the seventh year, if we may not sow or gather in our crop?” 21 I will order my blessing for you in the sixth year, so that it will yield a crop for three years. 22 When you sow in the eighth year, you will be eating from the old crop; until the ninth year, when its produce comes in, you shall eat the old. 23 The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants. 24 Throughout the land that you hold, you shall provide for the redemption of the land.
Of course, if the sixth year comes around and God has failed to order his blessing sufficiently to yield a three year crop, we have a problem. And one would expect this problem occurred routinely.
25 If anyone of your kin falls into difficulty and sells a piece of property, then the next of kin shall come and redeem what the relative has sold. 26 If the person has no one to redeem it, but then prospers and finds sufficient means to do so, 27 the years since its sale shall be computed and the difference shall be refunded to the person to whom it was sold, and the property shall be returned. 28 But if there are not sufficient means to recover it, what was sold shall remain with the purchaser until the year of jubilee; in the jubilee it shall be released, and the property shall be returned.
29 If anyone sells a dwelling house in a walled city, it may be redeemed until a year has elapsed since its sale; the right of redemption shall be one year. 30 If it is not redeemed before a full year has elapsed, a house that is in a walled city shall pass in perpetuity to the purchaser, throughout the generations; it shall not be released in the jubilee. 31 But houses in villages that have no walls around them shall be classed as open country; they may be redeemed, and they shall be released in the jubilee. 32 As for the cities of the Levites, the Levites shall forever have the right of redemption of the houses in the cities belonging to them. 33 Such property as may be redeemed from the Levites—houses sold in a city belonging to them—shall be released in the jubilee; because the houses in the cities of the Levites are their possession among the people of Israel. 34 But the open land around their cities may not be sold; for that is their possession for all time.
Again, the basic idea seems to be to maintain the allocation of land among the families; city real estate, however, can fall into the hands of the wealthy. The exception is that the Levites have permanent ownership of their urban real estate. Not surprising they would have this privilege, since they wrote these rules.
35 If any of your kin fall into difficulty and become dependent on you,[b] you shall support them; they shall live with you as though resident aliens. 36 Do not take interest in advance or otherwise make a profit from them, but fear your God; let them live with you. 37 You shall not lend them your money at interest taken in advance, or provide them food at a profit. 38 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, to be your God.
39 If any who are dependent on you become so impoverished that they sell themselves to you, you shall not make them serve as slaves. 40 They shall remain with you as hired or bound laborers. They shall serve with you until the year of the jubilee. 41 Then they and their children with them shall be free from your authority; they shall go back to their own family and return to their ancestral property. 42 For they are my servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves are sold. 43 You shall not rule over them with harshness, but shall fear your God. 44 As for the male and female slaves whom you may have, it is from the nations around you that you may acquire male and female slaves. 45 You may also acquire them from among the aliens residing with you, and from their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property. 46 You may keep them as a possession for your children after you, for them to inherit as property. These you may treat as slaves, but as for your fellow Israelites, no one shall rule over the other with harshness.
In other words, Israelites can be temporarily indentured, but cannot be slaves. Only non-Israelites can be slaves. This of course was used to justify enslavement of Africans by European Christians, who evidently imagined themselves to be in the position of the Israelites.
47 If resident aliens among you prosper, and if any of your kin fall into difficulty with one of them and sell themselves to an alien, or to a branch of the alien’s family, 48 after they have sold themselves they shall have the right of redemption; one of their brothers may redeem them, 49 or their uncle or their uncle’s son may redeem them, or anyone of their family who is of their own flesh may redeem them; or if they prosper they may redeem themselves. 50 They shall compute with the purchaser the total from the year when they sold themselves to the alien until the jubilee year; the price of the sale shall be applied to the number of years: the time they were with the owner shall be rated as the time of a hired laborer. 51 If many years remain, they shall pay for their redemption in proportion to the purchase price; 52 and if few years remain until the jubilee year, they shall compute thus: according to the years involved they shall make payment for their redemption. 53 As a laborer hired by the year they shall be under the alien’s authority, who shall not, however, rule with harshness over them in your sight. 54 And if they have not been redeemed in any of these ways, they and their children with them shall go free in the jubilee year. 55 For to me the people of Israel are servants; they are my servants whom I brought out from the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

Footnotes:

  1. Leviticus 25:8 Or sabbaths
  2. Leviticus 25:35 Meaning of Heb uncertain

Saturday, July 04, 2020

The last refuge of a scoundrel

That's what Samuel Johnson famously said of patriotism, referring not to the concept in general but to what he saw as its abuse, specifically by William Pitt. A good part of political discourse is really squabbling over the meaning of abstract nouns, such as patriotism and liberty. If one defines patriotism as, say, uncritical admiration of every policy of the current leadership, or all of the important political and social regimes in the nation's past; and then proclaim that only "patriots" are worthy of respect, you have eliminated any possibility of discussion.

Of course, you don't really believe that, you just won't stand for criticism of some policies or events in the nation's past, while you freely criticize others. Opposition to the U.S. war in Vietnam was called unpatriotic by many. A popular slogan at the time was "America: love it or leave it," implying that if you were opposed to the Vietnam war you must not "love America" and therefore you should not be here. As I reported here recently, after I attended the Juneteenth observance on our town green a kid ran after me and yelled "This is America! If you don't like it you can leave." So celebrating the end of slavery and protesting against racism today means I don't belong in the United States?

That is evidently what Resident Dump believes, judging from the political campaign speech he gave last night at taxpayer expense. However, there is a deeper irony here (not a strong enough word). Apparently it is patriotic to defend the display of monuments to treason in defense of slavery, and unpatriotic to want them removed from the public square. To characterize traitors as patriotic is obviously to destroy the very meaning of the word. Now a patriot is whatever you declare to be a patriot, even if they are in rebellion against the legitimate government or commit crimes against humanity.

The people who are peacefully protesting -- and yes, the protests are overwhelmingly peaceful -- are patriots. They love the country enough to have the courage to make it better. The next few months are the most critical in our history since the Civil War. The levers of power have been seized by a profoundly evil cabal, which must be eradicated, pulled out by the roots. That's the meaning of the word radical -- change at the root. It must happen.

And I give you true patriot and war hero Tammy Duckworth. At least she'll never have to worry about bone spurs.

P.S. I don't know why I bother but as I have said at least twice, I do not understand why I am supposed to care that founders of the Black Lives Matter organization label themselves Marxists. Marxism is not to be confused or conflated with Soviet or Maoist style Communism, which emerged decades after his death and which would have appalled him. Karl Marx had many -- too many -- ideas, some of them better than others, some of them more applicable to his own time than to ours. I don't personally want to label myself by any kind of "ism," except maybe humanism, but that's a very general concept. But if some people find inspiration in Marx's thought, that's fine by me. And again, only a tiny fraction of the people who are protesting or using the Black Lives Matter slogan actually belong to the organization, or even particularly know anything about it. So please stop pestering me with this crap.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Lagging indicator

For a couple of weeks I've been seeing reporters puzzling over the reported death rate from Covid-19 not going up even as the case incidence has been skyrocketing in many states. The Republican governors of some of those states, and VP Pence, have first claimed that the increase in case finding is entirely a function of increased testing. The Resident has even claimed that if we just stopped testing, we wouldn't have so many cases, so we should stop testing.

Sadly, no. Actually even as testing has increased in some states (not all) the percentage of tests coming back positive has also increased, and by a lot. In Arizona a couple of days ago the test positivity rate was about 28%. If the positivity rate is increasing even as the testing numbers are going up, you have an out of control epidemic.

So they shifted the premise. Now it's that most of the identified cases are young people and they're unlikely to get sick. But now the hospitals are filling up in Arizona and Texas, and hospitalizations are increasing in all of those states with rapidly increasing cases. And what we have always known is that the answer to the apparently steady state death rate is that deaths are a lagging indicator.

It takes at least two or three weeks from the time of diagnosis to the time of death, often longer. And then it takes another week for the death to be registered as a Covid-19 death. So when we look at death, we're looking back a month. So let's take a look at Arizona (I could have picked several other states).




As you can see, the case rate starts to shoot up around the beginning of June, and the death rate starts to go up about three weeks later. For the country as a whole, the case rate started to increase a couple of weeks later, as declining cases in the northeast continued to offset the outbreaks in the south and Midwest for a while. So, it's a reasonable expectation that we'll see the national daily death tally start to increase in another week or so. I hope not -- these few days so far are not enough to establish a definite trend. But what won't happen is that it will magically disappear, as some malignant clown keeps insisting. That is literally insane. He thinks his words have magical power.