Blue Fragility

Like all plagues, Covid19 is a problem everywhere, for everyone.

But like most plagues, you need hosts for a plague to spread – and cities are to viruses what a Super Walmart is to humans; vast collections of everything they need to survive.

Plagues don’t care about their victims’ politics – but cities are stuffed full of people for whom politics matters an awful lot. And so most cities are simultaneously a) blue, and b) suffering disproportionally from the Covid plague.

And it’s hard to escape the fact – as, indeed, not a few blue-city dwellers are realizing – that high density and a transit-centered lifestyle make cities susceptible to epidemics.

But you just can’t tell the “evidence based, science-centered” crowd the utterly obvious without expecting a political retort.


And yeah, Covid’s been filtering out into the square states; people are dying in Montana and North Dakota and other sparsely populated places. But in a sparsely populated area, not full of five-floor apartments and filthy buses and bars full of people jammed into each other’s laps, the death rate – probably the only rate we can trust, since the numbers are relatively hard – is trailing the big, blue cities by quite a bit so far.

(The concomitant effect, in the long term? In a phenomenon first noticed during the CIvil War, soldiers from urban areas tended to be less susceptible to the diseases that ravaged the Union winter camps, the cholera and typhus and other bugs that killed many more soldiers than bullets or artillery, than their rural comrades; the New York and Massachusetts units had developed at least some herd immunity. Expect a certain amount of that in the next year and a half or so).

But I’ve been expecting this phenomenon – let’s call it “Blue Fragility” – ever since New York City started getting hammered with the virus; blue-checks from the blue states trying to transfer some of the ugly to the red states:

The MSM have been in full-court press mode for the last two weeks in accusing President Trump, Fox News, and conservative media outlets of downplaying the Wuhan coronavirus until it was too late to contain it.

But another related talking point has emerged in recent days which involves the press relentlessly bashing red states for their allegedly slow response in comparison to blue states. In a nutshell, the reason they have supposedly been slower to put restrictions in place is that they are taking their cues from Trump, Fox, and Rush.

Axios CEO and co-founder Jim VandeHei is a notable example of a media figure who employed this strategy, and he did so in an interview last week on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program. Here’s what he said:

What you’re seeing here, and this is a bigger problem for society, is information inequality,’ VandeHei said. ‘Like, why (did) Desantis do what he did? Why did Georgia wait so long? They were listening to President Trump. They were watching Fox News and listening to Rush Limbaugh. The information was there. In the information bubble, they were basically getting a lot of sort of noise and news pollution.

Not every blue-state talking head, of course:

Polling guru Nate Silver even took issue with those who were pitting red states against blue states when talking about response times:

People sure like to post things about how there are huge disparities between red states and blue states in social distancing… when if you look a the actual numbers the differences aren’t actually that big and may largely be explained by other variables (e.g. urbanization).

— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) April 4, 2020

It’s almost like people who live in an area with 1/100th the population density may be able to get by with less strict measures.

— binge tweeter (@binge_tweeter) April 4, 2020

If what the government is saying is correct, the country still has several more weeks to go before the worst of this is over. So it remains to be seen where the next hot spots will be after New York City has reached its peak. In the meantime, instead of disproportionately attacking red states, the mainstream media should do the following things:

41 thoughts on “Blue Fragility

  1. We need a one size fits all solution.
    Shut down mass transit across the country!
    Sure, that will cripple New York, and hardly touch Kansas City, BUT WE NEED A ONE SIZE FITS ALL SOLUTION!

  2. According to NIMS (National Incident Command System), all incidents are local until elevated. This system, along with ICS (Incident Command System) are what our first responders, city planners, emergency managers, and everyone along the line is supposed to follow.

    Funny how that’s what the federal response has been (let states handle their states and cities handle cities) in general, as well as here in MN. And yet, it’s all a failure on Trumps part, since he won’t force everyone to do the same thing across the country.

  3. It won’t really matter to Trump’s base that all our economic metrics (GDP growth, employment, incomes, etc.) will be lower than when he took office.

    He can just say that it would have been worse under Hillary, and they’ll applaud.

    I think it’s the economic consequences of the shutdown that history will remember, not the death toll. But in the immediate term it’s the latter that is the greater human tragedy and political liability.

  4. Trump can be blamed for backtracking and going with the dempanic narrative; he was doing the right thing to begin with.

    If you look at the specific neighborhoods in NYC where people are getting sick, you’ll see they are mostly very low income. In fact, “Latino’s” (read illegal GuataMexidorians) are by far the largest group. It’s very likely many of these people are not in great health to begin with, but it’s hard to tell because the only health care they have ever received came from ER visits.

    New York was completely unprepared to handle the consequences of hosting so many 3rd world migrants; just listen to their degenerate Governor whine and beg. It’s shameful.

    But for most of the country, the only effects of bat flu anyone knows about is the financial chaos the dempanic has wrought. The devastation that we will be left with left is 100% man Democrat and media made, and was completely avoidable.

    That is the narrative that needs to be spread, because it’s the truth.

  5. Emery received the memo from DFL Central, I see. Late, though – we’ve all known for weeks those would be the talking points.

    Way to stay on message, buddy. Worst Economy since the Fall of Rome and it’s All Trump’s Fault so Vote Biden. Bernie. Cuomo. Whoever – don’t worry about it, we’ll fill in the blank later, just fill in the dot for DFL.

    Now that the number of deaths is about the same as the ordinary flu but Democrats have destroyed the economy to have something to hammer Trump with, are we ready to admit it was all a political hoax?

  6. Public transit is an issue, apartment buildings are an issue, and for that matter, incentives for mothers to work outside the home are an issue–daycare centers are like petri dishes for problem bugs. I remember being astounded when my 1st was born about how many more problems kids in daycare had than did my little, breastfed, homebound child.

    And to paraphrase the old saw, “World to end due to nasty virus, feminists most hurt”. Ayup.

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  8. This is an interesting way to look at the eventual recovery, from Josh Lehner at the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis: COVID-19: The Square Root Recovery?

    The thinking is as follows.

    “The sudden stop of the economy sends us into a severe recession overnight. Once the health situation improves some, the curve flattens and caseloads peak, the restrictions begin to be lifted. This results in some initial bounce back in economic activity, although far from 100%. We may be able to got out to eat, or get a haircut again, or the like. These firms will staff back up to meet this demand, but is the rebound 1/3 of the losses? 1/2 the losses? We don’t know that answer today. …

    This initial bounce back likely takes the economy from near-depression level readings up to something resembling a severe or bad recession. From there the economy sees slow or moderate rates of growth until the health situation is under control.

    Finally, just to be clear, none of this is designed to be pitting the economy against public health. Research shows they are clearly connected and in past episodes, the economy is stronger in places that improve public health the most. As Bill Conerly said the other week, if you tell me the health outcomes, I can tell you the path of the economy. That remains true today.”

  9. Still trying to time the market, eh, Emery? How’s that working for you?

  10. Since you’re incoherent— we’re gonna have to rely on John Prine’s music for his sense of humor.

  11. Ten bucks says Emery had never heard of John Prine before today, and was unaware that he had been fighting cancer for years:
    Health problems
    In early 1998, Prine was diagnosed with squamous cell cancer on the right side of his neck. He had major surgery to remove a substantial amount of diseased tissue, followed by six weeks of radiation therapy.[22] The surgery removed a piece of his neck and severed a few nerves in his tongue, while the radiation damaged some salivary glands. A year of recuperation and speech therapy was necessary before he could perform again.[23] The operation altered his vocals, and added a gravelly tone to his voice.[24]
    In 2013, Prine learned he had cancer in his left lung and underwent surgery to remove part of it. After the surgery, a physical therapist put him through an unusual workout to build stamina: Prine was required to run up and down his house stairs, grab his guitar while still out of breath and sing two songs. Six months later, he was touring again.[23]

  12. Remember the good old days when COVID-19 was a “hoax” that was “no worse than the flu”?

    Pro-tip: Buying anytime for the long term wins 100% of the time. Remember, the stock market comes back 100% of the time.

  13. number of Americans who die of plain old ordinary influenza every year: 30,00 – 60,000.

    number of times Democrats have insisted we destroy the entire economy for the flu: 0

    number of Americans dead from COVID-19: 10,000

    number of times Democrats have insisted we destroy the entire economy so they have a better chance in the election: 1

    Political hoax

  14. The same people going out buying a lottery ticket because they love their chances of winning are the same people that think a 2% death rate is really small and won’t hurt the economy.

    It’s almost as if some folks on this website don’t realize that if we lift the lid too soon, then we still get a ruined economy but with even more sickness and death.

  15. 2% of 320,000,000 would be 6.4 MILLION people dead. We’ve lost 10,000, which is a third of a normal flu season.

    10,000 -:- 320,000,000 = .00003125.

    Expressed as a percentage = .003125 percent.

    Rounded to the nearest whole number = zero percent.

    Emery wants to destroy the best economy in 50 years over a disease that has killed literally zero percent of the population. Because that would give Democrats something to talk about in the election.

    Political hoax.

  16. Give yourself a little perspective:

    Number of Americans dead of COVID-19 so far: 10,000

    Number of American babies born EVERY DAY: 10,000

    This is not a nation-ending event. This is a political hoax.

  17. Are we living on the same planet?
    If anything, Trump’s mishandling of this crisis has ensured that he won’t be re- elected. Thousands more will die and America is on track to fare worse than any other developed country. It’s a shambles.

    The red states will be next, geography will protect them for only so long and the poor healthcare systems in those states won’t cope when the deluge hits them. He can spin it so long as it hasn’t hit his voters, but it’s coming for them too, especially since their governors have been in denial and slow to respond. Preventative measures could have been put in place but there are still states without lockdowns. There is no way that the virus somehow acts differently for them. His antics have not endeared him to any of the independents or swing voters that are needed to win elections.

    Biden doesn’t have to be anywhere at the moment, Trump is a walking Democratic campaign advertisement. By November it won’t be about Democrats vs. Republicans, it will solely be about getting Trump out of office.

  18. This year the ordinary flu — not covid-19 — will kill ten times as many people as 9/11.

  19. Being a data-oriented person, I am interested in usable data. If John Prine had died of ordinary flu, his death would have been recorded as complications from cancer, since he had a weakened immune system and was missing at least part of his left lung.
    So the number I am interested in is seasonably adjust excess deaths.
    In Hawaii, on an average day in March, 30 people die. In the last 30 days we would normally experience 900 deaths. Covid-19 adds five to that number. Maybe. The people who we are told died from covid-19 might well have died from another condition. So basically the excess deaths caused by covid-19 in the last 30 days is in the noise.
    Compare my reasoning with Emery’s hysteria.

  20. Emery’s dire prediction is based on the model, which the data stubbornly refuses to match. Obviously, there must be something wrong with the data.

    Americans Are Almost Certainly Dying of COVID-19 says the WaPo. But those deaths aren’t being noticed? Nobody brought out their dead, they’re hoarding them like toilet paper? Nonsense, not only is every death being recorded, the US Department of Health and Human Services issued new guidance to show COVID-19 as an underlying cause of ALL deaths from any respiratory distress, such as pneumonia, emphysema and influenza, even without a test to confirm the presence of the COVID-19 virus. If anything, deaths are being over-counted.

    There will definitely be a second wave, and a third, and a wave every year, the same as ordinary influenza. But we don’t place the nation under martial law for the flu. And we shouldn’t keep it for this. Not any longer.

    Protect the vulnerable, liberate the rest.

  21. Because I love data, I didn’t like the CDC mortality data I linked to. The numbers regularly grow smaller, the closer we get to NOW.
    So my investigation revealed that the CDC US mortality data is crap, because the data is collected from the states in an irregular fashion. You need to wait at least 6 weeks before the data can be relied upon.

  22. If anything, Trump’s mishandling of this crisis has ensured that he won’t be re- elected. Thousands more will die

    If HRC had been elected, the result would be the same, except perhaps those thousands might have committed suicide by shooting themselves in the back of the head. Twice.

    and America is on track to fare worse than any other developed country.

    Based upon models that keep getting revised downward. And really, worse than Spain? Italy? France? The UK?

    the red states will be next, geography will protect them for only so long and the poor healthcare systems in those states won’t cope when the deluge hits them.

    What are we defining as red states, Emery? Pennsylvania, Texas, Michigan, and Florida went for Trump in 2016, and they’re each already dealing with 5000+ cases of COVID-19. The virus doesn’t make this political, even if you do. Iowa is on par with Minnesota, seeing infection numbers around 1000, weeks after New York, with its much-higher population density and crowded public transit in NYC, passed 10 times that amount. The IDPH site states that are around 104 people currently hospitalized across the state, 89 discharged and recovering, and 646 positive cases that have never been hospitalized.

    Preventative measures could have been put in place but there are still states without lockdowns.

    Oh, FFS, I’ve been working from home here in Des Moines since 16 March. It’s not like we’re going about our normal lives here. Gov. Reynolds’ administration has closed schools, churches, movie theaters, etc. Restaurants have been to-go-only since mid-March. Reynolds and Dr. Fauci had a phone call and separately said they’re “on the same page.” (You must have missed that) Setting aside the question of constitutionality of a mandatory stay-home order, what do you define as a lockdown? Is the government supposed to air-drop supplies in everybody’s backyard, or is going to the grocery store an acceptable risk for people who are uncertain how long the lockdown will persist?

    Biden doesn’t have to be anywhere at the moment

    Except in the long-term memory-care facility at Shady Pines Retirement Home.

    Trump is a walking Democratic campaign advertisement.
    As Bernie Sanders suspends his campaign, and as Trump’s approval rating sits at 49%. Don’t count your chickens just yet, Emery.

  23. The coyote suffered from diabetes and hypertension, ridiculous to list “crushed by anvil” as cause of death.

  24. You’ve got it exactly backwards, Emery.

    They’re listing Covid-19 as the underlying cause of death for patients who actually die of pneumonia, emphysema, or influenza, but without a test confirming Covid-19 exists at all. It’s ‘presumptive.’

    The Immediate Cause of Death in your case might be Anvil, and the Contributory Causes of Death diabetes and hypertension, but they’d be listing it as Hangnail, because we presume he stopped in the road to pick at it which is why the anvil hit him, although we don’t actually know if he had a hangnail because it hasn’t been confirmed. So – another hangnail death to report in the media.

  25. In the law, wouldn’t you use the term “proximate cause” as in the anvil was the proximate cause of the coyote’s demise. Trump was the “contributing cause” because he knew the anvil was going fall on the coyote and did nothing.

  26. “You’ve got it exactly backwards, Emery.”

    Kind of a regular thing around here, eh?

  27. The proximate cause was the anvil. The underlying cause was jaywalking.

    The CDC declares that death was a jaywalking death. The Governor notes the massive increase in jaywalking deaths and bans walking to save the lives of jaywalkers. Emery nods approvingly.

    Except . . . it’s all a lie. And pretending won’t change it.

    Covid-19 is not the end of the world, it’s about the same as a bad flu. We should be treating it that way. Protect the vulnerable, liberate the rest of us.

  28. Trump did nothing, Emery? Then the Democrats were just makin’ s*** up when they railed against a travel ban from China in late January as being “racist”, right?

    Or are you making s*** up now? Given that I can “google” that travel ban, maybe you ought to start aligning your rhetoric with reality, if indeed that’s possible for you.

  29. Keep in mind, also, that while Trump was “doing nothing”, the rest of the Dems were running a 24/7 imaginary impeachment failure, and the media was breathlessly covering it 24/7. For all you whinge about Trump “doing nothing” to prepare for this pandemic, he was doing far more than anyone else in Washington.

  30. maybe you ought to start aligning your rhetoric with reality, if indeed that’s possible for you.

    Bike, I suspect his response would be similar to Gollum’s: “It hurts us.”

  31. Blaming Trump’s coronavirus failures on impeachment is gaslighting of the highest order.

    Shorter version: The impeachment trial ended Feb. 5.
    Trump held rallies on: —Jan 9th —Jan 14th —Jan 28th — Jan 30th —Feb 10th —Feb 19th —Feb 20th —Feb 21st — Feb 28th

    He golfed on: —Jan 18th —Jan 19th —Feb 1st —Feb 15th —Mar 7th —Mar 8th

    But sure, impeachment is what stopped him from responding to the coronavirus 😷

  32. So, what were the Democrats doing on those dates, Emery?
    Working hard on a coronavirus response? Knitting ventilators in their basements?
    You have left reason so far behind that even the stupidest arguments find fertile soil in your mind.

  33. Thursday numbers for the Big Island just out. One more positive test, but one was released from medical care, so the total under medical care stands at 6, all home quarantined, no deaths, no hospitalizations.
    I went to the Safeway to do a little shopping and they are limiting the number of people in the store at one time to something like half capacity. So you had to stand in line for a few minutes, observing social distance, of course. Nothing was in short supply other than cheap canned soup. I grabbed a 16 pack of Charmin, limit two. I’ve heard that the Target store is better at stocking their shelves with TP and canned goods, but I don’t want to grocery shop at Target. I got all the usual stuff, hamburger, frozen pizza, fresh baked bread, bacon, lettuce, onion, etc., even a half-gal of Tillamook Old-Fashioned Vanilla ice cream (best in class, sorry Midwest). Deli roast beef and American cheese. Everyone was polite, though not talkative.
    This was in Hilo, a town of 40,000 souls on a tropical island in the middle of the North Pacific. I think that we will be okay.

  34. There is a saying in statistics, “all models are wrong; some are useful.” We are already modeling behavior of a virus here that nobody had heard of four months ago. We know its sequence, its variants, incubation period, symptoms, how to test for it, effect on the lungs and other organs, and CT picture, We will soon have knowledge about possible antivirals and antibiotics and its tendency to mutate. It won’t take long to establish serology and know something about immunity. A vaccine will come. This is global science at its best.

    Keeping people from getting infected helps the economy. It’s just long term thinking, which is not your strong suit.

  35. Woolly writes: “You have left reason so far behind that even the stupidest arguments find fertile soil in your mind”

    What we don’t know yet is how many people are infected who aren’t tested. Estimates range as high as 11:1. This ratio is vitally important to know, because the higher the ratio, the further along the curve we are.
    One way to get a handle on this number is to randomly sample people in an area.This requires having a lot of ways to quickly sample and get results, which perhaps we will have in the near future.

    The per cent infected in that random sample can easily be compared to others. Not only that, we have a margin of error, an absolute must any time one is dealing with an estimate (every statistician will tell you that). As a crude but decent way to get that error, take 1/square root of sample size, so it would be about 10% for a sample of 100, 3% for 900. Random sampling is powerful.

    One other point:
    “On February 7, the WHO warned about the limited stock of PPE.”

    This was also the exact day that his administration announced it was sending 18 tons of masks, gowns and respirators to China, even as he was warned that we didn’t have enough in America.

  36. On February 7, when the Director-General of the World Health Organization spoke, he said:

    “Frontline health workers in China require the bulk of PPE supplies”

    “There is limited stock of PPE, and we need to make sure we get it to the people who need it most, in the places that need it most”

    “WHO discourages stockpiling of PPE in countries and areas where transmission is low.”—7-february-2020

    Trump did EXACTLY WHAT THE WHO ASKED HIM TO DO by shipping masks we didn’t need to China where they did need them, and now you’re blaming him for doing what the experts advised.

    Posting silliness just to have the last word is juvenile. Posting lies is even worse.

  37. But how could Trump allow tons of vital medical equipment Americans to be transported to another country in February if, as he has claimed since January, he fully understood the risk the United States was facing from the virus?

    After all — Trump said: “I’ve felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic,”

    “Posting silliness just to have the last word is juvenile. Posting lies is even worse.”

  38. “In a remarkably prophetic report last summer, FEMA accurately predicted that a nationwide pandemic would result in a shortage of medical supplies, hospitals would be overwhelmed and the economy would shut down.”

    FEMA Predicted Pandemic Effects In July 2019

    So there was a 2019 FEMA report on the risk of a pandemic, in addition to the classified US intelligence community pandemic risk briefing of the US National Security Council in November 2019. Now that’s baggage.

    Apparently the “Deep State” knows more than it’s president. Maybe experts can help the government, if the administration chooses to listen.

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