“The Surge”

No surge = no lock down.  Open Up!

Governor Walz justified the initial Go To Your Room! order because the computer model predicted a surge of Covid cases coming to overwhelm the hospitals. 

Doctors were scrambling to add ICU beds to handle the surge of cases expected to hit in Late March-Early April.

Estimates of the incubation period for Covid vary between 2-14 days with 5 days being the most common.  If there was a pool of infected people in Early March getting read to overwhelm the hospitals in Late March – Early April, they’d have arrived by now (it’s April 26th as I write).  They did not.

Governor Walz explained the need to extend his order until May: the surge had been delayed by his order and now would arrive in Late May-June-possibly July.  The computer model predicted it with a 95% confidence level.  If he rescinded the order now, the surge would come rushing forward, overwhelming the hospitals.
But the 14-day incubation period is unchanged.  Where are all the infected people hiding?  If they were sick enough in Early March to overwhelm us in Late March, why haven’t they surged already?  Why July – what are they waiting for? 
Ah, but just because people have no symptoms, doesn’t mean they can’t spread it to other people who Will develop symptoms.  Mild cases, or asymptomatic patients, can cause a surge, as reported by a study of Chinese cases

Yes, but for how long?  A person gets the virus, an active case but no symptoms, she can spread it to others, but how long is she contagious?  Doesn’t she eventually get over the virus, develop antibodies, become inactive, stop spreading?   I can’t find a link answering that question but it’s critical to the next phase of the inquiry

The new excuse to extend the order is Testing and Tracking everyone so we can identify pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic patients and quarantine them to prevent them from infecting other people who will surge into the hospitals, overwhelming them.  Tracking is necessary before the state can re-open for business.  

But people who are not contagious can’t spread the virus so tracking them won’t help stop the surge.   Only a permanently infectious asymptomatic super spreader could have remained contagious since March and also remained hidden this long.  Is that who we’re searching for?  How many are there?  Is it even possible?  I suspect not, even though I can’t prove it, because otherwise authorities would explain that’s who they’re searching for – Covid Mary – be on the lookout.   

As it stands, there is no surge and nobody to cause a surge: not here, not anywhere in America, not anywhere in the world. The virus is burning itself out, as they all do, until cold-and-flu seasons hits next Winter, as it always does. 

There is no June surge coming.  Somebody is lying.  Could be the Governor, could be the U of M who developed the model, could be the World Health Organization, doesn’t matter.  What matters is that the incubation period is 14 days.  Anybody who had the virus before we went into lock-down, would have symptoms or developed the antibodies by now.  Without a surge, there’s no justification for house arrest.  Lift the order now. 

Joe Doakes

40 thoughts on ““The Surge”

  1. You have to understand models, Joe. They come in two types:

    The first, more common type (used mostly in academia) relies upon qualified experts to guess at the imputs and make multiple runs until everything feels right.

    The second type (found in government, the media and advocacy NGO’s) is called The Motivation Model. It’s primary use is to scare the sh*t out of the public with either money or an agenda being the goal.

    Both models are wrong, but both models are useful. The problem comes when we mistake one for the other.

  2. I believe that there should be a vetting process for any “expert”, doctor or other giving their opinion on why we should keep things locked down. Don’t laugh, but the first question every reporter should ask them is; are you a Democrat? There were all sorts of them spouting this same “next wave” bull and cautioning against opening up the country again. If you look at where they work or are from, there is always some leftist leaning institution. That said, beaches in So Cal were crowded this weekend due to the 90 degree heat, despite the Gestapo like policies of tin gods like Garcetti and Newsom. It has already been reported that heat and UV light will kill the virus and a study suggests that CA may have achieved herd immunity.

  3. The United States has 4.25% of the world’s population.

    It now has over 25% of the world’s Covid-19 fatalities

  4. Emery doesn’t mention that ~ 1/2 of the total US deaths are in NY. So what defective model was NY using that caused so many fatalities there?

  5. Boss, the first question should be” “are you on payroll”? We know they are lefties.

  6. The curve has flattened. The hospitals are not (and have not) been overrun. The hospital ship on the east coast has sailed away. Success. Lift the lock down. But they aren’t doing that. Could be they had other ideas about locking down the country and tanking the economy, hmmm?

  7. Lol, China is not even in the top ten for deaths listed from the wuhan virus. I’m SURE they are telling the truth, no really. They claim 2000 or so. Lol. Experts believe it to be in the tens, or even hundreds of thousands. We will never know the true number.

    Plus we know covid deaths here are being pumped up to include anyone who was positive for it even if it wasn’t the cause of death. They have admitted as much.

  8. Correction, Emery: the U.S. has over 25% of the world’s known and admitted COVID-19 fatalities. It’s not airtight, but it’s worth noting that underground media are claiming that tens of thousands of extra urns have been delivered to crematoria in Wuhan province, and video exists of people sneaking bodies out of apartment complexes as well.

    Going back to the topic of “when is it OK to loosen up?”, the thought I had last night is that if Ro is (approximately) a summation of ( the # of social contacts one has times the likelihood of infection with each contact), then the virus can, theoretically, be stopped before a large portion of herd immunity is achieved. Herd immunity works on the likelihood of infection with each contact (by reducing it to zero for those with antibodies of course), social distancing works on Ro by reducing the # of contacts.

    So theoretically at least–and New Zealand is reporting success this way–a nation can eliminate this contagion without everybody “catching” it. So I think there’s a valuable discussion of how much we ought to be isolating, but not really whether we ought to be doing so.

  9. The US is 15th in deaths per million, between Switzerland and Luxemburg.
    In cases per million, the US is 17th, between the Channel Islands and France.

    Emery is insane. The more you listen to him, the more wrong you will be.

  10. Bikebubba – that might make sense, if there was a pool of infected people somewhere and we were trying to prevent them from spreading the virus. Is there?

    Once you get the virus, how long can you spread it? Seems to me there are three outcomes: you die and stop spreading it; you develop antibodies and stop spreading it; or you spread it forever.

    Only the third group are a problem. My question: do they exist? Nobody seems to have the answer on-line. But I think that’s the critical question. Because if they don’t exist, then after the sick people die or develop immunity, there’s no further risk. At that point, we’re locked down for fear of little green Martians and that’s a stupid reason to kill a nation.

    How long do people spread the virus?

  11. Thanks MP, I got tired of trying to run down those stats. I usually don’t read emetic but I could see at a glance that it was short so I did this time. His “stat” is initially bad looking but then I remembered death per millions, and we are way down that list.

  12. emetic probably has heard the phrase straw man, but clearly does not understand what it means. Has Trump talked about tours emetic? No? You are a child and a liar. Go away.

  13. Behold: the awfulness of the IHME projections:

    They are like a weather report that claims that we may have anything from a blizzard to blistering heat and drought tomorrow, but 30 days from now? They are absolutely certain the weather will be fair with sunshine.
    The models are worse then wrong, they are useless. You cannot make policy based on a model that says “in five days we will have between 250 and 4,000 deaths per day, and we will need between 2,500 and 25,000 ventilators, and between 10,000 and 100,000 extra hospital beds.” The error bars on total deaths by May 1st — just six days from now — are similar to the number of flu deaths in an average year.
    Imagine trying to budget your household expenses based on a model that tells you that your income this year will be between 10% and 150% of last year’s income.

  14. If overcrowding is a problem, why not more cases in places like Hong Kong, Tokyo, Paris or London? I think proximity places a role, but it’s hard to draw such conclusions so early on.

  15. I think that they should start everything up again, with reasonable precautions. Use purell and wear a mask in enclosed, crowded locations. Some venues may want to use an infrared thermometer to check customers for a fever before allowing them into an establishment.
    Use your f’n common sense, because the government isn’t.

  16. Emery;
    Since you have turned into our resident Grim Reaper, here’s another tragic death stat for you:
    Suicides, domestic violence and on-line crimes are climbing, too. One state has been caught attributing those deaths to the virus.
    Apparently, it is lost on you that the ones advocating for continued lock down, have high incomes and benefits.

  17. I think from (May?) June onwards everyone should just learn to live with the virus. By the time we get to the middle of May, the balance will have likely tipped and the damage of keeping everything shut down could be just too great to ignore.

    The most at-risk have probably had it already, health systems have been gearing up so can probably handle the next wave.

    However I think international travel will be on hold for months, possibly into next year, because countries will insist on quarantine anyone arriving from abroad.

    So I imagine all non-state airlines will go into bankruptcy administration, as will related businesses.

  18. BTW, London, France, and Tokyo are all covid-19 hot spots.
    And you cannot trust the HK numbers because the Chicoms supply them.

  19. One thing no one is talking about is civil unrest, that’s going to start very soon if things don’t open up, people are fed up and don’t believe the MSM and event government fear mongering. People are done with this creeping police state, well some are, EI would clearly be fine with it.

  20. I believe in making rational decisions based on evidence.
    Once the states lift the restriction, there may or may not be a surge in covid-19 cases. No one knows.
    This is what we do know:
    The disease is not spreading as fast as the models predicted it would spread.
    The percentage of fatalities from the virus was vastly overstated.
    If you believe that the government stay at home orders caused the disease to spread less rapidly, you are engaging in the post hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy. There is no evidence that the stay at home orders have done a damn thing. Individuals choosing to social distance, and sick people choosing to self-quarantine may very well have accomplished the same thing. There is no evidence that can be used to make a determination. It makes no sense to believe that stay at home orders helped at all.
    Experts are worse than useless, Democrat public health czar Ezekial Emmanuel claimed in early April we’d be looking at a hundred million active cases in the US by now.
    Turns out I was more accurate than Emmanuel, and I don’t know a damn thing about epidemics.
    But I do believe in making rational, evidence-based decisions. I can’t be the only one.

  21. Joe, regarding that pool of infected people who don’t know and aren’t quarantined, didn’t a study come out last week suggesting 5-10x more infected people in New York State than actual diagnoses? That would suggest–given 968k diagnoses nationwide with ~100k recoveries and ~55k deaths–about 4-8 million carriers out there nationwide.

    Test all of them, and 20% false negatives means you have up to 1.6 million carriers out there who would not know. The way I see it, you’ve got two choices; get it over with and get herd immunity, or keep doing social distancing and hope it dies out before everybody gets it.

    I wouldn’t be totally against inoculating everybody under 50 who was not obese, diabetic, asthmatic, etc.., except for the question of “how do you keep this out of the places where senior citizens and the obese, diabetic, and asthmatic live?” Hence I’m looking optimistically at the New Zealand approach.

    On the flip side, if we find a couple of weeks from now that we’ve got 30 million likely unknown carriers or more, then we might do better just to say “screw it, let’s all get it like the chicken pox” and pray for the best.

  22. And some numbers we will have to add to the stats eventually will be deaths due to the lock downs. Supply chains are breaking down, the US will probably be okay, but the US economy drives the world economy. This fall we are going to start hearing about some horrific numbers of deaths due to poverty and starvation, and they will be directly caused by these lock downs.

  23. POD, you are right on that. And I am expecting next flu season to hear the words “lock down” and “shelter in place”. The lefties have got themselves a shiny new toy, and brother there is no way they are going to throw it away.

  24. Given the success of work at home, I think corporations are going to see how maintaining massive buildings eat into their overhead and will work towards a smaller real estate footprint.

  25. bb wrote:
    Hence I’m looking optimistically at the New Zealand approach.
    Hawaii is trying the NZ approach.
    33% unemployment, cratering state tax receipts. You will see an exodus of idle workers from Hawaii to the mainland soon.

  26. bikebubba – I genuinely don’t know how this virus works, which is why I’m asking. It seems to me there are three possibilities:

    You get it, you die, you can’t pass it to anybody else.

    You get it, you’re sick as a dog but eventually recover. Are you still contagious? Can other people catch it from you? For how long?

    You get it, you have no symptoms, are you contagious? For how long?

    It seems to me that Groups 2 and 3 are the key to this thing. if the answer is “once you get it, you pass it on forever,” then there’s no point in a quarantine since everyone in the entire world is going to get it, eventually.

    At that point, the analysis shifts to “how sick will it make you?” If kids get it but have no symptoms, what the hell, expose them all today – they won’t overwhelm the hospitals. If middle-aged people get it and only 5% have symptoms, start exposing them in batches small enough to avoid overwhelming the hospitals.

    If permanent quarantine isn’t the solution; if gradual exposure is the plan; then wee need to get started now, when the surge isn’t upon us, because you know the virus is coming back next cold-and-flu season, just like all the other viruses.

    It’s astonishing that I can’t find the answer to the contagion question.

  27. I think the likelihood of lockdown depends on the election.

    If Trump wins again, burn it all down so voters punish Republicans and elect a Democrat next time. It’s better to rule in Hell than to serve in Heaven.

    If Biden wins, open up to restart the economy for his re-election campaign.

    Yes, I’m that cynical.

  28. MP, doesn’t the cratering in Hawaii have a lot to do with the fact that the major industry in the state is “tourism”? I’m guessing there would be a crater even without a government imposed shutdown, no?

    Joe, my take is that after you get it, you don’t pass it on beyond about a week past symptoms. If it’s anything like other infections, those who don’t get major symptoms, but whose immune systems defeat it, are immune and will probably show antibodies.

    Don’t know that I terribly object to the notion of exposing the young and healthy, except for two things. First, too many Wal-Mart physiques to make it safe. Second, how do you expose, say, kids, without exposing their parents….who also may have diabetes/smoking/overweight/Wal-Mart physiques?

  29. Not cynical at all Joe. The left wants the economy to die, mostly to defeat Trump. Then there are the green weenies, many of whom have already stated that this is a chance to make a green nude ell, or something. And of course all the dems are loving this dictator like control over us deplorables. Look at all the mediots saying the protests are racist. They are not going to go along with lifting the lock down without slandering half the country.

  30. ^^ Trump finally got into a situation that he can’t lie himself out of. This is serious business and should have been treated that way from the beginning.

    For political purposes, Trump prioritized has re-election and continued to listen to his economic advisors instead of medical experts until the virus was widespread.

    “The 15 are going to go to 0”, “It’ll be a miracle” ~ Donald Trump

    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.

    Elections matter.

  31. “Don’t know that I terribly object to the notion of exposing the young and healthy, except for two things. First, too many Wal-Mart physiques to make it safe. Second, how do you expose, say, kids, without exposing their parents….who also may have diabetes/smoking/overweight/Wal-Mart physiques?”

    Yes, those are good questions. But unless we bubble-wrap every American forever, it’s going to happen eventually. Rip the Band-Aid off? Or peel it off slowly, one region at a time? Sooner or later . . . why not now?

  32. The reason not to do it now is the possibility that we can spare a lot of people altogether, I think. Again, New Zealand and such, Ro does not care if you’re reducing it via fewer social contacts or herd immunity ratios, but rather cares that it is, overall, below 1. And that’s how an epidemic becomes a nuisance and then a nonissue.

  33. Tourism is a large part of the NZ economy. Not as much as Hawaii, but island economies are fragile things (Great Britain notwithstanding).
    How long can the Kiwi fortress isolate itself from foreign contagion? No one knows.

  34. bikebubba, I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m just not following the reasoning.

    I have the virus. I spread it to 4 people (Ro of 4). They all quarantine for 30 days. Can they still spread it? Or does it die with them?

    I ask because we’ve already been in lockdown more than 30 days. Not total lockdown, but that’s never going to happen. So where’s the reserve pool of infected people who are still contagious 30 days later?

    Inside the nursing home, sure. A has it, spreads it to B, who spreads it to C. Masks and gloves slow the spread, but it spreads in the contained environment.

    Inside dense immigrant housing, or dense working conditions, sure, same thing.

    When does this thing burn itself out? That’s what I’m trying to learn, and nobody seems to have an answer. The models predict a surge of cases in Late May – June – Possibly July, which means this virus persists far longer than the usual cold-and-flu season and far longer than most viral epidemics (burn themselves out in about 70 days).

    How do we know – and if we don’t know – how can we balance the harm of continued lock-down against the benefit?

    Is it better to be safe from the virus, starving and freezing in the dark because we kept the economy locked down too long and society collapsed? Or reopen the economy early and lose 75,000 Minnesotans, mostly old people who were going to die soon anyway?

    Ugly choice. Affects all of us. Why isn’t anybody discussing it at the government level? Why is Governor Walz the Jello Sheriff of the whole state?

    Just frustrated today, I guess.

  35. Virus needs a host to live, so about a week after the person dies, the virus is dead, too. It burns itself out a few “virus life generations” after Ro < 1. BTW, England is claiming to have gotten to Ro < 1. Things that help with this are mutations (H1N1 became harmless as a result), social distancing, vaccines where applicable, and "earned immunity".

    Frustrated at the wait? I'm with you, though I don't mind spending a lot less for gas and such. :^)

  36. At this point I don’t trust any of the models. The error bars are crazy. It looks like they are trying to project from bad or missing data.

  37. Actually, in this area–I used to do Weibull modeling for end of life projections on electronic components, much of the same math they’d use here–the error bounds tend to be quite wide. Plus, when people can act to (theoretically) reduce their exposure, that makes your confidence range even wider.

    The early numbers made sense given the early behavior that would have kept Ro around 4. More recently, friends of mine actually caring for COVID-19 patients at Mayo told me they were told it was about 2.5. The recent stability in infection and death rates suggests it’s about 1.0 now, and the link MP provides suggests that looking forward, it’s < 1, with a mean time to irrelevance of about a month and a half.

    Many people speak ill of the modeling, but having done this kind of thing myself, it makes sense to me what they're doing, including the range in results. Put differently, if we can't predict when or if our neighbor is going to return the Sawzall he borrowed from us, precisely how are epidemiologists going to predict how people are going to respond to this kind of thing?

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