How bad is Covid-19 risk compared to other risks?

I’ve had about five of you write me about this point in the last day.  Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide die from falls each year, what about car accidents, cancer, heart attacks, etc.?  Why is this new risk so special?

I think you need to keep clear monthly vs. yearly rates of death.  Covid-19 very likely has killed over 100,000 Americans over the last two months or so.

It either will continue at that pace or it won’t.  Let’s say that pace continues (unlikely in my view, but this is simply a scenario, at least until the second wave).  That is an ongoing risk higher than other causes of death, unless you are young.  You don’t have to be 77 for it to be your major risk worry.

Alternatively, let’s say the pace of those deaths will fall soon, and furthermore let’s say it will fall by a lot.  The near future will be a lot safer!  Which is all the more reason to play it very safe right now, because your per week risk currently is fairly high (in many not all parts of America).  Stay at home and wear a mask when you do go out.  If need be, make up for that behavior in the near future by indulging in excess.

A few of you also have asked me how all this Covid history has changed my view of the world.  If nothing else, I am realizing that people are worse at intertemporal substitution than I had thought.


It’s a mistake to compare known, non-multiplicative risks to unknown, multiplicative ones. Pool drownings will never kill millions a year, and will never shut down an economy. An uncontrolled epidemic can.

Out of control government shut down economy, not pandemic.

Wonder what intertemporal substitution on health care and jobless suicide will be?

Ken B: +1.

Jim: It was the pandemic, not the government. Behavior changed before the shutdowns.

I actively choose to drive carefully. I intentionally look where I'm walking so I don't fall. Covid isn't necessarily worse than other risks but probably is for me since I'm 76 with underlying medical problems. So I take precautions to prevent catching it. Makes perfect sense to me.

It also seems to be a worse way to die than drowning in a pool or getting hit by a car, struggling to breathe and failing for many days while nobody from your family is allowed to visit you, so you essentially die alone except for some medical personnel. It sounds pretty bloody awful.

I once had a collapsed lung (big truck, little car, icy road, I was in the little car - the people in the big truck were ok after the crash, I wasn't) and the ER doctor yelled at me - literally yelled - when I told him I was getting tired of his shenanigans - he said "BUT YOU HAD A POTENTIALLY FATAL ACCIDENT" and I was thinking, well, so what, give me a little more morphine and I won't care.

He was in his late 40s then, meaning he is in his early 80s now. I am sure he has forgotten me but I remember him.

He has no idea how lucky he is that I did not sue him and get his medical license revoked. I mean, I don't regret it, because MERCY is important, but I remember every thing he said when he thought I was in an intolerable fog of almost unbearable pain.

There are no easy ways to die if you are a bad person and no bad ways to die if you are a good person. Sorry if that sounds brutal, but it is what it is.

Please note that I am not giving my opinion on what distinguishes a good person from a bad person. I could discuss the subject, but you wouldn't listen, and you shouldn't listen to somebody on a comment thread on such an important subject as this subject ----- the difference between YOU if you are a good person and YOU if you are, well, lazy, selfish, and stupid. You need to trust God for the necessary actions to take to make sure that, in the hopefully unlikely event that you are one of those people who are not good, that you become not not good, and if you are good, that you stay that way.

Merry Christmas.

Trust me, I know what I am talking about. You don't survive a crushed lung and not know what it feels like. And I mean that lung was not just crushed but basically obliterated by the Big Truck pushing the cheap metal door of the Pontiac Reliant THROUGH MY RIB CAGE and crushing my poor lung.

Almost lost my spleen, too, and lost enough blood to scare almost anyone out of their wits, but I remember every rude comment from that ER doc.

He messed with me while I was dying, and I forgave him. Completely and without any reservation. God knows he had no idea what he was up against, with me almost dying on the table and still trying to boss him around.

You were very fortunate to find an ER that treats trolls!

I see his effort to teach you something failed...

Pshrnk - no harm, no foul. My fault for not being clearer, I can see why you might have thought that I, who know more about the human body than almost any doctor alive, was what you call a "troll".

The doctor was an average doctor and he did listen to some of my instructions - I told him that he did not need to worry about my spleen, and he listened (I am no great mathematician, but I am one of God's chosen when it comes to understanding the human body), and he listened to me when I informed him he did not need to worry about my brain. He listened to that too, even though he had a weird look on his face, as I guess most doctors would when being instructed by their patient, a patient who had lost a liter or two of blood and who only had enough air in his lungs to keep someone much much smaller alive and awake and coherent. My dissatisfaction with him had nothing to do with his listening to me when I instructed him about my spleen and brain --- I am glad he listened to me on those subjects---- it was simply with the lack of respect he showed to me on other subjects (not to go into too many details, but the little quack moved me around too much - I was all like, you keep moving me, you are gonna force too much blood out and fry my nervous system, but the QUACK WOULD NOT LISTEN. I mean, I had lost more blood than any living patient he had attended to in his professional life, and I was giving him good advice, and he was speaking to me in a disrespectful tone, and not listening to my good advice! Sad!)

And if I had not given him good advice, he would have in his foolishness let me choke on my own vomit. No he was not a great doctor, he was average, but not above average.

And yes, if someone had taped our conversations and played them back to a medical board with the appropriate competency to rule on such things, I could have gotten him bounced out of the medical profession. But that is not how I roll. I would not have done so because I am kind-hearted, and I knew he was "trying his best" but as God is my witness there is almost nothing worse in this world than incompetent people "trying their best". As we have all learned, with all the incompetent self-proclaimed epidemiologists in these sad Wuhan flu days (that is, that incompetent people trying to do their best are a menace - I knew that when I was short a liter or two of blood) .

Cor ad cor loquitur.

Don't ever call me a troll again.

If you lost a liter or two of blood, you did not lose more than any living person. My wife lost more than that and, after some treatment, she is fine.

How did you know that your spleen was OK? I have some general idea of whether my brain is OK, but we human beings generally do not have spleen self-awareness.

I also commend you for your kindness, but not following up on the doctor's misbehavior means that others, possibly many others, got to experience it and may not have had as favorable an outcome.

actually i saw in his eyes that he understood his failure, even if he was confused at the moment. i knew he would be a better doctor, going forward, even if he was, for me that night, an instrument of ignorance, in all the horror that an instrument of ignorance can be in a moment where mens' souls are tested. i am tough enough to overlook such things when i realize that the next day, the foolish person will be a better man than he was the day before. trust me, if i thought he would not be a better doctor the next day, he would have been a parking lot attendant within a year. just as all the fools who currently think they are God's gifts to epidemiology will, in the future, either be better men or will not.

by the way, if you still wonder if i am a "troll", read the dedication page of Schwarzkopf's memoir. that is another place - in addition to the comment sections here - where i am mentioned (well, mentioned as one among many) by someone who does not mention me by name (trust me, Schwarzkopf never thought of me as "efim". that is why i know so much about Patton, by the way, but that is another story.)

I knew my spleen was ok because I knew, at the age I was, everything Aristotle knew about the human body, plus a lot more. You are just gonna have to believe me ---- i have no desire to prove myself, and if I did try, it might be of interest to you, but it would not make you any more intelligent. let's just say i knew what i was talking about - and yes i know there are very few ways we know if our spleen is all right or not. but, as few ways as there were, i knew them all, and the foolish doctor, God bless him, trusted me at least on that.

and when did i say there was a favorable outcome? do you know what it is like to survive what i survived ---- i mean, maybe it was a favorable outcome, maybe it wasn't. i know whether it was or not, but you don't.

that was literally physical hell on earth. living with a memory like that is not the same as living without knowing what physical hell on earth is like.

you do not want to know what i know about the limits of the medical profession. or maybe you do know, for all i know you are better informed than i am.

also, there is a huge difference between losing a liter or two of blood on a nice day and losing those same one or two liters of blood on the side of a highway when the temperature is way below zero and the nearest ambulance is 20 miles away and it gets a slow start and the third liter is leaking out. just saying, ymmv.

not that there is anything wrong with being a parking attendant, we are all infinitely important in God's eyes, even doctors.

in case you missed the point of that long comment ---
I was in the ER, and I knew I was being treated incorrectly.
I argued with the doctor, who did not believe my criticisms were correct (they were).

my point is, show a little humility when people tell you they are evaluating risks differently than you are.

cor ad cor loquitur.

efim polenov, at 12:23 pm, said:

ok that was up for an hour, feel free to delete it now.
everybody has had hard times, everybody understands that.
everybody already knows they are wrong not to feel at least a little humble when other people, who may have insights they do not have, are saying things about risks.

George Patton, for example, would have been a better general if he listened to ....

why do i bother, nobody cares about things that happened long ago.
i mean, i care, but you and me, whoever you are, are very different people, and I am sure that you care about lots of things that i have never thought about.

so whatever it was that Patton should have known ... trust me, it is not my job to explain it. or yours. we have other challenges.
Wake up.

At least in my area, it was the "flatten the curve" presentation that started businesses shutting down, generally with an assumption it would be over quickly, certainly not more than 2-3 weeks. Beyond that, the shutdown is definitely the work of an out-of-control government.

With hindsight it's easier to easier that except as a very short term measure while more nuanced regulations on public places that statewide lockdowns and closures of public places on the basis of "essentiality" rater than mode of operation and the behavior of people who used them were a mistake. I'm not sure "out of control government" captures this politico-epistemological dynamic.

"out of control government" hahahaha...the real snowflakes.

Yes, but never made sense for the collective solution. The private responses everywhere were if anything too cautious, thanks to media fear-mongering and mixed messages by governments at every level. It is decentralized control that gets this right.

Death rates for people below 55-60 is very very low. Death rate for minors statistical zero. ZERO! And yet his eminence Dr. Fauci couldn't say that it was safe for children to go back to school.

It's crazy to have anyone on a national platform trying to spell out criteria for thousands of local areas to decide on when and how to "open" or "close" schools, churches and businesses. Yes and it is partly the fault of the media for centralizing what needed to be a local discussion.

The decisions are in fact, made at the state and local level. Not all states let alone counties and municipalities have the resources or experience to interpret all of the data that is out there. Therefore, it makes sense to have fallible but still non-partisan institutions within the federal government to help governors and mayors at least stay informed and have access to the best information out there.

There is some evidence showing that children are not significant spreaders of covid-19 but you would want to be pretty certain of that conclusion before making a decision.

I am not going to weigh in on opening or not but do find the claim "safe for children to go back to school" a rather myopic statement and not sufficient to support the opening conclusion.

Alex, please dont be so obtuse... its not that kids are in no danger, it is that they can still carry the disease and take it home with them and spread it to more susceptible members of our society.

I started working from home to avoid my family becoming Covid-19 victims before my employer mandated it, and they mandated it before the government required it.

Someone I know kept going out to restaurants and grocery stores. That person is dead now.

Possible, but highly unlikely

If he lives in New York it would probably be unusual to not know someone who has died from COVID-19, even if it is just casually.

There are 29K deaths in NY. The deaths are highly (80%) concentrated among those over 64. The population is 19.5 million. That's 1.5 out of 1,000.

It's not going to be that likely.

Going by excess deaths it something like 1 in 500 dead from COVID-19 in NY, so I suppose it would depend on how gregarious one is.

I knew three of the first 10 men to die from HIV-Aids in my state, and I’m not gay. Why do I mention this? Because unlike the Spanish Flu, it’s a major pandemic risk that did change people’s behaviour for decades.

Let’s talk comparable risks. Older, even middle aged people are socialised to expect reasonable health until chronic conditions or sudden death take it all away. So do you young and naive insult artists.

So, let’s compare that plague that destroyed the free love swinging era for about a half century to today’s polio (as some pathologists have dubbed it).

If HIV-Aids killed over 700,000 people in about 37 years - let’s round it up to 40. And today’s 300k+ death toll from CV19 keeps climbing, then it will be more deadly than HIV-Aids sometime later this year. (If it slows down during the fall instead of an echo-bumb, then maybe next spring.) Thus, the rate of death from today’s pandemic is 40 times faster than that multi-decade death crisis. Based on this, we are - as a planet wide civilisation - reacting with deserved alarm and taking the best measures to adapt to an invisible but poorly characterised enemy life-threat.

Now, it is true that past health and food security successes has created high expectations for higher quality of long lived life. It’s what we know because your elders grandparents were the first generation to see it become normal in the First World. Currently, even in the poorest world today, it is becoming the new norm.

Thus, let me declare the farts on this page who are ignorant of these facts to be NPCs [🙈 insert emoticon that I currently lack], Non-Playable Characters. You lack the character to opine about contemporary reality because you lack contact with today’s actual, up-to-date social realities.

A successful and wealthy world creates higher expectations. Dumbing down your “arguments” to crude levels lack both social grace as well as any appreciation for our evolved, advanced civilisation.

What’s it like knowing one person who went out to restaurants and grocery stores?

I don't know anyone with Covid or, more accurately, symptoms of Covid. I ask my friends and acquaintances the same. Nothing. This is a joke.

1 out of every 700 New Yorkers died in the past couple months. And they DID shut down (eventually).

If the rest of the country suffered what NY has to date, that's 500,000 dead. And we're not our of the woods yet. I'm sick and tired of the shutdown and incompetent governments pretending they know what is going on, but respect for this thing is warranted.

I guess it's simply your opinion that it's a joke. People HAVE died, people HAVE been quite ill. Hundreds of thousands...if that makes you laugh, Alvin, then you're a sociopath. I'm glad the vast majority of people see it for what it is and take it seriously.

"That is an ongoing risk higher than other causes of death, unless you are young."

Is the "young" in this sentence under 30, under 40, under 50, or under 60?

The big jump in deaths happens after 50 years old and a majority of patients have serious comorbid conditions.

If you want to see the NY figures you can look here:

There’s a big natural experiment being conducted right now:

The New York data is interesting but the most common comorbidities are typical chronic conditions that affect the vast majority of people as they enter their 50s and 60s. CDC estimates that 78% of the overall American population over the age of 55 has at least one chronic disease. You have to control for age first and then see if comorbidities have any statistically or practically significant correlation with deaths from covid-19. Even then, correlation is not causation and there needs to be the same level of care devoted to understanding this issue as there should be to potential undercounting of deaths or asymptomatic cases.

Even if you do not care about the very old, still 70% of the people who die are over 60 that means 30% are not and if it kills a 100,000 Americas, 30,000 will be young which is many times the number that died from terrorist attacks on American soil.

Um just under 60 not young.

The average 60 year old in the U.S. can expect to live more than 20 more years. Whether you call 60 "old" or merely "middle aged" is semantics; the reality is that it is still reasonably far from death's door for most people.

I think this is the discussion that eventually needs to come to the surface: what is the impact to life expectancy from the virus and what is the impact to quality of life if infected.

True, both will take more time to have a good baseline of data but we can start making estimates an educated guesses.

But those who die from Covid-19 at 60 have comorbidities almost all of them. Their life expectancy might be 8 years at 60.

Considering that 78% of Americans over the age of 55 are diagnosed with a chronic disease, that's not necessarily an impressive claim. Chronic diseases are expensive (especially to Medicare) and can make your life miserable but the U.S. still has a relatively high life expectancy at adulthood.

Correlation is not causation and merely pointing out that most people who die of covid-19 had other health issues does not prove that covid-19 was an insignificant factor in that person's death. John is right that what we really need is a measure of how many life-years have been lost to covid-19 but that estimate will take a while to come up with.

If your risk is tiny, 10 times your risk or 1/10 your risk makes little difference. There's a threshold that people respond to. At any rate some people tolerate more risk than others. They indulge inherently in riskier activities Covid-19 or not.
It's the same in nature, animals don't just have an urge for safety. They need to eat and mate.

I'm sure there's a whole bunch of evolution and psychology we could go into there.

It's easy to fear the lion if we see his footprint (as I have actually, while mountain biking alone in California).

It's a lot harder if it is a fear people talk about, but we have never seen. Indeed, after a few weeks waiting, we might start to think it's safe after all.

We could easily fix this by showing young people coughing and gasping on TV. Sanitary coverage has the opposite effect.

Speaking of sanitary coverage, a Drexel study says a 45-day shutdown saved 6,202 lives, kept 57,072 out of hospital.

I'd say concentrate on the 57000 there. That was a heck of a lot of suffering reduced.

But for many it was out of sight and out of mind.

Here in Australia I expected the news to be full of croaking Brits, but I've seen nothing. Only occasional reports of some cultural icon dying, like Tim-Brooke Taylor. About what's really going on, I only hear secondhand reports from people with relatives there. There's not enough alcohol to wash away the awfulness.

I wonder how much suffering resulted from the millions of job losses.

I certainly support those workers, and subsidies for the afflicted for the duration.

You'll support them by offering them other people's money. Brilliant!

Glad you like the idea, but it's not exactly new. Public funds have been used for civil defense since the start of civilization. In a way, it is civilization.

Preventing someone from doing their job then paying them from your supposedly bottomless piggy bank isn't civil defense. It's unfettered r-selection with, if I can be cynical, a dash of coerced leftism.

Yes, yes, that's right... New Zealanders now have a gestation period of 3 months and always give birth to triplets.

I think it is better than supporting them with someone else's lives!

As you've been told time and again, the risk to working-age people is miniscule. Your anecdotes don't change that simple fact that even lockdown hawks like our intrepid blogger acknowledge. At what point are you going to admit this isn't about trusting the scientists as much as your, to borrow the term of art around here, mood affiliation?

How do you possibly conclude that the risk to working age people is minimal? In cases where working age people keep going to work, we have anecdotally a fairly high degree of non fatal but debilitating infections?

Average age of Covid admission in our network has been a bit over 63. Lets say we set 55 as the age where we socially isolate (somehow) and everyone else goes back to work. Over 20% of our work force is over the age of 55.


Anecdotes are not data. Unless you've taken the time to read/hear about several million individual cases of what you're describing, it represents a miniscule fraction of the total Deep State Sabotage Fever caseload. It's insane how many people here, trying so hard to cultivate a self-image of intelligent objectivity, forget something most middle school children would know and start acting like gossipy Boomers on Facebook as soon as their priors are confirmed.

Anecdote? No, we have an ongoing study and are in the process of publishing our first 700 cases. There are also published studies in the literature. So we know that the average age we are seeing is pretty much in line with what has been published. We also maintain contact with a number of other academic centers and since age is something that is easy to extract off of an EMR we know that is in line with what they are seeing but have not published yet. What you are proposing with your "millions" is that we report on every case and if we cannot then the results are meaningless. I can only suggest you take a statistics class or two. Maybe some math.


Nobody is forcing those people to go support the economy and then die. They’re perfectly safe locking themselves inside their home for a year.

I, on the other hand, and perfectly willing to risk my *own* life to support those workers, and won’t feel bad if some old idiot dies because they decided to go to Walmart on a Saturday afternoon, instead of ordering a years worth of groceries to their home.

In what other way could they be supported? With their own money?

Well, they could be supported by allowing them to make a choice based on their personal risk assessment to go out and earn their own living.

That's the problem with these Karens like our anonymous friend. It's awfully easy for her to say that we should shut the country down and pay everyone to stay home, because she sacrifices nothing to do so. Pure, unfettered r-selection.

Unfortunately it would be diabetic, obese people with hypertension and renal failure in their 50s-90s.

I’m not sure that would send the message you intend

That answer is both wrong and mean-spirited isn't it?

“We are really shocked to see younger age groups have similar complications” as older people, Salata tells me, adding, “We’ve seen it in some younger people who had no risk factors.”

It’s literally true, although whether that maps to what you wish to be true is outside the scope of the question and sane discussion

Actually this is a really interesting thing to pause and consider.

The data certainly does not say that everyone who dies from virus is on their last legs. There are a sizable contingent of young and healthy, who at least suffer, and sometimes die.

So why is there a little group that seems to have a political purpose to minimize that?

You’ve jumped from telling untruths to questioning my motives based on political stance. Classy

You’re deranged, and clearly not arguing in good faith. I’ve never voted for a Republican for president, and see no reason to do so now.

Here’s a sanity check: what percentage of deaths would have to be <65, normal BMI with no underlying conditions to change your mind?

What’s the threshold ? Do you have one or is it all trolling ? Under 1%? Under 0.5%? Under 0.01%? Under 0.001%?

You’re not just an innumerate troll, right ?

I didn't say you were Republican, I said there was a political contingent here who seem to be arguing that lives with comorbidities are worthless.

That’s straight strawman trolling. No one has said that.

I'm not feeding that troll anymore.

Why do you think anyone makes the claim that "it is just the sick and the old?"

it is hardly because they want us to pull together and reduce death and hospitalizations.

I surely hope that when you want to “reduce death and hospitalizations” you are caveating that with Stubborn Attachments to certain rights, limitations, and hopes for the future (not necessarily the future of old people)

Here is the data from the CDC from 54,861 Covid deaths in the US
--under 14 : 12 = 0.02%
--under 24 : 71 = 0.13%
--under 34 : 459 = 0.83%
so 99% of all fatalities are older than 34
It's interesting to compare to the flu+ pneumonia ( non Covid) in that age range which they also list in the same spreadsheet They show 84,376 ( non Covid) deaths in the same period ( ~ 93% of them pneumonia, 7 % flu)
--under14 ; 200 = 0.23%
--under 24 399 = 0.47%
--under 34 1090 = 1.29%

I assume the CDC can tell Covid-19 pneumonia from non Covid-19 pneumonia and if they can't who needs them? It's their bread and butter , that stuff
It's interesting to see that pneumonia kills at least the same number of people in that age range as Covid.

The data is herE. You can download it to Excel as I did

"I assume the CDC can tell Covid-19 pneumonia from non Covid-19 pneumonia and if they can't who needs them?"

CDC bureaucrats aren't going around investigating every death in the U.S. and dutifully filling out death certificates. When there is no autopsy (the vast majority of cases), your physician fills it out for you. Sometimes, even a nurse fills it out. From there, it goes to your state or local health department and then gets aggregated by the CDC.

Obviously, this whole system is only as good as the personnel involved and the quality of their diagnoses. It is certainly believable that covid-19 has been a contributing factor to some recent deaths but was not recorded as such because there are limited resources for testing and detailed death investigations.

see my link to the NY data above. Old and comorbid is actually the population that is dying

As I say, I think avoiding hospitalizations is nothing to sneeze at.

You're not a troll, so share with the class

Under which conditions would you change your mind as to your recommendations?

A) hospitalizations are either >70 or all HIV positive
B) hospitalizations are either >70 or morbidly obese
C) hospitalizations are either >70 or intravenous drug users
D) hospitalizations are either >70 or a 0.1% random risk of healthy young

You're not just here to fight the culture war, so this should be an easy question.

You won't answer

I’d rather go to the hospital for two weeks then go two more months without hitting on girls at bars.

If you disagree, stay in your basement and don’t come out.

That chart you cited is very useful and shows just what you are saying. Of course, that will make no difference to the anonymous shriekers who post repeatedly.

"If nothing else, I am realizing that people are worse at intertemporal substitution than I had thought."


You laugh, but this is the defining input as to whether lockdowns are a viable path.

Maybe I actually got the joke.

Yes, the joke is obvious. Insert Lagrange function.

It’s still also the key variable in whether lockdowns are viable.

No, the key variable is what a "lockdown" is, how it morphs from statewide SIP/closure of "non essential" firms/places to local regulation of how firms/places operate to protect local heath care capacity.

It’s the spike. See


there was a spike in NYC (and, hence, New York State) because the Grand Executioner in Albany decreed that old people with SARS should head straight back home from the hospital into the nursing homes they used to live in, while they were still sick.

No other state besides New York saw similar spikes, except for the ones where the governors decreed that old people with SARS should head straight back home from the hospital into nursing homes, while they were still sick.

But the idiot governor of NY is in cahoots with the idiot media, who like to show him wearing "law enforcement" decals on his jackets.

He probably will be court martialed within the next 5 years, well if he isn't, he should be.

and please do not repeat the idiocy of the "precautionary principle" which looks like it is going to lead to about ten million deaths from a coronavirus accident in Wuhan that would have led to less than a million deaths if the precautionary principle clowns were not so arrogant.

The people who argue we should not worry about Corona and focus on other “preventable” causes of death seem to miss the fact that “preventable” probably means a few more years before the same or a similar thing kills you. The leading causes of death in the US are all highly correlated with age. They are: disease, cancer, accidents, lower respiratory issues, stroke, Alzheimer’s, diabetes. All correlate with age, except maybe suicide. It seems like Corona is a death sentence for anyone over 75 and can certainly accelerate premature death of middle aged + crowd.

The other stat that changed my mind on masks and social distancing is that, while we have defaulted to pursuing herd immunity as opposed to massive testing and isolating strategies, because people’s behaviors have changed and because spread just takes time in general, we are probably a year or more away from herd immunity. If distancing and masks get you through the next 18 months when herd immunity is reached, you buy not just 18 months but how ever many years you have left before dying from lifestyle or age.

It does just suck that poor leadership and policy will likely result in a year to 18 months of the current regime. I still think it is best to open up as best we can and save the economy and I still support a 3 tiered system with vulnerable mostly interactive mostly with vulnerable, low risk going on as before but staying away from vulnerable and limiting interaction with middle, and a middle that wears masks and all that.

"It seems like Corona is a death sentence for anyone over 75 and can certainly accelerate premature death of middle aged + crowd."

About 14% of those over the age of 80 infected with Covid-19 die from the disease. The rest, presumably, recover. If you told me I was under a death sentence, ordinarily one interprets that as meaning that death is certain. I wouldn't think that it meant I had only a 14% chance of dying from my "death sentence".

But it’s a better signal (at this point just to himself, that he’s a good person) if he calls it a death sentence

"I wouldn't think that it meant I had only a 14% chance of dying from my "death sentence"."

People over 75 are playing a round of Russian Roulette with Covid19.

Here is the age distribution for hospitalization:

I see a lot of people falling under median life expectancy, and even if they recover it is both suffering and cost.

90% across all ages with at least one comorbidity: renal failure, hypertension, or obesity.

Across all ages. Now extrapolate to the non Boomers

From the link above:

"Underlying health conditions clearly raise the risk of severe outcomes and death from the coronavirus. In an analysis of early data, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 71% Covid-19 patients requiring hospitalization had at least one underlying health condition or risk factor, as did 78% of those requiring intensive care. If those figures hold up on further analysis, however, that means 29% of Covid-19 hospitalizations involve otherwise relatively healthy individuals."

Personally, I think the fact that 29% of the hospitalized a healthy is nothing to sneeze at.

So I really have to step back and ask what you are arguing for?

Is this actually a "let the mostly sick die" argument? Would that be in any way moral?

You didn’t read your own link.

“Among 178 (12%) adult patients with data on underlying conditions as of March 30, 2020, 89.3% had one or more underlying conditions; the most common were hypertension (49.7%), obesity (48.3%), chronic lung disease (34.6%), diabetes mellitus (28.3%), and cardiovascular disease (27.8%)”

Omitting the variable “where underlying condition data was known” is uh...yeah.

You’re also now accusing me of things I’ve never said nor argued for.

There’s no need to troll, we should all want to know whether this disease impacts the healthy. Fighting the truth because it doesn’t fit with your emotions is very ... Trumpy

Obviously the first quote is implying some kind of cut off with "relatively healthy."

Am I really the bad one, when you throw the relatively healthy under the bus?

Hypertension and obesity. Isn't that about 75% of the male population over 50 right there?

The ones who work, yes. (Non academic or government jobs)

With EMRs everyone has co-morbidities. Their primary purpose is to make it easier to bill and to capture more charges. Hospital acuity scores increase and you get more Medicare money if you can show your pts are sicker. It is truly unusual to open a chart in an EMR and not see at least one co-morbidity of some sort listed.

My EMR shows all kinds of co-morbidities, a couple of which I actually have. It also shows I am on all kinds of prescription drugs, some of which I actually take. The record is garbage.

A doctor in the ER about 5 years ago asked me why I was on codeine and I said I had a toothache 6 or 7 years previously. The codeine was still on the EMR after all that time.

The truth is that distancing is wildly overrated.

So too are masks. Fresh air matters, and breathing in your expiration outside attacks the lungs and the eyes, and disrupts the process.

But no one wants to mention the downsides.

intertemporal substitution than I had thought
You have discovered that people do not do intertemporal substitution. The simply avoid long lines, and that condition creates the indifference curves which have fooled you in the past.

You were a member of the flat earthers, congratulations for getting a clue.
in good company, Krugman is still flat earthing, as Moore, Kudlow, Caplan, Delong, and about 2/3 of badly educated economists.

Krugman is in interesting case. He and Moore disagree on where the zero point is in flat earth, and they are both relatively confused. Krugman says, "Their model is biased', but Krugman's model is systematically in error. They are both wrong, there is no zero point and that is what they argues. A rather pathetic group of economists I am beginning to think.

The S&P500 Committee Is Facing A Stark Choice: How To Reshape The World's Most Important Index After The COVID Shock
Another case of flat earthers who think the stock indexes are a representative sample. The problem, in this case, is that liquidity goes to the blue chips which make long term bets because bankers are facing a long term seigniorage tax and retail banking is rolling up.

Hence the index becomes skewed and concentrated while having a higher mean. If you are not alert to the effect, the you will run around with bogus theories about why the 'market' is up.

All stable 3D systems will match mean, variance and skew. This is the principle of the Markov Hidden model, true in every case. And most science uses the technique, physics, biology, finance, fintech, and we see, now immunology.

There are books written of this stuff, tons of mathematical algorithms, it is the basis of AI, plays a strong role in Marxian theory, Look it up, you will be overwhelmed at how many of the sciences, except economics, use this technique.


This is a pile of worthless incoherent drivel.

I suggest looking at it this way -- If you are under 50 the chance of the Coronavirus killing you is low. But if you get it, the chance of it killing your wife's mother is high.

Couldn't you simply avoid/severely limit visits to your wife's mother, and take extreme precautions in cases when you do visit, for at least the next few months, if not longer?

A fresh perspective! Covid is a public-good, and vaccine developers are trying to transform it into a kind of reverse club-good.

Sorry, fat fingers mistake. It was meant for Crikey.

Is this a mother-in-law joke? You must have married too young. Just hold off and the mothers start liking you. They're like, "Marry my daughter, please! Those eggs got a shelf life!"

If you are under 50 and you catch the virus because you're not taking precautions, then the chance of it killing you is low, but the chance of it killing your wife's mother is high.

But even if you are taking precautions, if other people aren't, your odds of getting it and passing it on go up. There is a lot of asymptomatic transmission.

It is not just low. it is tiny.

The Dutch indicate the fatalities for this below 50 or in the range of 0.06%,

Staying away form you mother in law seems a smaller price top pay than shutting down the world.

No shutdown here in Australia and we still got the number of new cases down to nine yesterday. (That is, no New Zealand style level 4 restrictions.)

Stay away from my mother-in-law? Well there’s a price I’m willing to pay.

This seems to dismiss the argument that the curve is flattened immediately, but the area under the curve is roughly the same pre vaccine (i.e. lockdown is not sustainable for a year plus). Compare that to a known risky activity like driving and ask the question, how is it relatively easy to get people to buy in on extending the lockdown vs. other obvious life saving policies like, for example, confiscating a person's car if they are drunk driving or texting while driving?

+1. When the lockdown Karens started up, it was about flattening the curve to avoid overloading the hospitals, with the caveat that it just extended the time that ¡MILLIONS WILL DIE! Now that the hospitals never got close to capacity and the models have proven to be trash it's about the lives that were saved with the caveat that we have to keep saving them until when/if a vaccine shows up.

Vaccine doesn’t matter. Herd immunity or whatever will either happen or not but seems likely. The lockdown is over.

>very likely has killed over 100,000 Americans

Yeah, I hope you were standing up when you pulled that number straight out of your ass.

The official number is around 80, and we now know that number is hyper-inflated because it includes car crash victims who “may” have also had the virus. Plus the nasty problem of paying hospitals more when they write “possible covid” on literally any death certificate.

Few people on the internet have looked worse that Tyler Cowen over the last two months. So it’s no surprise that all you have “learned” is that “other people are worse than I thought.”

You always amuse!

Look at deaths in the US this year compared to deaths over the same period last year.

Have your serial killers been working overtime or something?

This would indeed be interesting to look at. The Guardian reported last week that at least 6500 people have died of causes other than covid-19 during the UK lockdown due to being unable to access normal healthcare. The NHS has estimated 18000 additional cancer deaths due to missed screenings. I’ve seen no figures for NZ, but hospitals operated at half their normal capacity for two months while no epidemic materialised and nurses were sent home to take time off.

We expect deaths to be much lower than usual due to Covid-19 in Australia, mostly thanks to reduced influenza deaths. Reduced car smashing also comes into it, though it probably won't be long before that's back up to normal.

That UK cancer figure is just weird. Screening for cancer does very little to save lives. If not detecting cancer cost 18,000 lives then the UK is astoundingly good at treating cancer.

I can’t say how common it would be, but my mother had a lump found during screening, she was admitted to hospital the next day and had a breast removed the day after that. The doctors said a couple more weeks would have been too late.

"we now know that number is hyper-inflated because it includes car crash victims who “may” have also had the virus"

Citation? Not what we do at our trauma center.

Dude, you just got done telling someone that EMRs love to log co-morbidities because money money money. No one asked you to cite anything. Know why? Because of course they do. We, too, live in this world and understand how shit works.

Widmerpool, your mother detected a lump and had a reason to be biopsied. Screenings that are "just in case" have low value in terms of extra years of life.

No, what happened was what I wrote.

Sorry, I misread what you wrote. I apologize for that.

Sorry, Randy, but you are the one looking like a complete moron. Excess deaths in the US have been way up in the last several months. Amost surely the vast majority of those are undiagnosed covid-19 ones. Yes, the figure is almost certainly well over 100,000. Fauci was not batting an eyelash when a senator threw the number 120,000 at him. But I suppose you are one of those who think he is some sort of lying bad guy.

Deaths are at 90,000 but officials in Colorado have stated that they have been over counting by 24%. I doubt Colorado is an outlier when Minnesotas health department has also told doctors that they don't need to test to declare a death from Covid-19.

I decent guess is a 20% over counting so the U.S. is at 70,000 Covid-19 deaths.

I don't know why you continually use such crude ad hominem attacks. I looked top up and you otherwise seem like reasonable guy. But it seems habitual.

True! There is no debating deaths are way up year over year, maybe 120k more.

However, when you tell 330 million people to stay away from the hospitals for five to six weeks, can all of that excess death be attributed to covid?

There has to be some portion of excess deaths related to non covid cardiac events etc....

False! Because, as many geniuses here will tell you, only COVID and cancer are fatal, and going to the hospital for cancer screening doesn't significantly effect outcomes. Therefore, the excess deaths HAVE to be from COVID. Twas ever thus.

You'd have to determine the increase in deaths was due to CV19, and even if they were, deaths from suicide, missed/rescheduled "elective" treatments, alcohol and drug abuse and whatever else a prolonged recession/depression/social isolation causes will show up over a longer period of time. Also, should the death of people who had coronavirus but clearly didn't die of it be counted as CV19 deaths? Should the deaths of people in senior care who were, for practical purposes, intentionally infected with the virus count?

+100000. I agree with everything you said and then some, especially about Tyler who forgot all about tradeoffs. You're spot on that actual death number too. It's all B.S. 4% of world population and almost 30% of total deaths, only idiot believes that.

Tyler can't see deaths and suffering from 33M and counting unemployed, and how economy can open up again. Tyler sucks more than anybody else in the world right now, including morons Newsom, Cuomo, Fauci, Birx and Gates.

I would say that we can’t say much until we have a clear understanding of how many people got it and were asymptomatic or almost so.

If it ends up that it kills on average the 0.3% of the infected, and deaveraging that risk is actually 10% of over 70s and 0.05% of younger people, it is indeed a little more than a flu for most of us, and only a special and serious effort could be done to isolate people at risk.

What stretches credulity is that we still have estimates differing by an order of magnitude on the percentage of people infected.

Changing a bit the subject, what was easily anticipated by people knowledgeable with Public Choice, is the response of almost every government to this crisis. It is actually a textbook case, and one that people is living every day. It would be great if some of you at the GMU published an account of this debacle in the US, recounting the main decisions of political and administrative actors and explaining them in Public Choice terms. If the book is written in plain English (no more than 10nth grade level, say), and it is published soon (next 3-4 months), a lot of people would read it, and would have for the first time an introduction to Public Choice. That would actually be a positive out of this tragedy, or farce (which one we will hopefully know soon, I tend to believe in the latter).

+1 for public choice

This will be the textbook case of governments implementing policies in a vacuum, and public choice constraints causing them to fail miserably. The cry will be “but the science!”

It will also be the textbook example of how institutions are downstream of their society, and how high IQ/high trust societies can easily solve coordination problems that low trust societies fail at.

Every lesson will be ignored. The US will remain a good place to park cash in real estate protected by a rent seeking class that makes building illegal, and a good place to make cash rent seeking in finance, law, medicine, etc

>If nothing else, I am realizing that people are worse at intertemporal substitution than I had thought.

Or that modern economics relies too heavily on aggregate statistics.

Or that risk aversion is the quickest way to mood affiliation

With any outbreak of a virus, the sickest are going to die quickest when exposed. Death is not a singular cause but multifaceted matter. Within another two months, the number of deaths can dramatically drop, as can the overall death rates of causes. This happens because the most vulnerable have been killed off.

Don't just buy a simple mask. Buy a proper protective mask (N95 or ideally a full face respirator). Then go out and of whatever the heck you please.

Or you can layer a cotton and a silk mask to get near-N95 or better protection. High thread count cotton filters large particles, silk electrostatically filters smaller particles. Both kinds of masks are available on

I did not understand why you have decided that people are worse at intertemporal substitution.

First you must accept as a premise that most Americans care about their fellow citizens, especially ones in the same community. With that. a failure of inter-temporal discounting here is a:

1. Failure to properly discount the future pain to your community from galavanting around bars, anti-lockdown protests, etc... without a mask or social distancing (see Wisconsin)
2. Failure to properly discount the negative expected value to your friends and extended family of mingling with them (oooh we’ll be fine camaaaaaahn don’t be ridiculous)
3. Failure to devalue current comfort and feeling of independence in light of the above communal and potentially personal costs.
4. Failure to expend a little cognitive energy to consider a “third way” out of this crisis. This one is especially ridiculous because it’s valuing the hypercurrent over the short term future which is a few weeks out (that’s how long it would take to switch to a Taiwan style federal strategy of mandatory masks + distancing + lockdown only for the vulnerable)

Thanks. Very helpful.

You can't compare Covid-19 risk to most others.

If you think of risk as crossing the road, then with pool drownings, bankruptcies, and the like, only you (and maybe a few others) are crossing at any one time. In these situations, only you and a few others can die, go bankrupt, or lose a job. No big deal. But with sufficiently contagious disease, potentially all of humanity is crossing the street, exposing all of humanity to extreme harm.

Those two classes of risk require radically different approaches. With the first class, humanity can, and does, somewhat optimize outcomes by studying probabilities and impacts, partly through trial and error. It can do this because errors are limited by the number of people crossing the road, thereby lowering the cost of trials. With the second class, though, where all of humanity is crossing the street, errors have the potential to wipe out the race. Trials are extremely expensive. As such, extreme precaution is in order.

It seems dangerous to mix these two classes of risk.

The above makes no sense. You've taken a host of risks that everybody faces and tried to wave them away because at any time not everyone is dealing with those events. But in fact, at this very second, millions of people are crossing a street. And millions are in a car traveling at a very high rate of speed. And on and on.

It's very reasonable to tell a person what their risk might be driving for the year, and then compare their risk of dying from covid to that. You can decide to get into a car or not, and you can decide to interact with other humans or not. If you are 16, then driving is far more likely to kill you than interacting with others. The reverse is true if you are 80 and a good driver.

With contagious disease, the risk isn't about me. It's about everyone. If I catch the virus, I become a carrier, and the transmission I trigger could be the one that sets off an outbreak. I'm arguing that, with contagious disease, we need to think mostly about the risk our behavior imposes on additional people--a lot of additional people.

This is very different from a car crash or bankruptcy. I am not waving those risks away. They are very real. But they are limited mostly to me. If I die in a car crash, then only I die (and take maybe a few fellow drivers, passengers, or pedestrians with me). If I go bankrupt, then only I go bankrupt (and drag maybe a few employees down with me).

Make sense?

> With contagious disease, the risk isn't about me. It's about everyone.

All the events you mention have a long list of people that are impacted. When a person dies, a family loses its breadwinner. When a company goes bankrupt, hundreds are laid off. You don't just crash you car into a wall, it may cross the highway divider and hit another car head on. That family loses its breadwinner, the children sink into depression, there's a suicide.

Most covid patients infect just one or two others. It's really no different from any other tragedy.

Make sense?

With contagious disease, your transmission to another person stands a good chance of setting off an ever-expanding chain reaction. That's what exponential growth is, and that's how someone in Houston can so easily catch a virus that that originated in Wuhan just a few months before. Car crashes, on the other hand, set off a limited set of harms, such as to your family and friends. The harms don't grow exponentially. A car crash in Wuhan won't affect the person Houston.

Even if both situations appear similar to the individual, they are, from a systems perspective, different domains.

> Even if both situations appear similar to the individual, they are, from a systems perspective, different domains.

But only because you are defining it that way. Just look at 2008/9 to see how bankruptcies spread like a contagion. It all starts with a homeowner not being able to pay. Their house is a short sale at a 20% discount, bringing down other home values, lather rinse, repeat, and suddenly the banks are holding 8% bad loans, and voila.

Similarly, when car zero--the first car--appeared on the road, he didn't have to worry about anyone hitting him. When the second car appeared on the road, his chances went up. The more people that drive, the more likely I am to get in a crash. The more that get sick, the more likely I am to get sick.

Each car on the road today is akin to a person with a virus. If I never touch another car with my car, I am guaranteed not to die. But if I do touch another car with my car, my odds of dying are non-trivial. When you add your 16 year old driver to the driver pool, you have increased my chances of dying. The more drivers, the more likely I am to die.

Too many are trying to claim this is unprecedented and therefore their special rules must be obeyed. But in fact we deal with others increasing risks for me and you all the time via their actions.

If you decide to dabble in drugs, you are increasing the risk that I will be forced to pay a tax to cover your stupidity. If you decide to frequent prostitutes you are increasing the risk that antibiotic drugs I need down the road won't work. If you decide to eat 6 pizzas a day and not work, you are increasing the risk that I will have to pay for your bypass.

What is happening today isn't unique. It's just made more clear because the timelines are days instead of years.

Correct. This is not completely unique. Pandemics are nothing new, and this one was predicted. It is a white swan. It does not call for new methods of thinking.

Its growth properties, though, which are as old as contagious disease itself, are not those of car crashes. Drivers are not like viruses. Car crashes are mostly linear processes that end with light poles, oncoming cars, and guard rails, as well as by the limited number of relationships of the folks involved. And the growth in car use occurred incrementally over time, providing time for governments to create rules and carmakers to create safety features. The growth properties of contagious diseases, on the other hand, left unchecked, can be exponential if they're contagious enough, like this one seems to be.

This is why humility is urgent. The key point about exponential growth is not exactly the exponential growth (even if that's bad enough). It is the predictable *exponential error*. Small, understandable errors with input assumptions can lead to enormous errors in predicted outcomes. This is what we are watching today with the "war of the models." The predictions of many good models were way off--which, given that we're dealing with power laws, was completely predictable. And since this predictably large error can mean a lot of lives, precaution (though not hiding under a rock or driving the economy into the ground) is in order.

> Stay at home and wear a mask when you do go out. If need be, make up for that behavior in the near future by indulging in excess.

Intertemporal substitution doesn't work for social/leisure activities because they have diminishing marginal utility with respect to their frequency over time. E.g. if I have been holed up for a month going to visit friends is much more valuable to me.

The obvious answer to me is to be careful but still pick low hanging fruit, i.e. I'm not going to a restaurant but I can go hiking all I want. No parties but I might drink beer on someones deck with a friend or two.

The risk from Corona, whatever its size, is roughly ADDITIVE to all other risks. Enjoy! :-)

IDK. I expect the number of automobile-related deaths has gone down. As has the number of sports/outdoor related deaths.

There was a fun statistic about Gulf War I (I think) actually 'saving' American soldiers' lives. More would have died from training/alcohol at home than died in that war.

That's why I wrote "roughly"!

Don't drive with corona. :-)

It seems like Tyler's only pandemic hardship are
things like not being able to travel, eat out in
his favorite restaurants, get together with other
people, etc and has a hard time understanding those
who have lost their job, cannot pay their bills,
don't have money to buy food etc. Not a case of
intertemporal substitution IMO.

Tyler, please tell us how the pandemic has affected the quality & enjoyability of delivery ethnic food in Northern Virginia!!!

Why would you take an avoidable risk
Or not mitigate that risk
By arguing that there are many risks in life.

I walk out into a busy street.
Most cars will likely stop
Therefore I should walk out into
Traffic with my eyes closed
Because most cars stop.

Do you blindly walk out into the street,
And proceed without changing your gait
Because most cars stop,
And do you argue that by comparison
The risk of being killed is
Not as high as dying from
Drinking Chlorox.

Running into traffic with your eyes closed is a nearly certain way to get very badly hurt. If you are 16, then catching covid is a very, very small risk to your well being compared to driving.

If a risk is small enough, then people take the odds all the time. Look at fat people: They know the risks. They are taking the odds. They are not mitigating.

Getting in a car carries a non-zero risk. People still get into their car. Having sex with a stranger, "messing around" with drugs, etc.

Mitigate the risk with masks, keeping distance, washing hands, etc. But once you decide you aren't going to do anything because you are scared of a risk that is modest compared to other activities you makes no sense and you've wandered into weirdo category.

I wouldn't assert too strongly that the risks of the disease to the young are very, very small. You may be right, and it's definitely better that it seems to be so. But we have zero knowledge about the medium- and long-term health consequences of this disease. It's too new. It appeared only last November.

Sure, and the disease might have been put here by aliens. And if evidence emerges showing either, I'll flip my opinion. But right now the evidence is very, very clear: As a parent you should be more worried about your teen driving than your teen catching covid.

If the worry is about the teen, then yes, dying in a car crash seems, right now, like a more serious risk to the teen and to you. On the other hand, we have a lot of data about car crashes and we more or less know the risk. With Covid-19, we don't have much historical data, so the comparison with car crashes isn't a great fit. We can't have knowledge about medium- and long-term effects because neither the medium nor the long term has come to pass.

I think the takeaway from comparing risks more generally is that they are not homogenous. You can price risk, for sure, and the homogeneity of money and the prices denominated in it can make underlying risks look homogenous. Two securities can yield the same 5% but have radically different underlying risk profiles. But that's just the money speaking, not the risk itself.

+1. Yep. The problem with a tradeoff approach to most choices is that it assumes you choose one and get less of the other, or some such thing. But that scenario is rarely what you face. Usually, the main problem is knowing options, or that you have to choose at all.

Indeed, one of the easiest ways to manipulate somebody is to confuse them by framing what you want from them as a tradeoff. Schooled in the tradeoff approach to life, often picked up in college, they run headlong into one of the two chains you've set up for them--both acceptable to you. In other words, beware of "tradeoffs" wherever they appear. You may end up drinking Clorox.

Yep, It's known as using a reference point so that the target doesn't think to compare it to the null state. Compare the number of car deaths to x, rather than comparing x to no x or x without efforts to reduce, etc.

Daren, You read the last line of the stanza correctly.

You also probably do not purchase something because it is less than the manufactured suggested retail price, but I bet Phinton does, because he compares the MSRP I put in front of him to the "sale" price without looking at actual transaction price.

If he were playing Russian Roulette and there four bullets in six of the chambers he would choose that risk over drinking Chlorox.

Relative risk, right?

> but I bet Phinton does,

Wrong again. My wife is enamored of "80% off" deals for things we do not need. But most engineers, myself included, are quite good and looking at the value of something relative to the need. It's because their job requires it.

Tell your wife that you both are influenced by starting reference points in making decisions, and that you will forgive her if she forgives you.

I work in a transactions-related field. Fooling counter-parties with false mental anchoring is one pillar of the work.

Daren, You read the last line of the stanza correctly.

You also probably do not purchase something because it is less than the manufactured suggested retail price, but I bet Phinton does, because he compares the MSRP I put in front of him to the "sale" price without looking at actual transaction price.

If he were playing Russian Roulette and there four bullets in six of the chambers he would choose that risk over drinking Chlorox.

Relative risk, right?

We have 90,000, maybe over 100,000, deaths in the US so far AFTER drastic measures were taken. All those who think that the measures were excessive in proportion to the fatality rates need to reflect on what the figures would be absent those measures.

100,000 that died from something else shortly after Corona killed them.

Drastic measures like Sweden, Taiwan and Korea vs GB, France, Italy?

Show evidence that lockdowns saved lives. Burden 100% on you assholes who destroyed economy and lives. Suicides, opioid use, child and spousal abuse skyrocketing. Heart attack victims afraid to go to hospital. Future millions of deaths and livelihoods destroyed over what? Show it.

And distancing and masks, show evidence they save lives.

Alvin, your comments on this thread are horrific, both in their cold-heartedness and ignorance.

No idea what his earlier comments are, but it's a fact that non-emergency health care unfortunately includes lots of things that do end up pretty bad. A really sad example is delayed cancer diagnosis and treatment, when early intervention is critical.

And I have to say something when somebody says "Show evidence" and gets an ad-hominem in reply. It's just reflex.

What if you think actually yes too many people die from car accidents, too many people die from pollution and plastic and chemical related cancer, AND too many people die from coronavirus if we reopen now? Have I still been gotcha'd?

There have been 860k deaths in the US this year of which 60k has covid involved.

By contrast 80k people without covid have died of pneumonia.

The shutdowns have been unnecessary. We have taken months of time away from millions in the US to add a few months of life to a tiny minority. That is poor “interetemporal substitution”

Magnum, You are comparing total US deaths to covid deaths, but ignoring where covid impacted the most. Below is the increase in reported covid deaths over normal deaths during the same period. eg. 225% increase in deaths in NY; 72% increase in NJersey.....

New York City +225% 11,900 − 10,261 = 1,700
New Jersey +72% 5,200 − 2,183 = 3,000
New York (excluding N.Y.C.) +42% 4,200 − 2,425 = 1,700
Michigan +21% 2,000 − 1,391 = 600
Illinois +13% 1,400 − 682 = 700
Massachusetts +20% 1,200 − 686 = 500
Maryland +15% 700 − 207 = 500
Colorado +16% 600 − 274 = 300

Are you serious when you take the total US and include in that where covid hasn't spread to yet as much, but would had there not been mitigating action..

here's the increase in death rates from covid:

By the way, total reported covid death today is above 90,000

To be clear, this is the increase in the number of deaths over normal deaths for the same period in each state. There is the problem of not identifying covid deaths, so the comparison is the increase in deaths over the prior period. "It’s difficult to know whether the differences between excess deaths and the official counts of coronavirus deaths reflect an undercounting of coronavirus deaths or a surge in deaths from other causes. It’s likely a mix of both."

"Magnum" (is this a measure of your stupidity level?),

The number is not 60K. Where did you get that bilge from? It is now officially over 88,000, but almost certainly quite a bit higher.

How do you explain Colorado that recently said it will no separate deaths by covid-19 and deaths with covid 19? Currently, there are probably 70,000 U.S. covid-19 deaths, which was the number of flu deaths in 2018/19? Did you stay inside when that happened?

C'mon Todd,

Are you serious.

1. You compare a year of flu deaths to 3 months of covid deaths. That's interesting and deceptive.

2. There are over 88,000 US covid deaths since the first reported death in Feb. Where do you get the hubris to say there are probably 70,000 US deaths without lifting a typing finger to find out how many covid deaths there are. This reflects poor attitude toward the reader. You can do better.

This is basic: The average flu season lasts 13 weeks. The 80,000 U.S. deaths in 2017/18 occurred in about that time, December to March.

Colorado has revised its Covid-19 deaths down by 24% after separating out those who instead died with Covid-19. For example, a Colorado man was found dead in a park after he had a blood alcohol content of .55 where death usually occurs after .35, yet he was listed as a Covid-19 death because he tested positive.

Drunk from self medication thinking that alchohol, rather than Chlorox, kills the disease.

Todd, if you are going to post you should first do some research. Here is an article MedPage today discrediting your claim:

"The number of confirmed and probable deaths from COVID-19 coronavirus were vastly greater than those due to flu this year in New York City, researchers determined.

From February 1 to April 18, the ratio of excess deaths in New York City was 21 times the number of deaths from seasonal influenza during this time period, reported Jeremy Samuel Faust, MD, of Harvard Medical School in Boston and Carlos del Rio, MD, of Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, in a preprint posted on medRxiv.

COVID-19 has been compared to seasonal flu many times, with annual deaths from seasonal flu often cited in comparison. The CDC estimated a range of 12,000 to 61,000 influenza-associated and pneumonia deaths per year from 2010 to 2019. In fact, the CDC estimated 24,000 to 62,000 Americans have died of influenza in the current flu season.

These, however, are based on "a series of assumptions about the underreporting of flu deaths." CDC statisticians boost the number to account for perceived under-testing, hospitals' record-keeping lapses, and flawed death certificates.

In contrast, the COVID-19 death toll as of April 27 reached 55,000, according to the widely cited Johns Hopkins University tracker. This is a raw number, Faust and del Rio pointed out, making the comparison to the CDC's heavily massaged estimates an apples-to-oranges situation. Many researchers have argued that deaths involving COVID-19 are also undercounted for many of the same reasons."

Also," Globally, about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died. By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1% of those infected."

Also, your seasonal flu deaths are wrong. 12,000; deaths attributable to flu (eg. complications) 12-60 with the expanded "attributable" feature. Attributable includes pneumonia, for example.

And, for these deaths, we work like hell to get a vaccine.

There is no way that the number of under reported Covid-19 deaths compares to the tens of thousands of over counted Covid-19 deaths by the time the first round is over in June. Colorado just reported it lowered its Covid-19 death count by 24% and there is good reason to think that a similar percent has been over counted around the country.
Colorado was following the same guidelines that the Minnesota health department gave to doctors when recording Covid-19 deaths and that testing was not necessary to be labeled such. Now that Colorado has become transparent, other states will feel pressure to follow.

There is no reason for the CDC to have influenza/pneumonia deaths lumped together while keeping Covid-19 deaths a separate category.

You are about two months behind reporting the WHO's 3.4% mortality rate as 0.5% is now considered a top estimate after testing.

"There is no reason for the CDC to have influenza/pneumonia deaths lumped together while keeping Covid-19 deaths a separate category."

They do no such thing, except as a convenience for non-experts like you and me. CDC makes public data available on detailed cause of death where cause of death is coded according to the ICD-10 classification system. ICD-10 has over 150 codes associated with "pneumonia," only one of which is "J10.0 (Influenza with pneumonia, influenza virus identified)."

So, it's actually rather nice of them to combine these 150+ causes of death under the umbrella term "pneumonia" when communicating with the general public. If you want to see the detailed data, all you have to do is google "CDC WONDER database" and knock yourself out.

The evidence for mask benefit is poor. Masks may do more harm than good.

They're not supposed to cover your eyes while you cross the street.

Oh gag, another pathetic moron here, Nicholas.

Check out East Asia. A lot of people think a major reason why places like Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and even China have done so much better than the US and much of Europe in this pandemic is that they pretty much all wear masks all the time everywhere. Apparently they do help protect the wearer as well as others somewhat, despiite the loud talk that wearing masks is all about protecting others.

How come this thread has attracted so many totally stupid people to shoot off their dumb ideas here? Nicholas, you are one of the worst. Where did you get the inspiration to post this utter garbage?

How do you explain that South Korea and Japan had 170 and 100 H1N1 deaths, respectively, in 2009/10 without an increase in testing or mask use, whereas the U.S. had an estimated 12,500 H1N1 deaths?

Understandably, you can't explain that 50 fold difference per capita on mask wearing.

Americans are tougher. Smarter. Better. Masks are for thieves and Super Heros.

East Asians seem to carry some immunity to coronaviruses, almost certainly from prior exposure, that we Americans and Europeans don't have. That is the only way I can make sense of the data.

Public health is 1/4 science and 3/4 psychology. A collapse of public health initiatives is a failure of the practitioner. A skillful practitioner will recognize the limits of what can be done, implement limitations only if necessary and effective, and lift them as soon as possible. Most of it is very basic; keep tabs on and manage care homes, communicate effectively with front line doctors, have the basic stuff worked out in advance.

BC's public health officer faxed information to doctors. She found email useless as a means of communication in this type of situation. The information was specific details of the virus that they may see, and to be on the watch for it. They also had specific guidelines for businesses to operate safely. Their skilful management has kept a high level of engagement and cooperation in this jurisdiction. And the results so far have been among the best.

“Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide die from falls each year...”. You’re in Dr. Phil territory. 175k US accidental deaths, about 50% are poisonings. Assuming the rest are accidents of all types, death by falling would be a minority but important proportion, say 20%. That’s about 18k death by falls. About half as many as auto deaths. Cite any source for death by falls worldwide being >200k.

Why would I wear a mask when I go out? Out where? Outside is not nice to the virus, sun kills it quick, heat kills it fast.

Perhaps it would be useful to wear a mask if I was going to be in prolonged close-range contact with someone else? All that spittle and such. But just random passers-by, not useful. I do exercise spittle-maker control when I pass people: look away from their face and generally downward. Now if I was coughing, sneezing, singing, or yelling in an enclosed space? But spittle-maker control is a better solution than a talisman mask.

Basically, keep your distance if you are talking to someone. Wear a mask if in prolonged close-range contact. Don't spend time indoors, in poorly ventilated spaces with others (social distancing doesn't work for short-lived aerosols, masks have minimal utility for them).

What we should have been doing the last 8 weeks is learning not to spittle into other people's faces. Don't get in their face, don't look them in the eye unless you are giving them a sidelong glance, don't project your voice which carries the spittle. And public places should have updraft negative air pressure so that exhaled aerosols don't drift at breathing height.

Sadly, the "experts" have been tunneled vision on technology (tests, therapeutics, vaccines) instead of low-tech behavioral adaptations. So the "experts" stuck us with the state of the art in 1950 for respiratory viruses and have done nothing to refine their panic guidelines.

You're either scared or stupid when wearing a mask outdoors. The same for people who cross the street as I approach them.

Neither of my sons (17 & 20) know anyone who's died from Covid.

Both know/knew young men (friends of friends) in our our city who have tragically committed suicide during the lockdown.

Our local park yesterday was full of people enjoying the sunshine. Small groups sat on the grass talking to their friends, some enjoying a beer/bottle of wine. The vast majority of people outside of family groups were staying 2m apart. It was great to see. I think those people have a good sense of the risk.

Telling everyone - whatever their age or circumstances - to stay home and then always wear a mask if they have to go outside is simply wrong.

It either will continue at that pace or it won’t.

It won't and wouldn't even if there were no lock-downs and even if there were no hospital beds. People adapted their behavior (stopped going to restaurants and theaters, for example) before there were any shutdown orders. They've nearly stopped flying even though the airlines have not been shut down. People with medical conditions or who are old enough to be vulnerable would take pains to reduce their exposure without anybody ordering them to do so. My wife and I are over 50--previously we ate out and traveled a lot, but we're not going to be going back into crowded indoor spaces like restaurants and airplanes any time soon regardless of what our governor happens to decree. For months or perhaps even a year or two that our dining out will be outdoors only, travel will be by private auto, and we'll stay in vacation rentals only (no hotels). And none of the vacations will be urban (no museums, no concerts, no bus rides, no festivals, etc).

+1 You can see this in retail statistics 2 weeks prior to the announcement. Will be looking at restaurant and retail sales statistics soon in states which "opened". Hotels, resorts, restaurants, concerts, museums,,,

I bet there will be intense competition by public facing firms to show how they protect their customers and why it is safe to deal with them.

I am healthy and young in the range [20-29], my risk of dying if I get corona is about 0.0089% ( At my age my mortality rate for living a year is around 0.18%. Coronavirus only increased my probability of dying this year by about 5%. No idea why I am actually not getting encourage to get infected, there will be massive protests before a vaccine is ready.

see response immediately below and how software case fatality rate was adjusted by the creator.

Your risk of getting ebola and dying is even lower.

Maybe you should read the fine print and qualifications, including the adjustment of the case fatality he made to rate by his assumptions:

"The assumption of this model, relies on the hypothesis that as you increase the number of diseases you have, you will increase your risk of dying from COVID-19 in a direct additive fashion (i.e. 1+1=2). However, adding more disease processes may not be directly additive. In fact, the risks of adding more than one disease could lead to an even higher risk (1+1=3). Alternatively, there may not be any additive risk (1+1=1).
Importantly, these data are from a population of individuals with numerous confounding risk factors (i.e. tobacco use, air pollution, health, socioeconomic, lifestyle, limited access to care, etc.) that can only be accounted for in multivariate analysis.
Additionally, individuals who are immunocompromised for reasons not accounted for in the conditions listed in the risk calculator also have a higher probability of infection-related complications and death (not able to estimate these risks in the model as they were not included in the published Chinese data).
This model also can not account for the overwhelming of the healthcare system and inability to access intensive care services, which can lead to a higher mortality rate.
Case Mortality Rate:

Use worldwide data from Hopkins to enter the numbers of confirmed cases and death.
Why Do The Calculated Risks Of Dying Look Lower Than What Is Reported On The News?

The reason is that only 6% (estimated) of the total number of infections have been detected. This leads to a much larger number of undetected cases, which dilutes the case mortality rate.

This was in response to Eduardo above.

> Your risk of getting ebola and dying is even lower.

What do you mean? Ebola fatality rate is around 50% ( If you are saying that because the probability of getting it is really low I don't see how this is helpful, I have never quarantine because of ebola.

All those assumptions make sense to me. Zvi Mowshowitz did a similar analysis and end up with similar numbers

You will not come in contact with ebola because we had testing and quarantine and contact tracing. Because others quarantined and isolated, you did not have to.

I was waiting for you on this one and your response.

Now you know why limiting contagion is important. It's not just about you. And, at the same time, it is about you.

Thank you for participating in this exercise.


if you want to think about this and your decision, think of it this way"

1. Eduardo is a bus driver who thinks he will not be injured if his bus, with 15 passengers on it (they represent people who could be infected by him), and drives carelessly because he wants to get home and have a beer and is late.

2. The bus crashes, people on board are injured, but Eduardo is not. And, on top of it, the bus crash causes other accidents on the road.

3. Eduardo's decision was possibly rational for himself, but his driving affected others.

I know Eduardo would never drive recklessly that would injure others. Why should he with a transmissible disease?

Thanks you for your response Bill.
I understand your arguments but I guess at the end the main point I differ with you is that people think if we quarantine this is going away or we could solve this without getting hard immunity:
- Vaccine solution: will likely take years. At the beginning I though if everyone was working on this we will get it pretty fast right?, but a friend that is currently working on this told me otherwise. There is different strains for the virus and it mutates pretty fast, probably a lot of different vaccines need to be made and testing is very difficult to accelerate because if you have a vaccine that kills only 0.1% of the people is actually worse than the actual virus, and this stuff happens all the time.
- It will just go away: I believe we just past that point we are able to do the same we did with Ebola or it will require extreme quarantine for a really long time. At that point I expect there will be mass protests and society will not be able to handle that. How are we going to make people quarantine when some don't even have money for food. Quarantine is really hitting hard poor countries right now there is already a lot of pressure in the US to open up.
It seems to me they way to go is trying to get to herd immunity without collapsing medical centers and apparently that's what I am seeing is going to happen

On the actual topic of intertemporal substitution (the bit of the comment thread that's not anonymous doing his usual little act), I suggest the room at margins for intertemporal substitution are lower than you think.

That is, for young, deferring major life events in finding a partner or starting a family have major opportunity costs (someone else will get there first) while for older people, there's less time in good health than you think (it's all about the QALYS, not the years).

And I say this as someone whose personal instinctual preferences are strongly on the side of deferring gratification.

How much do kids lose out from "intertemporal substitution" of their education and first romantic and social experiences?

I suspect, Tyler, you've got a strong "early middle age" bias here, where nothing is on a tight schedule or deadline. For most ages, it's not like that.

Avik Roy just published this, with actual numbers on relative risks:

Comparing to flu and other causes of mortality, by age.

I attempted some analysis of this (really, a closely related topic -- looking at what happens if most people get the virus over the next year) at I would great appreciate (constructive) feedback!

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