Save Grandma, Save the Economy

The meat supply is starting to fail. Meat processing factories seem especially susceptible to COVID-19 probably because of mist, chilled air circulation, the creation of aerosols and close worker contact. What other industries could be affected? What would happen if the energy, transportation, or pharmaceutical sector failed? We aren’t even sure which industries are critical. Who would have thought that nasal swabs would be a critical industry? In researching vaccine production I was stunned to learn that glass vials may be a bottleneck. Glass vials! How then do we best protect the workers in our critical industries? Should everyone else practice social distancing, closing of non-essential firms and work from home or should everyone else return to work as if everything were normal?

Social distancing, closing non-essential firms and working from home protect the vulnerable but these same practices protect workers in critical industries. Thus, the debate between protecting the vulnerable and protecting the economy is moot. “Lockdowns” protect vulnerable people and protect vulnerable industries. Save grandma, save the economy.

The point is simple but made formally in Social Distancing and Supply Disruptions in a Pandemic by Bodenstein, Corsetti and Guerrieri.

Abstract: Drastic public health measures such as social distancing or lockdowns can reduce the loss of human life by keeping the number of infected individuals from exceeding the capacity of the health care system but are often criticized because of the social and economic costs they entail. We question this view by combining an epidemiological model, calibrated to capture the spread of the COVID-19 virus, with a multisector model, designed to capture key characteristics of the U.S. Input Output Tables. Our two-sector model features a core sector that produces intermediate inputs not easily replaced by inputs from the other sector, subject to minimum-scale requirements. We show that, by affecting workers in this core sector, the high peak of an infection not mitigated by social distancing may cause very large upfront economic costs in terms of output, consumption and investment. Social distancing measures can reduce these costs, especially if skewed towards non-core industries and occupations with tasks that can be performed from home, helping to smooth the surge in infections among workers in the core sector.

Addendum: I wrote “lockdowns” because I am in favor of getting back to work with mass testing and safety protocols so I don’t think that a “lockdown” is necessarily the optimal policy. Indeed, I think we could get the meat processors back up and running with testing at the door and safety protocols. But we are not having a rational discussion about the tools and the investments that we need to reopen the economy. Instead, the people protesting to reopen the economy are also protesting against the use of a key tool to reopen the economy, masks! Welcome to crazy town.


Honestly, crazy town is how outside observers feel about the US more often than you'd realise. And not just since Trump. Just incomprehensible.

Crazy town is an American understanding when everyone else should social distancing measures can reduce these costs.

Matt Yglesias had a funny story about how back in the day he and other Americans all had stories about how Europeans would say "it can't be done" and the Americans in the group would just go and do it. Now it's stories about how Americans say stuff like "pandemic mitigation can't be done" and the Asians and Europeans just go and do it


And not only that, but "your success in having a fewer infections is embarrassing and surely can't be true"

I think you need to specify that by "mitigate" you mean "achieve twice the death rate," because I think that's kind of an idiosyncratic usage.

In terms of deaths per million in population, the U.S. is rather average looking for Western Europe and worse than everywhere in Asia. What Donald Rumsfeld famously called "New Europe" has also done surprisingly well with Poland, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Estonia, etc. not even close to the U.S. in death rates.

It would be interesting to throw out NYC, i.e., the most "New Europe" part of America, and see what you get.

Kinda like the standard practice in sports of throwing out the high and low judges, then averaging the rest.

If the U.S. gets to exclude the NYC metro area, then Italy gets to exclude Lombardy and South Korea gets to exclude Daegu. Once we are done excluding the hardest hit metro area in every country, I doubt the U.S. will look much better.

That would be cherry picking. Just let the results be the results. The US is doing about the same as the EU.

NYC is like Old Europe filled with cheese-eating surrender monkeys who were more worried about maintaining open borders and multicultural diversity.

By "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" I assume you mean France, and I'd just like to remind you that they were instrumental in us winning our independence from Britain.

Good post. One suggestion linked at this blog (or was it Cowen's or Tabarrok's idea?) is isolation of critical workers: isolate them from potential spreaders, not by a stay at home order but by a stay at work order (which might, for example, mean housing where only the tested workers can enter). That might seem extreme, but it protects both the workers and the supply of critical goods. Would the government or the employer have the authority to force workers into this arrangement? Or would it be voluntary ("voluntary" having a broad meaning)? Compare these "critical" workers to critical workers in the front lines of caring for covid patients who either go home at night (potentially infecting their families) or find alternative housing for themselves or their families at great cost. If we can't provide "safe" housing for health care workers, how can we expect employers to provide "safe" housing for workers in the meat packing plant? I often read about the lack of planning for a pandemic, but those complaining are often the same people who reject "planning" as some kind of government conspiracy.

The most interesting part will be to watch as the armed right wing protestors (against the communists making them wear a mask) will pivot and argue that locking up the low wage workers away from their homes and families is allowable, for the good of the nation.

The optics will look great. Low wage meat packers forced to sleep in slaughter houses under armed guards, not allowed to go home or even spend their wages, while everyone else gets haircuts, hangs out bars, munches wings.

If we do this, can we have moor bacon?

Then make it so!

Moors don't eat bacon.

^^ The only actually valid point of this thread.

Give them single-occupancy hotel rooms. It's probably better accommodations than they have at home.

... except to the extent they like be be with their family and help care for this kids, stuff like that. I am sure for an already-dangerous and unpleasant low-paying job they'd gladly live at the Model 6.

Being separated protects both the worker and their family.

If we need to pay more to get people to do this, well, do it. We're spending trillions of dollars already. We think that keeping these plants running is important, so let's act like it's important.

Ahh yes this sounds very affordable for companies, and I bet employees would love it. Oh wait... I actually know people who live in places where this has been discussed, because I live in the real world, and this would neither be affordable nor enjoyed by employees.

Completely idiotic authoritarian ideas being thrown around here by people who would not be impacted in the slightest. Ivory towers must be nice.

Re: isolate them from potential spreaders, not by a stay at home order but by a stay at work order

And who take care pf their kids? Elderly relatives at home? Domestic animals, their property? What you propose us basically unworkable and would likely be resisted on a scale that makes the mask protests look trivial. It's also likely to be unconstitutional (see: incarceration without due process) on a grand scale.

Incarceration without due process. Sounds a lot like the lockdowns in general.

The “social distancing” mandate is coming from the vaunted CDC. Go look at its site and see if you can find a scientific rationale for it. I did and it just leads you in circles. The CDC, the FDA and many governors are just unloading a ton of cow excrement on us.

Let my people go, execrable Wolf!

Maybe you are unloading the cow excrement on us by claiming that there is no aerosol transmission that will be reduced by social distancing.

Here is one scientific paper on aerosol transmission of covid.

Post your evidence below that there is no scientific rational for social distancing.

"Our results indicate that aerosol and fomite transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is plausible, since the virus can remain viable and infectious in aerosols for hours and on surfaces up to days (depending on the inoculum shed). "

It was a beautiful day here in PA, with snow and cold temps expected tomorrow evening.

You will notice that I referred to the CDC site and you threw a red herring in there. The paper you referenced was from 4/16/2020 which was after CDC guidance was issued. Why don't you call them up and yell "Eureka" and give them the post hoc evidence they apparently didn't need?

"But we are not having a rational discussion about the tools and the investments that we need to reopen the economy. Instead, the people protesting to reopen the economy are also protesting against the use of a key tool to reopen the economy, masks! Welcome to crazy town."

If I said this Skeptical and JWatts would be on me in a NY minute!

But it's true. Too much American commentary is biased by the idea that American government, especially the federal government, should not do much.

So, let's just say "it's over." Open up not because we are at the limits of solutions, but because we are at the limits of our imaginations.

Because the imaginative solutions I've seen so far are just that - figments of folks imaginations, not feasible on its face and not providing the logistics plan to accomplish the task.

National test and trace should be relatively straightforward. Instead we have a straight-up punt:

"White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany echoed that at a briefing Wednesday. “We’ve consulted individually with states, but as I said, it’s (a) governor-led effort. It’s a state-led effort on ... which the federal government will consult. And we do so each and every day.”"

National test and trace does not work like the old Bloody Mary (or Candyman) legend, in which saying it enough times wills it into existence.

Show the plan and logistics to accomplish it.

I am not the president of the United States, but you know who is?

I'm sorry, but at this point I think it's legitimate to just say that some Republicans are willing to die rather than embarrass Donald Trump.

They refuse to ask of him what a dozen other countries in the world can do.

And if they would have asked a month ago, Singapore would have been a shining example. Now, not so much.

Now factor in the info I posted below about NYs new cases. How does test and trace help in nursing homes or for people who aren't leaving their houses?

Of course test and trace protects those people.

Of course test and trace does NOTHING to protect those people.


I think Alex covered this, but it's a pretty simple idea. If test and trace only leads to a marginal increase in quarantine, that is a marginal reduction in transmission.

Honest question. Do you understand what test and trace is?

Just google it along with the phrase nursing home and you'll produce plenty of resources that explain the rationale and how it has been operationalized in some cases.

"And if they would have asked a month ago, Singapore would have been a shining example. Now, not so much."

Ahhh yes, if only we were attacked by a virus that was susceptible to whataboutism this administration and his lackeys would be heros.

At least Singapore is doing something to fight back. If they have a setback then you get back up and try again.

They are fighting back by testing 3k people a day. The US is also testing thousands a day.

But Singapore is not just testing. "The government launched the TraceTogether app to allow for more efficient quarantine measures, while telemedicine helped patients at home with minor problems."

It's possible that if the US government launched such an app there would be holdouts, but we don't know. Trump has the power of the Bully Pulpit. If he used it to ask all Americans, how many would refuse?

FWIW, I think the best strategy is to point to apps owned by Apple and by Google, because people have trust for their respective phone OS providers. And then they all pledge to delete the data in a trailing 12 months.

>"It's possible that if the US government launched such an app there would be holdouts, but we don't know. Trump has the power of the Bully Pulpit. If he used it to ask all Americans, how many would refuse?"

Considering just how insane the Democratic party has gone, I imagine quite a few would push back and begin saying that tracing does nothing - its a plot to kill [insert favored group of the day here].

I absolutely guarantee Obama would be willing to do a joint press conference asking all Americans to buy into "TraceUSA."

IDK. IIRC, Obama wasn't wiling to hold press conferences when he was President.

Well when he killed Osama for his role in 9/11 he did one. Given this virus is on track to be one 9/11 of deaths every single day, I bet he'd do it!

You think the Democrats would be the ones vociferously fighting an app for this? Hoo boy, have I got some news for you. You can start by really focusing hard on who those folks with the big guns and spittle flecked faces were at state houses around the country the past couple weeks.

"They are fighting back by testing 3k people a day. The US is also testing thousands a day."

Ohhh, well ok then. I don't know about you but I'm certainly feeling Great Again!

We need to be testing millions a day and testing EVERYONE regularly. Starting two months ago.

I know, I know, we don't have millions of tests. We can't mobilize to do millions of tests. That's exactly why we are in the mess we are at the moment.

The only thing left to us it to learn from this moment.

We're in a mess due to governors shutting down over an issue in NYC.

We panicked and acted. Now it has become political - the upper class (mostly the left and their acolytes) are saying shutdown forever, because they believe the idea of re-opening with sane measures is "MAGA" or "TRUMP."

This cements the opposition.

"More than 30 countries are building tracing apps"

Which is another way of saying that nobody anywhere has an operational tracing app.

Are you suggesting that no one do anything that takes effort?

Okay, let's imagine a tracing app is up and running. Then what? The government (which one? Federal? State? Local?) learns that X, Y, Z and about 10 million others broke social distancing guidelines today. What do you suggest they do with this information? Arrest and jail? Fine? Tut-tut and wag finger? Seriously, what is the next step you are suggesting? Keep in mind that:
- with time the non-compliance will get worse;
- rules about what is and isn't non-compliance change with partial re-openings, etc. (and if you are counting on the government to keep an app current and working, I'd like to refer you to just about every government-run web-site);
- the immunity after surviving COVID-19 may turn out to be tentative and/or transient;
- only about 81% of the US population own a smart phone (and if I wanted to go out and be non-compliant for a short while, leaving my phone at home is not a major inconvenience).

Test, notify, ask for voluntary compliance, have a program for compensation.

You live in a bizarro fantasy-land, where you just make up things. But you've jumped the shark here to just straight up lying about what other people say. Sad, you're theoretically an adult.

If I said this Skeptical and JWatts would be on me in a NY minute!

We are not protesting to reopen the economy. You're becoming a straight parody, as our criticism of the CDC was that it specifically told everyone NOT to wear masks. It was clear to everyone with connections in Asia in February that the disease was spreading via aerosol.

You're losing it dude.

Nope. Your gig is to say that any criticism of this administration is "partisan" and therefore off the table. JWatts desperately clings to "TDS" theory.

But sometimes criticisms can be accurate. And you know that if this story were about Obama's son-in-law you, JWatts, and the conservative economics blogosphere would be all over it.

As you should be.

Off the bat because you continually fail the Turing Test, hard:

1) I'm not a conservative
2) I liked Obama, he was a decent president and a good man

You've descended into self parody. Lying about everyone else on an academic economics blog is pretty sad for an adult in his 60s. Note how your smear was so untenable that you switched gears to a totally different lie That's not even moving the goalposts, it's not even the same conversation.

Nope. Your gig is to say that any criticism of this administration is "partisan" and therefore off the table.

No, that's absurd, and illustrates just how far down the self parody partisan ladder you've fallen. I call out your partisan insanity, like ranting for years that the POTUS is a KGB asset in a giant conspiracy because of golden shower sexual blackmail. That is partisan nonsense. When you rant about stupid Tweets I ask which policy you're criticizing.

Back to the actual topic at hand that you've derailed for the Nth time. I'll just keep repeating myself:

I've yet to see a coherent alternative Corona-chan strategy in the United States. I'm still waiting.

You constantly make the weakest possible argument that a criticism "is partisan." Why is that weak? Because it only works by the implication that an argument is "only partisan" and stands on no other legs.

If you were smarter or willing to work harder you would make the positive case that an argument is "wrong" instead. But you don't do that.

"ranting for years that the POTUS is a KGB asset"

Post a link. I know that what I said was far more nuanced, and is now supported by all the evidence.

"Post a link."

Come on, that's dumb even for you. You realize it's trivial to use Google to search this site?

"anonymous October 25, 2019 at 9:20 am
But I have to say Alex, if you ask who is the BIGGEST Russian asset, we know the answer to that one. And it will matter more when in 5 or 50 years than who asked some dumb and embarrassing questions at one hearing."

Remember when you were telling us that Tulsi Gabbard was being used by the Russians? It was on 7 months ago. And of course you left dozens of posts. It's impossible for you to memory hole this, since you posted to a public blog.

"anonymous October 25, 2019 at 11:16 am

You may take the position that you disagree with Clinton and others (below), but "delusional?" No. It's a legitimate attempt to digest available evidence.

Tulsi Gabbard is being used by the Russians, and to a former us double agent, the evidence is clear?"

On October 25th, I was playing off the title of the piece. Alex's title was "Who’s a Russian Asset?" and then he tried to say Black Lives Matter was.

I'd say that aged worse than the idea that Trump was a bigger one. We now know, per Mueller and the Intelligence agencies that Russia explicitly aided Trump. We know that the Trump campaign knew and welcomed that help. We know that Trump lied and obstructed justice to cover up that help and that knowledge. We know that gave Putin leverage over Trump.

So compared to BLM, Trump was bigger, and probably the "BIGGEST."

>We now know, per Mueller and the Intelligence agencies that Russia explicitly aided Trump. We know that the Trump campaign knew and welcomed that help. We know that Trump lied and obstructed justice to cover up that help and that knowledge. We know that gave Putin leverage over Trump.

Hoew many of these statements are true?

How many contain context?

I suspect very little is true, what came of Russiagate is that the previous admin was using known Russian disinformaiton to spy on a presidential campaign.

The Russians were helping both Trump and Clinton explicitly.

All of them are true, and direct readings of the Mueller Report.

...Clearly you have not kept up.

A statement can be true, while being ridiculously misleading. Which is what your statements are.

What did the Senate Intelligence Committee conclude recently?

Context is that they tried to help Trump in the primary, then tried to help Clinton in the main election. Trump was seen as the easiest Rep to beat. End game was to get Clinton elected. Russia then went on to fund protests against Trump.

So this seems to be the way the whole Russia bullshit story is going.
"DOJ Dropping Case Against Michael Flynn After Revelation of FBI Entrapment Plot"
Transcript: “What is our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”

Also:From Fox News:

Transcripts of House Intelligence Committee interviews that have been cleared for release show top law enforcement and intelligence officials affirming they had no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election, senior administration and intelligence community officials told Fox News on Wednesday.

This would align with the results of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation — which found no evidence of illegal or criminal coordination between President Trump, the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016 — but the numerous transcribed interviews could raise further questions about committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s past statements saying that there was “direct evidence” of collusion.

Most of this known, but now official.
You'd have to be an idiot to believe any of this for any of the past 2 years though.

Go read the goddamn Mueller report yourself, you will see you are wrong.

And Tulsi being used by Russia was just reporting of fact.

By the way, this administration's empowerment of Kushner, and then his performance, is sure as heck on topic.

So why can't you handle it?

Kushner's been a lot more effective than expected. Seems to be a pretty competent person. Not surprising Trump hired him, especially with the trust issues Trump has. (which has proven to be correct)

@Anon, the annoying thing here, is that's hard to believe you want a good faith argument about when to reopen, rather than to conflate those that do (like JWatts) with a position they're not affiliated with (no voluntary mask recommendations by the gov), in order to remove all room for debate that's less than "eliminate the disease through lockdown".

Besides as Skeptical notes, the volte face on masks making it hard to be unsympathetic to those that reject it. Gov probably should recommend masks, but of course should remain a liberal, consent based measures, like hand washing.

Here's the thing. If you think I'm being "partisan" by being "unfairly critical" of this president or this administration, there is only on strong answer to it.

That is a positive case that this administration is doing a good job.

As M said, I have been pushing for mask use consistently for months. Indeed, I have criticized the CDC for saying the public shouldn't wear them. I also think that the protestors are foolish in not wearing masks or believing they are unnecessary. I think Trump is foolish for not wearing a mask.

I wear a mask in public. I recommend everyone wear a mask, wash their hands, avoid touching their face and avoiding close contact until Covid19 cases become insignificant.

So Alex says "we need test and trace ... and masks" and a few of you say "we have never been against masks!"

Not really the full answer.

This is Alex in his linked article:

"This is exactly the strategy I discussed in, Mass Testing to Fix the Labor Market, where I wrote “Testing, isolating and tracing will [get the economy back on track] much faster and cheaper than dealing with a prolonged recession.”"

Go away Troll! I'm tired of you deliberately lying and strawmanning me.

This is not a strawman, this is a direct question. Do you support a national policy of “Testing, isolating and tracing” as Alex suggests?

If not, why not?

If you do, do you demand it of your government?

I've said this repeatedly but you either don't read my comments or deliberately misconstrue them.

I support the South Korean model of relaxing the lock down in areas that are not heavily impacted, maintaining precautions, and this would include testing, isolating and tracing.

"If you do, do you demand it of your government?"

I don't know what this means. Do you mean am I going to go protest in front of the State Capitol? No, I'm not. Am I going to "demand" in the comment section of an obscure blog so that I can 'signal' that I'm the right kind of person. No, that's silly. Am I going to vote for Trump in the upcoming election? No, I'm not.

I think it should be easy to say "I support “Testing, isolating and tracing” as Alex suggests."

All that stuff about it being "signalling" in a comments section? Broken thinking. Self-limiting, and actual partisanship.

We are a representative democracy, and not just on election day. Every day and any place we should be able to say what we want our elected representatives to do.

This is what makes you such a miserable person,Troll. You asked for my opinion. Indeed, you nearly demanded I state it.

Then when I did, you inevitably criticized it in a petty way. Your petty and can't tolerate opinions that are even slightly different than your own. I agreed with you but instead of being satisfied with the response you resorted to criticizing my phrasing. Then you deliberately insulted me. You never argue in Good Faith.

Go Away Troll!

Nope, I asked for your opinion and then you rose up to attack the idea of democratic participation. You wrote:

" No, I'm not. Am I going to "demand" in the comment section of an obscure blog so that I can 'signal' that I'm the right kind of person."

I called you on that.

Fuck off Troll!

lol, either you stand by your words or you don't.

I certainly did not make you claim that calling for “testing, isolating and tracing” as Alex suggests was just "so that I can 'signal' that I'm the right kind of person."

(I hope you don't think Alex is just signalling with his article!)

We can safely put the final nail in the coffin in the idea that anonymous is here to discuss anything in any fashion remotely resembling good faith.

All personal attacks, straw-manning and Alex Jones conspiracy theories.

He wins again, thread derailed.

I have steadfastly been on topic, with Alex that “testing, isolating and tracing” should be our goals.

If there are any partisan hacks here, it is anyone who wants to wiggle out, perhaps saying that “testing, isolating and tracing” is good, but we can never ask for it.

Because we should not have such a high expectation for this government.

You're not this stupid, which means this is 100% trolling,

You began this infantile tirade with personal attacks and lies. You lied that Jwatts' criticism of the CDC telling people not to wear masks from January through April 6th constituted a protest against mask wearing. Which isn't even wrong, it's going out of one's way to slander someone for the exact opposite of their stance.

You then switched to partisan conspiracy theories about the POTUS and various Democratic Congressmen being KGB assets. Remember, your stance is that multiple high level politicians are KGB assets controlled by Putin; an Alex Jones view of the world which is laughable on its face.

Then, when everyone in the United States isn't sufficiently conspiratorial you accuse everyone of being.....against democracy.

You're either a LARPer or an insane Boomer. Take your meds

I like how he responds to an allegation of straw-manning, by posting another strawman argument. He's consistent.

It is definitely not a straw man to ask you directly if you support the thesis of Alex's post, and if you demand it of your representative government.

But I'm afraid that this is how the American partisan divide forms up right now. People you might call "progressive" can be for active response by their government. People you might call "conservative" cannot be.

This as Trump punts and puts all responsibility for opening on the states.

So it will be what it will be, with good or bad state government. I'm lucky in that regard. Or I have the right kind of state government:

"California plans to significantly ramp up its coronavirus testing and tracing efforts, as the state strives to reach a point where it could relax stay-at-home rules implemented to contain the outbreak."

"Separately, Newsom said the state plans to build up “an army of tracers,” starting with some 10,000 people dedicated to interviewing infected patients and contacting those they may have exposed. In turn, the team will work to ensure that those people are tested, isolated, and quarantined as needed, in the hopes of suppressing the disease and preventing hospital systems from becoming overwhelmed."

Jump off a bridge and take all your lies with you Troll.

10,000 people need to be hired per your quote. That’s the easy part. This has never been done.

If you’re not a troll, please answer seriously:

When do you think that a viable tracing system will be up and running?

Lol, what makes you think he's American?

He's a /pol-tard, LARPing.

NY just did a survey of 1,000 new patients. The overwhelming majority have been staying at home.

"It shows that 66% of new admissions were from people who had largely been sheltering at home. The next highest source of admissions was from nursing homes, 18%. "

"people who had largely been sheltering at home" is not the same as people only sheltering at home.

"Cuomo said nearly 84% of the hospitalized cases were people who were not commuting to work through car services, personal cars, public transit or walking. He said a majority of those people were either retired or unemployed. Overall, some 73% of the admissions were people over age 51. "

The most common transmissions are people living in the same household. That's because this country has not been isolating those infected in separate facilities like CHina and many other countries did.

I bet if we did an actual tracing exercise, we would find that mostly homebound people getting this are in the vast majority of cases contracting it from family members or housemates, most of whom are probably asymptomatic or only mildly sick.

Yeah, that's scary. I'd really like to dive into the numbers, to know if protocols were broken accidentally or on purpose.

We do know that elevators are bad. And stairwells might not be that much better. Which makes it hard to truly isolate in a sense city.

dense city

So is Singapore and Hong Kong. Plenty of elevators, far fewer deaths than NYC.

Maybe masks+elevators?

FWIW, source on the elevator thing:

Which is actually good news. In the ideal world we would have mass testing and those who are positive could shelter by themselves (say at an empty hotel) rather than infect people they with and extend the lockdown. But even barring that if the virus can only spread to those who are living with positive cases, it will soon run out of targets and Rt will drop to near 0 making opening more viable. Or we could just open up now and restart spreading outside the home again so then we'll have both.

@Rich Berger


why should we trust & obey these CDC bureaucrats ?
are they somehow smarter than everyone else in the nation?
where did they (or their bosses) get the legal authority to lockdown the economy?

U.S. is following the classic socialist model -- government "experts" forcibly intervening in the private economy at a massive level.

There is no medicine for willful ignorance.

Trust the experts,

Better than

If someone without a mask gets too close and you've warned them numerous times, is it okay to shoot them in self-defense? You could make a case that you are protecting not just yourself but your whole family, your friends, your church, your community, your co-workers, etc. Hard question. What does the MR hive mind think?

Here's a couple data points:

- There are already criminal ramifcations for deliberately taking acts that could spread illness.

- Depending on the language of the order, it is a crime to violate a mask order.

- Anecdotal evidence is that the bar for shooting someone in "self-defense" in the US is very very low.

>"- Anecdotal evidence is that the bar for shooting someone in "self-defense" in the US is very very low."

George, your partisanship is showing.


Thanks, that was the last square I needed to complete a line.

From the statistics on New York hospital admissions, it is obvious that social distancing alone will only slow down the virus, not eliminate it.
We have crushed the labor market, probably ruined the economy, and still we have hospital admissions from persons who were sheltering at home.

Let's look at the data. Did it include persons in the household who did not socially distance or who were out and about. Does the data include nursing homes and congregate facilities. If you have data on these variables, post below.

But, we do know the opposite: that being next to a person with covid can lead to transmission.

Want to work in a meat packing plant? Or, maybe you would like to work for a basketball player arranging for signing autographs.

The data is in the link I posted above.

Thanks. I did read the article NBC news article, but it didn't include the data I mentioned: persons in the household who were out and about. I would also expect more data re: frequency of other activities, whether living in public housing or large apartment complexes versus single family dwellings; cut offs for defining going out, etc. Since it is hospital admission data, how long had the person stayed in and did they stay in because they already had symptoms, or what was their activity before they stayed in (in other words, pre staying in activity since the waiting time for symptoms is 5-7 days). But, it is interesting comment by a governor.

This is a virus. It does not spontaneously generate.

The other problem is the construction of the alternative universe: what would have happened had they not imposed stay in place. I talked to a health care economist at Johns Hopkins when this started and he noted that the big problem, if they have success in suppressing, that people will say it was unnecessary. Think about it.

Suppression doesn't equal elimination. Think about it.

Let's get the evidence and examine it in detail.

If the standard is elimination, nothing wins. Then the issue is suppression and the what if alternatives against which you would measure various alternatives.

England played with this.

What happened.

Here is death per capita data:
Look at Swedens.

Also, look at Germany. It's rates were low: they did early testing and isolation as did some other countries, but, when you don't do the testing early and are therefore unable to do individual isolation, you have to alternatives under crisis to control the outbreak. Had we not failed to have testing earlier, had we not accepted other testing regimes, we would have had better results as well.

If you fail to test early, you have to use the tools you have.

The only tool left is indefinite lock downs. And it's still spreading.

No that's not true. You are creating an all or nothing choice, so the default option is your false choice.

Learn how to reason and argue with facts.

Did you ever learn the word plan, or nuance, or fact specific actions. It's all or nothing for you. (I think that was from a Broadway play.)

It's all or nothing with me? I'm not the one waiting for the perfect testing regime to fall out of the sky in order to lift the lockdowns.

If the goal is to minimize CFR then obviously and indefinite lockdown is best.

If the goal is to minimize car crashes then obviously an indefinite lockdown is best.

If the goal is to minimize risk from being a human being on planet Earth then obviously and indefinite lockdown is best.

However, some people are willing to accept risk. Some people think that living a good life is better than staying cooped up forever and living to the age of 80.

You clearly want to stay cooped up and live till you're 80, which is fine for you... but most people who aren't academia (aka losers) or old people (aka losers) don't want that life. Unless the threat is a zombie apocalypse. But this isn't that.

The choice you make affects the transmission rate in the entire society.

It's not about you.

And, it is about you,
If you don't get infected,
Because others were not infected
Because of what they did.

Look beyond the moment.

You made the choice to be a sickly fatty while I was running suicides at five in the morning. Like he says you are a loser. You weren’t willing to put the time into being a winner. So you can hide in your house.

Are you
Alex (53) or
Tyler (58)?
Or, Don the Con?

Stop being a stupid wuss and grow the fuck up. No one is asking you to be locked down until you're 80.

My point wasn't that I'm being asked to be locked up till I'm 80... it was that I'm being locked up to help a 75 year old in a nursing home live till 80.

Perhaps all the folks on here obsessed with maximizing numbers (with no concept of the economic significance, or lack thereof, of those numbers) should come around to the idea that ruining an economy is not worth helping *some* 75 years olds live to 80.

Anybody who thinks the economy will not be ruined indefinitely if this virus becomes endemic in the population is a moron.

My point wasn't that I'm being asked to be locked up till I'm 80... it was that I'm being locked up to help a 75 year old in a nursing home live till 80.

Actually you're not. The flu every year keeps a huge number of 75 yr olds in nursing homes from making 80.

You're being 'locked up' because it's a bad idea to let a few hundred million people in this country have a virus we've only first learned about less than a year ago yet has already killed a surprisingly large number of people and threatened health systems. And NO that is not saying we just should space out the virus's spread so health systems remain functioning.

"Our models were wrong, and no one can point to any consistent evidence distinguishing the results in places that locked down from places that didn't, but the counterfactual that I'm imagining would have been really bad!"

Evidently not spoken by a scientist. Quote was probably from a politician who should have acted earlier, or one who did not have testing capacity which could have been used as an alternative. Germany did early testing and isolation and, as a result, didn't have to use blunter instruments. Then, look at Italy, Spain, England, and now, Sweden which have high death rates:

Don't be a moron. If you suppress Rt < 1 you put the virus on the path to elimination. Do you think when we have had ebola outbreaks we just sit back and say "well can't do anything about it, let the whole world get it we'll only lose maybe 40% of people.".

Because the coronavirus is the same as Ebola? We don't have a one size fits all strategy for every virus, now do we?

Math is exactly the same for ebola and coronavirus. Suppress a virus and you eliminate it.

How many coronavirus' have we successfully eliminated?

And one more would be eliminated successfully if we slaughter all the camels in Saudi Arabia.

This is silly. SARS-CoV was a lot less infectious and did not have the contagious while asymptomatic problem. A lot easier to eradicate.
There was no lockdown

Both SARS and MERS were more deadly and just as if not more infectious but people were only infectious after symptomatic. The entire difference is driven by the contagious while asymptomatic.

They weren't as infectious. They only infect the lower respiratory tract unlike SARS-Cov-2 which infect both the upper and lower respiratory tract.
Also SARS-CoV2 It is 10–20 times more likely to bind ACE2 than is SARS-CoV1. It's RBD has a better fit to ACE2

Ebola is more deadly ( 50 to 70% IFR) but not that contagious and hasn't killed that many people overall. It's spread through bodily fluids and is not airborne
Its estimated " natural "Ro is 1.4 to 1.8 without any measures. There hasn't been any lockdown against Ebola.
the 2014- 2016 Ebola outbreak killed about 11k people. A health problem, yes but not one addressed with general lockdowns.

You can use plague or a host of other diseases. You can even say ebola did have a type of lockdown since it's almost always stopped by having communities change their traditional funeral rituals. Since different diseases spread different ways, the tactics for reducing their Rt differs.

The point remains there it is simply not a 'brute fact' that covid cannot be stopped absent either a vaccine or herd immunity. Other nations bent their curves down to approach zero and even some states like NJ-NY seem to be doing that.

" since it's almost always stopped by having communities change their traditional funeral rituals"
That's not a lockdown. That's changing your habits smartly, not stopping everyone's economic activity. Our equivalent would be some social distancing + masks.
Our current lockdown hasn't helped much 50% of deaths in Massachusetts are in nursing homes. That's where the problem is: lockdown isn't helping them Most deaths in New York are from stay at home (>80%) , not from people moving about.

"Most deaths in New York are from stay at home (>80%) , not from people moving about."

Genius much?
Do you suppose that if there was no lockdown that would still be the case?

no, people would not be at home at home so much. The fact is your lockdown isn't saving many people. It's not the people out and working that ended up in the hospital as the stats show,
Germany kept 80% of their factories humming. Sweden isn't experiencing apocalypse. Sensible protections at the workplace, masks when appropriate and protection of the elderly in nursing homes is what's needed, not months on end of lockdown.

The point of the lockdown is not to close the factories.
The whole problem is that the moron population keeps doing high-risk activities in their free time, thus increasing Rt.
If people were not morons but were able to restrict their overall activity to only what is needed to keep the meaningful part of the economy running, lockdowns won't be needed.

Oh, and Android mobility data from Germany and the US clearly shows that the germans have been more diligent in reducing their mingling so there is that.

Let's say we wanted to stop HIV from spreading so we decided we shall only have sex with left handed people. After a while a headline will announce "All new cases of HIV seem to come from sex with left handed people!"

I guess that means we should start having sex with right handed people and....what? Virus stops spreading?

Of course with HIV we'd say let's either avoid unsafe sex or test anyone we're not sure about before having sex with them....but that's the advanced class.

We don't know how those numbers would change if everyone who rode an elevator had an n95 mask.

There is one big push we could make. I hope we are. I hope new mask factories are coming online.

In the United States it would take about 2-3 years for a new factory to be built and come on-line. That's assuming, of course, it passes environmental review and survives locals filing environmental impact lawsuits.

Our best bet is importing N95 respirators from China.

Another fan of not trying, while blaming the left, with their "environmental review."

You are sure as heck a Trumpist in spirit.

You're once again lying, even more ridiculously so with this one. I'm not blaming anyone, let alone an ideology. Cause and effect is not blame. It simply is.

It's somewhat amusing though that you jump to 'blaming the left', as if locals decide whether they want a factory in their neighborhood based on their political ideology.

Anyways, in the US it would take about 2-3 years for new N95 respirator factories to come on-line. It would be a losing investment for any firm to undertake.

Please note that rather endorsing national action, you think your best possible plan it to attack me instead.

Please note that I said "There is one big push we could make. I hope we are. I hope new mask factories are coming online" and you chose to attack that statement.

And then you complain when called on it. Classic.

This lying is becoming tedious. You realize people can just scroll up, right?

You seem to think explaining why something will not happen is 'attacking a statement.' That's a pretty bizarre mindset for, hypothetically, a Boomer Engineer in his 60s. But..whatever.

You've lived in California long enough to know national action would never make that factory happen alone. It would take, necessary but not sufficient:

1) a suspension of EPA rules (this would immediately result in a Federal lawsuit that could take years to resolve)
2) a suspension of CA state environmental regulations (this would immediately result in a lawsuit that could take years to resolve)
3) a suspension of the right to file environmental impact lawsuits (I'm not a lawyer, but I don't believe this would even be remotely constitutional in California)

Explaining why something will never happen is opposing something, yes.

That's horrible logic. Aren't you supposed to be LARPing as an engineer?

I can explain why the sky will not be green tomorrow, but that doesn't mean I'm opposing it.

That's even more horrible logic.

Political actions, decided in a representative democracy, are definitely not fixed like the physical laws of our universe.

I said above that there are calls to "open up not because we are at the limits of solutions, but because we are at the limits of our imaginations."

You're combining a bunch of different threads and shifting the goalposts.

I'm explaining to you why there aren't a plethora of new N95 factories being opened. There is a bureaucratic process in place with multiple veto points from Federal (EPA) down to the municipality and county level. These take at best 18 months to clear, not including the FDA certification that JWatts alludes to.

To your other point, the economy will begin to be reopened over the summer because no-one has articulated a coherent alternative strategy.

Wishing away how the government and manufacturing facilities actually operate is not a coherent alternative strategy.

Do you support using the Defense Production Act to break through regulations you see as roadblocks?

If you do, must you do so silently, to avoid "signalling?"

How would the Defense Production Act be relevant? I'm not a lawyer, but from what I know about the DPA that's not how it works.

Where in the DPA does it allow for suspension of environmental regulations/laws at the Federal and state level and eliminate the right to file environmental impact lawsuits?

I've never seen this claim before.

Not a lawyer, but it looks like it would and should to me.

No one intended to respond to a military attack with an environmental impact report.

Where in the law are you getting this information ?

Lol, this was a troll the entire time

"In the United States it would take about 2-3 years for a new factory to be built and come on-line. "

I don't know about getting FDA approval. However, I've been involved with getting a large dairy processing facility up in running in about 18 months. That was a green field facility. 18 months was from breaking ground to the point the first two lines were at full production. There was room and most of the capacity for 6 lines. This wasn't a big push, this was just a Fortune 500 company adding a new facility.

If you ignore the FDA approval process, of which I'm ignorant of, and assume usage of an existing facility, you could easily have production lines cranking out millions of masks in a 3-6 month time frame.

But you are correct, that the bureaucratic considerations are the bottleneck.

Does the Defense Production Act wait on departmental approval? I'd think not.

America is truly envied by all those nations unable to match its comnparative tech advantages, and thus forced to manufacture such low margin products as masks, swabs, and glass vials. Or vaccines, most likely.

I think economic libertarians really do care about Americans. As much as they care for, say, a rando anywhere on the planet. They have that kind of Buddhist universal love for all people, cats, snails, and sure, an American too. Great loyalty.

But in a society where we have severed all natural biological bonds between people, why would anyone make a sacrifice for their grandma, much less their country?

Meanwhile there's a European meat-glut:

There's supposedly a meat and milk glut in the US too. There were articles a few days ago about farmers destroying their supply because of decreased demand, and of course none of these articles tried to examine the incentives that keep them from reducing their prices instead.

Wendy's has a supply problem that similarly no one seems inclined to explore or explain. The Chinese-owned Smithfield imported super-cheap immigrant labor and crammed them into substandard housing, just like Chinese businesses in Singapore, and got the same result disease-wise; they're apparently trying to blame the refrigerated conditions in the plant instead. Tyson is taking out big ads for Congress, warning of dark consequences. Supermarkets are guarding against demand-side panic buying, stoked by scary media (as the same people who said the hospital system would fail now say that the food industry will fail).

Basically, the food industry is pushing for big bailout money, and threatening that we'll all be held hostage in the process.

Personally, I am enjoying the kabuki of going through this crisis while pretending we don't have an established federal system of health and emergency agencies to lead the charge.

It's like one of those weird 'what if' job interview questions; or an episode of Iron Chef, where you open your Public Health Chef Pandemic Response Mystery Box, and then Gordon Ramsay leaps out from behind a curtain and announces that you need to make the souffle without eggs, says there's only 10 ovens for 50 chefs, and then hands you a butter churn and a map of area dairy farms from 1927.

Well, as of February 29th, Fauci was saying we didn't need to make any changes to our lifestyles.

And of course there was the don't/do wear masks fiasco,.

Of course what you just cited is partial and taken completely out of context.

In any case, yes, it's clearly grounds for deconstructing and sidelining the entire federal public health system in the middle of a public health crisis.

Then at what point did Fauci actually sound the alarm bell?

You cannot claim that we need to follow the experts, then ignore the experts' actual words and actions leading up to now.

This is what Fauci actually said on February 29th. You clearly have no interest in dealing in reality and facts. But I'll post it anyway for the good of posterity.

“I’ve said that many times even on this program,” Fauci stated in that interview. “You’ve got to watch out because although the risk is low now, you don’t need to change anything you’re doing. When you start to see community spread, this could change and force you to become much more attentive to doing things that would protect you from spread.”

The only thing Fauci did wrong was not transition to a state of alarm fast enough. (Had he done so, he would of course had been immediately fired by Trump.) It is disingenuous as hell that the same people who claim we are over-reacting are also claiming the we under-reacted.

There is no missing context, as of Feb 29th he clearly says the risk is low at that point and business as usual.

In early March the CDC said don't wear masks.

You cannot wish these comments away.

ok youre right

obviously Trump did the right thing by knocking over the table and stomping out of his job

Clearly the fault is the table. Let's get a better table so Trump can do his job!

The table was from the Obama administration - it's Obama's fault; he didn't leave a good table for Trump.

RG, you fail to address the failure of the Administration on early testing when other countries had used testing to isolate the spread. No excuse. Still no excuse for adequate testing.

Adequate testing wasn't available because the CDC lab was contaminated.

A delay by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in quickly making coronavirus test kits available was the result of “a glaring scientific breakdown” at the CDA central lab, The Washington Post reported.
The Post reported that CDC facilities that assembled the testing kits “violated sound manufacturing practices, resulting in contamination of one of the three test components used in the highly sensitive detection process.”
James Le Duc, a virologist and former CDC officer who now heads the Galveston National Laboratory in Texas, told The Post that the situation was “really a terrible black mark on the CDC, and the impact was devastating to the country.”

Agreed. We failed to test. We declined the WHO offer.

Whose decision was that. When we didn't have tests, why did we tell fairy tales to the public that it would blow over in April.

Enquiring minds want to know.

We never declined the tests from WHO because they were never offered. It's typical for countries to manufacture their own tests. The CDC failed to.

“No discussions occurred between WHO and CDC about WHO providing COVID-19 tests to the United States,” said WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris. “This is consistent with experience since the United States does not ordinarily rely on WHO for reagents or diagnostic tests because of sufficient domestic capacity.”

Ever heard of the phrase "second sourcing"

It was a failure to have a second source and rely on CDC for manufacturing only. Fuaci said that as well. I'll look for the quote if you want or need it or want to challenge on that point.

Massive failure.

Also add “threaten doctors” testing for community spread research, by pulling out IRB regs.

Who is ultimately in charge of the CDC? Trump. Who was in charge of appointing the head of the CDC? Trump.

He's the boss. He's responsible.

The buck stops at the Resolute desk. Now that that's out of the way:

Here's a falsifiable hypothesis:

the public will never know who made any of these decisions within the FDA or CDC regarding testing, the 'no mask' guidance until April, threatening Helen Chu and thus shutting down community spread research, etc.

If the public never finds out who made decisions in the agencies overseen by Trump, then that's because Trump does not want the public to find out.

You do understand that Trump appoints the leadership and sets the priorities, don't you? Not to mentioning controlling the justice department and the inspectors general.

It would have been the same sluggish, we-know-what's-best-for-you CDC and FDA if the 2016 election had gone the other way. There was a not a candidate who would have been prepared to roll up the sleeves and take charge in a way that would have made a difference.

Bureaucrats gonna bureaucrat, and they all favor process and permission-granting over results. We need to focus on this instead of fighting about the last election or pretending anything will be different in January 2021.

At this moment, I wish that Bloomberg, arrogant and bossy as he is, had stayed in the race. Or that Eisenhower had lived another 80 years.

The irony is that I thought this might be the one area where Trump’s disregard for tradition and process and disdain for the bureaucracy and favoritism toward fewer regulations for businesses to take action would actually help resolve this mess, but instead he just decided to ignore all of this and pretend that saying positive things would keep the stock market from crashing. Ugh....

Nonsense. Even the deer in the headlights GW Bush figured out how to get things going after 9/11 and Katrina.

Besides, as I recall, Hillary Clinton is a mastermind of running the deep state. All she would have needed to do was snap her fingers, and the bureaucrats would have snapped to attention.

Tabarrok's analysis leaves out a key factor - the large number of immigrants working at these plants (
The conditions in the plant surely play a part in the spread, but so do community factors. Other factories won't have the same issues. I'm awaiting prior's appearance. The WSJ had a front page story today about how Germany has kept it's factories open during the outbreak.

Of course. That's obvious. And the cited article talks about that.

But if the workers had not worked closely at the plants, and if the plants had done a better job of protection, , then the trigger would not have been pulled for spread into the rest of the community.

Or living in close contact could have increased spread regardless of steps taken in the plant. Also, there were language barriers in developing safety procedures:

Language barriers? How did anyone ever even build a factory to process meat without having at least one person who could speak to the employees?

If you bothered to read the link: "Forty different languages are spoken at the South Dakota pork processing plant that has become a coronavirus hot spot..."

40 languages yet everyone knows when their shift starts, when their breaks are, how to cut, how to pack. Amazing how communication works among humans.

It works great. Until it doesn't.

Ahh yes, the famous air accidents inside meat packing plants.

You simmer down. I'm Just pointing out that language barriers can cause safety issues.

One of the elements required for spread is that it has to be introduced somewere.

It's like the ant poison. It works best if the foraging ants bring it back from the kitchen to the entire colony. No foraging ants, no poisoned colony.

Other factories in the U.S. lack a colony factor. This is a situation more common to meat plants. The type of work also encourages spread. It's a vicious circle.

The plants may have had visits from representatives of the Chinese owners.

And it seems Covid -1984 might have been in the US longer than thought.

We possibly should have walked off NYC, too.

Walled off NYC. Sorry.

Yes not only immigrants but immigrants who are related and live multiple people to a household.

Lots of businesses in Germany closed/went to short time - something like over 70,000. All the car companies shut down for weeks - in part because of logistic chain problems, in part out of concern for worker health, and in part because orders collapsed. Though many businesses like restuarants and concert halls and stores closed, there was no mandatory shutdown of factories. That happened on its own. And there are German meat processing factories with corona problems too - the virus spreads easily in such places world wide.

Glass vials? What a joke on top of all the things we don't make for national emergencies. Do we have a comprehensive list of America's supply chain? I'm a libertarian but the free market has failed gloriously here and some sane central planning is needed to put a boot to this country's complacent butt.

In evaluating these pronouncements of shortages, keep in mind that Alex has erred consistently in one direction throughout. Remember how we weren't going to have any antibiotics?

You'd think that by now, Alex would realize how dumb it is to take an assertion from Twitter, pretend it is true, and just run with it.

>I don’t think that a “lockdown” is necessarily the optimal policy.

Not "necessarily" "optimal," eh? Pretty bold stance, there. Wuss.

This virus is harmless to the vast majority of people it infects. If it were a random who got severe cases than yes, lockdown would be protecting everyone, but we know exactly the factors that give you a 20% chance. So it's just a lie to claim lockdown is protecting vulnerable people AND people in the <0.01% group. Opening up the economy doesn't mean forcing grandpa to be a Walmart greeter at gunpoint, we can still isolate the vulnerable, in fact we'll have more resources to dedicate to the vulnerable when we stop wasting so many enforcing lockdown orders on the <0.01% group. And here's the thing, we WANT young healthy people TO be infected to build herd immunity. The few hospitalizations from this group pose no risk whatsoever of overwhelming the medical system's capacity (remember, that's the whole justification for the lockdown in the firstplace) but it's the only way we're going to be able to protect the vulnerable long term. Save grandma and save the economy IS the reopen now plan.

"vast" ??? define.

We will not know until antibody testing is prevalent, but the lower bound is north of 80% for the whole population and significantly higher for the under 65 crowd (to a nearest approximation: the workforce).

I don't see that as 'vast'. 20% of what will ultimately be 60 to 70 percent of the population is a LOT of harmed people.

Herd immunity doesn't need to overshoot to 70% because one condescending dude on twitter told you so. Go back to your TV and keep repeating whatever the newscaster says and you'll get by fine, you don't need to parse nuances like variable CFR across known demography or targeted testing and containment strategies.

If you're worried about 'a lot of harmed people', but drive your car over 5mph, you're either a hypocrite or innumerate. We need the covd version of seatbelts, right now we're pouring sugar in everyone's tank.

That was poorly phrased: of course it makes sense to *worry* about harm topeople. I mean if you think shutting down the whole economy is justified by possible harm to people, yet drive your car faster than 5mph.... you know the rest.


The whole world has gone crazy.

Incidentally, Germany's low CFR especially in and from elderly care homes is an artefact of a deeply unjust tax. In 1995, the government introduced the Pflegeversicherung. It's a compulsory care tax of 3% of gross income, or €1.000 per worker/year on average. The elderly in need of care can apply, and will get benefits worth around €15.000 a year for each severe case. This has allowed many families to send grandma to an expensive elderly care facility. You will get more subsidy actually, if you put her into an elderly care facility. Grandma never paid into this payg scheme, mind you, since she is now 90 and was already retired in 1995, if she worked at all in those days (people 80+ heavily skew female here). So this is a pure subsidy for grandmas that hasn't cost them anything ever, draining young people's wealth since 1995. Those who inherit the money grandma didn't have to spend will get some back, of course.
The money was good ever since for care homes. In contrast to Southern Europe or Britain, they didn't have to employ Romanian expats. That would have been prohibited anyway. One reason elderly care facilities are expensive in Germany is that a 3 year domestic full-time apprenticeship is required before you may get a job there. The Romanians fled at the beginning of the pandemic, fearing borders would be closed, rightly so. And seniors in Italian and Spanish facilities were left to their own devices - you can imagine how well that would go, leaving people with foggy minds wondering whether they'd taken their medication today - or did I take it twice already? Until the military arrived in those homes to find out about the utter neglect. Didn't happen in Germany, because well paid well educated staff. Without the Pflegegeld, the 3 year apprenticeship requirement would have been dropped long ago; Romanians and Poles would have ruled elderly care, just like everywhere else.

There is a relatively painless way of mitigating the problem of supply bottlenecks: relative price increases. If workers are reluctant to work in dangerous meat packing plants or supermarkets, pay them more to do so. If owners are to dense to do so, Capitalism is doomed.

Of course relative prices of supply-constrained goods rising in the presence of downwardly sticky prices for non supply-constrained sectors means that inflation needs to increase.

"If workers are reluctant to work in dangerous meat packing plants or supermarkets, pay them more to do so."
You are thinking of America as it used to be. Now - if not for the bad optics - we would just march them in at bayonet point. They are, after all, inferior persons ... and this is the job they are SUPPOSED to be doing

This is not to unsay Alex's point about making dangerous occupations less dangerous. "Both and" not "either or."

"Wisconsin chief justice sparks backlash by saying covid-19 outbreak is among meatpacking workers, not ‘the regular folks’ "

So much for the idea that they should be paid more.

Didn't I say something like this about 3 or 4 weeks ago? Economists don't know anything about vaccines, epidemiology, so why not apply your expertise to what you know about?

What are the weak points, choke points in the critical supply chains? There are dozens and dozens of them, important but small or inexpensive components that are often have limited sourcing.

+1 Economists haven't performed well at all during this crises. I've seen a lot of people patting themselves on the back for performing 'cost/benefit analysis' when in fact they do nothing of the sort. They just declare a shutdown will destroy the economy and throw their hands up.

How about considering what types of policies could make a shutdown less damaging in the short and long run? How about re-evaluating how our economy under-invests in reducing fat tail risks?

Instead we get sci-fi whatifs (Robin Hanson's team of volunteers to be infected) or impossible feats of mico-central planning (some central authority is going to decide that meat packers and glass vial makers are essential and have them live in their factories because, well, free market?).

I don’t think you were paying attention. Tyler posted such a model on May 4 from Daron Acemoglu et al and that’s not the only one that was posted
They write:
“The main message from our baseline results in the next subsection is that targeting has a major benefit in terms of both lives saved and reduced economic damage relative to optimal uniform policies”
They recommend locking down the vulnerable group, not everyone

I'm an essential worker (a doctor) and many of my patients are essential workers (housekeepers at the hospital, ER techs, grocery store workers).

One of the issues I see is that we (essential workers) are taking large pay cuts right now while taking on added risk (with minimal job security -> my hospital just laid off 60% of housekeepers and 20% of all nurses and told us that they may have to start laying off providers by this fall). Meanwhile many unemployed people are getting paid more than the grocery store clerks and hospital housekeepers who are being exposed to high risk.

To give one particularly egregious example, I have a 60 year old patient with obesity and poorly controlled diabetes who is still working at the local grocery store for about $12 per hour. Unemployment would pay her a lot better but if she quits she isn't eligible for unemployment. This is a ridiculous situation.

If we really are going to live like this for 12-24 months waiting for a vaccine (and you want those of us in essential industries to keep working while others shelter in place), we need:
1. Hazard pay for essential workers (not necessarily doctors but definitely for grocery clerks, nurses, etc).
2. The opportunity for high risk essential workers to quit and still get unemployment (ie if you are a 60 year old grocery store worker with multiple comorbidities).
3. Housing options for essential workers who don't want to expose their families to the virus.
4. Some form of life insurance / payment for essential workers families when the worker dies on the job.

I really don't understand why these things aren't being talked about yet. I'm a doctor so I'm doing OK (although my income is down 75% and is unlikely to recover any time soon!). But many of my patients are being exposed to large risks for no benefit (less pay than the unemployed get).

If we really are going to live like this for 12-24 months waiting for a vaccine

Yeah, there's no hazard pay, life insurance, housing options, or unemployment if we shut down for 12 months. Let alone 24 months.

Yes, it will be more than just meat shortages in 12 months.

Has anyone looked into the origin of the anti-masker meme? We sort of know where the anti-vaxer idea came from, but masks? This woud be a great project for some emterprzng anthorpolgist

I believe San Francisco had an anti-mask league form in response to the 1918 pandemic. In other news anti-vaxers are part of the 'open now protests'. You would have thought this thing would have shamed the movement into silence. I would have thought anti-vaxers would have liked the shutdown as it demonstrates there are ways tools to fight viruses beyond vaccines. Instead they've aligned with kooks who think there is no disease...or it's 5G towers and Bill Gates is using it to get rich selling the world a fake vaccine or something.

It seems to be human nature for some people to just be purposefully unhelpful.

Lol imagine falling for that trolling. The anti-maskers were literally the entire american health establishment. That’s the point of the troll retard.

Well the American medical establishment wasn't anti-mask. Even they said early on if you were caring for a sick person it made sense to wear one. I think we have cultural bias here. People in the US were used to not wearing masks except in special cases like in a hospital (even then maybe). It was some odd habit Asians had. They mindlessly assumed Americans know better and used wishful thinking to come up with excuses for why, horror, we didn't all have to walk around in funny masks.

Indeed it was a failure. But in 1918 the medical establishment after dealing with the flu for a year did support masks correctly and the anti-mask league was violently opposed despite the clear facts that they worked.

"I think we could get the meat processors back up and running with testing at the door and safety protocols."
The real world just does not follow clean, easy prescriptions. Packing plants, for instance, are huge places with doors, docks and access points all over, with inept persons running 'tests', with workers, drivers, maintenance and management people circulating all over the place.
And it isn't just packing plants that have seen outbreaks (cool, moist air notwithstanding)... other manufacturing facilities have, too.
It is so easy to go online and make clean, intellectual arguments - as so many do here - but the world outside does not fit the assumed model so neatly.

The data supporting the utility of cotton masks is pretty thin -- its like trying to stop flies with barbed wire. At best they seem to constitute a psychic protection and a reminder not to touch ones face. As a repository for bacteria and a talisman of invulnerability, they may constitute a net hazard. The University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy concluded unambiguously that "COVID-19 Masks for All is not Based on Sound Data"

surprised there has not been more talk about Vitamin D, the correlations are quite astounding relative to remdesivir, etc... 19.6 times more likely to have a mild case is absolutely insane, don't think supplementation is actually likely to reduce COVID deaths by 95% but even 10% would save thousands of lives... cheap, essentially zero risk, still mostly ignored  

universal daily testing is a fantasy, logistically unfeasible... 90% of infected have never been near a test and likely never will

You don't need universal daily testing. You could probably do 5-20M tests a day with antibody testing eliminating the need for retesting those who have already been infected.

Other 'tricks' are also viable. For example you can combine the samples of 10 people, test them. If negative you just saved 9 tests. If positive group into groups of 5 and redo.

"For example you can combine the samples of 10 people, test them. If negative you just saved 9 tests. If positive group into groups of 5 and redo."

Binary search algorithm is cool, but I don't think (please correct me if I am wrong) that you have any experience with lab procedures. Testing pooled samples is talked about (not actually done AFAIK) for monitoring high-risk asymptomatic groups, not for individual confirmation. Medical lab procedures are designed around preventing cross-contamination, not doing it on purpose. You would need new procedures, that will need to be approved, people trained, etc. (yes, labs are very, very bureaucratic places).

Ohhh well then, let's not do it. Not like this has been compared to a war or anything. God forbid we have to deal with 'new procedures'

Oh, so you're the "eff the rules, I know best how to do things" kind of man. I am sure you extend the same courtesy to the business owners who want to re-open despite lockdown orders.

People don't understand that when you relax and change procedures it heavily affects both type I and II errors and if we don't know what the error bars are the testing becomes fairly useless for population screening. Many of the approved tests have large error problems. Large type II errors would likely mean huge rates of false positives.

randomly testing <10% is pointless, might as well not test

remember, serology indicates we're *already* missing around 90% of those infected... at this point we can have little idea who is infected in any area unless everyone in the area gets tested

mass testing of the asymptomatic only seems useful in specific high-risk, high-spread areas like jails and nursing homes

Let people do it themselves then. Everyone gets one free test voucher per week. You can buy more tests on your own or get them, say, if you work in a meat packing plant with a bunch of people next to you and there's no 'work from home' option.

Someone you know says they feel sick. You get yourself tested and if positive work from home before you get symptoms but more importantly you stop spreading the virus yourself.

Perfect? No but Rt just has to be kept below 1 for the virus to burn itself out. If we get reliable antibody tests and reliably understand what type of immunity, if any, is conferred the demand for frequent testing will be further reduced.

that is roughly the state of testing now, you don't even need a voucher

but again, as we already proved this will do virtually nothing to halt the spread of disease itself b/c almost no one volunteers to be tested until they are hospitalized

and no, immunity does not help much at all... if there are enough immune to make a significance difference in testing load (i.e. >50%) then testing already completely failed to halt the infection anyway

Testing right now is not casual, not easy and still being rationed. If you want to be tested 'just because' it's still not so easy.

“ Instead, the people protesting to reopen the economy are also protesting against the use of a key tool to reopen the economy, masks! Welcome to crazy town.”

“THE” people? Really Alex? I’m sure there’s overlap between these groups but this is extremely smug and lazy.

You would think that by now no one takes these epidemiological models very seriously anymore.

>Social distancing, closing non-essential firms and working from home protect the vulnerable but these same practices protect workers in critical industries.

Only if you know, ex ante, what those critical industries will be...otherwise, you'll shut down the wrong industries.

Taking it one more step, who really thinks some model would have output "nasal swabs"? Much less the millions of other interconnections?? See also socialist calculation problem.

My son lives in a part Indiana that has a significant Amish population and he says farmers are paying the Amish to butcher there hogs. A skill that they have from butchering their own.

Packing plants also have the issue of break rooms, locker rooms, and security. The workers have to change clothes to work in parts of the plant. Due to being food production, workers have to take breaks in specific areas such as a company cafeteria.

Also, plants usually have security to keep the workers from stealing the meat.

All this adds but to employees being around each other without masks while at work but not while working with the meat.

A have been surprise that the big purchasers of meat such as Wendy's does not but a safety expert at the plant as a representative to force the company to comply with social distancing.

I just wanted to let all of you know that your lives would be significantly better right now if you would have purchased a Nintendo Switch and started playing Animal Crossing. It’s the cure for what ails most of you.

Naw, we would be attending your funeral playing Hannity episodes in the background chanting it was a democratic hoax designed to harm Trump.

As you can see, April is over and, without having done anything, it is sunshine in America.

Bill really doesn’t like Animal Crossing

That’s too bad. My family really enjoys it.

And instead of Hannity episodes, could Bill get Hannity to do a live broadcast graveside? If he could bring Trumps new Press Secretary, I have a few single friends that would enjoy meeting her.

And don’t worry about me Bill. My family and I prepped for this long ago. We will outlast all of you. Playing Animal Crossing long after you’re gone.

PS I hope I get a new villager today, Cube moved out and I miss him already.

Democrats should be applauding the deaths.

Not every dead person votes.

Every dead vote is a vote for a Democrat, though.


This is partisan trolling

The linked article has little useful information. There's an estimate of 10% of meatworkers "sickened" by CV-19, but no explanation if that means those with symptoms amounting to illness, or all those infected (in which case the number actually sick must be closer to 2-5%). I can't see 5% worker absence causing an industry to fail - even 10% would only decrease output. Maybe all the infected, ill or not, are being quarantined, but that's an effect of "protecting the vulnerable" counter to protecting the economy.

Much more likely that demand has shifted (panic buying and hoarding in response to reports of infections at meatworks) than supply has shifted - but this should be trivial to check the data. Never reason from a quantity change.

Meatworks certainly do seem vulnerable (one of the last clusters in Australia is from one) which only undermines Tabarrok's point - for efficiency you should harden the vulnerable points, not lockdown the whole country.

because I am in favor of getting back to work with mass testing

Your testing fetish is one reason your readers don't take you seriously.

Disagree. Testing is not a fetish. It's what has worked elsewhere. And, quite well.

Death is a fetish to some.

What works is impeding the transmission of the virus. The testing produces information, which is helpful, but does not impede the spread of the virus. In any case, we're likely at capacity for testing as is.

If you do not understand that testing and isolation impedes the spread, I doubt you have sufficient knowledge or understanding to continue a discussion on this subject

Since everyone is big on testing, how will it get done?

Use Social Security numbers and people go to stations?

A new draft lottery?

Come to our door like a census worker?

I go from house to garage/car to work and work in a small family business, so I’m with the same people.

If flying to the US, will no one with temperatures be allowed on the plane?

Will domestic be the same?

The US appears to be threading the needle where we will both have wreaked our economy and done poorly in terms of deaths per capita. Although US did "lockdown" our lockdown, as draconian as it may seem, has been "leaky." CNN has good article demonstrating how the US lockdown has been relatively mild:

The US is also relatively weak on testing, tracing and isolating. While the heavy-handed Chinese approach would not work, why can't we test massively, trace and help people isolate? Tracing could be done by apps or the old-fashioned way, by calling and contacting people. There are plenty of unemployed people who could be trained to do this work. Hotels are sitting half empty, people could be encouraged to self-isolate in hotels, with food brought to them.

I see but conservatives and Trump supporters arguing for opening the economy. I agree that we should take steps to reopen the economy. But the test, trace and isolate infrastructure seems nowhere near adequate to do so without risking substantial spreading of the virus. Why isn't there more of an outcry for systematic testing, tracing, and isolating? The Trump/Fox News approach appears to be downplay, open up and declare victory and just live with 2,000-3,000 deaths per day.
This approach seems shortsighted at best. If you tell vulnerable people to stay home, what kind of economy will you have with folks over 60, the obese, those with compromised immune systems, and people who live with vulnerable people staying home?

I suspect the 'open' movement is simply a political operation to try to get the virus off the headlines before the November election.

“ I was stunned to learn that glass vials may be a bottleneck”

Maybe, just maybe it wasn’t a good idea to have the glass bottle market funneled thru a storage unit in Tennessee. Or maybe we should have had them all funneled through Tennessee. I’m kinda conflicted.

So, just to be clear - we're sure the masks are "saving lives" despite more than 70,000 dead? Just not saving those lives?

Hard to argue a counter-factual (which is the crux of this whole thing). If you look at the data it looks like "super spreading events" have basically stopped in America.

Is that due to restrictions on mass gatherings? Or use of masks? We don't - and can't - know (unless some states loosen one restriction but not the other which seems unlikely as of today).

Does it? I hope that's true. A friend of mine yesterday said, so much for sunshine and greater fitness - it's now spreading among construction workers ... I didn't look up whatever (presumably local) report she was referring to, but I could see it happening. Less because the men are passing it around coughing spread out over a construction site than because: if single, they tend to live together with other men from Mexico, often in over-crowded trailers; or if they have families, they *might* tend to be related to people working in the back of restaurants, or in the grocery store ... and thus subject to household exposure also.

Or just because this thing is potentially so unprecedentedly contagious that the wearing of these gross napkins is conferring about as much protection as a shaman donning his mask.

On NextDoor they've proposed we get together and howl at the moon; place encouraging, inane signs in our yards ("It's gonna be all right", the shorter but even more asinine Son of "In This House We Believe"); place bears in our windows; there's a woman who walks around with a placard thanking first responders; there are sweet chalked messages all over the sidewalks - do jumping jacks, silly dance, be happy, etc. - and some of the chalk drawings are pretty good - Pinterest manifest. So I'm thinking a cute neighborhood thing to do in this vein would be for us all to trade toothbrushes. I think it would go viral.

I am not convinced of a threat to meat security by this post.

The ARSTechnica article linked to AT's claim that the meat industry is failing has a subtitle that "Consumers are starting to see meat shortages after thousands of workers fall ill." But the only example cited is a Wendy's. The NYT article linked cites some industry executives who say some products might not be available, but there is optimism at the end: "Still, grocery executives say the shortages are only temporary and that most meat remains available, even if certain products have become more scarce. And some major meatpacking facilities have reopened, including the Smithfield pork plant in Sioux Falls."

You can't deny the plant closures, but they must be temporary and a small part of the supply chain or we would be seeing meat prices rise. Two days ago at Kroger, boneless skinless breast was $1.99/lbs, ground beef was $4/lbs, and a pork tenderloin was $7.

Is the market merely getting more volatile? Is the argument that lockdowns meaningfully decrease the threat to meat packing pretty thin and just a red herring for a boomer who lives the secure lifestyle of an academic?

+1, good points. I assumed that the articles were fundamentally correct,. But I should know better, and be more skeptical of how it's reported.

Is there not concern that the decisions producers may make, about restocking, after encountering difficulty selling their animals?

I care little for meat myself, and wouldn't buy it at all if I weren't cooking for a second person who does "brainwork" and is convinced meat is the most efficient thing to eat.

Someone somewhere the other day said, you realize that loss of supply in one sector of our food doesn't automatically mean it's made up in another (beans or vegetables or whatever). However, as this pandemic has obliquely reminded us, Americans could lose part of their food supply and not starve, only become more svelte.

"In researching vaccine production I was stunned to learn that glass vials may be a bottleneck."

If you read John M. Barry's "The Great Influenza" you might be amazed that all of these top Johns Hopkins and Rockefeller Institute scientists would actually rather clean the glassware themselves, and have their assistants run the actual experiments. Having worked in a chemistry lab I can only imagine the tediousness of this task and how crucial it is to a successful experiment.

Am I the only one who doesn't find "X% of company/facility Y are sick with COVID!" scary at all? Ok, let's say 100% of a meat packing plant get infected. Given that those facilities usually don't staff elderly workers, around 0.1% of them will pass away and around 1% of them will need to visit the hospital. After 3-4 weeks everyone will recover and go back to work immune. End of story.

Meanwhile the media makes it look as if the meat packing plants have to shutter down forever, as all of their workers will now die...

See my post one or two up. Typical boomer with artificial, secure income trying to stave off infection using microphone to secure life as long as possible. American steak will only get better with feeders getting a few more weeks of grain before slaughter.

The Australian Chief Medical officer is specifically warning AGAINST using using the same condom for different partners.

Consider the possibility that most governments, whether relatively performing better or worse in the battle against the virus, still don't really know what they are doing or what works, and that most of the results are luck.

Consider Australia, it's starting to emerge in research communities down here that our mass exposure to sunlight (which causes us to have the worst skin cancer rates in the world) might have saved us from the worst of the virus.

90% of our population live within a few miles of a beach.

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