18 Nov 2020

BMS ep 164: Arguments on Mask Mandates

Bob Murphy Show, Coronavirus 36 Comments

This starts with broccoli but ends with ice cream. Specifically, I point out that one of Biden’s Transition Team covid-19 experts back in June came out with stern warnings about mask mandates.

36 Responses to “BMS ep 164: Arguments on Mask Mandates”

  1. Harold says:

    Bob, I feel your pain. For people who believe masks are a bad idea they will see any evidence as supporting it. Many find it difficult to support the position that mandates are bad even if masks reduce infections and universal wearing will lead to fewer deaths. Therefore they have to claim that masks do not work, masksare actually harmful, there is no problem to begin with or that mandates will lead to reduced mask wearing.

    As you say, it is perfectly possible to support the claim that masks work but they should not be mandated because people’s freedom to not wear masks is more important than saving lives.

    The other claim is more difficult, I would say impossible now that it has become politicised. If you don’t want to wear a mask you must either not think they work or not care about others to the extent you will not do this simple thing. Few will admit to the latter, so we are still left with the belief they do not work or that there is no problem to begin with. Most of those that don’t think masks work are also less concerned about Covid-19 generally, in part because someone kept telling them it was like a flu and it would go away. These people will not wear a mask without a mandate. It seems probable that some of them will with a mandate. It is also possible that more will refuse, but that is a sad indictment that people are prepared for others to die for their small freedom to be maskless.

    Small point, but surgeons generally do not wear N95 masks, but surgical masks.

    I often appeal to evidence and data, but it has very little effect. People just pick the sources that back up what they want to believe. This will often require a deep suspicion of certain sources, such a media or peer reviewed journals so they can be avoided. For example, the CDC will be treated as unreliable, so I can point to CDC reports showing that masks work, but this evidence will be dismissed.. You can’t believe anything they say.

    It is very difficult to get someone to make an argument for not wearing masks that does not rely on highly selective sources. Since reliable sources are rejected all that is left is “I saw it on blog or video”, which is also seen as somehow not too convincing. All that is left is the non sequitur, as you describe.

    • random person says:

      “Risks of N95 Face Mask Use in Subjects With COPD”
      Sun Young Kyung, Yujin Kim, Hyunjoong Hwang, Jeong-Woong Park and Sung Hwan Jeong
      Respiratory Care May 2020, 65 (5) 658-664; DOI: doi [dot ] org [slash] 10.4187/respcare.06713

      http://rc.rcjournal.com/content/65/5/658

      Definitely more than a blog or a video.

      The final sentence of the conclusion reads, “Also, patients should be warned to remove the N95s immediately on the onset of dyspnea, headache, or dizziness.”

      The text of the study mentions that, “Most of the subjects (n = 6) in the mask failure group removed the mask during the 6MWT due to low SpO2 or CO2 retention. All the subjects exhibited decreased SpO2, increased PETCO2, and dyspnea.”

      SpO2 is oxygen saturation. And, according to Hamilton Medical, “​In general, PetCO2 value represents a reliable index of CO2 partial pressure in the arterial blood (PaCO2) (measured using blood gas analysis (BGA)). To get the most accurate approximation of PaCO2, the second highest PetCO2 value out of 8 breaths is used.” So if I am correctly understanding the article, the N95s reduced oxygen saturation and increased carbon dioxide partial pressure in arterial blood even in the COPD patients who succeeded in wearing the N95 masks, just not to the extreme that they felt they had to take them off. However, in a few patients, the effect was severe enough that they felt they had to remove the masks.

      Obviously, this one study doesn’t prove that no one should ever wear N95s, and certainly not that no one should ever wear other types of masks. The study even encourages cautious mask-wearing. But it also comes with a rather huge disclaimer. “Also, patients should be warned to remove the N95s immediately on the onset of dyspnea, headache, or dizziness.” In other words, wearers of N95 masks should monitor their symptoms and remove their masks if certain symptoms appear.

      Now, the study doesn’t test cloth masks, but there are people with asthma and other breathing conditions who have alleged that they have trouble breathing with such masks on, and I don’t think we should disbelieve them, just because their reports are anecdotal, any more than we should disbelieve reports of food allergy reactions, just because they are anecdotal, and this study does at least lend credence to such claims.

      It’s fairly standard for medicine and medical equipment to carry such disclaimers. Discontinue use if you experience any potentially serious side effects, such as [whatever the list of potentially serious side effects is]. It seems obvious, to me at least, that mandating people take a medicine or use a particular piece of medical equipment regardless of the symptoms they experience crosses the boundary from responsible medicine to medical tyranny.

      And it does raise questions. If N95s can cause such side effects in some COPD patients, could N95s or other types of masks also have less noticeable, but still undesirable, effects in people with healthier lungs? (Which I suppose is a question to be answered by other studies.)

    • random person says:

      Another thing is that, even if we assume for the sake of argument that masks are helpful when used properly, for some definition of properly, it’s not reasonable to assume that people who are compelled to wear masks by a mandate will all be wearing them properly.

      For example, I have had multiple people confess to me that, on occasions when they couldn’t find their mask or had lost it, they picked up a used mask off the sidewalk or ground and used that. Some of the people who confessed this were homeless, and a few were not homeless. None of them seemed to think it was a particularly good idea to use masks that had been discarded by others, except in so far as it brought them into compliance with mask mandates. One homeless man said that he prayed the mask he picked up off the sidewalk wasn’t contaminated with COVID or anything, but decided that it was less risky to take a mask off the sidewalk than to miss lunch because he wasn’t wearing a mask.

      A number of homeless people I spoke to also complained that it was literally impossible for them to wash their masks properly, especially since a number of charities which previously offered laundry services to the homeless have apparently stopped providing laundry services.

      If masks were voluntary and not mandated, we might expect that a person who had misplaced or lost their mask would simply not wear one until able to obtain a new, sanitary one (or find their old one), rather than resorting to picking up a used mask off the sidewalk. One might also expect that, if masks were voluntary and not mandated, homeless people without access to laundry facilities to wash their masks properly would only wear masks temporarily after someone had offered them a fresh, disposable mask, and would forgo repeated re-use of unwashed masks.

  2. random person says:

    Somewhere in there, you mention that some people suggesting just protecting the elderly and the vulnerable by just isolating them, and you point out people would still need to bring food and stuff to the elderly and the vulnerable (I can’t recall exactly how you worded it, but anyway), and I would like to point out that in a number of nursing homes, people have taken the idea of “protecting” the elderly and the vulnerable from COVID-19 has been taken to the extreme of not bringing them food.

    For example, when the Spanish army went into Spanish nursing homes on a disinfection mission, they found out some elderly residents “completely abandoned” and even “dead in their beds”.

    https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/03/24/820711855/spanish-military-finds-dead-bodies-and-seniors-completely-abandoned-in-care-home

    Propublica published the story of one Natasha Roland of New York who rescued her 82-year-old father from a “care” home where he hadn’t been given food for a week, wasn’t being given is his medication, and had apparently come down with coronavirus, even after the care home administrator had repeatedly lied to her and told her he was fine.

    www [dot] propublica [dot] org/video/rescuing-her-father-from-an-assisted-living-facility-in-the-coronavirus-epicenter

    It’s worth pointing out that, according to an article published back in June, nearly half the COVID-19 deaths in the United States were, in one way or another, linked to nursing homes.

    nypost [dot] com/2020/06/27/almost-half-of-us-covid-19-deaths-are-linked-to-nursing-homes/

    Although it looks like more recent statistics bring the percent of US COVID-19 deaths linked to nursing homes down to 38%.

    www [dot] nytimes [dot] com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-nursing-homes.html?action=click&module=Spotlight&pgtype=Homepage

    The article also mentions that, “In 17 states, at least half of deaths are linked to nursing homes.”

    In Sweden, the idea of “protecting” the ederly from COVID-19 has gone to the extreme of involuntarily euthanizing COVID-19 patients, and, according to PBS, the instructions regarding this came from the very top.

    www [dot] pbs [dot] org/newshour/show/denmark-and-sweden-responded-differently-to-the-pandemic-how-did-they-fare

    This article is quite explicit about the method of euthanasia used in Sweden.
    mercatornet [dot] com/did-covid-19-open-the-door-to-euthanasia-in-sweden/63962/

    To quote that article:

    “Older people are routinely being given morphine and midazolam, which are respiratory-inhibiting,” he told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper.

    And speaking in the Aftonbladet Daily, another newspaper, he was more specific:

    In elderly homes, in principle, only palliative care has been prescribed, which means that you get morphine, midazolam and haldol to prevent being nauseated and vomited by morphine. It is a treatment that almost almost 100 percent certainly leads to death. Giving both midazolam and morphine inhibits breathing. If you have trouble breathing, you quickly get such an oxygen deficiency that you die.

    Was this euthanasia? Gustafsson was blunt. Yes, he said. “Yes, I could almost imagine using even stronger words. That it is about the same as these people being killed. It’s basically a hundred percent way, much like the electric chair. It is about as effective.”

    • random person says:

      To contextualize this problem, consider the large number of law firms specializing in the area of nursing home abuse and neglect.

      Also consider allegations of what some call “stealth euthanasia” by people like Ron Panzer.

      https://web.archive.org/web/20201102054807/http://www.hospicepatients.org/this-thing-called-hospice.html

      So, if nursing home abuse and neglect was already enough of a problem to attract the attention of a significant number of law firms pre-lockdown, and bad enough to draw allegations of stealth euthanasia from some people such as Ron Panzer, it’s not surprising that lockdowns – in particular, the aspect of not allowing family and other visitors into nursing homes (which was done even in Sweden) – have apparently exacerbated the situation in some nursing homes.

    • random person says:

      Also of interest, respiratory illnesses in general are more deadly in the nursing home context, see for example:

      “Paramyxovirus Outbreak in a Long-Term Care Facility: The Challenges of Implementing Infection Control Practices in a Congregate Setting”

      https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/infection-control-and-hospital-epidemiology/article/paramyxovirus-outbreak-in-a-longterm-care-facility-the-challenges-of-implementing-infection-control-practices-in-a-congregate-setting/6B8A94211F5CA02FE72A1F06ED164440/core-reader

    • random person says:

      Just came across this, while I was actually searching for something else, but anyway.

      It’s titled, “Millions of Americans can’t stay home with the flu, so it spreads: In America, paid sick leave is not guaranteed.” It’s dated February 13, 2018.

      https://www.popsci.com/flu-season-paid-sick-leave/

      It’s a reminder that, not long ago, not only were people not required to stay home when sick (usually, I’m sure there were exceptions), but many were not in a position where they could afford to. Some of the arguments in the article, regarding the flu, are similar to present day arguments regarding COVID-19. For example, the author writes, “A healthy young adult isn’t likely to die from influenza. But that person’s grandmother is, and she’d be at a lower risk of contracting the virus in the first place if we all stayed home when we felt ill.”

      But the recommendations the author makes are far more moderate than present day recommendations about lockdowns and whatnot. Mostly the author recommends paid sick leave.

      For example,

      That same CEPR report found that “nursing homes that provide their employees with paid sick days have lower rates of respiratory and gastrointestinal illness among the patients they serve.” What’s more, entire countries that offer paid sick leave have better prospects come flu season.

      Today, many still aren’t in a position to afford to be able stay home when sick, and yet many are required to stay home even if they aren’t sick and even if they can’t afford it. I’ve met panhandlers who say they became homeless because of the lockdowns and describe lockdown policies in ways like, “Stay home until you lose your home.”

      It really makes me wonder why our culture couldn’t have tried more moderate interventions, like paying people to stay home when sick instead of demanding they stay home even when not sick and even if they aren’t able to financially make ends meet while staying home.

  3. Harold says:

    “Somewhere in there, you mention that some people suggesting just protecting the elderly and the vulnerable by just isolating them, and you point out people would still need to bring food and stuff to the elderly and the vulnerable (I can’t recall exactly how you worded it, but anyway),”

    i don’t know what comment specifically, but I have have said that separating the old from the young would be a way to mitigate the worst problems of Covid, but that I could not see a way to do it. The Great Barrington Declaration suggests this, but offers absolutely no way to achieve it. It is like saying we could stop all Covid spread if we could stop people breathing. True but useless. It is very easy to point out the easy part, but unless you adress the hard part your contribution is useless.

    i think this is where the attenton shoud be focused -how could we construct a society where the old are separated from the young. It is not easy. I have hope that now a vaccine is imminemt we don’t need to solve this problem, Just keep cases low for a while and the vaccine will solve it for us. I hope I am not being too optimistic.

    Regarding paid sick leave, this is something that can claerly benefit everyone. Mostly in Europe this is accepted. Sure, there is probably some abuse, but the benefits are clear.

    On masks, we all know that wearing a 2 layer cloth or surgical mask is not a problem for the vast majority of people.. Don’t make the exception the rule.

    • random person says:

      Apologies, just then, I mean “you” as in Bob Murphy. He said something to that effect in his episode. However, I realize that you (as in Harold) have also expressed similar sentiments at times. Sorry for the confusion. I should have been more explicit.

      i don’t know what comment specifically, but I have have said that separating the old from the young would be a way to mitigate the worst problems of Covid, but that I could not see a way to do it. The Great Barrington Declaration suggests this, but offers absolutely no way to achieve it. It is like saying we could stop all Covid spread if we could stop people breathing. True but useless. It is very easy to point out the easy part, but unless you adress the hard part your contribution is useless.

      That’s actually a good analogy. If people stopped breathing, they would stop spreading COVID-19, but have worse problems, like all being dead within 5 minutes or so. If we separated the old from the young, it would stop the young from spreading COVID-19 to the old, but soon many of the old would have worse problems, like dehydration, starvation, and lack of help with sanitation.

      i think this is where the attenton shoud be focused -how could we construct a society where the old are separated from the young.

      I think it’s the wrong direction to go in. It’s not even what many of the elderly want. Even if they could somehow be cared for by robots, many elderly fear loneliness more than they fear death.

      See for example,
      “Covid-19 has terminally ill in Victoria fearing dying alone if they go into palliative care: Cancer Council says people nearing death want to be with those they love rather than be isolated and lonely”
      by Melissa Davey
      www [dot] theguardian [dot] com/australia-news/2020/sep/21/covid-19-has-terminally-ill-in-victoria-fearing-dying-alone-if-they-go-into-palliative-care

      I think Zeynep Tufekci has the right idea about ventilation.

      “We Need to Talk About Ventilation: How is it that six months into a respiratory pandemic, we are still doing so little to mitigate airborne transmission?”
      https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/07/why-arent-we-talking-more-about-airborne-transmission/614737/

      Zeynep Tufekci writes,

      In multiple studies, researchers have found that COVID-19’s secondary attack rate, the proportion of susceptible people that one sick person will infect in a circumscribed setting, such as a household or dormitory, can be as low as 10 to 20 percent. In fact, many experts I spoke with remarked that COVID-19 was less contagious than many other pathogens, except when it seemed to occasionally go wild in super-spreader events, infecting large numbers of people at once, across distances much greater than the droplet range of three to six feet. Those who argue that COVID-19 can spread through aerosol routes point to the prevalence and conditions of these super-spreader events as one of the most important pieces of evidence for airborne transmission.

      Saskia Popescu, an infectious-disease epidemiologist, emphasized to me that we should not call these “super-spreaders,” referring only to the people, but “super-spreader events,” because they seem to occur in very particular settings—an important clue. People don’t emit an equal amount of aerosols during every activity: Singing emits more than talking, which emits more than breathing. And some people could be super-emitters of aerosols. But that’s not all. The super-spreader–event triad seems to rely on three V’s: venue, ventilation, and vocalization. Most super-spreader events occur at an indoor venue, especially a poorly ventilated one (meaning air is not being exchanged, diluted, or filtered), where lots of people are talking, chanting, or singing. Some examples of where super-spreader events have taken place are restaurants, bars, clubs, choir practices, weddings, funerals, cruise ships, nursing homes, prisons, and meatpacking plants.

      Apparently, there was a case of a tuberculosis outbreak that was solved by improving ventilation.

      “Effect of ventilation improvement during a tuberculosis outbreak in underventilated university buildings”

      onlinelibrary [dot] wiley [dot] com/doi/full/10.1111/ina.12639

      The role of ventilation in preventing tuberculosis (TB) transmission has been widely proposed in infection control guidance. However, conclusive evidence is lacking. Modeling suggested the threshold of ventilation rate to reduce effective reproductive ratio (ratio between new secondary infectious cases and source cases) of TB to below 1 is corresponding to a carbon dioxide (CO2) level of 1000 parts per million (ppm). Here, we measured the effect of improving ventilation rate on a TB outbreak involving 27 TB cases and 1665 contacts in underventilated university buildings. Ventilation engineering decreased the maximum CO2 levels from 3204 ± 50 ppm to 591‐603 ppm. Thereafter, the secondary attack rate of new contacts in university dropped to zero (mean follow‐up duration: 5.9 years). Exposure to source TB cases under CO2 >1000 ppm indoor environment was a significant risk factor for contacts to become new infectious TB cases (P < .001). After adjusting for effects of contact investigation and latent TB infection treatment, improving ventilation rate to levels with CO2 <1000 ppm was independently associated with a 97% decrease (95% CI: 50%‐99.9%) in the incidence of TB among contacts. These results show that maintaining adequate indoor ventilation could be a highly effective strategy for controlling TB outbreaks.

      Regarding paid sick leave, this is something that can claerly benefit everyone. Mostly in Europe this is accepted. Sure, there is probably some abuse, but the benefits are clear.

      I agree. I long felt it was a cultural peculiarity of the United States (and perhaps so many other places too) that so many employers were so reluctant to offer sick leave, and so many customers didn’t seem to care. It seems to me that, for example in the food service industry, I should expect that people should feel more comfortable buying food from restaurants that gave their employees sick leave. However, Puritan values about hard work and just pushing through it seemed to override common sense, as a cultural matter. But one thing that really struck me when reading that article was that, although radical by 2018 standards, it was incredibly moderate by 2020 standards.

      I’m not exactly sure how the concept of paid sick leave could be extended to people such as day laborers and buskers. Perhaps this indicates a lack of creativity on my part. I recall reading something about Ivorian farm workers pooling money together to go to the pharmacy when someone got sick, but I don’t think that’s quite the same thing as paid sick leave. However, even if it was only applied to people working for large companies that are presumably able to afford it, that would still have been a substantial improvement relative to what the status quo was back in 2018

      Harold wrote,

      On masks, we all know that wearing a 2 layer cloth or surgical mask is not a problem for the vast majority of people.. Don’t make the exception the rule.

      It’s true that the exception isn’t the rule, but, arguably, an exception is a good reason not to leave the enforcement of the rule up to either police or vigilantes. Also, an exception may also be reason for further investigation. If some people with severe asthma react adversely to even short term mask usage, what might the effect be on someone who doesn’t have severe asthma, but has to work 12 hour shifts under stressful conditions?

      Arguably, the Canadian health authorities have a more balanced approach, advising the use of masks, while also reminding people that there are exceptions, and that people should therefore refrain from being judgmental and not “assume that someone who isn’t wearing a mask or is wearing something different doesn’t have an actual reason for it.”

      www [dot] ctvnews [dot] ca/health/coronavirus/masks-problematic-for-asthmatic-autistic-deaf-and-hard-of-hearing-health-advocates-1.4948802

      It’s also worth pointing out that while homeless people are a minority (at least in the United States), they represent a disproportionate percent of the people who are not at home at any given point in time (since, by definition, a homeless person doesn’t have a home to be at), and are therefore subject to mask mandates which apply whenever a person is not at home.

      • random person says:

        Here’s another article about the benefits of ventilation, although it involves a “computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation of airflow field and virus dispersion” rather than a real world study.

        “Ventilation of general hospital wards for mitigating infection risks of three kinds of viruses including Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus”
        https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1420326X16631596

        This study investigates the effectiveness of ventilation design strategies for general hospital wards in terms of virus removal capacity. A typical semi-enclosed six-bed general ward of Hong Kong hospitals and three respiratory viruses, namely Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and H1N1 influenza virus, were chosen for the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation of airflow field and virus dispersion inside the ward. The results demonstrated that the location of an infected patient would affect the infection risks to other occupants and healthcare workers inside the same hospital ward, and an increased air change rate in the ward could reduce the risk of infection from direct contact and inhalation. It was found that an air change rate of 9 h−1 could effectively minimize the deposition and floating time of respiratory virus particles while maximizing energy efficiency. This study should provide a useful source of reference for the hospital management to mitigate the risk of infection with MERS or other airborne transmitted viruses through better ventilation design strategies.

      • Harold says:

        The idea of reccommending masks for all but being tolerant of the few who cannot do so for reasonable reasons works very well in society that has certain shared basic values. Unfortunarely, the USA is not such a societry and hence these reasonable and basic principles cannot work.

        These principles give some adavantges in a cut and thrust capitalist environment. USA has done very well from them. but it has left a lot of people behind, and in a pandemic it has left a lot of people dead.

        Just on masks, say the scientists are right, and if eveyone wore masks we would reduce transmission by some factor and those getting th dsisease woud likely have a milder version of it,. Then if everyone did wear a mask, we woud reduce transmission by that factor, and that many feweer people would have contracted Covid-19., and that many fewer people would have died.

        The evidence is not 100% so there is a chance the scientists are wrong. That chance is quite small, but possible.

        It seems obvious that a sensible societywould adopt mask wearing. That assumes that the society has shared vales,values other members of the society and will act accordingly.

        This provides gret strength for that society, but also a great vulnerabilty to coersion from a dictaotor.

        it seems to me that USA has fetishised the individual beyond the point where it is providinng useful defense against tyranny and is just counter productive in collecive action againsts a problem like a pandemic.

        The big problem is that those arguing for the individual are not accepting eviednce. You could make a case for letting covid run rampant and accepting the deaths. Nobody made that case. Tney made an imaginaru cae that covid was not a problem. If someone genuinely made the case that we should carry on with no social distancing and accept over 1 million deaths then we could argue the plusses and mnuses. What has happened is that we have argued about facts. Arguing about facts is pointless because facts are true and reality willl prevail. Nonetheless, it may be a short term benefit for some people to deny this.

        Despite the denialists, 1/4 of a million Americams have died of Covid-19. This pandemic is a tragedy and there is no point in denying it. Alll that really matters is plotting a best course to minimise the impact. People are going to continue to die of thiis, but plausibly a vaccine will stop in its tracks early next year. Until then, we have a choice to make about how many poeple will die.

        • random person says:

          At least with respect to mask wearing, I would say that Canada is much more individualistic than the USA.

          In US political discourse, I’ve often gotten the sense that “individualism” is often promoted by people who don’t really believe in it. For example, it seems that some people proclaiming to be individualists, seem less interested in considering their opponents as individuals, than in simply smearing their opponents as “collectivists”.

          Ayn Rand comes to my mind as one of the more blatant examples of this, who alleged that the native Americans did not have “respect for individual rights” at the same time as she defended the genocide of native Americans.

          https://www.salon.com/2015/10/14/libertarian_superstar_ayn_rand_defended_genocide_of_savage_native_americans/

          While Ayn Rand is a rather blatant example, I don’t think the United States suffers from too much individualism, I think the United States suffers from too much fake individualism where alleged proponents of individualism only grant the mantle of “individual” to favored peoples.

          Respecting exemptions has less to do with distorted ideas about individualism in the United States, and more to do with medical ideals such as “Do no harm.” Perhaps an absolutely literal interpretation of “do no harm” is impossible, because mistakes happen, but reasonable efforts to “do no harm” include warning lists of potential side effects, including some which are serious enough to discontinue use of a drug, device, or other intervention. Reasonable efforts to “do no harm” also include warning labels for common food allergens like peanuts. Forcing a patient to continue use of a drug, device, or other intervention, even after the patient has stated that they experienced a potentially severe side effect, seems, in my opinion, an obvious violation of the Hippocratic Oath.

        • random person says:

          You could make a case for letting covid run rampant and accepting the deaths. Nobody made that case. Tney made an imaginaru cae that covid was not a problem. If someone genuinely made the case that we should carry on with no social distancing and accept over 1 million deaths then we could argue the plusses and mnuses. What has happened is that we have argued about facts. Arguing about facts is pointless because facts are true and reality willl prevail. Nonetheless, it may be a short term benefit for some people to deny this.

          I assume you are familiar with the term “playing God”? It is sometimes used to refer to acts of choosing who will live and who will die, in cases where not everyone can be saved.

          If in order to save some people from COVID (at least for a particular method of saving, such as a lockdown), we have to let other people die of child abuse, domestic violence, nursing home abuse and neglect, and invountary euthanasia, this is, in my view at least, is “playing God”.

          Yes, people are dying of COVID-19, just as in the past people have died of other respiratory illnesses, but people are also dying of lockdown-induced child abuse, domestic violence, nursing home abuse and neglect, and involuntary euthanasia. It’s true that deaths from child abuse, domestic violence, nursing home abuse and neglect, and involuntary euthanasia predate lockdowns, but it’s also true that lockdowns have caused these problems to increase, due to the loss of oversight which in the past served to mitigate these problems. In the case of nursing home abuse and neglect and involuntary euthanasia, I think it’s safe to say that these deaths overlap with COVID-19 deaths. I don’t think it takes a genius to recognize that someone who receives proper hydration, nutrition, and other care, and it’s overdosed on morphine, is more likely to survive COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses than someone who is severely dehydrated, not receiving food, not receiving other necessary care, and in some cases, is being overdosed on morphine.

          There’s a number of ways to look at playing God. Some might argue that playing God is okay, provided the total number of lives saved is greater than the total number of lives sacrificed. Some might use a weighted system where they care more about certain lives than others, whereby it’s okay to kill a lot of people to save a few, so long as the few are the people you care about the most For example, rich people might care about other rich people more than they care about poor people. I believe lockdowns primarily benefit rich people who can afford to stay home, and are not at risk of abuse or neglect. A lockdown involves sacrificing people who are poor enough to, say, lose their home as a result of the lockdown, as well as people who experience increased abuse, neglect, or involuntary euthanasia as the result of the lockdown (regardless of whether they are poor or not), in order to save those who are rich enough to self-isolate anyway, but want to reduce the risk of those poor people, abuse and neglect victims, and involuntary euthanasia victims spreading the virus to them, the cost to those people be d****ed.

          Others might argue that it is never acceptable to kill one person to save another, or even one hundred others. This of course involves making some distinction between what counts as killing and what counts as merely allowing someone to do. In my view, deaths from violent interventions such as mandatory lockdowns count as people who have been killed, whereas allowing the virus to spread naturally (but not under forceful conditions, like holding people in various institutions against their will) is allowing people to die, but not actually killing them.

          Others might ask, well, are there any ways we can save lives that don’t rise to the level of playing God (i.e. sacrificing some people to save other people). For example, allowing people who can afford to voluntarily self-isolate and do not feel themselves at undue risk of abuse or neglect to do so, but not forcing people who can’t afford to self-isolate, or do feel themselves to be at undue risk of abuse or neglect, to also self-isolate against their will. Or simple things like opening windows and improving ventilation.

          • random person says:

            Sorry for typo.

            “it’s overdosed” -> “isn’t overdosed”

          • random person says:

            Note that I recognize that there are some people who die as a result of abuse and neglect, and others who do not die (at least not immediately), but do experienced increased suffering (and will probably have a shorter lifespan in the long run as a result of the increased stress).

            Arguably both matter. The ones who are killed by their abusers, or neglected to death, may be easier to tally, but human suffering also matters, even if it can’t easily be quantified.

            Likewise with poor people losing their homes. I realize that, in most cases, homelessness is not equivalent to an immediate death sentence. But it probably will shorten their lifespan, and increase their suffering. For people who are so poor they lose the ability to afford food, death is likely to come much sooner. (Although I realize there’s a lot of grey, e.g. poor people who can still afford some food, but perhaps have to go down from two meals a day to one meal a day.)

        • random person says:

          Harold wrote (typos corrected),

          They made an imaginary case that covid was not a problem.

          “They” is a bit vague. It is true that some people have argued that Covid is not a problem, or at least not a sufficiently severe problem that they wished to concern themselves with it. Arguably all problems are relative anyway, so someone who feels more threatened by the prospect of starvation, homelessness, or abuse or neglect, is not necessarily making an “imaginary” case, merely a relative case.

          But another point is that just because someone is critical of one or more recommendations made by the WHO or CDC or society in general, does not mean that they don’t think COVID-19 is a problem.

          https://www.propublica.org/video/rescuing-her-father-from-an-assisted-living-facility-in-the-coronavirus-epicenter

          Natasha Roland is an excellent example of this. If you listen to her interview with Propublica, she very clearly was taking COVID-19 seriously. But she was also very critical of the specific part of the lockdown most relevant to her: the prohibition of visiting relatives in nursing homes. She describes how in her case, this lead to her father being neglected nearly to death. How it made it possible for the nursing home administrator to lie to her. How she regrets believing him for as long as she did. How she took nonviolent direct action by rescuing her father from the nursing home in spite of the lockdown, by taking her chance when no one was at the front desk to stop her. Natasha Roland argues, “These residents need to go somewhere where people care about them.”

          The specific lockdown policy Natasha Roland is opposing is one that is, unfortunately, being advocated, perhaps out of ignorance, even by supporters of so-called “minimal” lockdowns.

          And her case is not isolated. Nursing home abuse and neglect has clearly risen as a result of lockdowns, included so-called “minimal” lockdowns. Sweden apparently went so far as to involuntarily euthanize a lot of nursing home residents.

      • Harold says:

        “Apologies, just then, I mean “you” as in Bob Murphy. ”

        It is I who should apologise. It is very presumptuous of me to assume that you were directing that comment to me on Bob’s blog. Sorry.

        • random person says:

          Nah, it wasn’t presumptuous, especially considering we talk to each other a lot more than either of us talk to Bob, presumably because he is busy with other matters.

  4. JimS says:

    I went to Nuclear, Biological, and Nuclear Warfare School in the Marine Corps. Pretty much everything we are doing and they are recommending is of minimal or completely ineffective. The COVID virus is smaller than a tear gas particle. The idea that you can wear a scarf or bandana, as they suggest here in CA, and have any level of protection is silly.

    On top of that, if they believe the virus is on the surface of everything (and I believe this to be true), when you exit the store, or wherever you have gone and enter your car, it is contaminated. It is on your clothes, it is on your skin, it is in your hair. You need to remain protected until you enter a decontamination site. This means you should disrobe in a particular manner outside your home, be sprayed down in some manner, prior to entering your home. It means your clothing needs to be handled by someone in the proper PPE to clean your clothes in a proper manner to not spread the virus further. Better yet, your clothes should probably be burned.

    Of course none of this is practical in the normal course. Bottom line, we are going to be exposed. It is probably better to get it over with rather than destroy the economy trying to avoid the inevitable. Trying to quarantine indefinitely is going to harm our immunity from other illnesses. The, if it saves one life mentality, is akin to the, we had to destroy the village to save it mentality.

    • Harold says:

      JimS, you are so full of shit In my extensive delve into the darkside I have never come in contact with someone with so little understanding of things. That is because I generally avoid the deepest rescesses, but you are demonstarting a deep ignorance I don’t usually encounter here.

      just in cae you are genuine and misguided, the aim is not to avoid all transmission, as you suggest with your decontaminations fantasy. the aim is to reduce transmission so that the R value is less tha 1. This doe not require disrobing outside your home, but does require social distancing, habd washing and wearing a mask in public.

      • random person says:

        See “This Overlooked Variable Is the Key to the Pandemic: It’s not R”
        by Zeynep Tufekci

        https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/09/k-overlooked-variable-driving-pandemic/616548/

        The now-famed R0 (pronounced as “r-naught”) is an average measure of a pathogen’s contagiousness, or the mean number of susceptible people expected to become infected after being exposed to a person with the disease. If one ill person infects three others on average, the R0 is three. This parameter has been widely touted as a key factor in understanding how the pandemic operates. News media have produced multiple explainers and visualizations for it. Movies praised for their scientific accuracy on pandemics are lauded for having characters explain the “all-important” R0. Dashboards track its real-time evolution, often referred to as R or Rt, in response to our interventions. (If people are masking and isolating or immunity is rising, a disease can’t spread the same way anymore, hence the difference between R0 and R.)

        Unfortunately, averages aren’t always useful for understanding the distribution of a phenomenon, especially if it has widely varying behavior. If Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, walks into a bar with 100 regular people in it, the average wealth in that bar suddenly exceeds $1 billion. If I also walk into that bar, not much will change. Clearly, the average is not that useful a number to understand the distribution of wealth in that bar, or how to change it. Sometimes, the mean is not the message. Meanwhile, if the bar has a person infected with COVID-19, and if it is also poorly ventilated and loud, causing people to speak loudly at close range, almost everyone in the room could potentially be infected—a pattern that’s been observed many times since the pandemic begin, and that is similarly not captured by R. That’s where the dispersion comes in.

        There are COVID-19 incidents in which a single person likely infected 80 percent or more of the people in the room in just a few hours. But, at other times, COVID-19 can be surprisingly much less contagious. Overdispersion and super-spreading of this virus are found in research across the globe. A growing number of studies estimate that a majority of infected people may not infect a single other person. A recent paper found that in Hong Kong, which had extensive testing and contact tracing, about 19 percent of cases were responsible for 80 percent of transmission, while 69 percent of cases did not infect another person. This finding is not rare: Multiple studies from the beginning have suggested that as few as 10 to 20 percent of infected people may be responsible for as much as 80 to 90 percent of transmission, and that many people barely transmit it.

        Zeynep Tufekci is also the author of the “We Need to Talk About Ventilation: How is it that six months into a respiratory pandemic, we are still doing so little to mitigate airborne transmission?” article I mentioned earlier.

        • Harold says:

          My understanding is that R0 is the initial “wild” spread without countermeasures. This will be different for different societies and different for different populations within societies. The R value we are trying to et reduced is the actual spread at any time. It is a crude figure and not the whole story. Heterogenicity does need to be taken into account.

          Nonetheless, R is the average number of infections per infected person and if R is reduced below one the disease will start to die out. This may be better achieved by tackiing a few superspreaders than the majority of normal spreaders.

          I agree that ventilation is much under discussed. I hope that for example supermarkets have been instructed to turn their ventilation to maximum airflow, but I have no idea if this has been done. Other simple and cheap ameliorations such as vitamin D are also not promoted sufficiently. The UK Govt recently announced that they will provide free Vit D to those at particuar risk, claiming “new infromation”, but the information has been available for months at least. With this measure, even if you are wrong it will have almost no downside and have other benefits as well.

          These are not silver bullets, but incremental benefits that all add up. If we implement them, we can have greater social mixing without increasing deaths.

          • random person says:

            Good to hear that the UK government has finally admitted that vitamin D can be beneficial.

            Yeah, Zeynep talks about the difference between R0 and R.

            Dashboards track its real-time evolution, often referred to as R or Rt, in response to our interventions. (If people are masking and isolating or immunity is rising, a disease can’t spread the same way anymore, hence the difference between R0 and R.)

            And also…

            A recent paper found that in Hong Kong, which had extensive testing and contact tracing, about 19 percent of cases were responsible for 80 percent of transmission, while 69 percent of cases did not infect another person. This finding is not rare: Multiple studies from the beginning have suggested that as few as 10 to 20 percent of infected people may be responsible for as much as 80 to 90 percent of transmission, and that many people barely transmit it.

            So, based on that, COVID-19 doesn’t seem to be particularly infectious under ordinary circumstances, and it’s really the exceptions, what Zeynep calls the superspreader effects, that should draw our attention.

            Anyway, I think ventilation is potentially a huge factor, not just for COVID-19, but for respiratory illnesses in general. I mentioned earlier a study titled, “Effect of ventilation improvement during a tuberculosis outbreak in underventilated university buildings.” The results just from improving ventilation were astounding. Improving ventilation stopped the outbreak. And tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium, not a virus. If a bacterium can be spread by aerosol transmission, I think it’s reasonable to suspect most respiratory viruses can too. Furthermore, what Zeynep Tufekci writes in “We Need to Talk About Ventilation: How is it that six months into a respiratory pandemic, we are still doing so little to mitigate airborne transmission?” basically confirms that yes, COVID-19 is spread by aerosol transmission, but primarily in situations where what Zeynep calls the three Vs are present.

            To quote that article by Zeynep again,

            The super-spreader–event triad seems to rely on three V’s: venue, ventilation, and vocalization. Most super-spreader events occur at an indoor venue, especially a poorly ventilated one (meaning air is not being exchanged, diluted, or filtered), where lots of people are talking, chanting, or singing.

            Additionally, indoor air quality has been found to be significant for non-contagious respiratory issues as well, such as asthma. Of course, it depends on what an individual person’s asthma triggers are, but for at least some asthmatics, indoor air pollution is a major issue.

            The only significant downsides would be the cost of redesigning buildings to allow for better ventilation, and the increased difficultly in keeping a good indoor temperature. However, ventilation renovations and spending a bit more on heating/cooling would probably still be far cheaper than the lockdowns. Ventilation renovations and opening up more windows would also not increase the risks of abuse, neglect, and involuntary euthanasia, unlike lockdowns.

            I guess there could also be issues for asthmatics who are very allergic to pollen. I’ve never heard of anyone who had a life-threatening pollen allergy, but that doesn’t mean it’s never happened. But I suppose such a person would probably have already had to move to a place that didn’t have the type of pollen they were deadly allergic too.

            • Harold says:

              I think (hope) we will incorporate the learnig from this pandemic into future building design. It takes something like this to get enough attention. Meanwhile, given the buildings we have with the ventilation they have, at the very least we should be ensuring that they are operating at maximum air exchange, even if this is not very efficient for heating/cooling.

              This will likely benefit asthmatics, and everyone from future flu and other infectious diseases.

              This is not an alternative to lockdowns, but part of the armory. If we can reduce the spread in offices, then we can allow children to go to school, or groups of 6 to meet indoors. It is about getting the biggest benefit for the least cost, not just in money.

              My view is that we should take whatever measures are required to allow children to go to school. We get more spread from schools, so we have to restrict somewhere else. Turning up the ventilation in buildings seems like one of the easiest and least costly things we can do. Wearing masks when we go out is another very low cost thing we can do. None of these prevent infections, but these measures reduce infections, and that is enough.

              • random person says:

                In the case of the tuberculosis outbreak at the university, they were able to use ventilation engineering to improve the ventilation of the existing buildings. We don’t necessarily have to wait until we are ready to demolish current buildings and construct new ones. We can modify them now. Sure, it would cost economic resources (materials and labor power), but the economic cost would probably be far less than the economic cost of the lockdowns, and, I suspect, would be far more effective.

                https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/ina.12639

                The intervention consisted of: (a) for the ground floor and above, keeping the windows open (to serve as air outlets) to facilitate both natural and mechanical ventilation; and (b) for the underground floors, installing extractor ventilation machines to improve air outflow (see Figure 1 legend for details), along with constructing new ventilatory circuits for Building C to normalize the outflow of exhaled air so that the pre‐existing inlet pipes from the roof could function as designed (see Figure 1 and Appendix S2). The above intervention decreased ground floor CO2 levels to 700‐800 ppm (measured on December 9, 2011), but the CO2 levels on underground floors were still up to 1413 ppm (Appendix S1). A glass wall at the ground floor door in Building C (Figure 4A) blocked the outflow of exhaled air (through a stairway) from classrooms on the three underground floors. The outbreak coordination committee therefore recommended removing the aforementioned glass wall, which was subsequently removed on January 16, 2012 (Figure 4B). After these interventions, the ventilation levels in Building C improved to 370‐400 ppm on the ground floor and 591‐603 ppm (23.6‐25.1 L/s per person) on the underground floors (Figure 3). The same ventilation engineering work were implemented in other buildings as well.

                The study authors point out that other interventions were tried first, and that people had resorted to ventilation engineering after those other interventions proved far less effective than hoped for.

                Prompt diagnosis, isolation, and treatment for both TB and LTBI are essential for the control of this outbreak. However, these chemotherapy‐based interventions in University A were less successful than what should be expected. The role of poor ventilation in this outbreak was discovered precisely because of the ongoing occurrence of tertiary cases despite early removal of the index case 1 year ago. The worsening situation in October 2011 prompted investigations of indoor ventilation and the subsequent ventilation engineering. In retrospect, infectious aerosol accumulated in the poorly ventilated environment. Without the ventilation improvement, the outbreak in University A would be more prolonged and more difficult to control. The limitation of chemotherapy‐based interventions is further highlighted by four cases who did not have identifiable sources but nevertheless acquired the outbreak TB strain (Figure 3). They may have entered a classroom or a floor for unrecorded activity and breathed the exhaled air from prior occupants. In such scenarios, TB transmission may occur even when the sources were not there. This makes contact investigation and preventive therapy not the answer for controlling of TB in congregate settings.

              • Harold says:

                random, we have disagreed on many things and agreed on others, but here I think we are complete agreement. Ventilation is not the cure for the pandemic, but is a significant factor and should be given much more prominence. A bit of re-engineering is much less costly than lockdowns. If we can reduce transmittion in buildings, we can relax restrictions elsewhere.

              • random person says:

                We are in agreement about ventilation. We are still not in agreement about lockdowns, but ventilation, yes. Ventilation is good.

                Incidentally, I recently helped someone install basement fans. The basement was not fully underground, and had windows at like, the top of the basement, so it was fairly simple, and has already significantly improved the air in that particular basement, which I suppose will indirectly help that house as a whole. Hurrah for do-it-yourself ventilation engineering. \o/

              • random person says:

                Additionally, the need for re-engineering might be mitigated, to some degree, by simply hosting more events outdoors. (This isn’t to say that we should skip ventilation engineering, merely that hosting more events outdoors could supplement ventilation engineering, especially if demand for ventilation engineers excepts their availability, or they do not always manage to achieve desired results.) Granted, this may depend on the weather. But, weather permitting, I’m sure, for example, that there are plenty of lectures that students could listen to just as well outdoors as indoors.

                Interestingly, holding classes outdoors has been shown to have other benefits as well.

                “The Surprising Benefits of Teaching a Class Outside: A new study finds that a class in nature helps kids be more attentive and focused once they return indoors.”
                by Jill Suttie

                https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_surprising_benefits_of_teaching_a_class_outside

                Results showed that when the students received outdoor biology lessons, they were significantly more engaged in their next instructional period on all measures than if they’d received biology lessons indoors. This held true for different teachers, different times of day, and different times of year.

                According to lead researcher Ming Kuo of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, this is an important finding with practical implications.

                “Kids can actually pay better attention in class after an outdoor lesson,” she says. “This is nice for teachers, because you don’t have to stop teaching and you still get that bump in attention.”

                Not only that, the bump in attention was large—much larger than Kuo had expected. In some cases, teachers only had to redirect half as often and kids paid attention one or two “standard deviations” better—research-speak for much, much better—if they’d had an outdoor lesson rather than an indoor one.

    • Tel says:

      There’s a big difference between a scarf or bandana and a proper N95 mask.

      Even if you do have an N95 mask that still allows 5% of particles through, and for a surgical mask (what most people wear) it’s more like 30% gets through. I found this link with test charts.

      https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02786826.2013.829209

      Regarding tear gas, there are various types … Australian cops typically use capsaicin and it’s mildly water soluble and also fat soluble so a wet cloth offers some protection … but since eyes are also vulnerable, some kind of goggles would be required. I think CN tear gas is outlawed in most countries, while CS is not strictly speaking gas, it’s more of a dust and thus the mask might help … unless you go for the full moon suit, eyes remain vulnerable.

      Aerosol coronavirus can also land in the eyes, and not many people protect themselves against that. I have no idea how many catch it through their eyes, there’s really no data available on this … must be more than zero.

      You can’t buy full N95 masks anywhere around here (i.e. the ones that are semi-rigid and have the full strap around the back of the head) but you can buy what they call KN95 masks that are soft and sit against the face with an ear loop. These are slightly better than surgical masks but I’ve worn them a few times and they get damp very quickly, so I would suggest they are OK to go into a shop, buy a few things and leave again. They get uncomfortable if worn for a long time, not sure how much they lose effectiveness.

      If you look at Japan … where they all wear surgical masks (no eye protection) and started wearing masks very early this year … the total infections and deaths has been growing but slower than most countries. Similar results for Taiwan and Hong Kong, which is strongly suggestive that the mask helps but does not stop the infection. Some protection is better than nothing.

      Personally, I’m not worried about what I catch, I’m pretty healthy and I hardly ever visit my mum. If I get sick I’ll just get over it. I wear a mask if the shop requires it, and I keep a few of the KN95 masks in the dashboard of the car … they are mostly to cheer other people up. My opinion is that it’s better for the strong people to catch the thing and get it over with rather than waste another year of our lives … that’s a personal cost benefit judgement. I can understand Bob wanting to protect his wife, and each healthy person who recovers and builds immunity also ends up protecting Bob’s wife as well.

      I am happy to take a vaccine, providing Bill Gates has never had his grubby fingers anywhere near it. Other than that I’m fine.

      • Tel says:

        https://qualitymedicalsupplies.com.au/collections/face-masks/products/kn95-masks-5-pack-in-stock-buy-now

        That’s the sort of masks you can buy in Australia, they are about $3 each and they are soft with the ear loops but shaped to closely conform to the face.

        They are comfortable for a while, until they get damp.

      • Harold says:

        My understanding is that infection via eyes is possible, but the evidence suggests it is a minor route of infection. It makes a lot of sense for a health worker in a Covid ward to wear eye protection, but for the general public it will make little difference.

        “My opinion is that it’s better for the strong people to catch the thing and get it over with rather than waste another year of our lives … ”

        I agree in principle, but we have no way so far to saparate the vulnerable from the fit and healthy. If we had a policy that said young people could mix unrestricted, the incidence of Covid would then rise in that population exponentially, I don’t see how we could prevent that from getting to the vulnerable. If you have a suggestion of how that could be done I would love to hear it.
        This is what th Great Barrington Declaration suggested, but they offered no way to prevent the huge increae in infected young people from then infecting the vulnerable. I totally agree that this would be a great solution, now we know reasonably well that it is not too dangerous for these people, but there is no mechanism to prevent this from spreading. At least, none I have seen.

        I am hopeful that a vaccine will make this moot, but without a vaccine, the way to minimise deaths is to infect everybody in low risk groups and nobody in high risk groups. Then we can get herd immunity with minimum deaths. I don’t see how this is possible without massive coercion of who people are allowed to mix with. I would love to hear possible solutions, as this is where we will probably have to go if the vaccines fail, or we get another pandemic.

        • Tel says:

          What evidence though? With something like capsicum spray, it’s very easy to figure out if it got in your eyes.

          Show me equivalent tests for a coronavirus. How many people did catch it through their eyes? What sort of statistic confirms this?

          Right through the start of this they were going around telling everyone “Don’t touch your face!” and that turned out to be mostly rubbish. We had people confined to their cabins on the Diamond Princess cruise ship and they still came down with it one after another. No one thought masks were a good idea for the people on the ship. None of that was based on scientific evidence, it was simply the first idea that came to people at the time.

          How can I confirm the mechanism by which any given sick person got sick in the first place? Show me the test data.

  5. random person says:

    This is mostly for Harold.

    “Not just COVID: Nursing home neglect deaths surge in shadows”
    By Matt Sedensky and Bernard Condon, November 19, 2020
    https://apnews.com/article/nursing-homes-neglect-death-surge-3b74a2202140c5a6b5cf05cdf0ea4f32

    1 of 16
    This June 7, 2020, photo provided by June Linnertz shows her father, James Gill, seen through a window at Cherrywood Pointe nursing home in Plymouth, Minn. As more than 90,000 of America’s long-term care residents have died in the coronavirus pandemic, advocates for the elderly say a tandem wave of death separate from the virus has quietly claimed tens of thousands more, often because overburdened workers haven’t been able to give them the care they need. Gill died of Lewy Body Dementia, according to a copy of his death certificate provided to the AP. Linnertz always expected her father to die of the condition, which causes a progressive loss of memory and movement, but never thought he would end his days in so much needless pain. (June Linnertz via AP)

    When COVID-19 tore through Donald Wallace’s nursing home, he was one of the lucky few to avoid infection.

    He died a horrible death anyway.

    Hale and happy before the pandemic, the 75-year-old retired Alabama truck driver became so malnourished and dehydrated that he dropped to 98 pounds and looked to his son like he’d been in a concentration camp. Septic shock suggested an untreated urinary infection, E. coli in his body from his own feces hinted at poor hygiene, and aspiration pneumonia indicated Wallace, who needed help with meals, had likely choked on his food.

    “He couldn’t even hold his head up straight because he had gotten so weak,” said his son, Kevin Amerson. “They stopped taking care of him. They abandoned him.”

    As more than 90,000 of the nation’s long-term care residents have died in a pandemic that has pushed staffs to the limit, advocates for the elderly say a tandem wave of death separate from the virus has quietly claimed tens of thousands more, often because overburdened workers haven’t been able to give them the care they need.

    Nursing home watchdogs are being flooded with reports of residents kept in soiled diapers so long their skin peeled off, left with bedsores that cut to the bone, and allowed to wither away in starvation or thirst.

    and later in the article…

    A nursing home expert who analyzed data from the country’s 15,000 facilities for The Associated Press estimates that for every two COVID-19 victims in long-term care, there is another who died prematurely of other causes. Those “excess deaths” beyond the normal rate of fatalities in nursing homes could total more than 40,000 since March.

    Wording of paragraph is a bit unclear, but if I understand correctly, for every two excess deaths attributed to COVID-19, another one has occurred to “other causes”, but presumably increased nursing home abuse and neglect. In theory, if at least half of the COVID-19 deaths were from a combination of nursing home and neglect as well as COVID-19, the increased deaths in nursing homes since March due to abuse and neglect could possibly exceed the deaths from COVID-19 (if deaths from both are counted in both categories). I guess further research would be needed on the numbers, but there’s clearly a bunch of people dying from abuse and neglect but not COVID-19, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that someone who isn’t being abused/neglected would be more likely to survive COVID-19 that someone who is being abused/neglected.

    • Tel says:

      Have you heard about the Youth In Asia?

      Sometimes you look, and you look again … and it’s right there in plain sight but still quite difficult to see. If anyone was looking around for a cover story, doesn’t get a whole lot better than a global pandemic … just putting that out there.

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