There Is No Magical Plan To Stop COVID

For many, the mere mention of COVID brings a harangue about how Trump failed a nation, between the idiocy of ingesting bleach to the choice to reopen as if it was just like the common flu. But as much fun as it is to blame Trump, it contributes nothing toward addressing the totally anticipated spike now happening. What happens now?

“Urgent action”? Fair enough, but that’s about as substantive as a “beautiful healthcare plan.” What action? What is it we need to do now? Biden has put together a task force, which suggests two things. First, he had no plan before, since he’s first tasking these “experts” to come up with a plan now. Second, task forces take the problem out of his hands and put it into the hands of others, who might come up with an idea no one thought of before eventually or not. And Biden is out of the line of fire for having passed the responsibility off to others.

It’s understandable that people want to believe there’s some idea, some plan, that will magically save them. They may not have a clue what it is, but then, they’re not the experts. Surely, the experts will know more than they do. Surely, the experts will come up with something. Surely, we will be saved.

As a foundation for emergency response actions, the emphasis should be on three interventions, executed in concert, in any region with case counts over 20 per 100,000 persons per day. These are to temporarily 1) restrict all indoor gatherings of adults to no more than 10 people; 2) close indoor restaurants, bars and clubs; and 3) mandate universal mask-wearing in public.

Will this save us? No, of course not, but it will “slow” the geometric expansion of infection.

These steps will not eradicate the coronavirus. But by reducing super-spreading events, they could reverse the present trajectory of community transmission, halving (or better) the growth rate between now and Inauguration Day, and buying time for additional interventions and vaccines.

There’s nothing new about the ideas of mask wearing, social distancing and lockdowns. That people should wear masks is obvious, but what about mandates? Do we arrest those who refuse? Do we shoot them when they resist?

Will there be government inspectors to count how many people are at your Thanksgiving table? And how does a government prohibit religious gatherings when it applauds protests and election celebrations? The joke, that as long as you utter the name “George Floyd” the coronavirus doesn’t effect you is just a joke. But it’s not a funny kind of joke.

Businesses won’t survive. It was bad enough when they were burned and looted in the midst of a desperate effort to make it through the summer, but economics is a bitch. Contrary to the assumption that the government can just print money and cover the costs, even the money tree eventually goes barren and gets replaced by the inflation tree. Most of you weren’t around during Jimmy Carter’s administration and don’t remember how an item that cost $1 would cost $3 next week, and $10 by the end of the month. Or when loans carried 12% interest rates.

No businesses means no jobs. That’s going to put a hell of a dent into the social justice notion of everybody getting a million dollar paycheck in their corner office just for being oppressed. They won’t have to chant “defund police” as there won’t be any money to pay police as taxes dry up.

Nor will there be any argument about redirecting funding to schools, as the schools will be closed and a generation of children will lose a year of their education that they will never get back. No, distance learning doesn’t work. It was always a lie that we wanted to believe because, well, what other choice did we have, but we know it doesn’t work no matter how much Harvard charges per semester.

And it’s likely to turn out that the “plan” recognizes that we’re not a nation inclined to suffer much.

We should emphasize what is not being asked. This plan would not require a national “lockdown” of workplaces, mass transportation or most economic activities. Schools would be asked to reduce density, require masks, employ hybrid learning models and practice sufficient distancing. Temporary school closures should be reserved for only those communities experiencing the most severe outbreaks.

It’s worthy of note that while the infection rate is soaring, the death rate has yet to shock us. It’s a lagging indicator, and we’ve learned some things about treatments. There are some therapeutics, although their efficacy is negligible. And, lest we forget, there are significant consequences other than death, from cardio to brain fog, that those infected will suffer. Of course, it would still be wise to call grandma now before the bodies pile up again in makeshift morgues.

As bad as our national plan to deal with COVID-19 has been, it’s now time to grow up and face the fact that while there may be a more rational, mature voice out there telling us to behave better, to do things the obvious things that we’re already aware of and still struggle with. That’s pretty much all there is unless and until medicine comes up with distributable soutions. But there is no action plan to save us that Joe Biden’s been secretly hiding so Trump doesn’t steal it and become a national hero. Not a beautiful plan. Not an urgent plan. There is no plan.

As for me, I plan to stay alive, to survive, to wait it out and try to find a way to help as many others as I can to do the same. It’s not Biden’s fault that he has no fix to an unsolvable problem, but it’s time we came to grips with the reality that there are no fixes, there will be deaths and economic catastrophe either way, and nobody has a magical plan to prevent it. Take care, for your own sake and for others. The objective now is to survive. It’s all we can do.

10 thoughts on “There Is No Magical Plan To Stop COVID

  1. KP

    “but it’s time we came to grips with the reality that there are no fixes, there will be deaths and economic catastrophe either way, and nobody has a magical plan to prevent it. ”

    Yup! The deaths are still small compared to the economics, it will be the Great Reset in a way that was not expected. It will probably get you, me, & other old people if not this year or next, maybe the one after. However everyone will suffer the economic crash, maybe the young more than the old as years of wealth-building or education get wiped away.

    There are no answers, but there are enough options for each person to decide where their incentives to stay alive are. Keeping food on the table will be more important than anything else, and politicians might assume their rightful place of irrelevance..

    Stay well.

    1. SHG Post author

      Everyone believes their values are the better values. The problem is that some choices affect only the person making the choice, and some impose the choice on others who would make a different choice.

  2. Hunting Guy

    Sylvia Plath.

    Thalidomide

    “O half moon—-
    Half-brain, luminosity—-
    Negro, masked like a white,
    Your dark
    Amputations crawl and appall—-
    Spidery, unsafe.
    What glove
    What leatheriness
    Has protected
    Me from that shadow—-
    The indelible buds.
    Knuckles at shoulder-blades, the
    Faces that
    Shove into being, dragging
    The lopped
    Blood-caul of absences.
    All night I carpenter
    A space for the thing I am given,
    A love
    Of two wet eyes and a screech.
    White spit
    Of indifference!
    The dark fruits revolve and fall.
    The glass cracks across,
    The image
    Flees and aborts like dropped mercury. “

    And what about the vaccine?

    I remember the pictures of Thalidomide babies in Look and Life magazines.

    With the rush to get the vaccine out how can we be sure of the long term effects?

    I’m in the at-risk age group for Covid but I sure as hell ain’t taking the vaccine until it’s been out for several years.

    Will Uncle Joe try to force me to take it?

    1. SHG Post author

      I’ve thought about thalidomide as well, and an ER nurse friend of mine told me that they worry about side effects and long term effects that remains unknown. Life has risks. Sometimes, you lose.

    2. Richard Parker

      “Will Uncle Joe try to force me to take it?”

      The mechanism is obvious. You won’t be able to go to the doctor or to be admitted to the hospital or to have lab tests without proof of vaccination.

      “I’m here to pick-up my prescription.” “Good, may I see your proof of vaccination?”

      Invest in knee-pads.

  3. Johnny V

    “…distance learning doesn’t work. It was always a lie that we wanted to believe because, well, what other choice did we have…”

    You may anecdotalize or off the main topic-ize (or both) this but distance learning actually does work for many students. I teach 7th grade and many of my students are much more independent than we initially assumed.
    Some students prefer to prioritize, go down rabbit holes, and otherwise go their own way while still meeting deadlines and content expectations. For others, social/emotional and focus issues are exacerbated by the classroom environment; support can still be provided to address their issues in the long term while academic achievement is made now.
    OTOH I have some students who should never be more than 6 ½ feet from an adult.
    Maybe one of the lessons of all this will be that school shouldn’t be approached in a one size fits all manner. New models will be dreamt up and allowed to thrive (or fail) with the encouragement of students, parents….politicians…..ed schools and bureaucrats….teacher and support unions…well never mind, but it will have been nice for some while it lasted.

  4. phv3773

    There is an NYT story today about how the states are unprepared to distribute a vaccine, so there is plenty for the new administration to work on. It’s possible to win the war and lose the peace.

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