Category Archives: COVID-19

UPDATED (5/19): COVID-FREE COUNTRIES Closed Their Countries

COVID-19, Government, IMMIGRATION, Nationhood, Science

Aside from being utterly First World in their scientific approach to COVID control, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Taiwan are almost COVID free because of the tightest border closures possible, down to a “halt to international tourism” in New Zealand. Even backpackers and seasonal workers have been kept out.

South Korea quarantines all travelers:

They are tested on arrival and, if negative, can travel widely on the condition that they answer when called by health workers and diligently record any symptoms in an app. Taiwan is permitting some business visitors, too, subject to quarantine rules.

Reports the Economist on the luxury and gift of “contemplating life beyond the virus.” Yes, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Taiwan have got the governance the US and certainly the UK lack.

In New Zealand, a country of 5m people, new cases have been in the single digits for most of the past week. Australia reported just seven new infections on April 23rd. That puts the pair in the very small group of countries that seem to have vanquished covid-19, including South Korea and, barring a fresh wave of infections from a recent outbreak on a naval vessel, Taiwan. …

[The] strictest border controls [have been implemented]. At present, almost all foreigners are barred from entering New Zealand, while returning citizens are placed in quarantine for 14 days in monitored hotels. Arrivals have slowed to a trickle: on April 22nd not a single person entered the country.

Ports are tightly controlled, too. Stevedores at Auckland’s work in small, isolated teams, each with their own toilet, to reduce the risk of an infection spreading widely. The crews of arriving ships are not allowed to disembark and can interact with only three port workers, who are distinguished by pink high-visibility vests, not to mention face masks.

The government’s economic models assume New Zealand will have to stay closed to foreigners for a year. But some doubt it is feasible, or worthwhile, to keep the borders sealed. Steven Joyce, a former finance minister, says eliminating the virus is “pie in the sky”. Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Brendan Murphy, says that although elimination is desirable, “We’re pretty doubtful that could be maintained for the long term given the incredible border measures you would need to have.”

 

MORE. “What next for countries that are nearly covid-free? Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Taiwan contemplate life beyond the virus

UPDATE (5/19):

Nate Silver’s Pandemic Observations As ‘Sharp’ As His Prediction About Trump’s Election

Argument, COVID-19, Intelligence, Republicans, Science, THE ELITES

Nate Silver, a statistician, is a mediocre mind.

In this “glorious commonwealth of morons”—H. L. Mencken’s description, not mine—there are many minds even more mediocre than Silver’s, who hype and highlight his banal observations. In the context of the coronavirus, I imagine this is motivated by their own pandemic politics.

But first, to Mr. Silver’s political prognostications during Donald Trump’s election campaign. As  chronicled in my June 29 book, The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed:

… whether they’re missing the Trump phenom or the casus belli for war in Iraq—America’s deeply stupid, self-anointed cognoscenti recognize truth only once card-carrying members arrive at it independently, grasp and broadcast it, sometimes years too late. Not so the marginalized writers of America. Not in 2012, but in 2002 did we pinpoint the wrongness of the Iraq War. And not in 2016, but on July 19, 2015—when this chronicle began—did some of us, not fortuitously, finger Trump as “a candidate to ‘kick the crap out of all the politicians’” and “send the system’s sycophants scattering.” (August 14, 2015). His appeal, as this writer has contended since late in 2015, transcended left and right, at the time.

Conversely, vaunted statistician Nate Silver ‘calculated that Trump’s support was “about the same share of people who think the Apollo moon landings were faked.”

No wonder Professor Tyler Cowen of George Mason University properly downgraded wonder boy Silver’s intellectual prowess. His prose, ventured Cowen, was a sprawl that “evinces a greater affiliation to rigor with data analysis than to rigor with philosophy of science or, for that matter, rigor with rhetoric,” wrote the good teacher, adding that to him, the Silver columns are “tweener” pieces, “too superficial for smart and informed readers, yet on topics which are too abstruse for the more casual readers.”

(MORE in “The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed”.)

Now, Nate, that national treasure, is back. This time, he is constructing a straw argument on Fox News, to say nothing of wading into coronavirus politics. I thought he was an objective numbers man?

Nate states the obvious, saying that, “By focusing on coronavirus case counts, the media … makes the numbers look superficially worse … [since]… increases in testing [are what] have led to more cases being diagnosed.”

D’oh! And so obviously true. Does Nate really need to state the obvious? I guess so. (Meanwhile, Silver calls out others for their “boringly conventional positions in … political punditry.”)

The more fundamental point is this: Certainly in the U.S, the coronavirus case count is less significant than the death count: rates and absolute numbers. (Which is why, presumably, Ron Unz highlighted mortality in “The Government Employee Who May Have Saved a Million American Lives.“)

America’s case count, moreover, is scandalously inaccurate. According to the Economist:

Throughout April the number of daily tests has averaged around 150,000, with the share of positive tests staying around 20%. That suggests America is testing only people who are probably infected (in Taiwan, for instance, one in every 132 tests is positive), which in turn suggests that many mild or asymptomatic cases are going undetected. America may have 15 to 20 times more actual infected people than confirmed cases.

That more people are infected is a double-edged sword: More people infected means more people infecting other, but also, we hope, more population-level immunity.

A much more meaningful and reliable number is mortality, death rates and absolute numbers. Right now, the latter stands at 80,037. RIP.

@ The Unz Review.

Private Property Is Boss: It Decides Who Comes And Goes

Constitution, COVID-19, Healthcare, libertarianism, Private Property

“You are in violation of my f—— constitutional rights and my civil rights,” a man screamed when he was stopped from shopping at a Miami Beach Publix for not wearing a mask.

People really have no clue. Whatever laws we have that govern how private property must behave—these are not grounded in natural law. These originate in case law, or civil rights law—anything but natural law.

All these cases of Antifa-like anger and deadly violence over polite requests from private property to mask are a disgrace:

Last week, a woman, her adult son and husband were charged in the fatal shooting of a security guard who refused to let her daughter enter a Flint, Michigan, Family Dollar because she wasn’t wearing a face mask.

AND:

Two McDonald’s employees were shot inside an Oklahoma City restaurant after the suspect became upset when she was told the dining room was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, police said.

Oklahoma City Police Department said the 32-year-old female customer, whose name has not been released, got into a physical altercation with employees Wednesday evening, left the store and returned with a handgun.

MORE:

Tensions Over Masks, Social Distancing Lead To Violent Altercations, Shooting Death, Pipe Bomb Threats.

Trust Republicans To Sabotage A Safe Return To Work

Business, COVID-19, Free Markets, Labor, Law, libertarianism, Private Property, Regulation, Republicans

“In the absence of clinical therapies or a vaccine for coronavirus, the successful return to work rests, very plainly, on the willingness of the citizenry to cover up, keep clean and keep a distance.” (“The Ethics of Social Distancing: A Libertarian Perspective.”)

If businesses want customers to resume consumption and workers to stay safe and productive on the job—they must, within reason, provide a safe working and shopping environment.

The market incentivizes business to protect customers and employees and thus to also reduce the spread of COVID. If business acts recklessly, customers will stay away. And if companies place workers in a precarious position, then the worker who gets sick on the job generally has recourse through litigation.

The free-market and the law—more so than government regulation—provide corrective mechanisms to ensure workers and customers are safe. Government regulations are generally agreements between industrial special interests and the state. Duly, they mostly benefit those interests alone.

By removing the incentives aforementioned,  so necessary in a society based on ordered liberty, the government sabotages a safe return to work, as it fails to allow corrective mechanisms to work.

Trust the Republicans, then, to strive to remove the incentives for business to fit the workplace for success in the age of coronavirus.

To hell with the desperate young worker, who toils in a crowded, unclean, meatpacking facility, currently a “serious vector for the pandemic.”

Or, the flight attendant who was told by the airline she’d be fired if she wore a mask. If they get sick on the job because their employers refused to set up and suit up for COVID—the worker will have no recourse, courtesy of the Republicans’ liability protection guarantees.

With half of all U.S. states forging ahead with strategies for easing restrictions on restaurants, retail and other businesses shuttered by the coronavirus crisis, business groups have been pushing for protection against COVID-19-related lawsuits …The Trump administration is also pushing for liability safeguards … [Reuters]

GOP lawmakers have warned that without additional protections they believe business owners will be too fearful of litigation to reopen.

McConnell, during an interview with Fox News on Tuesday, called the extra protections his “red line.”

“Let me make it perfectly clear, the Senate is not interested in passing a bill that does not have liability protection. … What I’m saying is we have a red line on liability. It won’t pass the Senate without it,” he added.

Stripped of baffle-gab, this means that Republicans wish to shield business from the consequences of reckless disregards for the safety of shoppers and workers. For the courts will examine cases on their merit, and throw them out if they are frivolous.

Fail to allow corrective mechanisms like litigation to work—and you’ll increase illness, death and poverty and spread more devastation.

* Thanks, Scott Olson | Getty Images, for fair use.

@ Unz Review.