Work the Problem, Not the Panic

 

Problem: An illness is going around. The young barely feel it, but for those at risk (generally the elderly) it can be as bad or worse than the flu, which kills tens of thousands in the US every year.

Solution: Limit or eliminate the exposure of those at risk of serious illness. Do this through careful hygiene, quarantine, and with ready access to the drugs which have shown that they work against this illness.

Conclusion: Address the challenge while still getting the world back to normal as quickly as possible before the economy collapses.

Is this really so hard to grasp? Is there something wrong with my logic?

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  1. tigerlily Member
    tigerlily
    @tigerlily

    No, there’s nothing wrong with your logic from my vantage point. Unfortunately, however, this seems to be the minority view at the moment.

    • #1
  2. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    You are at two extremes: the “young” and “those at risk of serious illness,” which you view, for the most part, as “the elderly.”  I don’t think that it’s that simple.  First, you may be underselling the difficulties inherent in taking care of those at “serious risk.”  And, second, consider the vast middle ground, a lot of whom are neither young or at serious risk, but just don’t want to chance getting it.  Not dying shouldn’t be the only measure of success, and, while some middle-aged people (or those a bit younger) may not have a tough time if infected, it’s entirely possible that many would.  Is the plan to have these people just out and about, and self-diagnosing and self-quarantining?

    • #2
  3. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

     

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    You are at two extremes: the “young” and “those at risk of serious illness,” which you view, for the most part, as “the elderly.” I don’t think that it’s that simple.

    Look at the mortality charts. Under 30s do not die from this. Over 60-80 is the highest at-risk group.

    Someone has to go to the store, to stock the shelves, make the products. If we shut everyone down, it is no kindness to the old. But if the younger go about their lives while supporting the quarantines of the old, we have a solution that does not destroy the economy.

    First, you may be underselling the difficulties inherent in taking care of those at “serious risk.” And, second, consider the vast middle ground, a lot of whom are neither young or at serious risk, but just don’t want to chance getting it. Not dying shouldn’t be the only measure of success, and, while some middle-aged people (or those a bit younger) may not have a tough time if infected, it’s entirely possible that many would. Is the plan to have these people just out and about, and self-diagnosing and self-quarantining?

    For every healthy person under 60, it is clearly less dangerous than the flu. Use the same precautions.

     

    • #3
  4. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    iWe (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    You are at two extremes: the “young” and “those at risk of serious illness,” which you view, for the most part, as “the elderly.” I don’t think that it’s that simple.

    Look at the mortality charts. Under 30s do not die from this. Over 60-80 is the highest at-risk group.

    Someone has to go to the store, to stock the shelves, make the products. If we shut everyone down, it is no kindness to the old. But if the younger go about their lives while supporting the quarantines of the old, we have a solution that does not destroy the economy.

    First, you may be underselling the difficulties inherent in taking care of those at “serious risk.” And, second, consider the vast middle ground, a lot of whom are neither young or at serious risk, but just don’t want to chance getting it. Not dying shouldn’t be the only measure of success, and, while some middle-aged people (or those a bit younger) may not have a tough time if infected, it’s entirely possible that many would. Is the plan to have these people just out and about, and self-diagnosing and self-quarantining?

    For every healthy person under 60, it is clearly less dangerous than the flu. Use the same precautions.

    I think I pretty much said what I had to say above, but to reiterate–setting not dying as the standard for containment is a low bar, even in the unlikely event we could identify and round-up all who were truly at serious risk.

    For every healthy person under 60, it is clearly less dangerous than the flu.

    I don’t want to divert attention from my other comments, but I am inherently suspicious of words like “every” and “clearly” when venturing into territory as unknown as this.

    • #4
  5. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    We will see what ends up working the best, won’t we. 

    The UK seems to be going the “spread it around” route. 

    • #5
  6. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    For every healthy person under 60, it is clearly less dangerous than the flu.

    I don’t want to divert attention from my other comments, but I am inherently suspicious of words like “every” and “clearly” when venturing into territory as unknown as this.

    OK. Nevertheless we have good data from South Korea and Singapore which tells us the illness is not serious for most age groups.

    Additionally, as per my other post: there are treatments that work against Corona. 

    We need to come to our senses.

    • #6
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I think your solution makes sense. It’s not perfect, nor is it intended to be. People will defy the odds. No one wants to be the exception. But we have to try to maintain some kind of balance to dealing with this situation. Making ourselves crazy is no solution.

    • #7
  8. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    Bryan G. Stephens Ricochet Charter Member

    We will see what ends up working the best, won’t we. 

    We have to work with the information we have – the Precautionary Principle would have us crawl under rocks until we die of starvation.

    • #8
  9. Sandy Member
    Sandy
    @Sandy

    I am 78 and in good health but have decided to quarantine myself, even though that means I will have to stop working, which I’d been doing full-time, and though I am quite skeptical of the value of this action.  I’d be a lot happier doing so if younger people were encouraged to go about their business.  That said we may learn some hard truths about the general health of our population, in which chronic illness has been rising, and not only among the elderly.  The UK is probably not much different, so their stats on people below the age of 60 or 70 will be very interesting.  

    • #9
  10. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    iWe (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    Bryan G. Stephens Ricochet Charter Member

    We will see what ends up working the best, won’t we.

    We have to work with the information we have – the Precautionary Principle would have us crawl under rocks until we die of starvation.

    A Precautionary Principle taken to extremes yes. It is is easy to characterture others, especially when the actual decision is not up to you. 

    Indeed, none of us here have skin in the game for making choices effecting millions of others, so maybe it is easier for us to carp. 

     

    • #10
  11. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    I fear that these few weeks are not being well-used for new hospital beds, deployment of new equipment, increased testing capacity, production push of the compounds already known to be effective treatments. We will emerge from “quarantine” into much the same conditions with a lot of existing infections and asymptomatic carriers.

    A lengthy economy-killing quarantine seems remarkably short-sighted.  There are other needs and risks in life other than stopping this bug.  I have yet to see a single statement by “experts” about when and how these tradeoffs require a shift in priority and tactics.  If we all stayed inside until New Years Day, the bug would likely be gone but so would a few tens of millions of us.

    Rather than look forward to gunfights at the grocery store this summer and the corpses of malnourished shut-ins, I think it is already time to fashion a prudent middle-ground for full economic re-entry.  Whether than is makeshift masks and gloves or merely prudent personal measures and some continued WFH options we cannot expect to outwait a highly contagious bug that can be asymptomatic for a month.  Or maybe everybody at risk in the US should have different hazmat suits for work and play until a vaccination regimen is made available. 

    If and when testing is available, we could even have safe zones and all wear a badge with our last negative test result date.  There is a wealth of ideas in sci-fi and apocalyptic fiction.  If you put a few dozen such fiction authors in one room and the experts from the CDC in another, which team would you bet on to come up with a viable, creative solution to reduce the disease spread? 

    My wife is a teacher.  For years, if there was anything “going around” I am sure I was exposed to it.  I get something flu-like once every 10 years or so.  She never gets sick.  Even at our advanced age we are prepared for a “let the best immune system win” universe because this is not the last bad bug that will emerge in this world and this shutdown approach may well be too costly to sustain.  I also suspect that reduced access to medications and basic supplies is going to increase the mortality of the elderly more rapidly than the bug.

    • #11
  12. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    Indeed, none of us here have skin in the game for making choices effecting millions of others, so maybe it is easier for us to carp. 

    Ah, but you see: nobody does. Everyone passes the buck, relies on experts, follow-the-leader, and other tried-and-true methods of mob rule.

    I have elderly family members, too. I am entrusted with the assets of thousands of people.  And it is clear that a long worldwide quarantine will cause enormous pain and suffering to all the people I care about. 

    And for what possible gain? The current policies are nothing but madness write large.

    • #12
  13. Sandy Member
    Sandy
    @Sandy

    So far as I can tell, the heart of the problem is that some people  with this disease develop interstitial pneumonia, a particularly virulent form that requires care in the ICU.  We all know the categories of people more likely to go this route.  The number of fatalities may be much lower than that from influenza pneumonia and pneumonia in general, but hospitals appear to become quickly overwhelmed by interstitial pneumonia, and this causes all sorts of secondary problems, too, including greater risk, I presume, to our medical personnel, and, I presume, more deaths from conditions that should be treated in hospitals but are triaged out.  If this is so, we will need to do the best we can for now and then address this specific and fairly narrow problem in the future.  I agree that it does not make sense to compound the problem by shutting down the economy, but some strict quarantining is probably in order, which is why at my age I’m staying home.  Am I wrong about all this?  

    • #13
  14. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    iWe (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    Indeed, none of us here have skin in the game for making choices effecting millions of others, so maybe it is easier for us to carp.

    Ah, but you see: nobody does. Everyone passes the buck, relies on experts, follow-the-leader, and other tried-and-true methods of mob rule.

    I have elderly family members, too. I am entrusted with the assets of thousands of people. And it is clear that a long worldwide quarantine will cause enormous pain and suffering to all the people I care about.

    And for what possible gain? The current policies are nothing but madness write large.

    In your opinion. And if anyone disagrees with your opinion, then you say they are panicking. 

    Other people may well take the same facts and come to a different conclusion. Your very stance (and the stance of everyone liking this statement) is that anyone who disagrees with you can only do so because he is being irrational. 

    Now, that is an argument worthy of a leftist.

    • #14
  15. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    And for what possible gain? The current policies are nothing but madness write large.

    In your opinion. And if anyone disagrees with your opinion, then you say they are panicking. 

    Not necessarily: Many are not thinking. Many are using assumptions that are not grounded in the data we actually have. Many (in fact, probably almost everyone) values downside risk more than upside reward. Many think that “doing something” is needed, proof somehow that we deserve to come through this.

    Other people may well take the same facts and come to a different conclusion.

    I have not found someone yet who can tell me how what they are doing now is going to lead to a better overall outcome in time. Not a single person has even tried. Which makes me think of tulip mania. 

    Your very stance (and the stance of everyone liking this statement) is that anyone who disagrees with you can only do so because he is being irrational. 

    No. Reason is merely a tool. I do not make it a god. 

    I’d like someone to take my OP above and show me, using whatever facts they think they have that the logic is in fact weak or flawed.

    Now, that is an argument worthy of a leftist.

    And THAT is perjorative.

    • #15
  16. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    iWe (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    And for what possible gain? The current policies are nothing but madness write large.

    In your opinion. And if anyone disagrees with your opinion, then you say they are panicking.

    Not necessarily: Many are not thinking. Many are using assumptions that are not grounded in the data we actually have. Many (in fact, probably almost everyone) values downside risk more than upside reward. Many think that “doing something” is needed, proof somehow that we deserve to come through this.

    Other people may well take the same facts and come to a different conclusion.

    I have not found someone yet who can tell me how what they are doing now is going to lead to a better overall outcome in time. Not a single person has even tried. Which makes me think of tulip mania.

     

    Your very stance (and the stance of everyone liking this statement) is that anyone who disagrees with you can only do so because he is being irrational.

    No. Reason is merely a tool. I do not make it a god.

    I’d like someone to take my OP above and show me, using whatever facts they think they have that the logic is in fact weak or flawed.

    Now, that is an argument worthy of a leftist.

    And THAT is perjorative.

    Again, blaming people for being in the grip of irrationality. Man, you just cannot stop. You got it figured out, and all others are irrational, while you, and you alone are the man of Reason. 

     

    • #16
  17. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    iWe (View Comment):

    Now, that is an argument worthy of a leftist.

    And THAT is perjorative.

    Yep, and I meant it as such. I don’t appreciate it when leftists or libertarians do it, but it does seem to be something that some libertarians have in common with leftists. 

    • #17
  18. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Bryan, you make no argument. You are resorting to name-calling. When you get a grip on yourself, I’d be delighted to actually work through whatever you think is right.

    • #18
  19. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    iWe (View Comment):

    Bryan, you make no argument. You are resorting to name-calling. When you get a grip on yourself, I’d be delighted to actually work through whatever you think is right.

    LOL!

    You are the one saying people who don’t agree with you are “panicking” and then accuse me of name calling. 

    Your baby avatar fits! 

    • #19
  20. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Maybe leave the ad hominems aside and each offer a succinct summary statement on the substantive issue rather than characterizations and move on. Lots of worthy threads with room for good contributions.

    • #20
  21. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    A thought: Nobody knows nothing. Countries and cultures are not identical. We have many wonderful people of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds but we are not Italy, we are not China, we are not South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong or Iran. 

    For example, South Korea has more than 51M people – and they are all crammed into a country the size of Indiana. Italy is a demographic basket case and has been for decades. Iran is a cultural and economic backwater because their religion says they can’t play nice with their neighbors. But that doesn’t mean we can not succumb to our own follies and ignorance. 

    We have a reasonable idea what this virus can do to a human body. It can devastate it and smother it and do so in an incredibly painful way. But we do not know what it can do to our national body, especially in the current political climate. 

    We know that there are no do-overs, no mulligans, no perfect answer that has been revealed to us, either through God or science or mathematics. You will not necessarily visit the widow who has also buried a father or mother (or both) and say, “But I calculated well.” 

    • #21
  22. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I wish the federal government would handle this differently. To institute a quarantine where all in-person events and commerce come to a complete halt seems like a good idea to me, but only for an exact 14-day period. After that, I’d leave it to the individual states to set their own quarantines depending on virus conditions in their individual states.

    I applaud Trump’s instincts in shutting down all flights from China when he did. He should pat himself on the back and say, “Good job, Donald!” Take the laps and realize that he probably did save us from an Italy-like disease situation. Given the 370,000 Chinese foreign national students in our country, what he did was perfect.

    He bought us time. And the time he bought us is running into warm and humid spring, which will soon come. Just as the virus is burning out in China, I believe it will do so here as spring warms up and becomes more humid. That will give us time to get more ventilators and N5 masks manufactured. It will give time to develop more facilities for isolating and treating people with infectious diseases.

    I read an interesting study about the spread of the Zika virus. The researchers said that what we see today with infectious diseases spreading globally was only a matter of time because of air travel and urbanization. We have to address this internationally. We need to make the world safe for travel.

    The indefiniteness of the current quarantine is what is doing so much damage to the stock and bond markets and the businesses on Main Street. No business can function in such uncertainty. And there’s no reason to lock down Montana. Trust the American people to use good judgment and come up with their own solutions to the presence of this virus in our country.

    We cannot go into a depression over this. It will screw up the entire world.

    We have to take care of the heart and mind as well as the body. No one would pursue chemotherapy if he or she did not know there was an end in sight. The American people need to know there’s an end in sight to the quarantine.

    • #22
  23. J. D. Fitzpatrick Member
    J. D. Fitzpatrick
    @JDFitzpatrick

    Is this really so hard to grasp? Is there something wrong with my logic?

    Yes. You are not a politician who has to bear the consequences of this decision. “Logic” changes when tied to political calculations.

    For a way of making it more relevant to you, imagine that you lose your job if the people decide that you used the wrong strategy. Note that you could even be right, but the decision about whether you were right is not up to you. 

    Are you prepared to have a Biden presidency if you are wrong?

    Even though you may be, there is no way in hell that Trump is going to roll the dice this way. 

    I heard a Great Courses series that said that Hoover made the economically right decisions with respect to the Great Depression. How well did “prosperity is just around the corner” work for him? 

     

    • #23
  24. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    It is a fact that some people are panicking. 

    The shutdown we have going is not sustainable and will not erase the bug either, though it will slow it down. 

    The correct answer is unknowable and unenforceable in any case. 

    • #24
  25. J. D. Fitzpatrick Member
    J. D. Fitzpatrick
    @JDFitzpatrick

    In fact, since “losing your job” doesn’t have the same emotional resonance for everyone (I looked for a new job within hours of returning from the hospital after hand surgery and started one a few days later; you might have a similar attitude towards finding new employment or ventures), let’s try to find an ordinary person analog for losing THE PRESIDENCY OF THE UNITED STATES. 

    Ultimately, losing the presidency is about losing influence—the ability to influence the world on a vast scale. So what would be a comparable loss of influence for an ordinary Joe? How about this:

    • You immediately lose your ability to influence the world around you through social media. Your Ricochet account, FB accounts, and Twitter accounts are shut down. Your email address book is reduced to family and close friends.
    • People no longer loan you money to start business ventures. Got an idea? That’s nice. No one will fund it. Got your own money to fund it? No one will partner with you or work for you. 
    • You keep all your close friends. The less close ones stop talking to you. When you say something while out to dinner with your close friends, they smile and say, “It’s nice that you feel that way.” (You do get to keep the love and respect of your family members.) 

    Now, you might be willing to take this risk, based on your calculations. But remember: it’s not whether you’re right that determines the outcome; it’s whether all those people out there who abuse logic—all the ones that, according to you, are making the wrong decision—think that you are right. 

    For me, that puts a different spin on the matter. 

    • #25
  26. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    I’m with @marcin.  I won’t even pretend to have any great insights into epidemics.  They are scary, and there are many Americans with co-morbidities that make them susceptible quite apart from age.  Two million deaths in the US per the Imperial College model would be horrific.  So I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the government to try to do whatever is possible to stop the spread.  

    However, an indefinite shutdown of the economy is simply not sustainable.  It’s just not.  

    The prep work needs to be done within these two weeks, or I think—and it’s only an opinion—we might inject a different sort of poisoned pill into the society that has the potential to do more harm than even a very scary pandemic that we need to take seriously.

    • #26
  27. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    The important thing is that we know whom to blame. Trump is President, so everything is his fault.

    • #27
  28. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    We will see what ends up working the best, won’t we.

    The UK seems to be going the “spread it around” route.

    Sure, but they don’t mind killing people in job lots either to cut down on resources spent in the NHS. 

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/9385674/Hospitals-letting-patients-die-to-save-money.html

    and

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/6127514/Sentenced-to-death-on-the-NHS.html

    • #28
  29. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    iWe (View Comment):
    OK. Nevertheless we have good data from South Korea and Singapore which tells us the illness is not serious for most age groups.

    Where is this data of which you speak?

     

    • #29
  30. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    A lengthy economy-killing quarantine seems remarkably short-sighted.

    Economies bounce.

    • #30
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