Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Balancing Risk and Reward For the Wuhan Virus and Virus-Mitigation Measures

 

I found reading Monday’s (August 3) Wall Street Journal depressing. The parent companies of Lord & Taylor and of Men’s Wearhouse and Joseph A. Bank filing for bankruptcy, adding to the recent bankruptcies of J.C. Penney, Brooks Brothers, Ann Taylor, Neiman-Marcus, J. Crew, and probably others I’m forgetting. Oil companies as well, because of the sudden evaporation of demand for gasoline, aviation fuel, and diesel. Maybe some or all of these companies were destined for trouble because of changes to the underlying business activities, but absent the Wuhan virus that trouble would have been spread over years, allowing time to adjust, not all concentrated in a few weeks.

Then I turned to the article on how Detroit’s experience with in-person summer school might be a glimpse into other in-person schools in the fall (article might be behind the paywall). I was horrified by what I read. Although everybody was saying positive words, the actions being taken in the name of mitigating the risk posed by the Wuhan virus struck me as almost certain to instill in children an attitude of perpetual fear, a feeling that contact with other people is nothing but a risk-laden experience. The (non-verbal) messages being conveyed to students: “Stay away from everyone.” “Cover-up.” “Hide.” “Isolate yourself from everyone.”

How is that going to affect children, especially at the elementary school age? In how many children is a fear effect going to be permanently imprinted on their psyches? How does that psychological impact measure up against the risks of the virus itself? Is there a way to evaluate and discuss rationally the risks of the virus versus the consequences that the virus mitigation measures are imposing, not just on children, but on at least some of us adults?

In the school setting, available information seems to suggest that the risk of the virus to children and to most of the not-old school staff is minimal, yet the teachers’ unions insist that any teacher who walks into a school building will have to be carried out in a casket. But we probably have some reasonable studies from other circumstances about how keeping children distant from other children and adults, having children deal with adults and children only through barriers like masks, walls of Plexiglas, video links, and other separation techniques have on child development. There must also be earlier studies on the effects of instilling in children a broad fear of other people.

What are we doing to our children, and can we quantify it so we can evaluate and discuss rationally whether the risks from the virus really exceed the effects of what we are doing to children? All the focus seems to be on virus mitigation. Can we bring in consideration of the collateral effects without appearing to be indifferent to the potential effects of the virus?

I am concerned about the effects of virus-mitigation techniques on adults too. But given the current focus on schools, I’ll wait to bring up the effects on adults. And Mrs. Tabby has told me I shouldn’t even bother raising questions about whether at this stage of virus spread there is even any point to trying to control the spread of the virus. Everybody seems to insist on delaying “herd immunity” as long as possible.

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  1. Percival Thatcher
    PercivalJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Can We Discuss Balancing Risk and Reward For the Wuhan Virus and the Virus-Mitigation Measures?

    With Democrats? Some of those descendants of Pythagoras are arguing about what 2 + 2 equals.

    • #1
    • August 3, 2020, at 5:03 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  2. RightAngles Member

    I also worry about what they’re doing to kids. It makes me sick. They bray about “the children!” but the truth is they care about nothing but their relentless goal of power, and too bad for anyone who gets in their way or anyone they can use. I take comfort in the memory that I grew up in constant terror of nuclear war, and it was reinforced at school with frequent “Duck and Cover” drills and the constant worry that any minute the Russians would land on the White House lawn. Neighbors were building fallout shelters. And I turned out fine. (Hey! Who laughed?)

    We can only hope that the kids might be noticing that the rules about masks are applied, shall we say unevenly.

     

    • #2
    • August 3, 2020, at 5:03 PM PDT
    • 17 likes
  3. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby

    RightAngles (View Comment):
    I take comfort in the memory that I grew up in constant terror of nuclear war, and it was reinforced at school with frequent “Duck and Cover” drills and the constant worry that any minute the Russians would land on the White House lawn. Neighbors were building fallout shelters. And I turned out fine. (Hey! Who laughed?)

    That’s actually a helpful point. Those of us born in the mid to late 1950s did have the constant “duck and cover” drills, and they don’t seem to have been a primary cause of our damaged psyches. 

    • #3
    • August 3, 2020, at 5:18 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  4. Al French of Damascus Moderator

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    I turned out fine. (Hey! Who laughed?)

    The entire PIT.

     

     

    • #4
    • August 3, 2020, at 5:28 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  5. Mark Camp Member

    Full Size Tabby: I am concerned about the effects of virus-mitigation techniques on adults too.

    I am sorry that you and most Ricocheteers are concerned about that.

    I think that you shouldn’t be concerned about which techniques the state chooses to try out on the people under its new powers.

    You should be concerned about the fact that they are now free to choose any of them.

    America hasn’t lost the struggle against the political class because that permanent class wants to subject them to its rule, and has defeated them on the battlefield. The British ruling class already wanted that in 1776, and already had a powerful army and a world-dominating navy.

    No, we’ve lost because the Americans themselves have given up the struggle, and are now only concerned about which techniques our restored owners will use on us to meet their objectives.

    • #5
    • August 3, 2020, at 5:47 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  6. Randy Webster Member

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    RightAngles (View Comment):
    I take comfort in the memory that I grew up in constant terror of nuclear war, and it was reinforced at school with frequent “Duck and Cover” drills and the constant worry that any minute the Russians would land on the White House lawn. Neighbors were building fallout shelters. And I turned out fine. (Hey! Who laughed?)

    That’s actually a helpful point. Those of us born in the mid to late 1950s did have the constant “duck and cover” drills, and they don’t seem to have been a primary cause of our damaged psyches.

    I was an Air Force brat. Sometimes I went to on-base schools, but always to schools where a large percentage of students were from military families. You’d think that schools like that would be more prone to “duck and cover” drills than more civilian schools, but as best I can recall, I never went through one.

    • #6
    • August 3, 2020, at 5:49 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  7. Ray Gunner Coolidge

    Full Size Tabby: Is there a way to evaluate and discuss rationally the risks of the virus versus the consequences that the virus mitigation measures are imposing, not just on children, but on at least some of us adults?

    Apparently not. What is most striking about this event is how otherwise intelligent people have suddenly lost all capacity for rational risk assessment. Apparently, if its WuFlu, 0.01% risk of harm is acceptable. But if its WuFlu countermeasures, 99.99% risk of harm is acceptable. 

    • #7
    • August 3, 2020, at 6:07 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  8. Juliana Member

    Since we went to distance learning in the Spring I have been beating an apparently soundless drum among my colleagues regarding the psychological effects of the mitigation measures on children and young adults. My concerns are dismissed as ‘it is what it is’ or ‘we are doing the best we can.’ No. We are doing the worst we can. We are teaching children (and adults) that any contact with persons outside of their families will result in someone’s death. We have each become radioactive contaminants that you cannot touch, speak to unless under a mask, or even exchange a smile. For some children, especially those whose families are convinced of the lethality of this virus to everyone, I believe long term psychological trauma will result. What that will look like is unknown at this time, but one could surmise that it will be difficult to get emotionally close to others, that one would always be wary, if not frightened, of any viral infections such as influenza, (which are a yearly occurrence), and that one’s ‘safety’ will become a priority. We have already done massive amounts of damage to social structures that schools nurture. Students are isolated and will not learn how to interact with others. I believe this will result in further divisiveness and isolation in American society as these children grow.

    • #8
    • August 3, 2020, at 6:38 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  9. Limestone Cowboy Coolidge
    Limestone CowboyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    Can We Discuss Balancing Risk and Reward For the Wuhan Virus and the Virus-Mitigation Measures?

    With Democrats? Some of those descendants of Pythagoras are arguing about what 2 + 2 equals.

    @percival : Modern Democrats are absolutely proficient in math, provided the x axis domain is limited to the set of irrational numbers, and the y axis domain is limited to the set of imaginary numbers.

    • #9
    • August 3, 2020, at 7:36 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  10. D.A. Venters Member

    Just going by what I’ve seen in my own kids, and others I know, I’m not too concerned about the psychological impact of mitigation efforts. I see no signs they are learning to fear other people or anything like that. They are generally able to understand the context of all this.

    If the virus were to spread unchecked, without mitigation efforts, and they see that many more people get sick, see their parents worry more, hear of more deaths, more close calls in their own families or communities – witnessing that kind of harm would have a worse psychological impact on them.

    • #10
    • August 3, 2020, at 8:41 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  11. Sandy Member

    I have big concerns around not only the poor education and isolation of children that is being mandated, but the problem of children being online all day. The latter is what will produce the worse and more lasting problems. My second worry is with the opportunity being taken by the NEA to increase its already substantial power. The forced closing of many private schools, including some that serve impoverished children, means closing forever for some of them. Are teachers not embarrassed that their jobs are not considered “essential,” that Walmart workers, who make much less and work longer hours, never stopped working, that spending one’s day with the young is one of the safer things you could do (safer than associating with Walmart shoppers)? Apparently not. 

    • #11
    • August 3, 2020, at 9:14 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  12. James Lileks Contributor

    Percival (View Comment):

    Can We Discuss Balancing Risk and Reward For the Wuhan Virus and the Virus-Mitigation Measures?

    With Democrats? Some of those descendants of Pythagoras are arguing about what 2 + 2 equals.

    Sort of. The post-modernist left on Twitter is performing all sorts of linguistic and mathematical contortions to justify the assertion that 2 + 2 -= 5 is correct under certain circumstances, with the intent of proving that hegemonist systems of oppressive Western thought have delegitimized other ways of looking at numbers. It’s nuts, but they love it because it proves that there is no objective reality, only systems of perception that must be dismantled for the sake of equity. It is literally Orwellian madness. 

    • #12
    • August 3, 2020, at 10:25 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  13. MarciN Member

    I worked with most of the schools on Cape Cod for a while as part of helping out a Cape-wide youth orchestra. I got to know all kinds of kids and all kinds of schools. For many of our high school kids, music was a needed escape from the tedium of daily school life. The life of our high school students is far more regimented than their home life is.

    One private school I got to know, Falmouth Academy, became my favorite school. There was a lot of trust among the staff and the kids, and the kids had much more freedom to go to the bathroom or call home or go to their locker than kids in other school settings had. They stayed after school until about five o’clock–all of the kids did–and did their homework there. At two o’clock in the afternoon, the formal class sessions were over, and they could kick off their shoes, get a snack, play scrabble with a friend for a little while, take a walk on the grounds. It was absolute heaven for the kids, and they all did well. Of course, it was a private school, so kids who couldn’t handle that much freedom I suppose were expelled, although I never heard of any.

    The next-most successful kids in our orchestra were the home-schooled kids. These kids often weren’t as wealthy as the Falmouth Academy kids, but they had so much time to practice and go to lessons that their progress with their instruments (as well as their other subjects) far exceeded that of the public school students.

    I concluded that high schools have a real problem. The administrators run them according to iron-clad rules that many teenagers find problematic. In fact, I’d say a lot of the discipline problems were caused by the restrictions themselves.

    I’m guessing that distance learning will be a godsend for kids who don’t have a lot of friends and who find the school setting toxic. We may be pleasantly surprised to see really good results with a lot of kids who simply could not handle sitting in a chair all day, waiting to be allowed to do the smallest things like get a drink of water or go to the bathroom. And some kids will find paying attention easier from home where there are fewer distractions. And for a lot of kids, the worries about their social life become a major distraction from studying. For them, learning from home will be easier. They no longer have to worry about what the other kids think of them, who will sit with them at lunch or on the bus.

    I’m really curious to see how this will turn out. I hope the result will be that middle and high school kids will have a choice to pursue distance learning permanently.

    • #13
    • August 3, 2020, at 10:33 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  14. Percival Thatcher
    PercivalJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Can We Discuss Balancing Risk and Reward For the Wuhan Virus and the Virus-Mitigation Measures?

    With Democrats? Some of those descendants of Pythagoras are arguing about what 2 + 2 equals.

    Sort of. The post-modernist left on Twitter is performing all sorts of linguistic and mathematical contortions to justify the assertion that 2 + 2 -= 5 is correct under certain circumstances …

    … for exceptionally large values of 2.

    • #14
    • August 4, 2020, at 5:09 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  15. Stad Thatcher

    Mark Camp (View Comment):
    You should be concerned about the fact that they are now free to choose any of them.

    It’s hard to argue with people about putting limitations on what government can do to you in an emergency because they say, “But it’s an emergency!”

    I usually say something like, “So, if your governor declares an emergency based on increasing traffic deaths in the state, he can order all speed limits reduced to 50 MPH on highways and 20 MPH in cities and towns?”

    • #15
    • August 4, 2020, at 5:21 AM PDT
    • Like
  16. Susan Quinn Contributor

    I think that assessing the psychological impact on kids is going to be difficult to measure, because there are so many things happening at the same time, as well as the reaction of parents, teachers, and friends to each child. Also, on another post I had a person mention that kids are resilient; they will bounce back better than we think. But there are multiple factors to consider. What does “resilient” mean? Does it mean that they won’t demonstrate neurotic behavior? Does it mean that in most circumstances they will act “normal”? The fact is that every kid is different: some will “act” resilient but suffer greatly; others will seem to go nuts but turn out okay in the end. I think that we’re best off at this stage to get back to a “normal” routine, in spite of the virus: kids and teachers back in school. Those actions will do the most to help everyone settle down.

    • #16
    • August 4, 2020, at 6:16 AM PDT
    • Like
  17. Front Seat Cat Member

    D.A. Venters (View Comment):

    Just going by what I’ve seen in my own kids, and others I know, I’m not too concerned about the psychological impact of mitigation efforts. I see no signs they are learning to fear other people or anything like that. They are generally able to understand the context of all this.

    If the virus were to spread unchecked, without mitigation efforts, and they see that many more people get sick, see their parents worry more, hear of more deaths, more close calls in their own families or communities – witnessing that kind of harm would have a worse psychological impact on them.

    Agree. Many of the stores mentioned in the first paragraph are pricey clothing stores – but no one is going to the office now. I think the virtual working and learning – even 50-50 is here to stay. My sister loves it – a lot less stressed, eating better, more balanced and actually getting more work done. I have seen and heard from neighbors and friends that life is going on with adjustments. People still vacationed, traveled to see loved ones, had cookouts, went swimming and boating, rode bikes, and had social distance gatherings. Churches are open – stores too and cafes. You just have to wear a mask and make adjustments. Kids are resilient.

    • #17
    • August 4, 2020, at 6:31 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  18. Front Seat Cat Member

    MarciN (View Comment):

    I worked with most of the schools on Cape Cod for a while as part of helping out a Cape-wide youth orchestra. I got to know all kinds of kids and all kinds of schools. For many of our high school kids, music was a needed escape from the tedium of daily school life. The life of our high school students is far more regimented than their home life is.

    One private school I got to know, Falmouth Academy, became my favorite school. There was a lot of trust among the staff and the kids, and the kids had much more freedom to go to the bathroom or call home or go to their locker than kids in other school settings had. They stayed after school until about five o’clock–all of the kids did–and did their homework there. At two o’clock in the afternoon, the formal class sessions were over, and they could kick off their shoes, get a snack, play scrabble with a friend for a little while, take a walk on the grounds. It was absolute heaven for the kids, and they all did well. Of course, it was a private school, so kids who couldn’t handle that much freedom I suppose were expelled, although I never heard of any.

    The next-most successful kids in our orchestra were the home-schooled kids. These kids often weren’t as wealthy as the Falmouth Academy kids, but they had so much time to practice and go to lessons that their progress with their instruments (as well as their other subjects) far exceeded that of the public school students.

    I concluded that high schools have a real problem. The administrators run them according to iron-clad rules that many teenagers find problematic. In fact, I’d say a lot of the discipline problems were caused by the restrictions themselves.

    I’m really curious to see how this will turn out. I hope the result will be that middle and high school kids will have a choice to pursue distance learning permanently.

    My friend lives in Falmouth and works at Woods Hole. She swam a 2.2 mile around Penzance Point with a group on her 58th birthday this past weekend and there was a social distance bonfire party on the beach..

    • #18
    • August 4, 2020, at 6:35 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. Concretevol Thatcher

    It’s gotten to the point that bankrupting businesses is fine if: 

    1.  No one ever gets sick ever
    2. Trump is blamed/loses election due to bad economy
    3. It makes me feel morally superior to claim public health is more important than anyone’s business 100% of the time.

    I think this is partially a result of our society being ok trading liberty for security. “Keep me safe and I will obey”. I don’t mean this as a anti-mask diatribe but I am completely behind businesses refusing to close at this point. The (unelected) knox county health department here just decided that bars and breweries have to close while restaurants can stay open. This is nonsense since breweries especially have extensive out door seating. Somehow if your income is over 50% food that make your establishment more resistant to the virus??

    I have been repeating over and over….We started and went along with this whole shutdown thing to KEEP PEOPLE FROM DYING, not keep them from getting sick and recovering. That and prevent hospitals from being overrun. Assumed that it was obvious to everyone that this isn’t a perpetual solution was a little hasty apparently. We are now where we are going to have to live with this while taking some precautions. That doesn’t mean “live in fear” which is all the media is promoting.

    Basically, it’s the summer of 2020 and I hate everything. 

    • #19
    • August 4, 2020, at 9:39 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  20. Charlotte Member
    CharlotteJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Concretevol (View Comment):
    I hate everything

    Same

    • #20
    • August 4, 2020, at 10:19 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  21. Flicker Coolidge

    What get me is the question: Why is the entire world going on lock-down? This is a recent headline on Australia from from the Express:

    Melbourne lockdown: Panic as Australia slams shut state border for first time in 100 years

    Panic. Six weeks of “quarantine” and curfews. The world has gone on lock-down on and off for nearly five months. It’s shutting down the world. Either this is world-wide mass hysteria, or else this is the worst plague in recorded human history. Which is it?

     

    • #21
    • August 4, 2020, at 11:36 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  22. MWD B612 "Dawg" Member

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    RightAngles (View Comment):
    I take comfort in the memory that I grew up in constant terror of nuclear war, and it was reinforced at school with frequent “Duck and Cover” drills and the constant worry that any minute the Russians would land on the White House lawn. Neighbors were building fallout shelters. And I turned out fine. (Hey! Who laughed?)

    That’s actually a helpful point. Those of us born in the mid to late 1950s did have the constant “duck and cover” drills, and they don’t seem to have been a primary cause of our damaged psyches.

    I was an Air Force brat. Sometimes I went to on-base schools, but always to schools where a large percentage of students were from military families. You’d think that schools like that would be more prone to “duck and cover” drills than more civilian schools, but as best I can recall, I never went through one.

    When I was stationed at a SAC Base, we never worried about that, because we knew we’d be instantly vaporized in the event of “the big one.” Maybe that thought in those schools was the same, and they knew a “duck-and-cover” drill would be useless.

    • #22
    • August 4, 2020, at 11:40 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. Weeping Member

    Flicker (View Comment):

    What get me is the question: Why is the entire world going on lock-down? This is a recent headline on Australia from from the Express:

    Melbourne lockdown: Panic as Australia slams shut state border for first time in 100 years

    Panic. Six weeks of “quarantine” and curfews. The world has gone on lock-down on and off for nearly five months. It’s shutting down the world. Either this is world-wide mass hysteria, or else this is the worst plague in recorded human history. Which is it?

     

    The numbers that seem to be sparking the lockdowns seem to be pretty small to me when compared to the country/state’s population; so I vote for world-wide mass hysteria, fueled by gloom-and-doom headlines from the media.

    • #23
    • August 4, 2020, at 12:18 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  24. danys Thatcher
    danysJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I wonder if we could learn something from how schools & communities handled polio outbreaks before the vaccine. What steps did schools take to keep the children and staff safe? What public places were closed or remained open? What insights do adults who were children during polio outbreaks have about growing up with fear of polio?

    • #24
    • August 4, 2020, at 12:30 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  25. Randy Webster Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    kids and teachers back in school.

    The county in which I work has already opened up school. I’ve seen kids on the side of the road waiting for a school bus.

    • #25
    • August 4, 2020, at 3:17 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  26. Randy Webster Member

    Flicker (View Comment):
    Either this is world-wide mass hysteria, or else this is the worst plague in recorded human history. Which is it?

    The former.

    • #26
    • August 4, 2020, at 3:20 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  27. Weeping Member

    Weeping (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    What get me is the question: Why is the entire world going on lock-down? This is a recent headline on Australia from from the Express:

    Melbourne lockdown: Panic as Australia slams shut state border for first time in 100 years

    Panic. Six weeks of “quarantine” and curfews. The world has gone on lock-down on and off for nearly five months. It’s shutting down the world. Either this is world-wide mass hysteria, or else this is the worst plague in recorded human history. Which is it?

     

    The numbers that seem to be sparking the lockdowns seem to be pretty small to me when compared to the country/state’s population; so I vote for world-wide mass hysteria, fueled by gloom-and-doom headlines from the media.

    Or we’re actually all living in some kind of computer simulation game like The Sims, and the program is doing some major glitching at the moment. I could go for that too. ;)

    • #27
    • August 4, 2020, at 3:53 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  28. Sandy Member

    danys (View Comment):

    I wonder if we could learn something from how schools & communities handled polio outbreaks before the vaccine. What steps did schools take to keep the children and staff safe? What public places were closed or remained open? What insights do adults who were children during polio outbreaks have about growing up with fear of polio?

    @danys In Chicago, where I grew up in the 40s and 50s, schools never closed for anything, including outbreaks of polio, measles, mumps, or whooping cough, and buses and trains were still packed. There was fear, of course, especially because of the widespread photos of children lying in iron lungs, but all through school I knew only one person who had had the disease, which made it harder to sustain a state of fear. I remember that it was recommended that children stay out of crowds in the summer, which meant we didn’t go to crowded beaches or swimming pools, and public pools may have sometimes been closed, but the Lake Michigan beaches certainly weren’t. I remember quarantines for whooping cough. As was the case throughout history, it was the sick, not the healthy, who were quarantined. There was contact tracing, too. It was for people who tested positive for venereal disease and made perfect sense.

    We have lost our collective minds. 

    • #28
    • August 4, 2020, at 7:10 PM PDT
    • 7 likes