To Mask or Not to Mask: What Are People Around Me Actually Doing?


After a rather heated discussion about masks in which I engaged on Ricochet, I have become quite the mask spotter. The following is for informational purposes per my observations about the smaller university town in which I am currently staying (Knoxville, TN) that is much different from the larger university town where I actually live (Austin, TX).

I went to the grocery store last night in a county that (as far as we know) has a 2% mortality rate for COVID based on who has been diagnosed and who has passed away. That is a very serious number, but to get more specific, according to the Knox County Department of Health, only 191 cases of COVID have been identified here as of April 18. 151 of those cases (79%) are resolved as the people have completely recovered from the illness. There have been 23 hospitalizations over the span of the pandemic, which applies to 12% of the cases. The four people who have died were all older citizens with comorbidities.

Arizona Does Coronavirus like Pros


Amateurs talk cases, professionals talk logistics. The professionals are in charge in Arizona. Every state, and the Coronavirus Task Force, should take note and give their citizens the same level of information. Dr. Cara Christ, MD, is the Arizona Department of Health Services director. Watch how this works in its April 14, 2020, Arizona COVID-19 briefing.

First, Dr. Christ lays out the trends in cases. The first chart is from the Arizona coronavirus page, updated daily, giving us a snapshot of the current extent and geography of the disease.

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In a way, it’s great that we’re now debating who really has the “authority” and the “power” to reopen our economy. It means that despite some 22,000 deaths thus far (the number will grow) – far less than the 100,000-240,000 estimated by modeling “experts” as little as two weeks ago – it appears we are […]

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Flatten the Curve… or So We Were Told


Let’s not lose sight of the original objective. We were told the objective was to flatten the curve so as not to ‘overwhelm’ hospitals. Fine. The objective was never to eradicate the virus. In fact, we wanted to prolong the life of the virus so we could ‘flatten’ the curve.

According to the IHME, the worst is over in NY.

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Economic shutdowns accentuate inequalities. COVID-19 may not discriminate its victims by income, but the stringent policies our government takes undoubtedly do. The lockdown disproportionally impacts lower-income families and deepens economic inequalities at work and at home. Unequal in Work Preview Open

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I overheard my wife listening to a YouTube report by Tucker Carlson this morning. Tucker gave a 20,000-foot reflection on the state of the human ecosystem regarding the invasive influence of COVID, fanned by the media winds of healthcare hysteria. It summed up them up well. I had been ruminating on an earlier twitter alert […]

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This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard continue coverage of COVID-19’s impact on K-12 education, joined by Tim Keller, Senior Attorney with the Institute for Justice, which has been defending school choice from legal challenges, largely from state Blaine Amendments, for 30 years. Tim describes IJ’s work on behalf of the plaintiffs in the high-profile Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court, and the impact of the pandemic on the timing of the ruling. They explore the case’s prospects for success, and some potential political and legal responses in the event of a favorable outcome. They also delve into the national implications of another recent case in Maine, involving families battling a long-standing state law prohibiting public tuition payments to religious school parents. Tim also shares the backstory of Arizona’s popular Empowerment Scholarship, an education savings account program that he helped design and defend.

Stories of the Week: Despite COVID-19 school closures, the College Board will move forward with Advanced Placement exams; but will the increased security measures enacted to prevent cheating raise controversy? Around the world, temples and churches have emptied as a result of the pandemic, but religious leaders are using technology to stream their services, and help congregants celebrate Passover and Holy Week even in the absence of physical connection.

My Experience Having COVID-19


COVID-19 under the microscope. 3d illustration. Photo by shutterstock.com

In case anyone’s curious about one COVID-19 experience: Two friends, my wife, and I went to London the second week of March on a long-planned vacation. Did the whole tourist thing, but tried to be safe by washing hands, Purelling, etc. We came home on separate flights on March 14. and immediately went into self-quarantine.

Quote of the Day: Crisis, Real and Imagined


“In just ten days, we discovered that neither the tampon issue, nor the participation of transsexuals in the Olympic Games, nor the climate emergency were real problems, nor emergencies, nor anything of the sort. They were just fictitious problems, the pastimes of a generation that hadn’t known tragedy.” – Itxu Diaz, National Review

How many times are we supposed to have died? Net Neutrality, Budget cuts, Donald Trump’s very existence were supposed to have killed us all already. How many failed predictions of global warming / climate change / ManBearPig destroying us in 10 years have we seen blow by us without incident? If there was an actual environmental catastrophe incoming, no one would actually believe it.

Surgical Masks: A Tale of Two Paradigms


We are hearing more discussion about encouraging mask-wearing in the US. What is changing? According to this article and what I’m hearing from my hospital, it’s actually a shift in paradigm.

A face mask will not protect you from being exposed to COVID-19. It will generally cover your nose/mouth and prevent accidentally touching them, but it is not protective from the virus itself. That requires a particulate respirator, like an N95.* However, particulate respirators can be dangerous for people with poor breathing conditions. We saw how our garbage media have run with the fish tank anti-parasite chemical story. All it would take is one lady stuffing an N95 on her asthmatic husband, and media would be portraying Trump as personally choking the guy to death like Darth Vader.  Also, people need to shave to use a normal respirator. The media would tun that into Trump wanting to kill orthodox rabbis and Muslim men.

This week on “The Learning Curve” Cara and Gerard continue coverage of COVID-19’s impact on K-12 education, joined by Pulitzer-winning historian David Kennedy, the Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History Emeritus at Stanford University. Professor Kennedy describes some of the distinguishing characteristics of the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to the 1918 flu and the Bubonic Plague in terms of rapidity, scale, mortality rate, and death toll. They also delve into differences, such as our society’s technological advancements, that help ease the disruption; governments’ data gathering capacity to fully understand the impact, and ability to mobilize; and the credibility of our leadership and institutions. They explore whether public health crises have received sufficient attention in K-12 history instruction, and what goes unreported in most accounts; and discuss the delicate balance between protecting civil liberties while avoiding the dangers of spreading misinformation.

Stories of the Week: The Florida Virtual School is gearing up to train teachers to deliver over 100 K-12 courses in mathematics, English language arts, history, science, electives, Advanced Placement, and career and technical education to 2.7 million students, at no cost, until June 30. A Gallup survey reveals that 42 percent of parents are concerned about COVID-19 school closures’ negative impact on their child’s education, and 11 percent are not using any educational resources to fill the instructional gap.

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It’s National Doctor’s Day.   For those on the front lines of the war on COVID-19 / Wuhan Coronavirus, I offer my sincere, from the bottom of my heart, thanks.  Despite the bureaucracy and demanding hours, despite the very real risk to your own health, you are saving lives. Preview Open

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Covid-19 in TN: A Spike in Suicides


I understand that Covid-19 is a deadly virus, and we need to take it very seriously. However, the blunt approach of shutting the entire country down is deadly as well, and that fact has to be recognized. To illustrate what I mean in real time, I point to Knox County in Eastern Tennessee where all the students have been sent home from University of Tennesse, and the world has essentially been shut down like everywhere else outside of the business that still buzzes inside various Walmarts and Krogers.

This is not the epicenter of Covid-19 in the Volunteer State. That is Nashville, a city that clearly annoyed Mother Nature in some way because she started gut-punching the poor capital way back when this virus still had something to do with Wuhan. The vast majority of the state’s almost 2,000 Covid-positive patients live in or around Nashville, which has never had time to recover from the slashes made to its belly by tornadoes.

This week on “The Learning Curve” Cara and Gerard continue coverage of COVID-19’s impact on K-12 education, joined by Jay Mathews, Washington Post education columnist. They discuss the unique moment presented by COVID-19, and how it has reinforced the value of classroom teachers, but has also increased uncertainty about the future of testing and accountability. They also talk about Jay’s widely acclaimed biography of Jaime Escalante, the great East Los Angeles high school calculus teacher, who became nationally renowned for dramatically raising the academic bar for urban students and delivering amazing results. Jay shares the five key ingredients for success that he learned from Escalante and excellent charter schools across the country.

Stories of the Week: As millions of parents struggle with homeschooling, one mom shared her son’s hilarious reaction in a Facebook post that went viral. Are we all learning some hard lessons through this pandemic about the value of teachers? In Milwaukee, the 30,000 underprivileged children enrolled in private schools through the parental choice program are continuing to attend class each day through distance learning, while their public school counterparts are being offered free meals and some enrichment material that won’t be graded. How can we overcome the digital divide to ensure rigorous instruction for all students?